Philiphaugh wins top countryside award

AN ESTATE near Selkirk has won a new national award, writes Sally Gillespie.

The Philiphaugh Estate scooped the ‘Biodiversity Through Countrysports’ prize in its inaugural year at the Scottish Countryside Alliance (SCA) Awards last week.

The estates marketing and projects manager Julie Nock said: “We’re delighted. The success of rural business hinges on diversity, adaptability and embracing opportunities as they present themselves.

“Receiving the SCA award will undoubtedly draw more visitors to the estate and surrounding area, helping to sustain not just ours, but many small businesses in the Borders.”

The estate will now go forward to represent Scotland in a UK-wide competition and the winners will be announced later this month.

SCA director, Ross Montague from Lauder said: “The award for biodiversity through countrysports is a new category, marking the International Year of Biodiversity 2010. Despite this being its first year, we quickly had nominations for enterprises that show enthusiasm and determination to inform the public of the benefits that countrysports bring to biodiversity and the environment, through the good work done by gamekeepers, ghillies and others involved in hunting, shooting and fishing.

“Philiphaugh Estate ticked almost every box in our judging criteria. Not only do they advertise gamekeeper-led wildlife walks, they also have a fantastic salmon viewing visitor centre and a website packed with information and educational resources for teachers and students.”

Ian Girdwood, estate gamekeeper for 26 years, hosts the free walk every Wednesday and covers a different seasonal topic each week, the most popular being fungi hunting, salmon viewing, animal tracks, wild foods and the autumn colour walks.

Miss Nock said: “Ian has a formidable knowledge of the countryside which he uses to educate and inspire. Philiphaugh, like much of the Borders, is packed full of stunning scenery and unique habitats, and we are delighted so many people now come to Philiphaugh to enjoy their natural heritage.”

The small estate was nominated by the public and shortlisted before judges visited the attractions.

Philiphaugh was one of six rural businesses and individuals from Scotland presented with SCA awards for their outstanding roles in country life and communities in a ceremony at the Scottish Parliament last Wednesday.

Kelly and Craig Douglas from JC Douglas Butchers in St Boswells were runners-up in the best traditional business category.