Pyked Stane Hill
At 571 m Pyked Stane Hill is the highest point of the uplands known as the Broughton Heights. It is commonly ascended from the south by means of the John Buchan Way but this alternative route provides more shelter for a blustery / squally day. Two descent options are described depending upon how confident you are finding your route through rough forestry.
- Distance: 9.5 – 10 km / 6 miles
- Ascent: 425 m / 1400 feet
- Terrain: Forest tracks/path, quad bike tracks, grassy hillside, firebreaks
- Start / finish: Ladyurd Forest near Peebles / Blyth Bridge, car park at NT 139 434 400m into forest off A72
The route starts from the parking area in Ladyurd Forest at a forest road junction. Take the track heading in a northerly direction towards Castle Craig. After 350 m an obvious path branches off to your right through the trees. This path leads to a further road / track where you should turn left. Cross the Hope’s Burn and keep to the main track passing through a gate after 200 m. The route now uses a track through open fields / grazing area. There are some gates along this section but all are openable (please leave them as you find them). Ahead of you is the tree clad hillside of Brown Dod and behind you the view stretches back to the Pentlands.
The route re-enters the forest on a typical forest track gradually climbing up hill. There has been some felling in the area so you are not totally hemmed in by trees. After passing a track leading to a hut on your left, keep right at the next two junctions still gaining height. The track comes to an end approximately 550m after the second junction.
From this point pick up a path through the firebreak for 300 m, heading up hill to reach open hillside. The path may be a bit muddy in places. Once out of the forest, keep going uphill with a fence to your right and trees to your left. The path is a bit more indistinct now but it is relatively easy going on grass and blaeberry. Leave the trees behind and pass over the top of the Lochurd Hills to descend into the dip on the other side. Round about here it probably makes sense to hop across the fence and pick up a grassy quad bike track on the other side. Either follow the fence line over the summit of Wether Law or use the quad track which bypasses the summit. From Wether Law it is an easy stroll across to the summit of Pyked Stane Hill. The summit trig point is built on an ancient cairn.
Leave the summit in the direction from which you came, to return to Wether Hill (it’s probably easiest to hop over the fence so that it is on your left hand side). From Wether Hill follow the fence line south east round to Brown Dod. At the coll between Wether Hill and Brown Dod is a firebreak providing easy access into the forest and back to the forest track network. This is the easier descent route although you may wish to visit the summit of Brown Dod first.
If taking the easier descent, simply follow this firebreak downhill for almost 300m to meet a forest track. Turn right on to this track and go downhill for 1.5 km to reach a junction. Keep right at the junction and after a further 450 m you will reach the point where the alternative descent re-joins the track at a wide area. From here keep staight on (left) at the next junction and follow the track as it circles around the northern side of the hill to bring you back to the parking area.
The alternative descent is for the more adventurous person who does not mind a bit of rough under foot walking and is confident of navigating through forest. From Brown Dod a wide fire breaks takes you steeply downhill in a north easterly direction. It’s probably easiest to keep the fence to your right hand side, although it is easy enough to cross over it if required. Initially the firebreak is easy to negotiate although good footwear is recommended for the slippery bits. The thick forest gives way to a felled area as the fire break climbs over Woolshears Hill. 150 m later, where the fence turns left, the fire break comes to a sudden end.
From here, the route continues on a feint path into the forest. The path takes a northerly direction roughly parallel to the fence line. However, the fence is out of sight for most of the time and the path itself is easily lost if you are not careful.
After about 450m a firebreak is reached. Beyond the firebreak the path is less obvious so it may be easier to follow the firebreak to the left to reach the fence and then turn right to follow the fence. Whichever way you go you need to end up at a split in the firebreak at grid ref NT 136 430. At this split follow the firebreak north until a fairly obvious path on your left heads into the trees. The path descends downhill with the final section being a bit awkward. If you miss this path, it’s not the end of the world as the firebreak will itself join the track network.
Turn right when you reach the wide track. Keep staight on (left) at the next junction and follow the track as it circles around the northern side of the hill to bring you back to the parking area.