is probably the most evocative of all Scottish rivers. It forms
for part of its 97 mile course, the border between England and
Scotland. and indeed for the last few miles of its journey it
enters England and reaches the North Sea at Berwick, where an
artificial border separates the town from its county which lies
in Scotland. Such a borderland is well suited to romantic legend
and a rich
backdrop of history. so that the Tweed, more than any other
Scottish river, has woven around itself many stories of Scotland’s
past. The land through which it flows has inspired writers and
poets to sing its praises. from Thomas the Rhymer through to
Scott and Buchan. I
is also distinguished on another plane as being second only
to the Tay for superb Scottish salmon. Tweed trout also are
noted for their size and for the distances they travel inland
up its winding course.
of the river rise in the same high moorland area as do its sisters
the Clyde and the Annan, the source of the Tweed being identified
Well up above Moffat between Errickstone Hill and Hart Fell,
in southern Peeblesshire. It passes the hamlet of Tweedshaws
on a journey that takes it through or between the counties of
Selkirk, Roxburgh, and Berwick
before entering Northumberland. The river continues to flow
north following the line of the road almost to
Broughton and on its long passage through the hills about Culter
Fell and Broad Law it is fed by numerous streams
like the Holms Water, Stanhope Beck and Biggar Water. Turning
aside from Broughton, the Tweed loops past
Drumelzier Castle, now only a ruin.
village further downstream is reputed to be the site of Merlin’s
grave. As befits a frontier river, and a much disputed frontier
in times gone by, the line of the Tweed is marked by watch towers
and fortresses. At nearby Tinnis Castle, King James VI gave
vent to his
wrath at the murder of Darnley by putting it to the torch.
The Tweed turns east soon after its confluence with Lyne Water
and flows towards Peebles and at Manor Bridge the Manor Water
joins it flowing down from
Blackhouse Heights by Macbeth’s Castle and the Black Dwarfs
Castle on its north bank was once the home of the Frasers and
stands majestically on a rock above the river bend. Bows made
from Neidpath yew trees were once carried by the Crusaders.
Peebles itself, a famous health resort, has been a royal burgh
since the 14th
century. It suffered fire and siege over the centuries but today
it is one of the sniall towns that base their prosperity on
the woollen cloth that carries the name
stands at the junction of the Tweed and Leithen Water about
six miles further east from Peebles. The St. Ronan’s Well
in the town is the setting for
Scott’s novel of that name while another attractive feature
is the old Cuddy Bridge. Up on the Purvis Hills signs of more
ancient civilisations along the banks of the Tweed can be seen
in the old prehistoric forts there.
the river loops down through Fairnilee
and up to Tweedsbank, being joined by Gala Water and Leader
Water as it passes to the north of Melrose. This is the very
heart of the Scott country and the remains of Melrose Abbey.
recognised as one of Scotland’s loveliest, stand to testify
that it unfortunately stood on the route north or south that
was used by the armies of the two nations.
River Tweed at Coldstream, Scotland. 10x8 Photograph (25x20cm) Viaduct and Bridge over the River Tweed near Cold Stream by Arcaid.
the fiat coastal plain, the Tweed broadens out in a series of
tortuous loops before flowing through
Maxton and on to Kelso. The influence of the border wars is
very marked here as the gaunt remnants of Roxburgh Castle. destroyed
by the Scots in 1460 testify. Beyond Kelso. where it is joined
by the river Teviot, the Tweed itself become the border. Kelso
Abbey was destroyed by
the Earl of Hertford, in 1545. Although the river now flows
north-eastward, as the boundary line, it is with the north bank
that we are mainly concerned. On the banks of the Tweed in 1650 the famous Coldstream Guards.
were raised by General Monk. Close to Coldstream village the
Leet Water joins the Tweed while beyond Lennel the
larger river Twill runs in from England.
On the crest
of another large loop stands Ladykirk. whose church was founded
by James IV in gratitude for being saved from drowning. Below
the Union Bridge the Tweed finally opens up for the last stage
of its journey to the sea, which it reaches at Tweedmouth beyond
promontory of Spittal at Berwick-upon-Tweed, which, as we have
noted, is in England.