The Eildons: Views from the Valley’s Volcanoes

Travelling from Scott's View due south, towards Bemersyde, one gets an even more open shot towards the Eildon Hills and beyond, with the Tweed meandering away in the shadows.

The Eildon Hill, or Hills as it has a tri-peak, is a non-active volcanic hill of about 1,300 feet located in the Scottish Borders near Melrose and Tweedbank. Whilst the Eildons do not present a particularly challenging walk for most hikers, they still offer spectacular views of the Borders farmland and serve to demonstrate the unobstructed views available to the North and South, with the Lothian and Cheviot hills respectively visible. It is standard to climb all three peaks in one afternoon, with the middle peak presenting the biggest challenge as it offers a hard and easy route. The former involves a scramble up a scree slope that almost sent me skidding down the hillside on more than one occasion.

Historically the Eildon peaks have held a special place in Border mythology, with King Arthur, fairies and Thomas the Rhymer all claimed to hold occupancy under its shadow. It was even believed that Thomas the Rhymer entered Elfland through a wizard-hewn cleft in the base of the hill. Given their imposing presence in the mostly flat and farmed land of the Borders it isn’t hard to see why they commanded such respect and admiration from those who lived within its gaze.2016_0712AJ_1

The Roman fort of Trimontium, Latin for ‘three mountains’, sits within view of the three peaks of the Eildon. Trimontium served as a relatively remote outpost to fortify against the threat of Picts and other barbarians from the North. Sitting further North than Hadrian’s Wall, it is clear that the fort was relatively isolated and supply lines would be thin at best. The fort was occupied and garrisoned by Roman forces intermittently from 80AD to the early 3rd century. A museum run by the Trimontium Trust is accessible within the nearby town of Melrose, although the finds and discoveries from the excavation of Trimontium require travel to the Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. The actual site of Trimontium is open to the public and makes for an excellent supplement to a visit to the Eildons.

Below are a selection of pictures that I took of the views that are presented from the summit, including a few from the walk to the base of the hills (which takes a similar amount of time to the actual climb!). An uninterrupted 360 degree view of almost all of the Borders can be seen from the middle peak; the viewpoint indicator helps put landmarks near and far into perspective and context.

Top image: © Copyright Tom Chisholm and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

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