Stables where big is beautiful


The persistent strong winds of late May not only played havoc with farmers desperate to spray their fields, but my moth trap has been virtually redundant. Two things moths hate are cold and wind so it’s been a lean time for Borders moth enthusiasts.

On a typically cold wet and windy evening I decided to visit an event which was part of the recent Borders Festival of the Horse. It was an open evening at Gilmanscleuch Farm in the Ettrick Valley where they breed heavy horses.

The farm steading consisted of old whinstone buildings and cobbles and was a perfect setting for these wonderful beasts from another age.

The appreciative crowd who braved the driving drizzle were treated to a parade of mares, stallions and foals, many of which were prestigious show winners and champions. Their docile temperament and unflappability was underlined when we were told that one young beast had been introduced to the bit only that day, and there it was quite relaxed as it was led round.

Some of them weighed almost a ton and the resident Jack Russell was weaving in and out of their legs as they walked – not an eyelid was batted. It was a wonderful evening marred only by the horrible weather.

Later the same weekend, I landed on pastures new after a visit to the coffee shop and lovely antique and book shops at Old Melrose.

Suitably refreshed, I had a wander down through the old estate woodland to the Tweed. It was quite scary, walking through the trees as, despite the sunshine, there was a tremendous gale blowing and debris was flying everywhere. Occasionally there would be a loud crack and the sound of something falling through the canopy.

It was nice to see all the woodland flowers, such as red campion (pictured, top of page) and woodruff, and there was lots of sanicle, which may not be the most attractive flower, but it’s not that common here in the Borders as it prefers chalky soil.

Arriving at the river on the opposite bank to Scott’s View, the wind was whipping spray off the surface and blowing it upstream, which is not what you expect on a summer’s day! It was lovely spot, however, and well worth the hazardous walk through the windy woods.