Muddy puddles stop fly-tippers and hikers

RANGERS hope deep puddles barring easy access on a core path near Kelso could be a thing of the past during the next year.

Hikers following the promoted Kelso paths route, heading towards Roxburgh from Kelso, face rutted tracks filled with water for much of the year at Wallaceneuk on the town’s outskirts.

Scottish Borders Council access ranger Euan Calvert said: “In the next 12 months we will be looking to talk and come to some kind of resolution.”

The flooding has been ongoing from when the former railway line – now a core path – was first promoted as one of several walks around Kelso four years ago.

Mr Calvert said: “The problem is it has always been like that: the railway line there has always been below the surrounding ground level and that’s why the water doesn’t drain away. We are looking at repairing it, it’s purely material that’s needed to bring the levels up.”

Under Scottish access legislation, the council has a duty to keep the core path open and free from obstruction and it can maintain it, but there is no obligation concerning maintenance, said Mr Calvert.

The route is passable, but walkers face wading through puddles up to mid-calf, with little space to pass along the edge of the track.

Also, the landowner has to agree to any work being carried out on the deeply-rutted track.

But farmer Keith Redpath is reluctant because he fears fly-tippers will once again start to dump rubbish in the area.

He told us: “If it’s sorted it will allow people to fly-tip. People do try to dump rubbish there.

“The track is only accessible by tractor at the moment; if it was better it would encourage more people to fly-tip.

“When the road was better, people went along and put all sorts of things there.”

Meanwhile, rangers have potentially earmarked a developer contribution of £10,000 from the Duke of Roxburghe for Wallaceneuk.

But that money will only come in when the laird starts work on 60 holiday lodges and an extension to Roxburghe Hotel near Heiton, for which he gained planning permission two years ago.

In the meantime the council is going to drain other waterlogged sections of the former railway track between Heiton Mill and Roxburgh at a cost of “a few thousand pounds”, said Mr Calvert. He expected the work to take place before Christmas.

He also welcomed the reopening of the Roxburgh viaduct, barred to walkers, horse riders and cyclists for more than three years. Previously, hikers had to use the footbridge attached to the viaduct.

Local MSP John Lamont secured the reopening in September, saying: “Upholding public access rights is vital if we are to continue to let people see some of the fantastic countryside and historical structures we have here.”