Border Country


July was nearly over but summer decided to put in a late appearance as I set off on an early morning walk.

The wild flowers were stunning and as the sun’s warmth began to penetrate the herbage, the first insects gradually became airborne. I was heading upstream from Selkirk along the north bank of the Ettrick towards its confluence with the Yarrow. Birdsong was reduced to a few squeaks and squawks from the many young birds skulking in deep cover, making identification virtually impossible.

The plan was to walk up one side and down the other but this idyllic route is always thwarted by the lack of a crossing at the foot of the Yarrow. There is a fine new footbridge over the Ettrick a few hundred yards above the meeting, near Oakwood Mill, but to get to it entails a detour of about two miles by way of the General’s Bridge, much of which is on a busy road. If ever there was a case for some lottery cash to be put to good use, this is it.

After the interminable slog round the road, I eventually reached the footbridge where I stopped for a breather and to let the dog cool off in the river.

While enjoying the sunshine I spotted a large moth darting around in the long grass and spent an entertaining ten minutes trying to photograph it. Eventually I succeeded and identified it as a shaded broad-bar (top of page) from its attractive wing stripes and day-flying habit.

It was a lovely stroll from there down to the meeting, this time on the opposite bank. There was lots activity on the flower-rich riverbank from the many ringlet butterflies and countless grass moths enlivened by the now warm sunshine.

On reaching the meeting, I was disgusted to find that this beauty spot had been defiled by mindless morons masquerading as picnickers. On a burnt area overlooking the meeting pool was a pile of empty lager and cider cans, bottles, pint glasses and spent disposable barbecues. How they managed to carry all that stuff there full but couldn’t summon the energy to take it away empty, speaks volumes about their maturity.

Once I’d calmed down, I headed back downstream, this time through the water extraction area at Howden Haugh, where the wild-flower display had me reaching for my camera. The waste ground was carpeted with a glorious display of tiny yellow and white field pansies, which were breathtaking in number.

Yes on the whole, it had been a lovely walk, marred only by the actions of a few.