Dramatic fire close to Borders castle

Emergency services were twice drafted in this week to prevent hill fires reaching an historic Borders castle.

Firefighters tackled the blaze at Minto Crags.
Firefighters tackled the blaze at Minto Crags.

Fire crews were mobilised on both Wednesday, July 13, and Thursday, July 14, to navigate the tricky terrain at Minto Crags, located beside Fatlips Castle in Denholm.

The cause has not yet been established and a fire service presence has been retained at the scene in case of further incidents.

The efforts of the emergency services proved successful and the castle was not damaged.

A spokesperson for the Friends of Fatlips community group described the incident as “quite dramatic” and praised the response of both the fire service and the local community.

They said: “The fire was on Minto Crags, where Fatlips Castle is situated. Firefighters had to navigate the steep hill, woods and layout of the crags to reach the fire. I am in awe of the people of the Borders, who never cease to amaze me with their bravery, fortitude, resilience and absolute skill at times like this. A whole community coming together.

“The fire involved reserve firefighters who have come out of their usual jobs to help – which has a knock-on effect for other workplaces.

“Well done all round, everyone involved in tackling the blaze, and thank God it didn’t reach the castle. Hats off to you all.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said: “We were alerted at 11.13am on Wednesday, July 13, to reports of a fire in the open at Minto Crags, Denholm.

“Operations Control mobilised four appliances to the fire and crews left at 9.09pm. Another call was received on Thursday, July 14, at 9.36am, stating the fire had re-ignited.

“Three appliances were mobilised and remain in attendance (early Thursday evening).”

Fatlips Castle is a peel tower built in the 16th century by the Turnbull family of Barnhills. It was completely rebuilt by the Elliots of Minto in 1857 and remained in use until the 1960s, when it fell into disrepair and was vandalised.

Thanks to various successful heritage funding bids it has been restored to its former glory in more recent years.

The castle is said to have obtained its unusual name from the habit of members of the house greeting guests with less discretion than was considered decent at the time.