.I was first introduced to this route by my friend and fellow outdoor sportsman Kenny Short , who in one of his first ventures into long distance hill-racing had used it in his training for the famous Lairig-Ghru race. It is a superb adventure indeed whether ran in its entirety or in shorter sections. And with the recent upsurge of Hawick off-road runners I have been asked a lot about the running of this, so I will try to write it up in a rough running guide style.
The Hawick Circular
Distance: approx 25 miles; Ascent: 2115′ by Garmin Map: OS Landranger 79
Navigation: Straight forward, mostly sign-posted and never really gets to far from a road despite a nice feeling of remoteness on the off-road sections. I have added 2 downloadable maps at the bottom of the page.
Terrain: Rough fields, sheep trods, tarmac road and gravel path.
Start/finish: There are many starting points. Really anywhere the circular crosses the road. Personally I like to run it anti-clockwise starting from Hornshole. Mainly so I have fresh legs for the biggest climb and on VERY tired legs a long descent to finish.
Time required: depends on how fast you are 🙂 I am not a fast runner by any stretch of the imagination and I have always managed to finish this run between 4 1/2 and 5 hours when fit … but its been 5:36 and a dook under the bridge at Hornshole for my sore legs when I haven’t been 😀 Definitely plan for longer times if its your first time round given the need for navigation.
The Hawick circular is a riding route circumnavigating Hawick in the Scottish Borders and makes a fantastic off-road running route, primarily made up of four short sections and can easily be split up for a shorter run. It is sign-posted for the most part with bright blue and white horse shoe signs that can be found on most if not every gate you go through when entering or leaving a field , so you shouldn’t ever get to far off track. An anticlockwise run with a start at Hornshole is my preference so I will describe it like that here.
Its a long climb up from Hornshole out to Clarilaw via Appletreehall or with local knowledge find an off-road alternative but once you reach Clarilaw take the little track heading up the hill and your finally off-road, follow this up and then cross Hassendean burn before a rough trail leads you to the old Drove road at Muirfield and turn left , a long slow climb ensues on a rough landrover track until you reach the junction with the A7 just north of Halywell Hill.
Look across the road and to your left, you will see a small gate with the Blue sign on it , enter here and go right almost running straight up the field following a faint trail to the top resisting the urge to veer left . You will find a little gate through a dry-stone dyke. Enter here and run left over rough fields along the dyke , pass the pylons heading for a break in the dyke taking you through the woods.
From here follow the fields using great sheep trods , past a derelict Shepherds cottage at Drinkstone and a gradual but still undulating descent over beautiful countryside, until you descend onto the tarmac of the drove road near Calaburn , follow this down to the roman road and then up following Wilton Burn until you reach the stile … I personally do not run the road section , it’s probably faster but it’s a long way on tarmac for my liking so I either jump the wall and join the Langheugh trail run through the hills to the stile or I cut off and run up and over WiltonBurn hill, a look on the map should make this clearer.
From the stile you head over the field and pick up the trail heading right up and round the fields bringing you out on the Roberton road. From here another few miles of road takes you via “The Joogly” bridge and across the A7 to the start of a steep climb up Haysike. Here you cut right up a small road about a third of the way up heading for Fenwick common where you join a trail leading to the bottom of St Leonard’s Park race course , locally called The Mair or Mare ? , scene of the finale to Hawicks famous or rather Infamous “Common Riding” .
From here you follow the trail up and out of the race course and head towards “The Flex” a long road section through a beautiful descending country road before entering a great off-road section over Colifort Hill.
Beware of the steep start , its a killer! but after this its a beautiful trip over the hills on a good trail, running past another old cottage and through some woods, enjoy the views over Adderstone Lee.
Soon you will join a long farm track slowly descending until you hit the road near Kirkton. Follow this for only a few 100 metres until you see the blue sign heading up past a little track right of a cottage.
From here you run a rough track through a few fields and a forest, before joining a B road. From here keep and eye out for a little gate on the left running through an avenue of trees . Follow this before crossing a field and coming out at Cavers Knowes. follow the road for a short section before cutting right down a steep path bringing you out at Cavers Church and just right of it a stile and follow the signs down the field for the victory mile to reach the finish at Hornshole… 🙂