The John Buchan Way


The John Buchan Way celebrates Buchan’s love of the Borders in a walk from Peebles to Broughton.  Buchan’s brother and sister settled in Peebles.  The walk ends in Broughton, the home of John Buchan’s mother’s family, the Mastertons.  Buchan walked these hills as a boy and returned to walk them throughout his life.

The Walk

The route is 22 kms (13 miles) in length, with a total climb of about 800 metres. It’s  a day’s walk for strong walkers, but you can split it into two stages: Peebles to Stobo and Stobo to Broughton. The MacEwan 91 bus to Peebles and Broughton stops at Stobo, the half way point. It’s wise to wear full hill walking gear as parts of the walk are quite exposed.

The walk offers the opportunity to view Stobo Kirk, the prehistoric forts on Cademuir Hill, Neidpath Castle, The Hillhouse Gallery (located in the former John Buchan Centre),  and Dawyck Gardens,  home to the national tree collection.  Once you get to Broughton stop in  the famous Laurel Bank Tearoom, Bistro & Bar in and treat yourself to a well earned pint of locally brewed Broughton Ales.  Below we’ve picked out 3 of our favourite spots for you to visit along the way.

Stobo Kirk

According to tradition, Stobo Kirk stands on the site of an even older foundation associated with St Kentigern (also known as St Mungo).  A stained glass window depicts St Mungo baptising Merlin the magician.. The kirk is Norman in layout and may date from as early as 1120.  It was the most important church in upper Tweeddale for many centuries.

Cademuir Forts

its wise to Hilltops were natural places for fortification and security in prehistoric times, and Cademuir has two impressive forts. The main fort on the upper part of the hill covers over 2ha.  The fort is surrounded by ramparts, and there’s evidence of at least 35 small circular dwellings.  At the south west end of the summit there is a  second fort.  The fort had a stone wall, remains of which are still visible, and an additional defence in the form of chevaux de frise.  These are large, sharp projecting stones set firmly into the turf – at least 100 of them – and designed to halt charging enemies.

Dawyck Gardens

Small waterfall at Dawyck Gardens

Photo Credit: Bob Kelpie

Dawyck is truly one of the world’s finest arboreta. Seasonal displays of abundant exotic and native plants provide a breathtaking backdrop of colour throughout the year. The Garden also offers an award-winning visitor centre.

Open daily 1 February to 30 November from 10am to 4pm/5pm/6pm (check website for details)

Admission: Adults £6.50 | Concessions £5.50 | Children Free | Members Free

O, young Lochinvar is come out of the west

The 6th of October is National Poetry Day, a day to discover and share poetry.  To celebrate National Poetry Day you can download a free anthology of wonderful Messages poems – old and new. The fourteen poets in this eBook – created by Macmillan Children’s Books with Forward Arts Foundation – are all National Poetry Ambassadors.

National Poetry Day Book

Lochinvar is my favourite poem from my childhood.  It’s a tale about  Lochinvar,  a brave knight who arrives unannounced at the bridal feast of Ellen, his beloved, who is about to be married to “a laggard in love and a dastard in war.” Lochinvar claims one dance with the bride and dances her out the door, swooping her up onto his horse, and they ride off together into the unknown.  My mother (and occasionally my father) would recite it with gusto, complete with actions – riding, swimming, wooing, swooning, and fighting.  That they could both recite it from memory, suggests it may have been taught in Scottish schools in the 1930s and 1940s.  I could always picture the young, gallant Lochinvar on his quest, to save Ellen.

Lochinvar is written in 1808, by Sir Walter Scott, who was the best read, best reviewed, best paid, poet of the Romantic period (even Lord Byron thought so).  Though we know him today as  the author of the Waverley novels, his first love and earliest success was as a poet.  Lochinvar is a romantic hero of the Scottish Borders.  Read the poem and tell me what woman wouldn’t, be in love with such a romantic hero?


O, young Lochinvar is come out of the west,
Through all the wide Border his steed was the best;
And save his good broadsword he weapons had none,
He rode all unarm’d, and he rode all alone.
So faithful in love, and so dauntless in war,
There never was knight like the young Lochinvar.

He staid not for brake, and he stopp’d not for stone,
He swam the Eske river where ford there was none;
But ere he alighted at Netherby gate,
The bride had consented, the gallant came late:
For a laggard in love, and a dastard in war,
Was to wed the fair Ellen of brave Lochinvar.

So boldly he enter’d the Netherby Hall,
Among bride’s-men, and kinsmen, and brothers and all:
Then spoke the bride’s father, his hand on his sword,
(For the poor craven bridegroom said never a word,)
‘O come ye in peace here, or come ye in war,
Or to dance at our bridal, young Lord Lochinvar?’

‘I long woo’d your daughter, my suit you denied;—
Love swells like the Solway, but ebbs like its tide—
And now I am come, with this lost love of mine,
To lead but one measure, drink one cup of wine.
There are maidens in Scotland more lovely by far,
That would gladly be bride to the young Lochinvar.’

The bride kiss’d the goblet: the knight took it up,
He quaff’d off the wine, and he threw down the cup.
She look’d down to blush, and she look’d up to sigh,
With a smile on her lips and a tear in her eye.
He took her soft hand, ere her mother could bar,—
‘Now tread we a measure!’ said young Lochinvar.

So stately his form, and so lovely her face,
That never a hall such a galliard did grace;
While her mother did fret, and her father did fume,
And the bridegroom stood dangling his bonnet and plume;
And the bride-maidens whisper’d, ‘ ’twere better by far
To have match’d our fair cousin with young Lochinvar.’

One touch to her hand, and one word in her ear,
When they reach’d the hall-door, and the charger stood near;
So light to the croupe the fair lady he swung,
So light to the saddle before her he sprung!
‘She is won! we are gone, over bank, bush, and scaur;
They’ll have fleet steeds that follow,’ quoth young Lochinvar.

There was mounting ’mong Graemes of the Netherby clan;
Forsters, Fenwicks, and Musgraves, they rode and they ran:
There was racing and chasing on Cannobie Lee,
But the lost bride of Netherby ne’er did they see.
So daring in love, and so dauntless in war,
Have ye e’er heard of gallant like young Lochinvar?

Walter Scott (1771-1832)