Start location: B6357, Cleuch Head (NT 593 101)
End location: Border, Myredykes (NY 607 979)
Geographical area: Lothian and Borders
Path Type: Medieval Road
Path distance: 13km
Accessibility info: Suitable for pedestrians
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The Wheel Causeway passes through forestry plantations which have made this ancient route difficult to follow in places. The Heritage Paths project will be pleased to receive further updates as to its accessibility.
From Bonchester Bridge go south along the road by Braidhaugh to Cleuch Head. Here a track climbs southeast to pass the east side of Wolfelee Hill and head towards Wardmoor Hill. However at NT606071, recently planted forestry covers the line of the Wheel Causeway, so it is necessary to divert onto forestry tracks and instead roughly parallel its general direction south. Regaining the old line, the going is difficult because of stumps and brash, and an extended area of quarrying now lies athwart the route at NT608064. Beyond the quarry, a wide ride has been left and a shooting hide is reached. Crossing a plantation boundary at NT609052, the Wheel Causeway enters Wauchope Forest, and from here take the middle of the three rides (which is wider than usual, but can become overgrown before being cleared periodically) for 6km through the forest to a gate, a little to the west of Wheelrig Head (447m).
From the gate go south-southwest for 400m and follow a forest road down the east side of Wormscleuch Burn to Myredykes, as to follow the actual line of the Wheel Causeway south of Wheelrig Head is now quite difficult, being overgrown with only a narrow path. From Myredykes it is 4km to Sauchtree and 6km to Kielder by minor roads.
OS Landranger 80 (Cheviot Hills & Kielder Water)
In medieval times the Wheel Causeway was the road from Roxburgh (then the largest town in the Borders) to Annandale. Edward I travelled along this route in 1296. On Roy’s map (1755) it is named "Road to Jedburgh". On Stobie’s 1770 map of Roxburghshire, it is marked as a road running from Easter Fodderlee by the east side of Abbotrule and Doorpool to Spar.
It is interesting to note that some old maps marked this as a Roman Road, but that is largely thought not to be true. Such labelling comes from the antiquarian tradition where anything ancient must have been built by the Romans - it is far more likely that this is a very early medieval road.
Maps also give placename evidence of its route. The old road passes over Causeway Rig (NT613031) and over the western shoulder of Wheelrig Head (NT615015) - the area is drained by Causeway Sike - to reach Wheel Rig (NT604005). South of Wheel Rig beside this old road lies the site of Wheel Kirk and the lost medieval village of Le Whele; these being the likely source of the route's name. Even once the church was abandoned (by 1600), the route is likely to have continued in use because a drove road from Southdean joins it at Causeway Rig.
In various places this old road has sections of holloway where the road's surface has sunken far lower than the level of surrounding ground due to the huge volumes of traffic.
The historic significance of this old road has been officially recognised. A 640m section of the Wheel Causeway on the south slope of Wardmoor Hill is designated as a Scheduled Monument. It is also recorded as a right of way in both Scotland and England.