It is possible to extend this walk with a visit to Thirlestane Castle. To do this turn right at the bottom of Factors Park when you meet the A68. Cross the road and continue along the road out of town until you reach Wyndhead Lodge on your left. This lodge is distinctive by its large red gate piers. Turn left and follow the path to Thirlestane Castle. Please note that there is a charge for entry to the Castle and grounds. The current openings times (2001) are as follows:
April to October inclusive
Daily except Saturdays
To rejoin the trail, follow this path back to the main road and then to the East Port.
Just outside the Burgh, on the banks of the River Leader, is Thirlestane Castle, seat of the Earls of Lauderdale. The Earls of Lauderdale are Hereditary Saltire Banner Bearers of Scotland.
The central east-west turreted block of the castle dates from 1590 and is built in the centre of a large English artillery fortification. Sir William Bruce, the Kings master mason, according to the plans of Robert Mylne, transformed it for the Duke of Lauderdale during 1670-7. Robert Mylne also employed several foreign craftsmen to carry out the decorative plastering inside the castle. Several of these workers had previously worked on Holyrood House in Edinburgh.
The interior plasterwork is of high quality and on the upper stories early 17th century plaster can be found can be found. The building was altered again in 1840, particularly at roof level, by William Burn and David Bryce to give the castle its distinctive fairytale skyline.
There is a great debt owed to Sir Walter Scott for the preservation of many of the Border ballads and none more so than 'Auld Maitland'. It is said that Sir Walter rode and tramped through the Borders to collect and write down all the fragments of old stories that he could find. 'Auld Maitland' is interesting as it includes Sir Walter's notes as editor of the piece in 1802.
'Auld Maitland' is thought to have been Sir Richard Maitland of Thirlestane who is said to have been in possession of the estate in 1250.
Further to the east of Thirlestane is Lauder East Mains Farm the childhood home of William Brockie.
William Brockie was born at Lauder East Mains on the 1st March 1811 and lived his whole life in the Borders. He was a great scholar and despite his initial employment in law and then teaching, he was a well-respected editor of several Border newspapers, most notably the Border Advertiser.
He also wrote several books about the Borders and was well known for his great knowledge of foreign languages and his great enthusiasm for botany in later life.