Walk into winter - but wear wellies


I always have great intentions to do lots of walking in the summer months, but I never seem to get round to it. As a result I always seem to do most of my exploring in autumn and winter when the weather is rubbish.

Last Sunday, on a dreich but mild morning, I set out for a walk round Selkirk’s Haining estate, which was recently bequeathed to the town by its last owner Andrew Nimmo-Smith. I hadn’t been for a while and was impressed by the work which has taken place to install a network of way-marked footpaths, complete with information boards.

It really is a lovely spot, especially with the autumnal tints just starting to come to the fore. The impressive Palladian mansion house overlooks a loch which was pretty devoid of waterfowl, with the exception of some mallards and coot, but unseen in the reeds were some widgeon which I recognised from their whistling call.

At various places throughout the estate, posts indicate the presence of some really fascinating trees. There is a huge chestnut with massive boughs curving down almost to ground level and a massive sequoia which towers above everything else. The most unusual is a deformed beech which has been called the “Walking Tree” as it resembles a prehistoric giraffe-like creature walking through the woods or the animated trees from Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings.

A word of warning, though, before visiting the Haining at this time of year – wear wellies. It is very muddy and boggy in places and if I hadn’t had my stick, I would have been upside down several times!

I apologise for not mentioning the following publication last week as promised, but it became buried on my desk and has just resurfaced.

Last year, I was walking the newly completed footpath between Leaderfoot and Earlston when I met Ian Gibb, secretary of the Earlston Paths Group, beavering away at some improvement work. We got chatting and he told me about the dedicated work being carried out by the group to create a network of paths around Earlston.

The culmination of their efforts is the publication of a new booklet, Country Walks around Earlston and Redpath, and I can’t recommend it highly enough. It only costs £3, is in full colour and is bursting with information about not only the many walks featured, but the history and wildlife you are likely to encounter en route.

It is available from many outlets in Earlston or you can order one by sending your details plus a cheque for £4 (including P & P) made payable to Earlston Paths Group to: Ian Gibb, Secretary, Earlston Paths Group, Leadervale Lodge, Earlston TD4 6AJ.