This walk will take you onto the ridge that is the beginning of the Lammermuir Hills forming the barrier between lowland Scotland and the south. These hills may not have the rugged grandeur of some Scottish mountains but still allow a feeling of remoteness with their deeply carved valleys and burn gullies running down from the heather topped ridges and plateaus. 390 million years ago this area was a desert, then due to plate tectonics gradually moved north and collided with northern Scotland causing mountains on both sides. Since then Ice Ages have scoured the landscapes with the melt waters sculpting the carved valleys of today.
During your expedition into the hills and valleys you will be able to see the marks that man has left behind for countless generations. Some of the older markers of man passing through this land are the burial mounds and cairns, stone circles and standing stones which were built and placed here many thousand years ago. Trading routes were established, and settlements grew, due to the hostile nature of some of the inhabitants and visitors’ fortifications were also constructed. Some of these developed into the places we now call towns and villages, others disappeared into the ground from which they grew, with just bare traces left. This area is dotted with old fortifications and old settlements in varied levels of visibility.
The start of the walk and a large part of the descent is along an old trading route from Lauder through to what is now Haddington. This would have been part of an extensive network of similar routes. Wool would have been taken north and traded for grain; and move cattle along to the markets. Less nefarious people also used the route to plunder the travellers, merchants and drovers, this was Reiver country.
A good example of these forts can be found on the hill above Hill House, it is 2,000 to 3,000 years old and reasonably well preserved. It has a good natural defensive location overlooking the valleys from a high vantage point, and this has been enhanced with a series of ramparts and ditches. It is an historically important site, so care needs to be taken if viewing this precious location.
The Abbeys throughout the Borders were given the land of the uplands on which they grazed their sheep and occasionally pigs. Today this is still carried out, but the uppers slopes and tops of the higher hills are extensively used as grouse moors. Along the route you will see areas of heather that has been burnt, this is in order to manage the moors by letting the heather regenerate and thereby produce new shoots that the grouse will eat.
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