In The Borders
Morebattle is just seven miles south of Kelso in the Scottish Borders and lies beside Kale Water, a tributary of the River Teviot. St Cuthbert’s Way, the 62-mile footpath which connects Melrose Abbey in the north with Holy Island to the south passes through the village, but although its name sounds like a battle ground it actually originates from the Anglian mere-bodl, a ‘dwelling place by the lake’ although sadly, the lake itself was drained in the 1800s. The village church stands proudly overlooking Kale Water, but the original was destroyed by fire in 1544 and the present ‘youthful’ structure dates back to the 1750s. One fun fact is that the village has a Teapot Street. Legend has it that Sir Walter Scott, passing through the village, remarked on the wives in the street carrying teapots down to Kale Water to picnic and referred to it as ‘Teapot Street’. The name stuck.
Growing through the pavement of Morebattle’s Main Street is a tree surrounded by a railing which carries an intriguing plaque. It records the planting of what has since become known as the Trysting Tree on 13th July 1947 to commemorate the first meeting between the Kelso Laddie and Jethcart Callant and their followers. This reflects Morebattle's role as the place where, on one day each year, the Common Ridings of Kelso and Jedburgh meet, under the leadership of their principals, the Kelso Laddie and Jethcart Callant. The meeting symbolises the two towns’ joint role in opposing Border Reivers during more troubled times. The two groups of mounted visitors are formally welcomed by the community of Morebattle before the two parties remount and return to their respective towns.
Your walk starts beside the Templehall Inn where you’ll head east on to St Cuthbert’s Way, through the village to the road junction. Turn right and follow the lane over the small hill to a second junction, where again you need to turn right past a ford and over a footbridge over Kale Water. Once over the bridge you’ll see a track heading uphill to a ladder stile. Over the stile, leave the track and head uphill again to reach the high point north of Grubbit Law and then climb to the summit where you’ll find a cairn (and great views over the border land beyond).
From the summit head back down and stay on St Cuthbert’s Way where you’ll climb again up to another ladder stile over a wall. Over the wall turn right, leaving St Cuthbert’s Way, and follow the wall to the corner at Cushat End, then up to another ridge. Go through the gate and keep climbing until you reach a small gate, go right and continue climbing to reach the summit of Hownam Law where you’ll find the remnants of an old hill fort. Visible from miles away, the fort has more than 100 hut circles within its perimeter walls which can be seen as distinct ridges running around the hill summit.
You’ll then begin a steep descent following the wall to the corner and, keeping the wall to your right, follow it past a large cairn to a three-gate junction. Go through the furthest gate and, keeping the wall on your right, head down through the open pasture land until you come to a junction above the buildings at Howgate where you’ll find a tarmac lane. Go right on the lane to a junction where you’ll go right again and this will eventually lead you back to the ford and footbridge where you’ll retrace your steps back to Morebattle.
Your starting and finishing point in Morebattle is where you’ll find the family-owned Templehall Inn. A great village pub, under new management and having undergone a recent refurb, the friendly bar is home to local cask ales and speciality gins and the restaurant serves good pub food too.
Just five minutes down the road in Town Yetholm, The Plough is a family- and dog-friendly country inn. A community hub, with lots going on, there are always plenty of friendly faces to greet you in the bar where you’ll find local real ales, a large whisky and gin collection, plenty of wines and a cocktail menu. The cosy bar has a log burner or head to the quaint restaurant for delicious home-cooked dishes from chef Aaron Rowe.
A touch further north, in Coldstream, is The Mad Hatter’s Tearoom. A characterful place, perfect for a bite to eat, choose from brunch or lunch or just coffee and cake, all homemade and all delicious. Or pop into the Collingwood Arms just across the river in Cornhill on Tweed. An LN favourite, it’s a friendly inn with a welcoming bar and great restaurant where the fire is always on and the Sunday lunch is legendary.