Keeping traditions? We’re doing it rather well


Easter Sunday proved to be the best day of the year so far by miles, with temperatures soaring to 19 degrees and a cloudless sky.

I took to the hills early in the morning to walk from Foulshiels in Yarrow to the Three Brethren cairns and back to Selkirk by the Corbie Linn.

It was a stiff climb to start with and I soon discovered I was overdressed, when I began to sweat copiously. Once up onto the high heather-clad moorland, I stopped for a breather, to take in the views.

Westward lay the Yarrow Valley with snow patches on the high hills around St Mary’s Loch clearly visible. To the east, the Eildons were starting to emerge from the dissipating early morning mist.

With not a breath of wind, the evocative songs of unseen skylarks, displaying meadow pipits and distant curlews were carried across the moors for great distances. I could have sat there all day, but I had a mission to complete. When I was a lad, I used to “stravage” in this area with my pals and we were always told that in a fold in the hills was the “Weaver’s Well”, where a spring burst from the hillside, near the residence of a weaver.

With nothing to mark the spot other than a group of ancient larch trees we were never sure if anyone ever lived there or not. I was keen to locate it again and see if I could find any evidence.

Just where I thought it was, I found that the spot had been marked by the erection of a stone cairn, in 2002 by the Incorporation of Weavers from Selkirk.

The stonework was in need of repair and a bird of prey had been using the top stone as a plucking place, as the victim’s feathers could still be seen clinging to the lichen. I also found a horseshoe with blue and scarlet ribbons attached, bearing the legend “With the compliments of John Black, Weavers Standard Bearer 2014”.

It was obvious that this link with the past was still being maintained and was so good to see.

Most of the old trees were gone, with only one remaining and it was lying on the ground, still alive with half of its roots still in the ground. Last year’s cones were still on it and the new buds were clearly visible. I could find no evidence of a building of any sort, so the possible existence of the weaver is still a mystery.

Above the reservoir, the Long Philip Burn has recently been fenced to allow tree planting and the resulting profusion of coltsfoot along the burnside is quite stunning.

Immediately below the fenced area, where the sheep graze, not a single bloom could be seen.

It had been a great outing and my face was flushed with my first touch of the sun of 2015.