Ettrick Water

A phone call from my parents, whose new smart television had lost its connection to the Internet, was the perfect reason for a trip down to Selkirk in the Scottish Borders, the place where I grew up, spending my teenage years getting up the usual mischief that young lads did back in the 70’s. Building rafts on the Ettrick Water, lighting fires in the woods and scrounging empty lemonade bottle to claim the deposit at the local shop.

The weather was dry and cold, but with strong winds forecast it would be an interesting scoot along the paths that follow the Ettrick Water upstream to Murray’s Cauld, a large weir and its recent addition, a hydro-electric power scheme. Something I’d been wanting to visit for some time.

My scoot started on the outskirts of Selkirk, parking in the industrial area that spreads across the flood plain of the Ettrick Water. Today, this is all light industry but when I was a wee lads still wearing shorts, this was almost all woollen mills. I recall going to meet my grandfather coming out of the mill and seeing a sea of people rushing out the mill gates. It was quite sad to see this had all vanished.

The banks of the Ettrick Water had changed immensely since my last visit with new flood defences protecting the industrial area and local housing from flooding. And adjacent to where I parked the car, there used to be an old refuse dump, dating back to the Victorian area. Me and my pals spend many a day there digging for old bottles and other interesting items. Not a lot remains today.

The ride upstream was good, mostly on smooth tarmac paths, ideal for scooting, although a strong headwind made it a hard slog. There was plenty of the usual dog walkers, many looking curiously at my Swifty Zero. I suspect this was the first Swifty scooter to ride the paths on Selkirk.

It did not take long to scoot the 2 miles or so the Murray’s Cauld where the twin Archimedes screws of the hydro scheme were churning away merrily, providing power for up to 220 homes. I snapped a few picturs of this impressive sight before heading back the way I’d come.

Now, what goes upstream, usually goes downstream and the same can be said of kick scooter riders. That earlier headwind was now at my back and I was fairly flying along the paths I’d toiled up only a few minutes ago, hardly having to kick at all. About half-way back I decided to detour to the town center, and it was uphill all the way as Selkirk is largely build on the side of a hill, so it was mostly walking rather than scooting. On-route I passed the house where my grandparent used to live. Sad to see the door now broken and rotten.

Through the Market Place and along the High Street attracted plenty of attention with Saturday morning shoppers staring at the Swifty. Nothing much has changed here in the 35 years or so since I lived here, though everything seemed smaller somehow and rather sad. I guess you just don’t see these things while you grow up there.

Copyright ©2020 Gary Buckham. All rights reserved.

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