Fears of path eroding

River Tweed image - erosion - right of way
River Tweed image - erosion - right of way

St Boswells community councillors are expected to debate worries that one of the area’s most popular dog walking routes is under threat.

In a 2008 public vote organised by Hill’s Pet Nutrition and national tourism bodies in Scotland, England and Wales, the section of the 62-mile St Cuthbert’s Way, which takes in a stretch of river banking along the Tweed near Mertoun bridge, was voted one of the UK’s top 21 dog walking routes.

Walkers can do all or just part of the route, which starts and finishes in St Boswells and can take up to one-and-a-half hours to complete, taking in the local golf course, wooden walkways and a set of steps known as ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ and enjoys stunning views of the Tweed.

But now there are concerns over continued erosion of the stretch of banking on the St Boswells side of the river, downstream from the bridge, on the haugh at The Fens.

This section of St Cuthbert’s way is extremely popular with local walkers and dog owners from St Boswells and the surrounding area.

One worried local dog walker told us: “I just wondered if there is anything you can do to raise awareness and potentially get some action to slow or prevent the residents of St Boswells from losing an extremely popular right of way and walk.

“If you take a look at the riverbank downstream from the Mertoun bridge, on the St Boswells side, you will see the problem – the Tweed is eroding the bank at an incredible rate.

“There has been some attempt to fix the lower part of the bank, but the river is now tearing these new very expensive defences from the bank they were designed to protect.

“It would be such a shame to see this popular walk disappear. It was voted one of the UK’s top dog walks.”

Contacted by The Southern, St Boswells Community Council chairman Dougie Oliver said he would put the erosion issue on the agenda for tonight’s (Thursday) meeting of the community council in the lesser village hall.

Mr Oliver told The Southern: “This is the first I’ve heard of new concerns about erosion of the river banking in this area, but I’ll mention it at the meeting.”

“If there is anyone, such as local residents and dog walkers, who are concerned about this then I’d encourage them to come along to the community council meeting this week. It starts at 7.30pm.”

Scottish Borders Council’s Ranger Service carries out maintenance to the St Cuthbert’s Way long distance footpath where it comes through the Borders.

An SBC spokesman told The Southern that a member of the Ranger Service would be checking the erosion situation on this stretch of the route in the near future.