|Distance:||42 miles (67.6 km)|
|Meets:||B6371, B6363, A6093, B6368, B6369, B6370, B6365, A6112, A6105, B6437, A1107, A1107|
|Former Number(s):||B6364, A1107|
|Old route now:||A6112, A6105|
|Route outline (key)|
At 42 miles long on a generally WNW to ESE alignment, the B6355 is one of the few roads across the Lammermuirs and a great driving experience for most of its length. For anyone travelling between the Edinburgh and Berwick upon Tweed areas and having time to spare, it is recommended as an alternative to the coastal A1. The route lies almost equally in the counties of East Lothian and Berwickshire, and is distinguished by two unusual numbering features, of which more anon.
Section 1: Tranent – Preston
At its western extremity, the B6355 starts as a left fork from the B6371 on the outskirts of Tranent. The first mile or so of pleasant open countryside is much improved from the days, long gone, when coal mining was the main local industry. Another mile leads to an entrance on the right into the grounds of Winton House, a grand mansion dating from the 1100s, then the B6363 bears off left for Longniddry and we enter the large village of Pencaitland.
Here the A6093 (left for Haddington, right for the A68 north of Pathhead) and the River Tyne are crossed, then a long straight leads to the next village of East Saltoun. A sharp left in the centre sends us on an almost easterly course, with the lower slopes of the Lammermuirs visible to the right; these are skirted for some distance before the road starts its climb through the hills. Along the way the B6368 (ex-A6137, which now comes no further south than Haddington) makes a staggered crossing, left for Bolton and right for Humbie, then the pretty village of Gifford is reached.
Gifford has a notable white church in a circular churchyard, at the point where the B6369 heads left for Haddington and the B6355 starts climbing. In about a mile the B6370 bears left for Stenton, this being the last classified road junction for the next 15 miles or so. Apart from a steep fall and rise to cross a valley, we are now climbing continuously but gently, until a particularly steep gradient is met, with accompanying right and left dogleg, to make a sudden step onto a relatively level part. This is unfenced high heather moor, with sheep more likely to be encountered than other vehicles.
In about a mile an unclassified road continues straight on for Longformacus and Duns; the B6355 bears left and, after a final gentle climb, falls into the valley of the Whiteadder Water, where another unclassified road across the moors for Nunraw Abbey and Garvald angles back sharply to the left. The upper part of the valley has been flooded to form the Whiteadder Reservoir, which we run beside, the river proper starting at the far end at the point where we enter Berwickshire.
In a couple of miles the tiny village of Cranshaws is reached, still with the Whiteadder, which we keep to for several more miles until it swings away in a large northerly loop which the B6355 avoids by a handsome bridge and a passage through relatively high ground. To reach the river again a TOTSO to the left is needed, the road continuing straight on being the B6365 for Duns. After a stretch of S1 road the Whiteadder is crossed again and shortly the village of Preston is reached and we meet a Give Way junction with the A6112 for Duns to the right. The two roads multiplex to the left along the long main street, then the A6112 bends sharply to the left for Grantshouse on the A1 and our road makes a TOTSO ahead.
Section 2: Preston – Eyemouth
There is now a superb stretch for several miles, dead level with long straights and gentle bends, hills to the left and river (the Whiteadder, what else?) to the right. The pattern is broken by some sharper bends, then we have to give way at an acute junction with the A6105 to the right for Duns. The B6355 multiplexes with this, then shortly has a TOTSO to the left for the hilltop village of Chirnside, where the A6105 bears right for Berwick. This is a rare example of a so-called multiplex cannon.
At the crossroads in the centre of Chirnside there is a memorial to the great World Champion racing driver Jim Clark, raised in these parts and killed in a Formula 2 race in Germany in 1968. His grave is in the cemetery down the hill to the right. At the end of the village we make a staggered crossing with the B6437 (left for Auchencrow and the A1, right for Coldstream) then continue, now heading ENE then NE. Another few miles brings the ECML crossing overhead, then the large village of Ayton, which is traversed by a sharp left and right. The stretch between these bends used to be the A1, which now passes to the north of the village, and which we cross over with no junction.
The B6355 now winds gently downhill to Eyemouth, where there is first a crossroads with the A1107 bypassing the town. Since Ayton we have been with the Eye Water, which is now followed into the town centre. Eyemouth is a fishing port, still with an active fleet and busy harbour. There was a disaster in 1881, when many boats, here and elsewhere on this coast, were lost in a sudden storm. In Eyemouth 129 died and about a third of the fleet either capsized or were smashed on the rocks outside the harbour. The event is commemorated in the museum.
With narrow streets in the town centre, Eyemouth has a one-way system in force and the B6355 bifurcates, in this direction following Albert Road and in the other the High Street. After two-way traffic is restored, it is now only a few hundred yards to the end, which, as our road has made a northerly loop, is on the A1107 which was crossed on the way in to the town – another rare configuration.
Back in 1922 the B6355 ran from Tranent to Chirnside without disappearing in a multiplex as the A6112 and A6105 did not at that time exist. From Chirnside the road continued in the same direction to enter England and end on the A1 to the north of Berwick upon Tweed town centre. The road from Chirnside to the nearside of Eyemouth was then the B6364.
By 1928, the B6355 had gained its multiplexes. Furthermore, its eastern section had been taken over by the A6105, which had also taken over much of the B6364. To stop that road having two unconnected sections some distance apart the B6355 took over the ex-B6364 from Chirnside to Eyemouth and the A1107. It is not known whether it was given the loop through town back to the A1107 at this time (certainly the B6364 did not have this route) but this did exist by the mid-1940s, albeit with a short multiplex along the A1107 along Victoria Road. This became the B6355 when the A1107 bypass was built.