Explore for a Day

Itinerary 4 - Blackadder, Whiteadder and the Tweed

Itinerary 4 – Blackadder, Whiteadder and the Tweed The Hirsel copyright Douglas and Angus Estates

This route starts in Kelso and takes you through the eastern Borders northwards to Duns before heading back south to Coldstream on the border with England. The area lies between the waters of the Blackadder, Whiteadder and the River Tweed.

Marvel at the remains of a 12th century abbey before enjoying panoramic views from the top of a more fortified ruin. Take in the delights of a little-known nature reserve, then head south to where the British Army’s oldest regiment originated to explore the grounds of a former Prime Minister.

Itinerary 4  - Blackadder, Whiteadder and the Tweed

Route Map

Kelso Abbey (14)                                                                                                       

Kelso Abbey is situated at the edge of the town centre on Abbey Row, just off the A699, a short distance from the road bridge over the River Tweed. There’s plenty of parking in Kelso and the Abbey is well signposted.


Hume Castle (15)      

From the Abbey take the A699 (Roxburgh Street/Edinburgh Road) towards Edinburgh. At the roundabout take the left exit onto the A6089 and after 0.4 miles/0.6 km turn right onto the B6364 towards Greenlaw. After 4.8 miles/7.7 km take the signposted left turn for Hume Castle where there’s a parking area.


Duns Castle Nature Reserve (16)

Return to the B6364 and turn left towards Greenlaw. After 2.3 miles/3.7 km turn right onto the A6105 and follow this road through Greenlaw (by turning right and then left) until you reach Duns (7.9 miles/12.7 km). Approach Duns Castle from Castle Street, off the A6112, in the northern outskirts of the town; there’s car parking before the lodge archway (through which cars are not allowed). To get to the reserve, walk down towards the castle and turn right just before the next archway.

You can reach Edin’s Hall Broch by continuing north on the A6112 for a further 5.6 miles/9.0 km and turning left onto a minor road. From the designated parking area it’s about a 45 minute walk (1.4 miles/2.2 km) along the private drive and across a spectacular stretch of the Whiteadder Water to the site.


The Hirsel Country Park, Coldstream (18)

Head south from Duns on the A6112 via Swinton to Coldstream (12.5 miles/20 kms). At the junction with the A698, it’s worth turning left off route to see the picturesque Coldstream Bridge across the Tweed, which marks the border with England. A memorial stone has been erected here to commemorate the raising of the famous Coldstream Guards in 1660. Return to the junction and keep left on the A697 for 0.6 miles/1.0 km before turning right into the Hirsel Estate.

Click to download the Itinerary 4 - Blackadder, Whiteadder and the Tweed route map

14. Kelso Abbey

The ruins of Kelso Abbey are one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture surviving anywhere in Britain. Built in 1128 by Benedictine monks from Tiron Abbey, near Chartres in northern France, it was once the grandest of the Border abbeys. The remains include part of the nave, the western transept and half of the great west front and porch. Marvel at what remains of the great western door and imagine how intricately sculptured it once was. Although Kelso became one of the largest and wealthiest of Scotland’s religious houses, its proximity to the English border exposed it to frequent attack.

Open all year

Grid reference: NT728338


Wheelchair access


15. Hume Castle

Although Hume Castle looks more like a crusader fortress, it is in fact a genuine medieval castle that formed the basis for a folly in later years. Hume is a rare example of a simple courtyard castle of the 13th century and was said to be one of the most formidable defensive castles in the Scottish Borders. From the top of the curtain walls you can see the whole of the Borders spread out around you in every direction.

Open all year

Grid reference: NT705414



16. Duns Castle Nature Reserve

Duns Castle Nature Reserve is a little known gem! It consists of two man-made lakes, Hen Poo and Mill Dam, and extensive woodland areas that form part of the Duns Castle Estate. The stunning wetland provides a habitat for wildfowl, mute swans and many species of native duck, and the surrounding woods are home to green and spotted woodpeckers, nuthatches, badgers and roe deer. Stretch your legs along one of several paths, or choose one of the many seats around the lake where you can sit and watch the world go by.

Open all year

Grid reference: NT778550


Symbols:  parking, paths, wheelchair access, wildlife watching


17. Edin’s Hall Broch

Edin’s Hall Broch is one of very few Iron Age brochs (circular dry-stone towers) found in southern Scotland and well worth a visit. It sits within an earlier prehistoric hill-fort which is surrounded by impressive ramparts and ditches. Edin’s Hall has most of the features of a broch, including a massively thick (over 16 feet/5 metres) circular stone wall, a long narrow entrance passage, guard chambers flanking the doorway, wall chambers and a stone stairway rising to the top of the wall.

Open all year

Grid reference: NT772603


Parking, paths


18. The Hirsel Country Park, Coldstream

This attractive country park in the grounds of Hirsel House has something for everyone. It’s a haven for wildlife including otters, badgers and native birds that you can observe from the comfort and secrecy of a purpose built hide. Colour coded walks take you along a variety of routes through woods, along the river Leet and around the Hirsel Lake. There’s also a museum about estate life, arts and crafts workshops and a tearoom.

Car parking charge

Grounds open all year (house not open to the public) 

Grid reference: NT833405


Parking, paths, toilets, refreshments, information, wheelchair access, wildlife watching