Scottish National Trail: Melrose to Traquair

Leave town roads in the valley for tracks through hilly moorland and forest with abundant elevated viewpoints.

Hiking Moderate

30 km
975 m
912 m
7-8 hrs
Low Point
83 m
High Point
522 m
Scottish National Trail: Melrose to Traquair Map

In Melrose, the Scottish National Trail leaves St Cuthberts Way and joins the route of the Southern Upland Way (SUW), now following hexagonal markers. The trail follows High Street through town, but you should take the brief detour up Abbey Street to see the Melrose Abbey, and to take a tour if you are there during open hours. It’s a stately Gothic-style monastery, and is the burial place of the heart of Robert the Bruce.


Melrose has shops at which to resupply, and so does Galashiels, a bit farther on. After passing through Melrose, the SUW takes a dirt track along the River Tweed, then through the village of Tweedbank, and along the river again. After a short section through farm fields on a hill, the trail joins with streets and weaves through neighborhoods on the edge of Galashiels. Tweedbank and Galashiels each have train stations that connect to Edinburgh.

Leaving Galashiels, the trail becomes a dirt path once again and immediately begins a rather long but gradual climb through pastures and a small woodland. After crossing a wide col, the trail steadily drops all the way back down the River Tweed. There, you’ll cross a stone arch bridge over a swift section of the river, and turn to traverse the valley side on an estate road. Next, uphill walking resumes, taking a rather steep glen that is mostly shaded by plantations.

When a col is finally reached, and the plantation turns to moorland, it may look like the end of the climb, but it isn’t. The SUW turns to follow the hillcrest toward the very top. Once there, you’ll come upon the 3 Brethren, a trio of larger-than-life cairns that date to the 16th century. The view here is quite grand, over the landscape in all directions, all the way to the Eildon Hills and beyond.

This hill, called Yair Hill, is the single biggest climb of the day, but the work is far from over. Next comes the long and scenic ridge walk over Minch Moor. It’s a footpath through moorland and occasional forestry, with repeated ups and downs and some boggy terrain. Be sure to save energy and rations for this section, because it can take longer than expected. Interesting sights along the way include the Cheese Well––a small spring that’s said to give luck in exchange for offerings––and an artwork of large rings burnt into the heather.

An efficient descent leads finally into Traquair, which is a small place with only a few B&Bs. The town of Innerleithen, just down the road, has more for accommodations and supplies. Alternatively, decent wild camping can be found in the hills before reaching Traquair.




Hiking along trails with some uneven terrain and small hills. Small rocks and roots may be present.

Medium Exposure

2 out of 4

The trail contains some obstacles such as outcroppings and rock which could cause injury.


2 out of 4

Away from help but easily accessed.

Best time to visit

all year round


  • Wildlife
  • Historical
  • Picturesque
  • Summit Hike
  • Dog friendly
  • Wild flowers
  • Water features
  • Family friendly
  • Forestry or heavy vegetation