Walking the John Buchan Country

I have written before  of the joys of walking in the Scottish Border countryside that inspired the writings of John Buchan (1875-1940).


A John Buchan Way runs for thirteen miles from Peebles to Broughton, through some very lonely countryside, through places that would have been very familiar to the author (you can download a walks guide online). Buchan was a very considerable walker. Travelling through the countryside inspired some of his best work.

If you want to get his take on this area look for the volume called “Shorter Scottish Fiction“.  Unlike his novels, such as The Thirty-Nine Steps and Greenmantle, these stories deal with the folk of the Borders and a way of life that has mostly gone.

A while ago, we walked the first half of the John Buchan Way from Peebles to Stobo. We had imagined it was going to be a Spring walk. In fact it was through often deep snow.

We set off up Cademuir Hill, subject of Buchan’s first ever published story “On Cademuir Hill”.

By the time we got to the where the Way passes near to the summit, we were in quite thick snow. Cademuir is quite fascinating, with the stone ramparts of the prehistoric hill forts lining the summit. On the hillside, we saw partridge and both black and red grouse, hares boxing in the distance.

Down then into the valley of the Manorwater, a lovely little tributary of the Tweed. Up past the little cottage called The Glack – thought to be the base of a defensive tower – then up we went through very thick snow over the ridge to Stobo.John Buchan Way 1 002


The best kind of snow too that lovely soft thick crusty stuff that is fun to fall in.

From Stobo, we followed the lanes back to Lyne Station. What a tragedy that the railway is no longer there. Then along the drive of Barns House. The house and tower here inspired Buchan’s second novel John Burnet of Barns (written when he was just nineteen!) You could spend a whole holiday just following in the tracks of its hero.

Beyond Manor Sware, we had grand views back towards Dollar Law and then over the town of Peebles.

An unexpected snowy walk in what was supposed to be Spring. An area  well worth visiting.


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