Heritage Path of the Month.

Herring Road is our Heritage Path of the Month for March 2024, click here to view the details

More about the Herring Road.

From Halls (NT653727), head SSE in the direction of Hartside where a signposted track heads east for 300m before passing through a gate then heading south uphill on a good track. At NT658715, where the track turns east below Easter Hartside Edge, instead pass through a gate and head south more steeply uphill. At NT657708, the Herring Road is re-joined by the good track which has ascended the Edge, but shortly diverges again from this more dominant line (the old right of way to Friardykes and Beltondod) and instead heads SSW entering Crystal Rig windfarm at NT654702. Here a notice board shows the relationship between newer windfarm tracks and the right of way network. Keep on the same general alignment to cross the upper reaches of Mossy Burn and reach the first windfarm access track. From here a combination of ScotWays markerposts and additional windfarm signposts aid navigation through the windfarm. Descend Spartleton Edge on its west side to reach the Whiteadder Water, 1km south of Johnscleugh.
Continue by road SSE to the Whiteadder Reservoir, round its western end to Penshiel and south by a track to cross the Longformacus road. From here, the promoted Herring Road route proceeds by a right of way on the east side of Killpallet Burn, passes through the march fence and descends to Dye Cottage. After crossing the Dye Water, go south to NT647562 to follow the Southern Upland Way (passing Twinlaw Cairns) as far as Braidshawrig.
From Braidshawrig the direct and shortest route to Lauder is by an old track going southwest across the moor on the west side of Blythe Water. In 2km, the SUW is re-joined. The waymarked SUW route goes southwest to the plantation ahead where the wall at the edge of the wood is followed to its south end. Turn right after a stile to enter the wood and take the first turning left down to Wanton Walls. Continue down to cross the A697 and follow the waymarked route through a wood and over the Leader Water by Thirlestane Castle to Lauder.

OS Landranger 67 (Duns, Dunbar & Eyemouth) & 73 (Peebles, Galashiels & surrounding area)

The Herring Road is thought to have been predominantly in use during the 18th and 19th centuries when the herring industry was strong, although records of the inland trade in fish go back to the mid-17th century. The route was used by people bringing home a stock of salted herring for winter use and by fishwives carrying huge creels of herring from Dunbar to the markets in Lauder.
The exact line of the Herring Road appears to have moved over time, possibly dependent upon ground conditions. Lauder wasn’t the only destination, for example, in the eighteenth century people from Westruther were said to travel to Dunbar at Lammas to get a stock of herring for the winter. Fish-carriers or cadgers also transported fish inland for sale. Old maps show a network of routes across the Lammermuirs; the promoted Herring Road signposted today is thus just one variant.
Gradually the speed and ease of the railway lines left little need for people to carry huge weights of fish over the high ground of the Lammermuirs and the routes declined in use. It is probably a long time since a herring has passed by this way. More recently, the Herring Road has inspired artistic reflection and interpretation. Phamie Gow’s 2002 album Lammermuir includes a track called The Herring Road. Rita Bradd’s evocative poem Herrin Trail was published in 2011. In 2016, Creel Loaders by Gardner Molloy was completed and installed at the junction of Victoria Street and Castle Gate, near Dunbar harbour. This stone statue depicts a woman being loaded up with a basket of fish in preparation for the long walk to Lauder – we suggest then that Dunbar Harbour should still be considered an appropriate place to start a journey along the Herring Road.

ScotWays has long produced a map of the Lammermuirs which shows the Herring Road and other historic routes. 

More about Heritage Paths

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