Wednesday, 28 May 2014


The south-east of Scotland is a tourist destination in itself with rolling hills and lovely small towns often missed by holidaymakers heading for the more northerly parts.



Lockerbie is a small market town in the Scottish Borders now bypassed by the A74 on the western route into Scotland. 
The fine tollbooth dominates the town.   It replaced the ‘old tower’  which was the town gaol.  The 'Lockerbie nick' was something quite different – in the final battle between the feuding Johnstone and Maxwell clans in 1593, many of the defeated Maxwells had their ears sliced off – a custom known as the Lockerbie nick.
Lockerbie is probably best remembered for the disaster which struck
the town in 1988. 
Pan American Boeing 747 Clipper, ‘Maid of the Seas’, with 243 passengers and 16 crew, left Heathrow Airport at 18.25 hours on Wednesday 21st December 1988, bound for New York as flight 103.   At approximately 19.03 hours, the aircraft was blown apart by an internal explosion from a terrorist bomb.   Falling over 31,000 feet, it crashed near Lockerbie  and pieces of the wreckage were scattered over 846 square miles.   All the people on board were killed, as were 11 residents on the ground, a total of 270 people.  In Sherwood Crescent, Lockerbie, there was a crater 155 feet long and 733 cubic yards volume.  
Some of the dead were buried at Lockerbie where a fine memorial garden
can be seen.



In 1999, two Lybian’s thought to be responsible, were handed over for trial.  The two men were subsequently tried in Holland by a Scottish court. 
Only one of them, Abdelbaset Al Megrahi, was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment, upheld on appeal.
In 2009 Al Megrahi, suffering from terminal cancer, was released on compassionate grounds and later died in his native Lybia.



A sulphur spring, found near Moffat, just a few miles further north, in 1630 put the little town on the map and it gained attraction as a spa town. It is popular with walkers in the nearby hills and is a popular stop for holiday coaches. This fascinating little town is full of interesting curiosities.



Situated at the top of the High Street is the Colvin Fountain with its ram, which signifies the importance of the local sheep farming industry. It was sculptured by William Brodie R.S.A who also sculptured Edinburgh's 'Greyfriars Bobby'.  A curious thing about this sculpture is that the ram is missing its ears and has been since it was presented to the town in 1875 by William Colvin.
"It has nae lugs" was the cry at the unveiling ceremony much to the embarrassment of the sculptor.
  A sheep racing event has been established in the town centre
in August each year.

The Thomas Hetherington Pharmacy in the High Street established in 1844, is said to be the oldest pharmacy in Scotland. The old shop has been maintained with some interior modifications and is now operated by the
Co-operative Pharmacy.

The Star Hotel in the High Street dates to the late 1700’s. This old inn, only 20 feet wide and 162 feet long, is listed in the Guiness Book of Records as being the world’s narrowest hotel.

Just behind the Star is Chapel Street which connects Star Street to Well Street.
With just one house the street is only 14 feet in length and is claimed to be the shortest street in Scotland.



A 4 ft high zinc statue seems to be out of place on the top of this house in Well Street. It is a statue of Robert the Bruce and is said to have been taken in payment of a debt by the builder of Bruce House in the late 19th century.

The Parish Church is dedicated to St Andrew, the Patron Saint of Scotland.

Two poignant gravestones in the old graveyard at Moffat tell a story of bravery and disaster.  On a February day in 1831 the Dumfries to Edinburgh mail coach. with its driver John Goodfellow and guard James McGeorge, had left Moffat and ran into an intense snowstorm near to Erickstane. They struggled on  but eventually were forced to stop when they were engulfed in deep snow.
They released the horses and the two men fought their way through the blizzard carrying the mail bags between them but perished in their attempt
to reach safety.


This exact replica of a 1944 Mk1x Supermarine Spitfire PT462 can be seen in the garden of a small bungalow in Moffat.

Air Chief Marshall Sir Hugh Dowding, C in C of Fighter Command during the Battle of Britain was born in Moffat and his house there is now part of a sheltered housing complex. The owner of the Spitfire intends to leave the model to Dowding House and the people of Moffat as a lasting memorial.


The Three Wise Monkeys don't seem to be too impressed by their neighbour.





Jedburgh on the A68, a major north/south route, is a small market town on Jed Water where there is a notable red red-sandstone abbey.

Jed Water



This 16th century pack-horse bridge crosses the Jed Water

The Mercat Cross with the 18th century 'New Gate' which leads to
the Abbey precincts.

Jedburgh Abbey was founded in 1118 by King David 1. The abbey church was used as a parish church until 1875. The fine rose window is known as St Catherine's Wheel.

Mary Queens of Scots stayed in this house in 1566 which is now a museum.

King David 1 built a castle in 1174 which dominated the town but it was demolished in 1409.  A modern castle was built on the site at the top of Castlegate in 1823 and served as the town gaol until 1868. The building was restored in 1964 and is open to the public as a gaol and museum.


If you go to Jedburgh you should be aware of Jeddart Justice where the offender was hanged first and tried later!


A few miles north east of Jedburgh, the little village of Eckford has an unusual building in the churchyard. This tiny round castellated building was
a watch house complete with a small fireplace.
The stealing of bodies from graveyards was a prevalent crime in the 19th century, and it was very difficult to apprehend these ‘body snatchers’  unless they were caught red-handed.  To this end, watch towers were built in many graveyards where those keeping watch could shelter and still be vigilant.

A related story tells of a local man, one James Goodfellow, who was walking home late, the day after a burial, when he saw a dim light in the churchyard. He saw a pony and cart secreted nearby and sent it galloping off, forcing two miscreants to leave their grisly task and rush after it. In the graveyard he found an open coffin and just had time to hide the body behind a nearby gravestone and install himself in the coffin, covering himself with the pall, before the two  body snatchers returned and lifted the coffin on to the cart and drove towards Kelso. After a short distance one of them leaned against the ‘body’ and cried “Jock, this body’s warm” whereupon James sat up and said, “If you had been where I have been, you would be warm” and the thieves fled. There was apparently no claim for the impounded horse and cart.
A similar eight sided building can be seen in the old graveyard at Callander.

Selkirk is a Royal Burgh famous as the workplace of Sir Walter Scott and the birthplace of Mungo Park. It is a textile town.


Sir Walter Scott, born 1771 in Edinburgh, the historic novelist, playwright and poet is probably only second the Robert Burns in the annals of Scottish history. In fact Scott met Burns in Edinburgh when he was only a boy of some 15 years of age. Scotts novels are legend, many of them based on local legend such as  Rob Roy, The Lady of the Lake and The Heart of Midlothian.
However, Scott was in fact an advocate and combined his literary work with his daily occupation as Clerk of Session and Sheriff-Depute of Selkirkshire.
A fine statue of the man is to be seen outside his court-room at Selkirk.
The old court building is preserved and can be visited.

 Abbotsford overlooking the River Tweed to the north of Selkirk was Scott's home. and he died there in 1832.  This veritable palace is open to the public.

Another fine memorial in Selkirk is that of explorer Mungo Park who was born near Selkirk in 1771. He was the first westerner known to have travelled to the central portion of the Niger River.
A third statue in Selkirk is the Flodden memorial.

The bloody battle of Flodden Field between the English and the Scots in 1513 resulted in the resounding defeat of the Scottish army. King James 1V led his troops into battle on that fateful day and he perished along with some 10,000 of his troops.The King’s body was removed from the battlefield into the nearby Branxton church, the last British sovereign to die in battle. Some 1,500 English troops also died in the battle.

Of the 80 men from Selkirk who fought at Flodden, it is said that only one, a man called Fletcher, returned holding a captured English pennon, and he is commemorated on the Flodden Memorial which was erected in 1913. The flag is preserved in Selkirk museum.


Galashiels is also a centre for the tweed and woollens industry and also a commercial centre for the region.
The motto of this town is 'Sour Plums'.

The story goes that in 1337 a group of retreating English soldiers paused to gather wild plums growing near the joining of the Rivers Tweed and gala. The Englishmen were so engrossed in picking and eating the plums that they were surprised and slain by a party of Scottish soldiers. Their bodies were thrown into a trench known as the Englishmen's Syke.

This fine statue of a Border Reiver near the clock tower, reminds us of these groups of men, raiders who crossed the border especially at the beginning of the 17th century to plunder stock and other valuables
and even took hostages for ransom. 

New Lanark
New Lanark in the Clyde Valley south east of Glasgow is a conservation village, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a major tourist attraction.
It is situated in a deep valley alongside the Clyde Falls
from which the mills at this point harnessed their power
The village was founded in 1786 by David Dale, who built cotton mills and housing for the mill workers. Dale's son-in-law, Robert Owen, became mill manager in 1800 who, as an industrialist also carried on the philanthropic approach and social reform. He instigated social and welfare programmes for his workers and improved the workers lot considerably for the 2,500 people who worked at the mills.  He paid particular attention to the needs of the 500 or so children who also worked in the mills by opening the first infants school in Britain in 1817.


Robert Owen lived with his family in the house with nice garden with the church and some of the tenement buildings close by.


The church and the village shop were an important part of the community.


Water from the River Clyde was channelled alongside the mills and then via a sluice gate to turn the huge water wheel which in turn powered the machinery.

The schoolroom was large airy and well equipped..


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