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The Location


Buckholm Tower and Ladhope Wood are just north of Galashiels in the Scottish Borders. The walk starts on the outskirts of Gala.

What's there

A long walk of about 6 miles around Buckholm hill on narrow paths, farm tracks and forest roads. The walk passes an old tower house, and you can visit the 'Dobies grave' cairn with a small detour. Galashiels has a number of shops, cafes and pubs. While the walk is reasonably level, it is not really suitable for disabled access. There are stiles on route which could be tricky for large dogs.

How to get there

Postcode for Satnav - TD1 2JL. This is for Heatheryett Drive.
Galashiels is on the main A7 road from Carlisle to Edinburgh. Heading down the A7 from Edinburgh, about 600 yards into town, you will see a shopping centre down on your right, then a left hand turn signposted 'Cemetery' and 'School', just before the golf course turn off. Go up the cemetary road, or Ladhope Bank, and follow this road right along, until it ends at the car park by the cemetery.

The Walk

Click here to see a routemap of the walk. It will open in a new tab.
The roadway continues past Heatheryett car park along a track to a house. Follow the road uphill past the cemetery to this house, then turn left and follow the path up the field to a wall. Now turn left again and follow the path with the wall on your left. This path starts to bend away from the wall and then goes through a gate into a field. Follow the path through the field, then follow the contour of the hill to another gate on the other side of the filed. The path now continues to bend right over moorland, and eventually reaches the Old Buckholm Tower. Pass round the tower on the right, and take the trackway uphill, then follow it right up to a roadway. Turn right onto the road, then follow it for just over a mile until your reach the entrance to Ladhope Woodland.

The path splits in two just at the entrance to the wood, about 50 yards from the road. If you take the right fork, it will lead you up to a stone cairn called Dobie's Grave, about 300 yards up the path. Take the left fork into the forest, and walk uphill, then right through the wood to the far side, ignoring any paths off to the right. When you reach the wall boundary, turn right and follow the path down the side of the wood. After almost a mile you come to a trackway crossing the one you are on. Turn left and follow this path round the edge of the wood until you come to the golf course. Now turn right and follow the path round the edge of the golf course until it eventually goes down some steps, crossrs a bridge over a burn, then takes you back through the woods your car.

The map shows an alternate route in purple that passes Dobie's grave. You can use this as a short cut, either to avoid Buckholm tower on the way out, or Ladhope wood on the way back.

Ladhope wood

Buckholm tower photo by Iain Lees photo reproduced under Wiki Commons copyright CC BY-SA 2.0,
Ladhope woodland photo, copyright Jim Barton and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

History

There is a local legend that in 1790 a piper called Dobie took a bet that he could play his bagpipes all the way from Lauder to Galashiels. However he did not make it, but collapsed and died just north of Gala, and the pile of stones marks his grave.

Buckholm tower is reputed to be haunted by the ghost of James Pringle a former laird and a persecutor of Covernanters. The Covernanters were protestants who firmly believed that Jesus Christ was the head of the church, not the King, and this lead to violent clashes with the King's men. As a King's man, Pringle used to hunt down Covernanters with his ferocious dogs. One day he got wind of a Covernanter prayer meeting on Ladhope Moor and he lead a company of dragoons there to arrest them. However when he got there, all had fled except Geordie Elliott and his son William. Geordie had been badly injured when thrown from his horse, and his son had stayed with him to help.
The two men were carried off to the dungeon at Buckholm Tower, where they were to be interrogated. Pringle hit the brandy bottle and then went down to the dungeon and started to beat the two Elliotts up, then strung them from the ceiling on meathooks. Old Geordie was badly injured already and could not have withstood this treatment for long.. After a while, Pringle left them and went back upstairs or more brandy.

Now Geordie's wife Isobel, who had once worked for Pringle, came knocking on the door looking for her husband and son. Enraged by this, Pringle dragged her down to the dungeon and showed her the bodies hanging from the stone cellar roof. Old Isobel screamed and fell to the ground in despair, then Pringle cursed her and called her an old witch. The woman in turn, stood up and cursed the Laird for his wicked acts telling him that God would repay him for his deeds.
Muttering a drunken oath Pringle grabbed the old woman and dragged her down to the dungeon. The woman looked up and saw what she first thought were two carcasses of meat hanging from the ceiling., then she realised that they were her husband and son. The distraught woman screamed, then staggered from the dungeon, fell to the ground and sobbed uncontrollably. The wicked laird looked down upon her, calling her an old witch. The old woman slowly dragged herself to her feet, her eyes burning with hatred. She faced the drunken laird and cursed him for what he had done.
She convinced Pringle that he was cursed and ever after he was haunted by ghostly hounds. His servants would hear screams coming from his room, and on entering, would see him frantically beating off the hounds that only he could see. Pringle eventually died a painful death still convinced that he was being attacked by the unseen hounds.

The year after the laird died, the locals saw a ghostly figure running for his life towards the Tower, closely followed by a baying pack of ghostly hounds. For several nights after, the people in the tower heard these hounds baying, and a disembodied voice shouting for help, and then they heard banging on the door of the tower. When they opened the door, the banging stopped, but no-one was there. On the night of the first anniversary of the laird's death the terrifying sounds came again, but now they were inside the tower, down in the dungeon. Now, the story goes, if you visit the ruined tower on certain nights in June, you will hear the baying hounds and banging noises coming from the dungeon.

Facilities on this Walk

Galashiels provides most of the facilities below
Cafe nearby
Pub nearby
Poo bins available
Toilets available
Historical buildings near the walk

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