I love this walk. It’s on my list of all time favourites. Visible for miles around the Waterloo Monument stands on the summit of Peniel Heugh (OS ref NT 653263). A stone doric column 150 feet high (48m), it was commissioned by The 6th Marquis of Lothian, on behalf of his tenants to commemorate the Duke of Wellington’s victory over Napoleon Bonaparte at the Battle of Waterloo. The walk to the Monument is about 4miles (6km), mostly uphill and I’d recommend a pair of stout shoes or trainers. Starting at Harestanes Countryside Visitor Centre, you head north and past the old Cricket Pavilion, past a bridge on your right, following St Cuthberts Way into Monteviot. Cross the B6400 at the entrance to Monteviot and head up the hill following the signs. Along a path next to a tree plantation, climb over the stile and then cross the open (quite rocky in some places) ground that leads to the base of the monument. If you’re looking for a longer walk, follow the path round Folly Loch. You can find fuller details of the routes in the Scottish Borders Council publication, Route 11 in Paths Around Jedburgh and Dere Street Roman Road.
Building the waterloo monument
The ‘first’ Waterloo Monument, a pyramid built in 1815 to the design of William Burn fell down ‘with a tremendous crash’ only a year after construction. The existing monument in the form of a ‘Triumphal Column’ was designed by Archibald Elliot and construction began in 1817, taking 10 years to build, with the whinstone quarried locally. The wooden gallery and spirelet on top were added by the 8th Marquis in 1867, to the design of John Hungerford Pollen, the Pre-Raphaelite architect. There is an internal spiral staircase which gives access to this elevated viewing platform.
The inscription inlaid in letters of lead on the base reads:
To The Duke of Wellington And The British Army William Kerr VI Marquess of Lothian And His Tenantry Dedicate This Monument XXX June MDCCCXV
Climb to the top for a spectacular view
For a nominal charge you can borrow a key from the Lothian Estate Office at Bonjedward (phone 01835 862201), climb the internal stairs to the viewing platform and revel in the breathtaking views of the Borders. Remember to take a torch as there is no lighting in the monument. I’ve climbed it once with my son, who raced to the top. I am neither fond of heights or spiral staircases, so it was a slow climb for me and an even slower descent – but worth every agonising moment for the view from the top. The viewing platform is completely enclosed with a strong mesh netting (to keep you in and the birds out) but even then we could feel the force of the wind. You can count yourself as “one of the few” if you make it to the top of the monument. But even if you don’t the 360 view from its’ base is still spectacular.. Rest a while on the bench or explore the remains of two forts, one from the Iron Age and the other from the Dark Ages, before heading back down for some well earned refreshments at Woodside Walled Garden or Harestanes.
How to Find Harestanes Countryside Visitor Centre
Harestanes Countryside Visitor Centre, Nr Ancrum, Jedburgh TD8 6UQ.
Situated just off the A68, north of Jedburgh, and is easily accessible from all the Border towns. From the A68, at the turning almost opposite the road to Ancrum, take the B6400 (signposted to Nisbet) and take the right turn after about 700m and follow the signs. There is a free carpark.
The nearest request stop for buses is at the A68/B6400 junction, 15 minutes walk from Harestanes. The B6400 is a quiet road with no pavement.
Harestanes is on St Cuthbert’s Way, one of Scotland’s most popular long distance paths.
Open every day:
10am to 5pm daily from Thursday 24th March – Monday 31st October 2016
Access routes are open all year
Scottish Borders Council publishes Paths Around Jedburgh and Dere Street Roman Road. Route 11 covers the Waterloo Monument, Folly Loch and Monteviot House & Garden. It can be downloaded for free by clicking on the link above or purchased at visitor centres.