The Bridge Road
Start location: St Mary's Loch (NT 271 239)
End location: Crosslee (NT 307 184)
Geographical area: Lothian and Borders
Path Type: Drove Road
Path distance: 7km
Accessibility info: Suitable for pedestrians
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Cross Yarrow Water by the bridge just by the weir where it leaves the loch. There is a good track following the river eastword. For the best part of 1km it keeps fairly close to the river, diverging only gradually until the burn coming down from the gap between Altrieve Rig and White Law is met. The right of way goes through this gap and very soon the buildings of Altrieve are seen ahead. A good track leaves the farm to go up fairly steeply towards B709, crossing it and taking a track southwards towards the headwaters of the Birkendale Burn, which it leaves to the left hand side, As it leaves the road, this track is quite rough; higher up it is grassy, changing direction frequently. It is important to leave the Birkendale Burn to the left in order to follow the true left of the Crosslee Burn down to the Selkirk road. As the path/track changes direction it should be noted that it is never far from due south.
OS Landranger 73 (Peebles, Galashiels & surrounding area) and 79 (Hawick & Eskdale area)
Local tradition has it that this is an old drove road, presumably used by cattle heading south. However, the Royal Commission on Ancient and Historic Monuments of Scotland decided that the Bridge Road was unrelated to a similar drove road and was not used for droving. They wrote that the route used for droving headed south on the same route as far as Altrieve but then followed Altrieve Burn to Hartlea and then forked left to head due south through the forestry before Windy House. The drovers would then have rejoined what is now the current road to Tushielaw.
There are a line of cairns running up the north ridge of Altrieve Rig, which were to help the drovers navigate. Ordnance Survey name them as Shepherds' Cairns in the mid 19th century, which suggests that sheep had pretty much replaced cattle by this time.
The origin of the name Bridge Road is not known but was presumably as a reference to the crossing of the Yarrow at Dryhope. The purpose of the southern section of road is not really known but the place names of Cadger's Craigs and Cadgers' Hole perhaps give a clue. Cadgers were itinerant travellers who would sell their wares of skills to households who wouldn't have ready access to them. They often took cross country routes, probably because their services were most in need by those living remotely but also to avoid tolls.