Tuesday, 6 September 2011

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.

A journey of two halves.

It was one of those all too frequent occasions when the weather forecast had a big wad of thick cloud and rain hanging over Cumbria whilst ...