Borders trust buys Peeblesshire estate

Talla and Gameshope estate from the air
Talla and Gameshope estate from the air

The historic Talla and Gameshope estate has been bought for £900,000 by Borders Forest Trust (BFT).

The Ancrum-based charity announced last week it had purchased 4,527 acres, the majority of the estate near Tweedsmuir, which was once a stronghold of William Wallace.

Trust director Jane Rosegrant said: “This is a real step change for Borders Forest Trust. It more than doubles our land holdings and, because it adjoins one of our other properties (Carrifran) and is nearby to a third (Corehead), it makes ecological restoration on a landscape scale possible.”

The estate changed hands early last year when BFT and the John Muir Trust were outbid for the 5,300-acre property with an asking price of £1.1million.

Ms Rosegrant explained this month’s success: “The previous owner approached us as he wanted to see the land pass into conservation ownership. Time was short, so we went to a small group of our larger donors with the request and secured pledges for the total price of £900,000 within three weeks.”

She outlined immediate plans: “The previous owner will be keeping his sheep on the property until the end of October 2014. During the time the land is still being grazed, BFT will carry out biological surveys so that we know what plants and animals are there now and can map changes over the years.

“Once the livestock are removed, we will begin the gradual work of restoring native habitats on the land. This will include woodland, but also areas of montane scrub and heathland.

“Next year we will run a much wider fundraising appeal to get our restoration work under way.”

The land was part of the royal hunting forest, Ettrick Forest, and was one of 
the many Reivers’ battle grounds.