Old Post Road
Start location: B6355 Ayton Castle (NT 930 617)
End location: B6438 at Cairncross (NT 892 636)
Geographical area: Lothian and Borders
Path Type: Civil Road
Path distance: 4km
Accessibility info: Suitable for pedestrians, Suitable for Bikes, Suitable for horses
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The original commencement of the Post Road can be found on the Ayton side of the A1. However, now the A1 intersects the Old Post Road, that path is overgrown, virtually impassable and unwalked as it no longer links to the rest of the Post Road.
An alternative path is being walked regularly and cuts around the field edge of crop fields. The Old Post Road is accessible from the Ayton-Eyemouth road (B6355) - there is a slightly misleading waymark sign, which could be seen as pointing into a private driveway. The path commences as a tarmaced surface, but soon becomes muddy and prone to puddles and rutting. There is a horse stables and paddocks adjoining this first section.
OS Landranger 67 (Duns, Dunbar & Eyemouth)
This road is known as the Old Post Road or the Great North Road and is most likely the precursor to the A1. Blackadder's map of 1797 has mile numbers counting down the number of miles to Berwick, so it would have been the main road between Edinburgh and Berwick and thus also between Edinburgh and London. There was a milestone located on this road just west of Ayton Castle but it is unclear if this still exists. It is tempting to think that Blackadder's numbers represent milestones along the route, most of which are likely to be gone.
The Old Statistical Account for Ayton suggests the road was quite new by then, the late 18th century, and the New Statistical Account (1834-1845), states that 3 mail coaches travelled the road every day. It also states that as the first parish in Scotland, Ayton received many poor people, often ill or elderly, from England as they had been sent back for their home parish to care for them. For the New Statistical Account to mention it perhaps there must have been a lot of poor travellers slowly making their way back along the road.
Cairncross is so named because there is supposed to have been a cross marking the boundary for sanctuary associated with Coldingham Priory.
Further north on this road, the entrance to Press Farm is the site of the 'Packet House' where horses could be changed, although there are no visible remains of this. There was also a Coaching Inn in Ayton to serve the huge volumes of traffic that must have passed by.