Skip to main content

Scottish Borders.

3 September 2011

I hadn't been to Eskdalemuir in the Scottish Borders for nigh on 20 years and the only thing that had stayed in my memory apart from the length of the Esk Valley had been an image of 2 Buddhist Monks sat by the side of the road meditating! Later I was to find out that there was a Buddhist retreat in the valley.

It was a lovely sunny day so I planned a route going down the Esk Valley to Selkirk and then heading across towards Moffat, turning off at St Mary's Loch and taking the high pass over to Talla Reservior and dropping down into Moffat from there.

Bridge at Langholm

My first stop was the border town of Langholm, it's pretty enough but nothing spectacular so I headed down the Esk Valley towards Eskdalemuir whose name means "Moor of the Valley of the River Esk" in Scottish Gaelic.

The valley was long, very long. The distance from Langholm to Selkirk was well over 40 miles but for the most part the road was pretty good. A lot of the lower valley was forested and quite closed in but opened up around Eskdalemuir.

Rosebay Willowherb

The Kagyu Samye Ling Tibetan Buddhist Centre was the first centre to have been established in the West in 1967 and it was much bigger and grander now than when I was last there. In fact we just drove past it all those years ago and never even knew it was there. I think they have opened the land up around it as well and with it's popularity, they have also built a large car-park and tea rooms. A sign of the times I suppose.

Loch Tima
I next stumbled across a lovely small Lochan called Loch Tima which was very photogenic with bulrushes and reeds growing along the shoreline. I also took a few close-ups of the many wild flowers scattered around (see below).


Loch Tima



A dinner stop was made in Selkirk. Unfortunately with it being a Sunday, the only places open were Sainbury's Local and a Co-op so I had to make do with a manky ham and mustard sandwich and a packet of crisp, the former being thrown to the birds at St Mary's Loch.

Apparently "Selkirk has indelibly stamped itself on Scotland's and the Scottish Borders' ancient past. From being the site of the first Border Abbey to where William Wallace, "Braveheart", was declared guardian of Scotland. The diverse names of Bonnie Prince Charlie, The Marquess of Montrose and the Outlaw Murray have all contributed to create a unique historical tapestry." but unfortunately I couldn't find much of any interest there so I headed off towards Moffat.

I left the A708 at a place called Cappercleuch and followed a minor road past Meggit Reservoir (from which the people of Edinburgh get their water) and then rose up to the top of a stunning little pass before heading down to Talla Reservoir. A major photo break was had here.

Talla Reservoir

The view from the top of the pass is spectacular as the photos show and a small stream cascades down to the valley below before entering the reservoir.

Talla Reservoir

Pass above Talla Reservoir

Pass above Talla Reservoir

Down in the valley I watched a Heron standing statuesque waiting for it's dinner to arrive and also watched an Osprey hovering in circles above before diving down for it's catch. It was an unbelievable moment.

Talla Reservoir
A small railway was built to assist in bringing in the materials for constructing the dam which was completed in 1899 and over 100,000 tons of material were transported for the building of the reservoir, and at least 30 of the workmen (who were mostly Irish) died during construction and are buried at Tweedsmuir churchyard.

This was my last stop of my day. I followed the A702 down to Moffat and then on to the M74 and M6 back to Cumbria for some much needed food. It had been a very enjoyable drive out, shame about the lack of eating establishments in Selkirk though.

Popular posts from this blog


These are just a selection of photos I took a few weeks ago. The first bunch are of Linton Bridge and the River Wharfe just outside Grassington. The concrete retaining walls of Linton Mill by the side of the bridge now support a housing development called ‘Linton Falls’. A corn mill has probably stood on this site from Medieval times. In 1788, Robert Hargreaves & Co of Addingham built a worsted-spinning mill there. Soon after a new tenant, Samuel Gill, and until 1804, his partner James Parker, turned the mill over to spinning cotton. By 1830 it had returned to worsted spinning under the ownership of J & W Birkbeck. Birkbecks then built a five-storey cotton mill on the site in the mid-19th century. This mill burnt down in 1912 and was replaced by a smaller structure. This went out of business during the 1950s. It was demolished in 1983 apart from the houses facing onto the footpath that crosses the river. Prior to demolition, the mill’s rare uniflow steam engine was rescued an…

Derwent Valley, Castleton and The Devil's Arse!

I had this day out and took these shot's at the beginning of June when all the rape was in bloom in the fields above High Bradfield. The cloud cover was kind to me as well, letting the sun burst through intermittently,  lighting up the yellow fields beautifully.

I love this area which is on the edge of The Peak District and can't thank Sal enough for introducing me to it. The view over Bradfield Dale to the distant Derwent Edge is one of our favourites and has to be one of the loveliest in the area. Coupled with this are a pair of nice pubs, a beautiful Church and a brewery which makes Bradfield an ideal stopping off point. No pubs for me today though.

Sal had often mentioned The Derwent Valley so I thought I'd go and have a bit of an explore and then drive on to Castleton. The moor road over to the main A57 passing Strines resounded with the call of the Curlews so I presumed it was their mating season. I love their call, it is an unmistakable, plaintive, and lonely …

The Old Brown Horse :

On the minor road to Scarness Bay in Cumbria, there has been a small stable where 2 two horses have lived for years. On passing it the other week with Dave and Chris, we noticed an R.I.P sign and only one horse. He or she looked so sad and forlorn.

As shown in it's eyes, it was obviously missing it's old mate. Thanks to Sal for the verse which it is rather apt.

The Old Brown Horse :

The old brown horse looks over the fence
In a weary sort of way.
He seems to be saying to all who pass:
“Well, folks, I've had my day-
I'm simply watching the world go by,
And nobody seems to mind,
As they're dashing past in their motor-cars,
A horse who is lame and half-blind.”

The old brown horse has a shaggycoat,
But once he was young and trim,
And he used to trot through the woods and lanes
With the man who was fond of him.
But his master rides in a motor-car,
And it makes him feel quite sad
When he thinks of the days that used to be, and of al…

Swinsty Reservoir

With the Lakes and Yorkshire Dales becoming increasingly more popular, its good to know that you have quieter places on your doorstep where you can escape for a few hours. Swinsty Reservoir and Fewston Reservoir in the Washburn Valley are such places. Obviously they get busier at weekends but midweek they can be havens of tranquility with robins, blackbirds and bluetits never far away and always singing their happy tunes. Mind you at Swinsty,  the geese and ducks which congregate by the picnic area can make a right racket but these can soon be left behind.

Sal came with me today and it was the first time she had been in the area. Give her a camera, a bit of nature and she will disappear in to her own little world. Come to think of it, that's exactly what I tend to do as well. I think we compliment each other, I usually see the landscape opportunities whilst she see the more creative and quirky things which I tend to miss. I am told that I'm getting better at spotting them these…

Out with the old, in with the new.

Nearly two years ago I decided to buy a mirrorless four thirds camera as my DSLR gear was getting a bit too heavy to carry about when I was out walking in the Lakes and Dales. I plumped for the Fujifilm X-T1 which was marketed as being an enthusiasts camera i.e. you can use it in manual, aperture, shutter speed modes as well as the normal program mode where everything is set for you. It was a brilliant camera and everyone raved about it but, try as I may, I never really got on with it. And I did try, I tried for nearly two years to like it.

I think my problem was that there was just too much on it. There were dials here there and everywhere and frequently I would accidentally move one which would either overexpose or underexpose my photos plus lots of things were menu driven as well. For example if I wanted to take a close up photo I would have to troll through the menu system and turn the macro setting on and then do the same to turn it off. For someone who is as blind as a bat and…

To Lochinver via Coigach

Again, I don't really think many words are needed for this blog. The photos tell the whole story of one of the best drives in the UK.

The route chops and changes from mountain to coastal and back again and is possibly the best section of the Wester Ross Coastal Road. I was fortunate enough to be at Gruinard Bay when the tide was out so I more to less had the whole beach to myself, th the mighty An Teallach (widely regarded as the best hill in Scotland) towered above me as I drove down through Dundonnell.  Then it was through the Dundonnell River gorge and across the Dundonnell Forest to Loch Broom and Ullapool. Even Ullapool looked good with the morning sun and blue skies. I hardly met any traffic at all from the moment I left my hotel on the shores on Loch Maree which meant driving was a sheer pleasure.

The last section of the route through Coigach to Lochinver is the reason I keep visiting these parts. It may only be about twenty miles in length but it goes through what is, in m…

Icy Morning on Coppice Pond

After a few days of gloomy weather, it was nice to see the sun in the sky again and, as usual for this time of year, a clear day means a frosty day. I was on my way to do some shopping so just popped in to St Ives to stretch my legs and give the camera an airing.  There was plenty of wildlife about: squirrels, robins, jays, ducks, geese and swans but not the elusive heron. I haven't seen it up there for months, you can usually spot in on the island hunting for its food. Maybe it has found easier pickings elsewhere.

All the autumn colours have just about disappeared now but I did find an oak tree which had the full range of colours on its leaves. I think I managed to capture a few nice shots with some being a bit different from the norm so the visit was worthwhile.