The Bloody Bush SOSCT route takes its name from the stone pillar at the England-Scotland border which you will see marked on the map as "Bloody Bush". It links the Waverley Way which runs south of Hawick east across the border to Kielder Forest in Northumberland.
Don't be put off by the name. For many years a boggy mess, thanks to the drainage and improvement work done through South of Scotland Countryside Trails, the Bloody Bush route is now ideal for walkers, cyclists and horse-riders. On a clear day the 360 degree views are truly spectacular, with hardly a sign of civilisation in sight.
You should be able to download a map of the Bloody Bush route from BHS EMAGIN but we regret there is currently a problem with online map for this route - we are doing our best to fix it as quickly as possible.
You can access the Bloody Bush route off the B6357 which runs between Newcastleton and Bonchester Bridge, either via the forest road immediately north of Dinlabyre (OSGR NY528923) or via the forest road immediately south of Hewisbridge at OSGR NY537933. The two tracks join just above Kidd's Linn Waterfall, from where a single forest road continues uphill until eventually you climb above the trees, heading towards the mast. Shortly before the mast, the Bloody Bush track through to Kielder is clearly signed off to the right (east), between wooden posts which have been installed to deter illegal vehicular use.
There are a range of shops, pubs and cafes at Newcastleton. At the Kielder end of the route, there is a cafe in Kielder village, a pub serving food in Falstone, and visitor centres with cafes, shops, toilets and other facilities at Leipleish and Tower Knowe.
The nearest promoted accommodation for horse and rider is south of Newcastleton at Saughs Farm, at Wiltonburn west of Hawick, or Cavers Garden Farm south-east of Hawick.
The western end of the Bloody Bush route links directly with the Waverley Way, a disused railway now developed as a multi-use walking, cycling and horse-riding route which links north to the Hawick circular riding route.
Continuing east from Bloody Bush across the border into England, a firm track links down to a forest road which leads down to Kielder Reservoir. A superb new all abilities trail has been developed right the way around the reservoir, suitable for walkers, cyclists and horse-riders. This also links directly onto the Border County Ride, which heads east from Falstone at the foot of Kielder towards the Cheviot Hills, where you can link back through on the SOSCT Cheviot routes.
More about the Bloody Bush route
The link between Newcastleton and Kielder follows an old road, probably built in 1826 to transport coal from the North Tyne Valley. Bridges on this route bear the date 1828. A record in ‘Shadowlands Haunted Places Index’ sheds light on why Bloody Bush was so named. As you follow this route, think back to those who have travelled it before, but do not be off put by this dire warning!
“Kielder – Bloodybush Road – in the remote area of Kielder lies the lonely Willowbog Cottage, so old it is, in fact, mentioned in the Doomsday Book. From then on to the present day, every bridge ever built there, be it stone, metal or wood, has never stood for over a decade. They have all at one point been found completely demolished over night or had to be destroyed due to unexplained bloodstains that cover every inch of it. On certain nights the galloping of hooves has been heard from the nearby Willowbog Cottage (which itself is 20 miles from anywhere).
Watch out for
The Bloody Bush route is very easy to follow but it is not for the feint hearted in bad weather – it is a long way in either direction to civilisation, and although the track is firm and hard regardless of the weather, it can be exposed on the Scottish section before reaching the shelter of Kielder Forest.
This is now a popular mountain bike route, particularly for cyclists on waymarked trails from Kielder. When the mist is down, be aware that cyclists may suddenly appear behind or in front of you - and get a surprise to meet a horse!