edinburgh To Melrose

Tweed to Tyne

Route length: 59 miles

A church or sacred site

Destination hub

Melrose Parish Church (St Cuthbert's)

The first church on this site was built in 1808-10, to replace the parish church carved out of the abbey church after the Reformation. The early 19th-century building was designed by John Smith. It was badly damaged by fire in 1908, and the body of the building was rebuilt to a new design by JM Dick Peddie of Edinburgh. The steeple of the earlier building was retained.


This site is featured in Scotland’s Churches Trust guide book Borders & East Lothian, reference number 115.

You can see more details on the SCT website.

Melrose Abbey

Newtown Parish Church, Newtown St Boswell’s

St Boswell’s Parish Church (St Modan’s)

Dryburgh Abbey

Earlston Parish Church

Lauder Parish Church

Fala and Soutra Parish Church

The former Crichton Parish Church (St Mary and St Kentigern)

Borthwick Parish Church (St Kentigern’s)

Newbattle Parish Church

St Cuthbert’s Parish Church, Edinburgh

By Road

Leave Edinburgh on the A722 through Gilmerton. After passing Butterfly World carry straight on on to the B6392 and in Eskbank go straight over the roundabout on to the B703. The turn to Newbattle Abbey is on your left in a little under a mile.

Coming out of Newbattle Abbey turn left on to the B703. This joins the A7 which you will follow as far as North Middleton where you turn left for Borthwick church. After visiting the church carry on down the hill to cross Gore Water. Turn right at the crossroads, and then bear right for Crichton. The turn to the church will be on your right.

From the church go into Crichton, joining the B6367 southwards for a quarter of a mile before turning left to reach the A68. Turn right when you get to it. Follow the A68 as far as Soutra Hill, where you can make a short detour to the right on the B6368 to get to Soutra Aisle.

Back on the A68 continue for a little over 4 miles to the right turn for Kirktonhill. Return through Oxton to the A68, which you will follow to Earlston. Turn left on to the A6105, and immediately right on to the B6356. Pause at Scott's View, and then continue to Dryburgh Abbey.

From the Abbey follow the minor road eastwards until you reach the B6404 where you turn right. This brings you through St Boswells. Turn right on to the A68, and then bear left as you come to Newtown St Boswells. Turn left on the B6398 through Bowden, and then right on to the B6359. Follow this northwards, and then, having completed a circuit of the Eildon Hills, you arrive in Melrose.

By Cycle

Cyclists will leave Edinburgh by way of Moredun and Danderhall. Whilst the route avoids busy roads as much as possible, particular care will be needed when crossing Sheriffhall roundabout. The route takes you on to NCN1 for a quarter of a mile in Eskbank but you will then turn south towards the B703 and Newbattle Abbey.

From Newbattle Abbey you go through Newtongrange and Mayfield to reach Crichton and its church. From Crichton you will retrace your route for  a mile and a half before keeping left for Borthwick.

From Borthwick continue westwards. After crossing the A7 follow the road to the left, and after another half mile you will be joining NCN 1. Follow this route through the Moorfoot Hills to Innerleithen, and then along the Tweed valley all the way to Melrose.

By Foot

Dere street, an old Roman road, was the pilgrimage route from Edinburgh to Jedburgh. This can be walked from just south of Soutra Aisle to Kirktonhill (http://heritagepaths.co.uk/pathdetails.php?HPath=HP196).

You can then join The Girthgate from Oxton to Threepwood.  (http://heritagepaths.co.uk/pathdetails.php?HPath=HP278). From there it is a two mile walk on minor roads to join The Southern Upland Way which you can follow to Melrose.

By Public Transport

There are bus services from Edinburgh to Newbattle (stopping opposite Newbattle Abbey Crescent ). The same bus continues to North Middleton from where you can walk to Borthwick church.

There is a bus services from Edinburgh to Kelso and to Jedburgh stopping at Pathhead (for Crichton), Soutra Mains (on the A68 – a 3/4 mile walk from Soutra Aisle) and St Boswells.

From Soutra Mains you can catch the Edinburgh-Jedburgh bus, and change in Newtown St Boswells for Melrose.

Public transport information can be found on the Traveline website.

The journey begins below Edinburgh Castle on the site of Edinburgh’s oldest church, St Cuthbert’s. Here the gentle Saint of Lothian and Northumbria is celebrated with contemporary devotion. We follow his life story by following the Roman route south to Dalkeith and Eskbank, from which you can divert to Newbattle Abbey where the much later Cistercians of Melrose founded a sister house in a similar situation by a wooded riverside.

South of Gorebridge, we cut across by the medieval churches of Borthwick and Crichton, associated with Kentigern and each linked to a substantial castle, to rejoin the Roman road, which Cuthbert used frequently on his missionary and pastoral journeys. The modern road though veers off course, and to find the original orientation divert again briefly to Soutra Aisle, where little remains of a major medieval hospital. The road then continued by Kirkton of Channellkirk where Cuthbert possibly spent his childhood. This wild hill country shows why in his youth Cuthbert was known as a shepherd and a soldier.

But spiritual dreams and longings took the young Cuthbert south. After Lauder and Earlston, Scott’s View on the hill road looks down directly on to Old Melrose. Cuthbert came to the monastery in this bend of the river, founded by St Aidan, just after the missionary from Iona had died on Lindisfarne. As the monks stood shocked by the news, the young soldier galloped up and made straight for the church. The wise and kindly Prior Boisil immediately saw that the future had arrived. Cuthbert was received into the monastery beginning at the bottom with the humblest tasks and service. Our journey continues by way of beautiful Dryburgh and St Boswell’s, named for Boisil, round the Eildon Hills to Melrose.

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