Haggi survive storms

Heavy rain has provided more than a few woes for the organisers of the Town Arms Great Selkirk Haggis Hunt on Sunday (January 19).

Parts of the prime breeding and hunting ground was flooded but is now clearing, so with nine days to go and favourable weather forecasts, all should be well.

Scouts toured the hill before the deluge descended and winds whipped in, reporting good numbers of Haggi in excellent condition.

They returned once the storms abated – dreading the worst. Assistant Head Haggis Hunter Davie Scott told us: “We have had many sleepless nights, and it wasn’t the wind. The chieftain o’ the pudding race is a hardy beast and isn’t bothered by wind, although it has been known to cause some wind problems.

“It was the rain that worried us. Haggi are thin-skinned creatures and if penetrated by water they very often swell up and simply burst. It’s not pleasant to see.

“And because their principal habitat is heather-clad moorland, away from water, they are not very good swimmers.

“In fact, there are only a few confirmed sightings of a haggis doing the back or the breaststroke – and none of those have occurred in the Borders.

“They have never been seen doing the crawl or the butterfly. The Border haggis does not like the wet.”

But a relieved Davie confirmed: “All seems well. They must have heard the BBC’s weather forecasts and most escaped to the higher ground away from what became the flood plain and found shelter and safety amongst the whins and heather.

“We saw about half a dozen floating on their backs but fortunately we managed to rescue them, dry them off, and ferry them to the safety of the higher ground, none the worse for their ordeal.

“So it looks as though the numbers are as good as previous years – possibly greater thanks to a warm breeding and growing season.”

Security on The Hill is provided by Commander Beachy Grieve.

He commented: “Poachers beware. I have been highly trained by the British Army, and although a retired soldier, I am still in peak condition.”

The January 19 Great Selkirk Haggis Hunt begins with a proclamation and stirrup cup in the Market Place at 11.02am.

Juice will be provided for the bairns.

The wearing of tartan is encouraged – experts say it lures the haggi into a false sense of security. The only weapons allowed are baggie nets and homemade bows and arrows. Walking sticks should only be used for walking. Riddell Fiddles will play for the dancing of the Haggis Polka outside the Argus Centre.

All hunters receive a certificate and there will be music in the Town Arms after the hunt.