Walks on wildlife side

Derek Philips one of the Philiphaugh Estate walk guides.
Derek Philips one of the Philiphaugh Estate walk guides.

CLOVENFORDS’ Derek Phillips is hoping the spring will bring both locals and visitors out for his various wildlife walks at Philiphaugh Estate.

An uncle inspired Mr Phillips’ lifelong love of nature and the former history teacher has been taking the walks – which include a visit to the estate’s salmon viewing centre – for the last year and a half.

He said: “We take it at an easy pace, it lasts about an hour and I talk about what we see. We have goosanders up the river at the moment – everybody’s going mad, though of course the anglers don’t like them because they take fish.”

His walks leave from the Waterwheel Cafe on the estate at the edge of Selkirk at 1pm every Wednesday. Some go up the river to where the Ettrick and Yarrow meet and others cross into the estate.

A member of the Worldwide Fund for Nature and a supporter of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds for the last 25 years, Mr Phillips is also a member of the Hare Preservation Trust and has a special affection for the animal he remembers watching as a young boy.

“It’s their grace, their freedom, their timidity – the hare is the epitome of the British countryside.”

Meanwhile, the first of this year’s regular guided walks around the Philiphaugh Battlefield took place yesterday, allowing anyone interested to find out how the important battle took place and, for instance, look at a musket and learn from a camp follower what they cooked for soldiers.

The free 90-minute walk starts from the Waterwheel Cafe and moves to the mill lade – the middle of the battle – and goes to the rugby club area before returning to the cafe.

Walk leader Ian Shields, who dresses as a 17th century soldier, and his partner Jude Coles, in camp follower attire, hope to pass on their enthusiasm for the English Civil War – or more correctly Three Nations – battle.

Speaking before his first walk, Mr Shields said: “We’ll have some weaponry and talk about that, the life of the soldiers, the lives of civilians and I’ll explain what happened during the battle as we move along through various sections, where the Royalists were, where the flanking attack took place, what they would be seeing and what types of troops were fighting.”

Mr Shields, a landscape artist, loves history and has been involved in re-enactments since 1986.

He said: “I like trying to get people involved: a lot of people aren’t really aware of this period (17th century) in Scotland’s history.

“Also you are telling amazing stories, that actually happened here to people who are the same as us. We talk about the ordinary people who took part in history – it’s not dates and kings and queens, it’s ordinary people getting caught up in extraordinary events, how they thought and how they reacted.”

Ms Coles is particularly interested in social history, the food people were eating and their clothing, for example, which she has researched extensively.

The next walk, on April 18, will leave the cafe at 1pm. Walks are also planned for May 9, June 8, July 4 and August 1.