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Discovering the Scottish Borders with Alistair Moffat…

“I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book’

(J. K Rowling)

I can’t but agree with J.K. Rowling for this is exactly how I feel when I’m reading a good book, especially if it is a book about Scotland. As a great fan of this fascinating country it’s always magical for me to get immersed in a volume that makes me travel on the Scottish roads when I can’t be there. Today I would like to share with you my enthusiasm for Alistair Moffat, one of the greatest contemporary Scottish writers. Read this author and Scotland will soon hold no secrets from you.  How I would like to find such a French author to make me love the history of my country. A great story-teller, a magician of words, today we’ll follow Alistair Moffat on the roads of the Scottish Borders where he was born.

I’ve been a great admirer of Alistair Moffat since a long time now. In December 2015, I wrote a post about his books. Most of them are in my library, though I’ve still not read them all. All have lovely covers and inspiring titles and many are illustrated with maps, pictures and drawings.

 

The Great Tapestry of Scotland Susan Mansfield and Alistair Moffat Birlinn 2013

The Great Tapestry of Scotland Susan Mansfield and Alistair Moffat Birlinn 2013

Each of Alistair Moffat’s books brings its part of precious information contributing to create a colourful mosaic which reflects the great diversity of  features composing the “great tapestry” of Scotland…

The brainchild of bestselling author Alexander McCall Smith, historian Alistair Moffat and artist Andrew Crummy, the Great Tapestry of Scotland is an outstanding celebration of thousands of years of Scottish history and achievement, from the end of the last Ice Age to Dolly the Sheep. Over 500 volunteer stitchers spent a total of 55,000 sewing hours and 49,000 meters of yarn on the 140 panels that make up this extraordinary work of art. Like the Bayeux tapestry, the Great Tapestry of Scotland has been created on embroidered cloth, and is annotated in English, Gaelic, Scots and Latin. This book follows on from the paperback and shows in full colour plates the finished panels of the tapestry, one of the biggest community arts projects ever to take place in Scotland – together with descriptive and explanatory material.

Scottish Borders map Wikipedia

“A Scotsman born, bred and educated – and more than that, a Scottish Borderer”

(Between Britain)

Born in 1950, in Kelso, where he spent his childhood and youth, Alistair Moffat went on to study at the universities of St Andrews, London and Edinburgh. In 1972 he graduated from the University of St Andrews with an honours degree in medieval history and in 1975 from the University of London, where he earned a Master of Philosophy degree .

In 1976, he became Director of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. His five-year tenure saw the festival grow into the largest arts festival in the world.

 

Edinburgh Festival Fringe Information 180 High Street © 2006 Scotiana

“Between 1976 and 1981, under the direction of Alistair Moffat, the number of companies performing rose from 182 to 494, and new venues such as St Columba’s in Newington came on board. Moffat also expanded the street performance aspect and brought in sponsorship deals, particularly local breweries. In this way, the Fringe ascended to its current position as the largest arts festival in the world. This was a deliberate policy by Moffat, who found it difficult to promote the Fringe on merit given the Society’s position of neutrality. Increasing show numbers was therefore a way of attracting more attention. At this point, the Fringe operated on only two full-time members of staff. In 1977, the office moved to a converted shop and basement at 170 High Street.”

This work led to the publication of his first book, Edinburgh Fringe in 1978.

Edinburgh Fringe Festival © 2007 Scotiana

Edinburgh Fringe Festival © 2007 Scotiana

Alistair Moffat left the Fringe Festival in 1981 and joined STV in which he worked for 13 years, living in Edinburgh then.

Welcome to the Scottish Borders sign © 2015 Scotiana

In 1994, after a brilliant career, Alistair Moffat left STV to focus on writing and moved back to the Borders, a place that has directly inspired several of his books. There he lives with his family.

BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS !

Below is the list of Alistair Moffat’s books focusing on the Scottish Borders.

  • Between Britain (2024)
  • The Secret History of Here – A year in the valley (2020)
  • Hawick: A History from Earliest Times (2014)
  • The Reivers: The Story of the Border Reivers (2011)
  • Heartland – Images of the Scottish Borders (2004)
  • The Borders: A History of the Borders from Earliest Times (2002)
  • Kelsae (1985)

In February 2024, Alistair Moffat published Between Britain and two other books will be published soon: The Highlands and islands of Scotland: A New History in  June and Edinburgh: A New History in October.

Jules Renard’s quote about books

I always feel very frustrated at not being able to read my Scottish books faster, even if my slow reading gives me the opportunity to dwell longer on certain passages and to discover new words and expressions.

A whole shelf of my library is devoted to Alistair Moffat’s books. I don’t have all of his books  and I haven’t read yet all the ones I have, but as Jules Renard said so well: ‘When I think of all the books still left for me to read’, I am certain of further happiness” ;-).

I’m presently reading three of Alistair Moffat’s books : The Secret History of Here – A year in the valley (2020), Heartland – Images of the Scottish Borders (2004) (many wonderful pictures by Liz Hanson in the book) and  Between Britain (2024), which I’ve downloaded yesterday.

 

The Secret History of Here Alistair Moffat Canongate Books 2021

The Secret History of Here: A Year in the Valley was published in 2021. I’m presently reading it and with so much enthusiasm that I often stop on a line, a paragraph, reading and re-reading it, travelling in space and time… it’s like reading a detective story.

The Secret History of Here is the story of a single place, a farm in the Scottish Borders. The site on which Alistair Moffat’s farm now stands has been occupied since pre-historic times. The fields have turned up ancient arrow heads, stone spindles, silver pennies and a stone carved with the rune-like letters of Ogham. Walking this landscape you can feel the presence and see the marks of those who lived here before.

But it is also the story of everywhere. In uncovering the history of one piece of land, Moffat shows how history is all around us, if only we have the eyes to see it. Under our feet, carved into the landscape, in the layout of paths and roads, in the stories we pass down, our history leaves its trace on the land.

Taking the form of a journal of a year, The Secret History of Here is a walk through the centuries as much as the seasons. We hear the echo of battles long since fought, of lives lived quietly or scandalously, of armies, of kings, of the common folk who mostly inhabited this land, and a little of those that live here now.

The Secret History of Here is a very lively book, full of  places and characters and it includes many stories told au fil des jours et des promenades. We learn about Moffats’s farm Henhouse and Moffat’s family.

In Henhouse, Alistair lives with his wife Lindsay, his son Adam and daughter-in-law Kim, the little Grace, his beloved grand-daughter who often follows him in his daily walks with the dog Maidie…

Among his many friends who live in the area, you find the Detectorist Rory Low and Walter Elliot, two passionate antiquarians whose help prove to be precious for Moffat’s archaeological and historical local quest…

 

Alistair Moffat’s dog Maidie © 2021 AlistairMoffat and Andrew Crummy

“It wasn’t until I got my little Maidie that I started walking and looking around properly.”

 I’ve found a quite interesting article by the Sunday Post which gives a good idea of the contents and spirit of the book. This article contains interesting pictures of some of the ancient artefacts found in the area of Henhouse, the stories of who found them and how they found them. Among these ancient artefacts are:

  •  a prehistoric flint arrowhead about 5,000 years old,
  • silver coins dating back to the English King who invaded Scotland in 1296 Edward I, nicknamed “Edward Longshanks”,  longues jambes in French ;-),
  • a lovely ‘doughnut-shaped, prehistoric Spindle Whorl carved to resemble the sun’s rays. It’s thought the work is by a woman.’,
  • a medieval dagger…

 

Just have a look on the above map which is to be found in The Secret History of Here… it’s very useful when your read this great, out of the beaten track book…

To speak of “track” is  indeed particularly appropriate here since, in his book, Alistair Moffat invites his readers to follow him and his dog Maidie on the “Long Track”… you would find him walking there, every day, at a very early time, all the year long from December to December and whatever the weather is. It’s great, it’s magical.

Since he moved to the Scottish Borders, not far from Selkirk, Alistair Moffat’s roots in his native soil have grown deeper and deeper. In the book we learn how, in the years 1990-1994,  he and his wife bought and restored “Henhouse”, a ruined farm which became the family home. There, in this vast estate, his wife breeds horses which is, as he points out in  a very interesting article published by The Scottish Field, “a very quick way to lose a lot of money but we’ve had a bit of succes with it” (Born in the Borders)

“We had looked at many properties in The Borders, some on the edge of villages, others very remote, hidden in hill valleys, and one was even in England, just over the border. But this unloved, abandoned ruin at the bottom of a bumpy track whispered to us. My wife and I exchanged looks and began walking around the old house, barely able to see where we were going in the overgrowth. Neither of us were thinking much about what it might become, about what estage agents call ‘potential’. Instead without much prior knowledge, we began to intuit what this place had been, began to be aware of its spirits. Most of all we immediately understood why a house had been built in this out-of-the-way corner. It was not only the wide and long views, especially open to the south, it was also its place at the foot of a slope, above the banks of a little stream. The house felt like a destination, somewhere we sensed we should like to say.”

“This book is a story of magical moments caught in the quiet and intuitive eye of award-winning photographer, Liz Hanson. These photographs are beautiful, elegant and above all truthful, taken with an unfussy clarity which succeeds in refracting the spirit of this place through the lens of a camera. To accompany Liz’s photographs, historian Alistair Moffat has written an essay on the history of the Borders, his heartland in every sense.”

Heartland – Images of the Scottish Borders: a book to discover absolutely!

I’ve bought this very interesting book some time ago. It has been written by Alistair Moffat and illustrated by Liz Hanson. I often leaf through the book to admire the many wonderful pictures of Liz Hanson which remind me well of the happy days we spent in the Scottish Borders, conjuring up many unforgettable memories.

In the first chapter Alistair Moffat gives an overview of the Scottish Borders. A panoramic view, as it can be seen from Eildon North… the description is very detailed and can be traced on a map. That’s great! Alisdair Moffat, like Kenneth White, seems to be a great amateur of maps, good maps! “My trusty Pathfinder map“, he writes in Between Britain (Day Two) “fitted well into the back pocket of my jeans (..). These little maps are so beautifully made, delightfully detailed, accurate and easy to read. And of course they are no longer updated or published by the Ordnace Survey.”

Scottish_Borders_-_Eildon_Hill_North_-_20230728135749

“Eildon Hill North is the place to see it. And to comprehend it. Unfolding in all directions the landscapes of the Scottish Border country lie quietly below.”

You feel the atmosphere of the place as if you were there.

“Up on the hill it is quiet. Most climbers who reach the summit seem to be on the way to somewhere else and once they have replaced their bottle of water in a day-glo backpack, they rarely linger… sometimes a bird shrieks or a rabbit scutters for cover, but these appear only to countrepoint the peace of the place, not disturb it.

But all around there are voices to be seen, the whispers of nameless people who made the landscapes that begin at the foot of the hill.”

It’s poetry, it’s history… there are so many things to learn on the book… about the Scottish Borders towns, about geology, prehistory, history… about everything! I do recommend this wonderful book which was published a few years ago.

 

Between Britain by Alistair Moffat – Canongate Books 2024

After reading the first chapter of Between Britain, I’ve downloaded the whole book on my kindle. I can’t wait to to follow Alistair Moffat in his walk along the border between England and Scotland, from Marshall Meadows “the most northerly inhabited settlement in England”, near Berwick-upon-Tweed. In this first chapter we learn many interesting things about the history of the Scottish Borders. Did you know, for example, that Roxburgh, a very prosperous medieval village situated near Kelso had completely disappeared. Alistair Moffat explains how the fall of Roxburgh is directly linked to Scotland’s war of independence and to the decline of Berwick-upon-Tweed after it fell to England.

“The border between Scotland and England is rich in history. It has been the site of battles, treaties, castles and crossroads. It is also a place where both countries display their nationalism: Saltires flying in the north, the Cross of St George to the south. But it can also be a lens through which to look at the changing history and identities of these two countries.

Alistair Moffat is a life-long borderer and the ideal guide on this one-hundred-mile journey. We begin just north of the town of Berwick-upon-Tweed. Already the battlelines have been drawn – the town having been grabbed by the English from Berwickshire in 1482 and never given back. From here we will head west as our tour travels backwards and forwards through history. In all, we will walk through eight centuries before we reach our journey’s end at the mouth of the River Sark.

Between Britain is a history book, a travelogue, a personal reminiscence and a gently prodding examination of national identity. But above all it is a celebration of a place and the people who live there.”

 

The Highlands and Islands of Scotland – A New History by Alistair Moffat Birlinn Ltd 2024

 

In The Highlands and Islands of Scotland – due to be published June 2024, Alistair Moffat tells the extraordinary story of the Highlands in the most detailed book ever written about this remarkable part of Scotland.

The chronicle begins millions of years ago, with the dramatic geological events that formed the awe-inspiring yet beloved landscapes, followed by the arrival of hunter gatherers and the monumental achievements of prehistoric peoples in places like Skara Brae in Orkney. The story continues with the mysterious Picts; the arrival of the Romans as they expanded the boundaries of their huge empire; the coming of Christianity and the Gaelic language from Ireland; the Viking invasion and the establishment of the great Lordship of the Isles that lasted for three hundred years.

The Highlands are perhaps best known as the key battleground in Bonnie Prince Charlie’s doomed attempt to restore the Stuart monarchy and its dreadful aftermath, which saw the suppression of the clans and the whole of Highland culture.This situation was exacerbated by the terrible Clearances of the nineteenth century which saw tens of thousands evicted from their native lands and forced to emigrate. But, after centuries of decline, the Highlands are being renewed, the land is coming alive once more, and the story ends on an upbeat note as the Highlands look forward to a future full of possibilities.

While this is an epic history of a fascinating subject, Moffat also features the stories of individuals, the telling moments and the crucial details which enrich the human story and add context and colour to the saga of Scotland.

Only the cover of the first book has been unveiled so far but I’ve found the summary of Edinburgh: A New History on Birlinn’s website. I can’t wait to read these books although I still have many books to read from Alistair Moffat, and others for that matter. I am an insatiable reader, especially of Scottish books but I  will have to organize myself to be able to read more. My reading list is growing dangerously (and my piles of books still more !!!)

From prehistory to the present day, the story of Edinburgh is packed with incident and drama. As Scotland’s capital since 1437, the city has witnessed many of the key events which have shaped the nation. But Edinburgh has always been much more than just a political centre. During the Enlightenment, it was one the intellectual powerhouses of Europe, and in the twentieth century it became the arts capital of the world with the founding of its many festivals. Finance, religion, education and industry are also important parts of the story.

Alistair Moffat explores these themes and many more, showing how the city has grown, changed and adapted over the centuries. He introduces Edinburgh’s famous places and people – including monarchs, murderers, writers and philosophers – as well as the ordinary citizens who have contributed so much to the life of one of the world’s best-known and most beautiful cites.

Alistair Moffat’s last three books seems to be particularly interesting. The author always takes up the same great Scottish themes, deepening them each time. Themes, strongly rooted in his native soil, inspired by his long marchs. His style is lively and rich, full of images and symbols. Alistair Moffat is second to none to tell a story, old or new, and to make it simple even when the subject is complex. Archaeology and geology are fields that fascinate him. The continuous progress of these two sciences gives him new opportunities and a certain advantage over Walter Scott who, in his time, as a renowned antiquary was always in search of ancient artefacts and old stories.

What our favourite writers read and which authors have influenced them in their life is a question which does not lack interest. I was delighted to discover that Alistair Moffat was a fan of Daphné du Maurier and of Agatha Christie. I’m also a fan of these two famous English novelists who have enchanted generations of readers.

Here’s a very interesting extract from Alistair Moffat’s book To the Island of Tides: A Journey to Lindisfarne which reflects her influence on his work. 

Frenchman’s Creek Doubleday, Doran & Company 1942

One of my most treasured possessions is a small cache of letters. Written in a looping, spidery hand with sentences that turn corners up the sides of pages before abruptly dipping overleaf, they are full of criticism and advice. The writer was a retired librarian and borrower of all my books but I never knew his or her name. Received over a four-year period, all of the letters were signed A Reader and no return address appeared at the top of the first of many pages. (..)

His or her advice was to try to understand better the importance of place in history and to get out from in front of my screen and visit the sites of important events or where important people passed their lives. One letter surprised me by suggesting (or maybe insisting) that I should read the opening chapter of Daphne du Maurier’s Frenchman’s Creek, ‘a delicate and enchanting evocation of place and how it has been seen differently over the centuries’.(..)

Before I began work on this book, I took this unexpected advice and re-read Frenchman’s Creek. I was indeed enchanted once more. At the peak of her powers, du Maurier wrote about the Helford River mouth on the Cornish coast and the inlet that gave her novel its title. Almost cinematic in its imagery, the opening chapter is intensely atmospheric, a world of winds, tides and a silence broken only by the call of nightjars.

(From To the Island of Tides: A Journey to Lindisfarne – Author’s Note)

Murder at the Vicarage Agatha Christie

In “Day Two” of Between Britain – Walking the History of England and Scotland the whole chapter subtitled “St Mary Mead on Tweed’ (after the name of a fictional village created by Dame Agatha) is devoted to Agatha Christie. Below are several very instructive extracts.

When I graduated from Richmal Crompton and Enid Blyton, my older sister, Barbara, passed on her love of Agatha Christie, Miss Marple and the warm, sunlit, polite, comfortable world of the village of St Mary Mead . . . where people were regularly murdered, poisoned or burgled.(..)

As I walked westwards to Paxton, I found I could effortlessly call up the geography of Agatha Christie’s English *Brigadoon, a place that came alive when Miss Marple opened her front door. She lived in Danemead, one of three houses belonging to three elderly spinsters in Old Pasture Lane. They looked onto the village green–vaguely triangular it was, I think. On one side stood the Vicarage, an imposing detached building, maybe Georgian like the spinsters’houses. But not thatched, definitely slates. Around the corner were the gates of Gossington Hall, the rather grand home of Colonel and Mrs Dolly Bantry, the latter being Miss Marple’s close friend and confidante. Near the gates to the policies the High Street ran towards the little railway station, and along its length were shops – the butcher, baker, grocer and, I’m certain, a solicitor’s office. The village church must have been close to the vicarage, and somewhere close to the village was the Old Hall, a large estate belonging to Colonel Protheroe.

I am almost sure that is right. I wrote it all down from memory, from sixty years ago, without picking up a copy of The Murder at the Vicarage. As if I had any chance of finding it in the chaos of my office.

(From Between Britain – Walking the History of England and Scotland – Alistair Moffat Birlinn 2024)

*Brigadoon

Definition of BRIGADOON from Websters
:a place that is idyllic, unaffected by time, or remote from reality

The legend

*The legend of Brigadoon is the story of a mythical village in the Scottish Highlands.  The village became enchanted centuries ago remaining unchanged and invisible to the outside world except for one special day every hundred years when it could be seen and even visited by outsiders.   This enchanted day is spent in joy and celebration. Those who happen upon Brigadoon may remain in this beguiling place only if they love another enough to give up the world outside.

(I came across the lovely website of Glenlaurel, A Scottish Inn & Cottages while trying to find a definition of “Brigadoon”…  what a place ! But contrary to what its name seems to suggest it is not situated in Scotland but in Ohio, US)

SCOTTISH BOOK FESTIVALS

The Secret History of Here – Borders Book Festival 2021

There are many festivals in Scotland and where to make your works known better than in these major cultural events. We’ve visited twice the famous Wigtown Festival, a 10-day festival which takes place each year, in Scotland’s National Book Town situated in the south of Dumfries & Galloway. Alistair Moffat who is a regular at these great cultural meetings where he dedicates his new books did create two of them. After founding it in 2004, Alistair Moffat has served as the Director of the Borders Book Festival which takes place annually in Melrose, and he also founded Lennoxlove Book Festival.

“Books, books, books” ! 😉 Alistair Moffat has never ceased to maintain his interest in education, serving as Director of “Book Nation”, a Scottish national literacy initiative, working alongside Sir Robert Winston and Margaret Drabble to improve literacy in Scotland. I can’t help thinking to a passage from The Journal of Sir Walter Scott:

A good thought came into my head: to write stories for little Johnnie Lockhart from the History of Scotland, like those taken from the History of England. I will not write mine quite so simply as Croker has done. I am persuaded both children and the lower class of readers hate books which are written down to their capacity, and love those that are more composed for their elders and betters. I will make, if possible, a book that a child will understand, yet a man will feel some temptation to peruse should he chance to take it up. It will require, however, a simplicity of style not quite my own. The grand and interesting consists in ideas, not in words. A clever thing of this kind will have a run—

(The Journal of Sir Walter Scott – Edinburgh 24 May 1827)

Borders Book Festival 13-16 June 2024

How I would like to be in Melrose in June, for the 2024 Borders Book Festival!

 

Dont’ miss it if you’re lucky to be in the area and June is one of the best times to visit Scotland 😉 You could get a signed edition of The Highlands and Islands of Scotland !

Alistair Moffat at the McLellan Book Festival

Alistair Moffat will also be  present at the McLellan Book Festival which will take place on the magnificent island of Arran. What wonderful memories we have of this magical place.

 

ALISTAIR MOFFAT/SIR WALTER SCOTT

when we discover Alistair’s Moffat biography and his books focusing onthe history of Scotland and more particularly on the Scottish Borders history  how not to think to Sir Walter Scott whose beloved house, Abbotsford, is situated not far from Alistair Moffat’s place.

Although they belong to very different eras, Alistair Moffat and Sir Walter Scott have many points in common. They love Scotland and the Scottish Borders. Both gentlemen farmers, great walkers, passionate historians and antiquarians, books lovers and, of course, dog lovers… they could have been friends. Both of them have devoted much time and money building their home and, one day, both of them have decided to write a Journal… for our greatest delight!  Walter Scott wrote historical novels and Alistair Moffat books about history. It seems to me, as a fan of Sir Walter Scott, that the work of Alistair Moffat, very different in essence, extends and completes the work of the master of Abbotsford.

Abbotsford Scotiana.com 2006

Indeed, there are many evocations of Sir Walter in Alistair Moffat’s books and I can’t help feeling that both writers really have a number of points in common: their love of the Scottish Borders, of its history, of the wonderful landscapes of Scotland, and, of course, their love of dogs.

Alistair Moffat called his dog Maidie, and here is what he writes about his walking companion and Maida, Sir Walter’s favourite dog.

“The puppy from Skefhill was to be my dog, my companion, and in a moment of great presumption I named her after Walter Scott’s faithful Maida. Scribbling about the history of the Scottish Borders is in reality the sole link we have, certainly not literary merit or books sales. Immortalised in stone at the foot of her master under the canopy of the Scott Monument in Edinburgh, Maida was a huge Irish Wolfhound. My Maidie is not huge, but she thinks she is.” 😉

Sir Walter Scott Monument Edinburgh © 2007 Scotiana

Alistair Moffat and Sir Walter Scott, each in their own time, share the same love of Scotland and both of them, each in their own way, have “a vision for the future”…

“A vision for the future”: along with the problems of education, one of Alistair Moffat’s major concerns is the future of the planet. In Walter Scott’s time (1771-1832), environmental problems were not so serious as they are today though, with the start of the industrial revolution in Britain, they were beginning to be felt…

“I feel we stand at a crossroads in our history. After years of ineptitude and muddle, our people long for strong or at least clear leadership to navigate us safely through hard times. Of course, the most pressing issue of all is the rescue of our dying planet. Everything else is a long way second.

My craven instinct is to turn inwards and look backwards, and it is difficult to resist. On the farm we do all we can in the fight to save our planet from ruin. We have planted three hundred trees, use no pesticides or artificial fertilisers, avoid long journeys, have put up thirty-three solar panels and with our mile of hedging encouraged the return of many animals, principally birds.”

(Alistair Moffat The Secret History of Here –  27 May)

“On this morning’s news sites, a headline jumped out at me: “Thousands flee to the sea as fires race to the ocean’. As temperatures soar to new highs, millions of acres of woodland and bush are burning in Australia (..) I am becoming slowly more optimistic about combatin the climate emergency. Action to save our planet will not come from government or big business, but from below, from voters and consumers, from the terrified people on the beaches in Australia, and they will force change.”

(Alistair Moffat The Secret History of Here 30 December)

 

The Save Abbotsford Trust brochure 2010

I have not forgotten my promise to Sir Walter Scott to read all his books, I should now make the  promise to read all Alistair Moffat’s books already published and to be published in the future. Sir Walter Scott was a very popular and prolific author at his time, Alistair Moffat is second to none as a contemporary historical writer. He is also very popular.

 

 

Here’s another book by Alistair Moffat to discover soon … it’s a big book, with more than 400 pages to read and, as I often say, my native language being French,  I can’t read as quickly as I’d like… The Borders, which was published in 2002, includes a chapter devoted to Sir Walter:  “Walter Scott and the kindred ground”… I haven’t read it yet.

I always try to discover clues to the history of my second-hand books. All these books have a history, alas very often lost forever. It can be an ex-libris, a little handwritten note forgotten between the pages, a bookmark..  just have a look at what I discovered on opening The Borders 😉

The Borders by Alistair Moffat and St Cuthberts Way Walk

I found in it a double page filled with touching testimonies about a walk on St Cuthbert’s Way!

St Cuthbert’s Way! New horizons are opening…

Places of interest we’ve already visited in the Scottish Borders…

We’ve kept unforgettable memories and took many photos in the Scottish Borders (landscapes, castles, ruined abbeys, Abbotsford, Scott’s View…). We’ll have the opportunity to talk very soon about our favourite places there on our blog. Don’t forget Scotiana is about “Everything Scotland” !!! 😉

 

Scott’s View Eildon Hills Scottish Borders © 2006 Scotiana

On the above picture you can see the three mythical peaks of the Eildon Hills looming in the distance and the river Tweed. That’s the place called Scott’s View which is reputed to have been one of the favourite views of Sir Walter Scott.

According to a popular story, Sir Walter Scott stopped at this point so often on the way to his home at Abbotsford, that his horses would halt without command. After his death in 1832, his funeral cortège passed this way en route to his burial at Dryburgh Abbey, and his horses stopped at his favourite view to allow their master a last look at the Borders landscape.

Whenever we travel in the area, we like to stop at this place so dear to Sir Walter. The landscape is beautiful whatever the season. We’ve often wanted to climb these mythical mountains, and even more so after reading Alistair Moffat’s description of them. 563 m for Eildon Hill North, that’s not so high… we should be able to do it !

To conclude this post, I would like to share with you a very interesting interview of Alistair Moffat I’ve found on Birlinn’s website where there is also a whole page devoted to Alistair Moffat’s books.

Alistair Moffat – our own ‘hiking historian’, (and Scotland best-loved people’s historian) – is the subject of a screen interview for ITV’s news strand, Border Life, with fellow Borderer Fiona Armstrong. Together they talk about Alistair’s career as best-selling author, Director of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Head of Drama for STV, independent programme producer, founder of The Borders Book Festival, one of the great creative minds behind The Great Tapestry of Scotland and its new home in Galashiels. They explore history and DNA, Alistair’s great love of the Borders, his family and home. A winter-warmer filmed at Bowhill and in the Scottish Borders. Don’t miss it!

Here’s a little bonus to end this post. This video is wonderful and the music sublime! Enjoy!

A series of short flights around locations in The Scottish Borders :

  • Scott’s View, near Melrose
  • Hermitage Castle, near Hawick
  • Smailholm Tower, near Kelso

Many thanks to Andy ! 🙂 🙂

Hoping to have made you want to know more about Alistair Moffat and the Scottish Borders, I’ll see you soon for new great Scottish topics.

Be sure that now that I have finished this post I will get back into Alistair Moffat’s books ;-).

Bonne lecture! Á bientôt.

Mairiuna

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