If you are looking for an easy long-distance trail with a varying landscape and lots of history along the way, the Borders Abbeys Way is definitely what you’re looking for. It is easy compared to other Long Distance Trails and given the good connection with the local public transport it is very conveniently located.
I personally started the trail a couple of years back and only finished it in March of 2023 doing it not at all one stage after the other, but all the way mixed through. The first stage I did was from Jedburgh to Hawick, since this was my local base. The walk was easy going and even in wet conditions leading out through nice woodland and heading alongside fields before dropping down into Denholm and on from there.
Due to landslides along the Teviot, there was a huge detour to be taken, but the map showed this detour pretty well and led to easy walking, although it was a long way to walk on a rural road. I don’t know if by now the path is back to its normal run, but I guess it might have to be rerouted due to the unsafe part of the way.
The second stage I did, was from Kelso to Jedburgh, taking the bus to Kelso in the morning and having all the time in the world to get back to Jedburgh, which was really nice, following the Teviot for a while before heading through the countryside towards Jedburgh and finally along the Jed water. This option makes it possible to spend some time exploring Kelso itself or simply look at the old abbey before walking to Jedburgh.
Those two sections are relatively short with about 21km each, however, there are two more or less shorter sections one from Hawick to Selkirk and from Selkirk to Melrose. The Hawick-Selkirk stretch was my next choice of section and with regular connections to Hawick it is easily reached, even in the wintertime. Selkirk doesn’t have direct connection to Jedburgh but there are connections either via Hawick or via Galashiels and so the route can easily be done with Jedburgh as a base, or if chosen any other border town.
This section is a wee bit more challenging than the straightforward bit from Kelso to Jedburgh, having a couple of hills along the way and getting quite wet underfoot, the nature and abundance of beauty you encounter on this stretch was the most alongside any of the stretches, in my opinion.
Not following any suggestion about the way, I only recently found out that I must have done most of the walk in the best way possible, since for most stretches I walked it clockwise and it is generally believed that this way you can enjoy more and better views, I made it a habit of walking backwards at times so I don’t think I miss out on a lot of views in general 😉.
The shortest section of all is the one between Selkirk and Melrose which I followed next, it leads you not just to beautiful Melrose Abbey but also past Abbotsford, the Home of Sir Walter Scott. In general, what I remember of walking this section is horrendous rain (except of the last couple of metres) and a lot of road walking, which as you know does annoy me a fair bit. But still, it is a nice route and the last stretch along the River Tweed is very peaceful.
Having always disliked walking a route twice and a section of the Borders Abbeys Way being included in the Eildon Hill walk I had decided to leave this stretch out, taking the bus to Newstead instead and heading up to the Rymers Stone to start walking from there to Dryburgh Abbey from where I took a circular route, following the BAW until Clintmains before heading back to St Boswells on the St Cuthbert’s Way. It is easy to catch a bus back to Jedburgh from St Boswells and the way I did it, shortened the last and longest stretch, towards Kelso.
And so for the last bit, I took the connection to Clintmains on another day and walking all the way to Kelso, from where I got the bus back. This stretch of walk shows lovely nature alongside the Tweed before heading over hills and roads towards Kelso, showing you a side of the town, you usually not see when simply visiting there. Lovely views over the town and the borderlands are included.
Before heading back down to the Tweed you will see the gate to Floors Castle and then across the river you will be able to see what in the past was the town of Roxburgh alongside the ruins of Roxburgh Castle.
Alongside each of those stops you will have plenty of opportunities to stop and explore the towns you come to. There are enough bus connections to get you back in time and you might even be able to enjoy a dinner before heading back into Jedburgh or wherever you started from.
If you should choose to do the walks with a tent, then there are plenty of opportunities for wildcamping or even camping grounds along the way. It is your choice if you take the more relaxed way of a fixed location or the harder one of camping along the way or even just an accommodation in the different towns you get to. There are still plenty of opportunities to grab a meal at one of the local cafes, restaurants and bistros if you are interested in eating out and enjoying yourself along your walk. I personally packed some picknicks for most of the walks and enjoyed some quiet minutes by the rivers before heading on along my way, there are plenty opportunities for that.
In general, I will say that the Borders Abbeys Way is easy and a great start or training opportunity when getting into the Great Trails of Scotland and the border country is definitely one of the most beautiful in Scotland, sure all of it is beautiful but the borders are often underrated, people tend to try and explore most of the area above the Antonine Wall line, and while attempting that miss out on the beauty of the Scottish Borders or even Dumfries and Galloway, Ayrshire.