Best of Both Worlds
South East Scotland
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Route at a Glance
This route really takes you into the hills and back country roads. It plays on both sides of the border between England and Scotland. It is rich in the culture and History of these two Countries. You can literally feel it in the air.
A quick overview of the route will show you that it has been designed to tag on the “Three Lochs Run”. This little route is a gem.
PRO TIP – Do this add on either independently or alongside the main route. Whatever you decide, do not leave the area without doing it.
Within seven miles of departing Moffat you will ride alongside the Devils Beef Tub – A deep, dramatic hollow in the hills. The unusual name derives from its use by the Border Reivers, namely the Johnstone clan, whose enemies referred to them as “devils”, They used the “TUB” to hide stolen cattle from England. If you do stop, lean over the edge and it will all make sense. A perfect natural enclave to hide, secure and protect many hundred head of cattle.
The route leads on to one of our favourite roads over Talla and Meggett reservoirs. Please take note of an amazing photographic opportunity at the very top of Talla. After a steep climb you will come across two small places to pull over. Take the opportunity to stop, dismount and look back. You will be grandly rewarded.
I could wax lyrical about this entire route but I will resist the urge. However, besides some stunning roads the next major feature is Kielder Dam – The biggest Man made Dam in the UK (some references say Europe – ?). Do look for the small unassuming little signs that merely and quietly announce that you are now in England (or Scotland on the reverse).
More stunning quiet back roads and then finally on to the last leg of the journey which is also the third leg of the Three Lochs Run. Be prepared for a roller coaster and some amazing cambers and twists. You might want to do this stretch two or three time to enjoy it without intimidation. The Bike friendly Moffat then awaits you.
Route Notes & Highlights
(Icons on the map)
- Moffat – The biking heart of the region. A quaint picturesque market village with a variety of choice in shops and eateries. The home of the renowned Moffat toffee shop. Also the burial place of Tar Macadam the creator of the tarmac as we know it.
- Devil’s Beef Tub – The Devil’s Beef Tub is a deep, dramatic hollow in the hills 3 miles North of Moffat. The unusual name derives from its use by the Border Reivers, namely the Johnstone clan, to hide their plundered cattle from raiding expeditions across into England. Their enemies, the English, referred to them as “devils”!
- Talla Reservoir – Believe it or not this reservoir actually serves the city of Edinburgh and has done since its construction in the early 1900’s! It has become one of southern Scotland’s iconic viewpoints and photographic points for motorcyclists. There is a layby near the top of a steep climb at its South Easterly end.
- Photo Oportunity – What is now becoming an iconic motorcycling photo point.
- Megget Reservoir – Along with Talla, this reservoir also feeds Edinburgh and all it’s 64 million tonnes of water is held back by the largest earth dam in Scotland. Also a lovely ride along its shores.
- St Mary’s Loch – St Mary’s Loch is the largest natural loch in the Scottish Borders. Often mistaken, there are actually two Lochs here, St Mary’s being the northern and longest and Loch of the Lowes being it’s southern sister. It is actually the Loch of the Lowes that is more commonly visited due to the small café on it’s shores.
- Hawick Museum – The Jimmie Guthrie and Steve Hislop exhibitions make this little museum a motorcyclists’ Mecca. Plenty more on show detailing the history of the town and it’s people.
- Carter Bar – This has become a popular tourist stop off point to take photographs. There are two stones on either side of the A68 with England and Scotland emblazoned on it purely for this purpose. In 1575 Carter Bar was the scene of the Raid of the Redeswire, one of the last large-scale battles between the English and the Scots.
- Kielder Water – Kielder Water & Forest Park offers nature on a grander scale. Home to the biggest man-made lake in Northern Europe and, at over 250 square miles, the largest working forest in England.
- Tower Knowe Visitor Centre – A great place to stop and take in the views. If you wish to learn more about the area’s rich area pop into the visitor centre or simply grab yourself a bite and enjoy the views.
- Smuggler’s Leap – In the early 1800’s a lot of money could be made smuggling whisky between the two countries. This was one of the main smuggling routes affectionately known as ‘Smuggler’s Leap’.
- Hermitage Castle – Quite an eery castle although it has a romantic past with Mary of Queen of Scots visiting her secret lover, the 4th Earl of Bothwell here when he was injured and on his sickbed. Sir Walter Scott was also fond of this castle and had himself painted with it in the background.
- Isolation – A single track road in decent condition with a number of passing places. Complete isolation!
- Kagyu Samye Ling Tibetan Centre – Quite a contrast to expectations when in Scotland, this Tibetan centre is quite sight! It is the oldest of it’s kind in Europe. The Monks provide a number of short and long term courses and they welcome visitors to wander round the gardens and visit the temple.
- Glen Café – This little café is a perfect tea and coffee stop along the A708, the views are serene. It truly is a biker hotspot that can see 60/70 bikers on its doorstep at any given moment on a hot summers day.
- Grey Mare’s Tail – A little waterfall that sometimes freezes up in winter. There’s a viewing point at the base but the walk starts off with a steep ascent so not suggested with full biking gear. Loch Skeen is a 40 minute walk further from the top of the falls.
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Filling Stations on Route
On this route I would tend to use fuel stations in Hawick and Langholm depending on which way I did the route, but there are other fuel stations on route depending on the range of your bike.