Heritage Path of the Month.

Minchmoor Track is our Heritage Path of the Month for February 2024, click here to view the details

More about Minchmoor Track.

At the junction of the A707 and A708, a roadside wooden post and sign, reading Philiphaugh Walks, points northwest across the road and into the track, tarred initially, towards Philiphaugh Farm. After some 300m, there is a car park on the right, where there is an information board with a map, and a white-on-brown sign reading “corbielinn. 3 brethren”. This route is marked by yellow arrows on subsequent waymarker posts. A stony track leads up through woods and eventually into open ground above. After almost 2km, a small reservoir is passed, and the route traverses an area of stones and rubble where the burn has flooded, the onward route – more of a quad-bike track now and eventually only a pedestrian path – being on the north side. Approaching the burn junction at NT434304, the path veers away from the burn and more to the north, heading directly for the Three Brethren, now in direct view. The mapped line by-passes the summit by some 300m, but the objective for the modern user is likely these three distinctive cairns. The surroundings are open heather moorland, so either is possible. Approaching the cairns, there is a fence, easily crossed by a stile. The route westward is now part of the Southern Upland Way and is waymarked.

OS Landranger 73 (Peebles, Galashiels & Selkirk)

The Minchmoor Track is one of the oldest paths in Scotland and one of the best candidates for a pre-Roman route. While firm evidence in support of the Minchmoor as a Pictish road has yet to be unearthed, the sheer age of the road is demonstrated in particular by the defensive earthworks (including the ancient Catrail and Wallace’s Trench) passed along the way.

At least three variants of the route have been claimed – the oldest is said to have run over the shoulder of Peat Law and across Linglee Hill. That route was replaced by that which runs up from Philiphaugh as described here, although the old route did not run directly by the Three Brethren. In its turn, the Philiphaugh route was replaced by that up from Yarrowford, which is labelled as Minchmoor Road by the OS at least as far back as their 1st edition 6″ mapping. This last variant is the only one shown on Roy’s mapping of Lowland Scotland (1752-1755); it is marked as road from Peebles to Selkirk.

What we know for sure is that the route across the Minch Moor was the main Borders highway between east and west via Peebles into the medieval era.  It was mentioned by Edward I in his Itinerary and referred to in the State Documents of 1505 when a man was hired to keep the road free from robbers for the eight days around the Roxburgh Fair on 5th August. In 1645, the Marquess of Montrose is thought to have retreated along the Minchmoor track to Peebles, after his defeat by the Covenanter army at the Battle of Philiphaugh.

The route has been used for all manner of purposes in the ensuing centuries and is still marked in part as an Old Drove Road on the OS maps. Today, the Southern Upland Way follows much of the Minchmoor Track’s general line, but those in the know will be able to spot where the modern route has deviated from its predecessor.

More about Heritage Paths

Learn about the history of some of the oldest transport routes in Scotland. Heritage Paths records the history of over 400 routes that criss-cross the Scottish landscape. From Roman Roads to Military Roads, find out how the route you are following came into being.

As well as historical information, you’ll find a modern-day route description along with start and finish details. Change the background mapping in our interactive viewer and time travel along your favourite Heritage Path from 1843 to today.