Border Raiding, Day Three (The short one)

After the previous day’s marathon I was taking it easy today and staying local so didn’t hurry off after breakfast. When I did get moving I quickly realised that in my rush yesterday to get to a pint I had neglected to clean my visor, so I now had to stop at the first convenient spot to do so. Whilst the wet tissue was soaking the bugs I thought I might as well enjoy the view and take a photo :slight_smile:

Once at the main road I crossed over to continue though the hills and then onto Peebles via the quiet side road. Peebles was far from quiet though being a busy and traffic filled town. A short while after I turned off onto the B712 when all at once I saw a crowd, a host, of golden daffodils.

No lonely clouds in those skies, but there were quite a few stretches of daffodils on that road.

I started passing a fair few bikes, especially after turning onto the A701 which I cruised down enjoying the fine weather. I now realised that I was going to arrive at Moffat before I needed fuel and lunch, so when I passed the sign to St Mary’s loch I decided to do that now rather than later as planned. I needed to do a U-turn but the first field entrance looked a bit dodgy so I continued to a gravel road; then heading back I passed a Rocket 3 being wrestled in that same dodgy field entrance :laughing:

Turning down the narrow road along Talla reservoir I could see the Rocket following in my mirrors and when I stopped for a picture he did too, so we chatted for a while. Then it was up the steep hill at the end with a great view down.

After going across the hills at the top the road follows along the side of Megget reservoir. This is where I managed to get a bit of gravel rash on my right hand after falling when stepping over the roadside barriers.

I decided now was the time for a sit down and some refreshments so continued to St Mary’s loch and on to Moffat, the road I’d done yesterday.

After filling up I found a cafe to park outside and was enjoying a rest when a passer-by pointed out my bike was leaking! After a bit of a panic, I realised this was petrol coming out the breather and evap system, possibly because of the bike angle and slightly over filling. So I promptly headed off up the A701 to burn off a bit of that fuel; and take an obligatory photo whilst stopped to check bike over.

To get back to the inn, I would need to go back down by the reservoirs and I stopped this time to get a photo of the view southwards now the sun had moved and not glaring into the lens.

As I had left the cafe earlier before I had had a proper rest, thought this was a good time to stop and chill.

When getting back to St Mary’s loch I felt it was a bit early to finish the day and decided I had a few more miles in me, so headed on the A road to nearly Selkirk and looping back along the narrow B road to the inn.

Where I could sit out and enjoy a few pints in the sun with some local residents.

Followed by some food.


Brilliant …!
I cannot get over the weather you are having. It’s persisting down here in The Chilterns, as usual this spring…
A great write up.
Thanks for sharing.

Another excellent write-up and photos. The roads and the scenery are both great around there. But how did you keep that cat away from the fish and chips?

Well, this was last Thursday, only getting around to writing it up now. :wink:

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It’s not the cats you need to worry about, it’s those chickens which like pecking you, had to discourage it quite forcefully.

Looks like you’re having a brilliant time. I’m really enjoying your write-ups and pics.

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The A701 between Moffat and Edinburgh is a brilliant biking road. It climbs up the side of the Annan Water valley to the head of Annandale at the Devil’s Beef Tub (an awe-inspiring steep-sided hollow in the hills), over the watershed and down Tweeddale, through Tweedsmuir and Broughton. (And the Broughton Brewery makes a superbly hoppy dry IPA called Hopo, which is my favourite beer, but I digress.)

Like all our old roads, it must have many tales to tell, if we did but know them. There are two that I know of within just a few miles of each other. I have told them before somewhere, but I don’t think it was on this forum.

About half a mile north of the Beef Tub, on the Tweeddale side, there is a circular stone monument beside the road, with a plaque on it. I passed it dozens of times in the past without ever looking into its background, but one day I stopped to see what it was about. The plaque reads: ’ Near the head of this burn, on 1st Feb 1831, James McGeorge, guard, and John Goodfellow, driver of the Dumfries to Edinburgh Mail lost their lives in the snow after carrying the bags thus far. Erected 1931.’

Looking into this when I got home, I found out the full story. Changing horses at Moffat for the weary climb to the head of Annandale, the mail coach set off into the teeth of a blizzard – a severe snowstorm which was to last for several days. Eventually the coach became immovably stuck in the deep snow. The two men unhitched the horses (which survived) and abandoned the coach. Instead of trudging back down the valley to Moffat, they resolved to take the heavy mail bags and continue on over the pass on foot, hoping to reach the shelter of the Tweedshaws Inn, where a change of horses was waiting. They never made it. Their bodies were found five days later by search parties after the snowstorm had died down, about 4 miles from Tweedshaws. They were buried in the old churchyard in Moffat, with full honours for their sense of duty.

A sad tale. I have often ridden over that pass in good weather as it’s a great riding road, and driven over it on the way to or from Edinburgh. Even today, it is a lonely place in winter. Once, I drove over it in heavy falling snow and thought seriously about turning back. Now every time I ride or drive over there, I think about those two brave men battling through the snow…

The second A701 story concerns a small oak wood, a couple of miles south of the Beef Tub, where there is an old stone bridge which carries the road across a small rocky burn called the Gardenholm Linn. In September, 1935, a young woman looking over the parapet of the bridge was horrified to see a partly wrapped human arm lodged in the rocks below. She reported it to the police, and search teams soon found the dismembered remains of two women in various parts of the Linn and the nearby River Annan, into which it flows. Identifying features had been surgically removed from both bodies.

Some of the parts were wrapped in a newspaper edition circulating in the Lancaster area, which led the Dumfriesshire Constabulary to contact their Lancashire colleagues as to whether they knew of any missing women who might be the victims. They did: a Mrs. Isabella Ruxton and her housemaid Mary Jane Rogerson, who had been reported missing by Isabella’s husband, Dr.Buck Ruxton.

Indian-born Dr.Ruxton had moved from India to England ten years earlier, and anglicised his original name. He met and married Edinburgh-born Isabella and eventually set up in practice from their home in Lancaster. He was a jealous and controlling man, and became obsessed, rightly or probably wrongly, that Isabella was seeing other men. There were rows and temporary separations, until eventually one day he strangled and stabbed her to death, and then murdered Mary Jane, who must have seen or heard too much. He then dismembered them with his surgical skills, parcelled them up, and drove them up to Scotland and the Gardenholm bridge.

This is a bare outline of the case. I first learned about it many years ago from reading the memoirs of Professor John Glaister, who worked on the case early in his career as a forensic scientist. A lot of forensic work went into the case to establish Ruxton’s guilt. The Wikipedia entry for ‘Buck Ruxton’ has all the twists and turns of the case for anyone who wants the full details. Suffice it to say that he was tried and found guilty, and was hanged in March 1936. Although vehemently protesting his innocence throughout the trial, he left a short written confession to be opened after his death.

It’s well worth taking a run along the A701. You’ll have a great ride, and I can never pass these places without thinking about their past.


What a fantastic trip. You were so lucky with the weather. Every time I have been on tour in Scotland it has pissed down :slightly_smiling_face:

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Great - and greatly enticing - bit of local history there. Thank you.

Sounds (and, from Google street view, looks) like a place worth a detour if in the region!

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Absolutely beautiful photos again - the weather looked amazing!