Follow the trail of a wonderful love story
There is some romantic history to discover at Thornielee as well as walks, views and wildlife.
One of the folk tales collected by Sir Walter Scott in his Minstrelsy of the Scottish Borders tells of Muckle Mou’d (big mouthed) Meg, the notoriously ugly daughter of the Murray family. You’ll find out how she found true love from interpretation panels near the car park. Look out for the ruins of Elibank Castle, the Murrays’ home, which you can still see across the valley. Our guide map to the Tweed Valley Forest Park will help you explore.
Find the essentials nearby
The nearest public toilets are in Innerleithen or Galashiels. You’ll find plenty of places to eat along the Tweed valley.
A gentle meander with plenty of places to sit. Spot the butterflies this forest is renowned for, or the anthills on the edge of the pines.
Largely firm gravel surface, with some loose stones. Some short moderate slopes and a few steeper ramps. Regular seats along route.
½ miles / 1.0 km Allow ¼ hours
Sit patiently for a while in summer and you'll meet some of the fascinating small inhabitants of Thornielee. The forest is renowned for its butterfly population, especially the south-facing grassy slopes below the car park, warmed by the sun. Look for Northern Brown Argus, a priority species for conservation that usually flies in June, and the pretty Small Copper, which can be seen in May and June.
A long climb to the top of Thornielee Forest is rewarded with magnificent views. Pass the mysterious Shepherds Cairns.
Rough earth and grass paths with exposed tree roots and several muddy sections. Long steep slopes for up to 500m.
2 ½ miles / 4.1 km Allow 1½ hours
Discover the Shepherd’s Cairns, impressive jumbles of stones that were once a burial place. Nobody knows whose body lay here, but the views over the Tweed Valley make it a wonderful resting place.
Mountain biking trails
The grassy slopes below the car park are just right for butterflies like the Small Copper and the Northern Brown Argus. You can find out more about them along the Meadow Trail.
How to get here
Thornielee forest is just off the A72, about 4 ¼ miles (6.8 km) east of Innerleithen and 5 ½ miles west of Galashiels. The car park is at grid reference NT 402 366.
TD1 3LN is the nearest postcode.
Buses between Galashiels and Innerleithen pass the forest. Check Traveline Scotland for timetables and fares.
Thornielee is just one of many wonderful forests in the Tweed Valley Forest Park. At Glenkinnon, just along the road, there’s a charming trail through riverside woodland, and at Caberston you can climb to an Iron Age hillfort.
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