The total length of your walk is about 13 miles so you might have to organise a taxi, bus or lift! You could also stay overnight in Kelso or Jedburgh and do half of the walk each day. Note that you are following the Border(s) Abbeys Way whose logo is a W with a line underneath. Note the symbol for the St Cuthbert’s Way whose path you share at Dere Street. If you follow this you’ll end up in Lindisfarne! The BAW is circular so make sure you’re going in the direction of Jedburgh or you’ll end up back at Melrose! This is particularly important at the River Tweed in Kelso which you leave for the River Teviot and Jedburgh.
Park in Kelso There is plenty of free parking in Kelso. The handiest car park is The Knowes Car Park, The Butts, Kelso Satnav Postcode: TD5 7BA. The journey is mainly on motorways and dual carriageways with a country road at the end.
Section 1: Kelso to Roxburgh 3.68 miles
The first section, starting at the Abbey, is the shortest but involves some road walking out of Kelso along the River Tweed to Junction Pool and down to the River Teviot. There are fine views of Floors Castle and the Abbey on the way. Once beside the river, the walk is easy and pleasant. If you feel you can’t walk too far, this is the section for you. From Kelso Abbey, follow the signs out to the main road, to cross Rennie’s fine bridge over the River Tweed, which has stood here since 1803. Turn right on the A699, pausing to admire the grand classic archway ahead, designed by James Gillespie Graham in 1822 and once the main entrance to the long-demolished Springwood Park House.
Follow the road as it swings left at the point where Teviot and Tweed meet. This is one of the most favoured (and expensive) salmon fishing beats on the Tweed, and is much in demand. Go right with the road, to cross the Teviot by another lovely old bridge, dating from 1795. In a further 250 yards, cross the wall on the left by a stile and go down steps to the riverside path. As the path swings left with the river, the ruins of Roxburgh Castle are seen on the steep slope to the right. This fortress once dominated Roxburgh town, of which no trace now remains. Continue along the riverside path for nearly 1½ miles. You may see mallard, moorhen, mute swan, oystercatcher and heron along this stretch of the river. The path eventually leaves the river to climb a bank and continue along a field edge, giving a good view of Heiton Mill across the river. A stile leads us on to a minor road. Turn left through Roxburgh Mill Farm and continue towards Roxburgh village, with the imposing former railway viaduct an unmistakable marker ahead of you.
Section 2: Roxburgh to Nisbet 4.47 miles
The second section is very easy walking initially along the River Teviot and then through open countryside along a disused railway line. This flat section, with lovely open views of the countryside, is less varied and a little longer than the first section.
The path goes left, down a lane past a furniture workshop, and back to the river to turn right under a viaduct. Continue along the river bank for about 2 miles. Across the river is Roxburghe Hotel; in its extensive grounds is the championship-standard Roxburghe Golf Course. There are also five sizeable caves in the river bank. One is called the Horse Cave. Legend has it that it was used as a hiding place for Bonnie Prince Charlie’s horses in 1745 while he and his Jacobite army were marching from Kelso to Jedburgh. As you draw level with an island in the river, turn right at the dyke, following the edge of the field uphill to a stile and steps which give access to the old railway line. Turn left and follow the line for just over ½ mile, leaving it down steps to a minor road.
Turn left for a few yards, cross the road and continue up the track as signed. This track soon rejoins the old railway line, which is followed for more than 1½ miles, a flat and easy path, to Nisbet, with the river swinging through a series of broad curves away to your left.
Section 3: Nisbet to Jedburgh 5 miles
This is the most interesting section although it is slightly longer and involves the only slight incline of the day – walking up the Roman Road of Dere Street. This is a wide, well-made path and doubles with the St Cuthbert’s Way. The final section into Jedburgh has been laid out through pleasant gardens and ends at the Abbey. On reaching the road at Nisbet, you turn left and cross the river. Once across, turn immediately right down some steps to follow the flood bank and then take the riverside for about 800 yards. At a track turn left, then turn right and left, as way-marked, to re-join the old railway line for a final section to Jedfoot, where the Jed Water joins the Teviot. From this stretch there is a fine view across the river to the Waterloo Monument on Penniel Heugh, a noted Borders landmark which can be also reached by a signposted route from the Harestanes Visitor Centre.
A stile leads you out to the A698 road. Cross the road with great care and follow the signs (also now showing St Cuthbert’s Way) to the start of Dere Street, a clear track leading straight uphill. The track is followed for about 800 yards, before you leave it to turn right (St Cuthbert’s Way goes straight on). Go down a path which leads to the access road at Mount Ulston. Follow this road downhill to join another road. Turn left and follow this road down to the A68 (take care again!) to take the riverside path which starts opposite. Follow the path which becomes a road. Where two bridges cross the river, cross the first bridge. Continue keeping left and joining a path that passes through a subway under the road continuing to follow the riverside path. You’ll have a good view of the abbey ahead here. Pass under a subway to the roadside opposite the end of this section, at Jedburgh Abbey.