– What the Area Has to Offer
St Mary’s Loch is the largest natural loch in the Scottish Borders and is situated abut 72 kilometres (45miles) south of Edinburgh on the A708 road between Selkirk and Moffat in the valley of the Yarrow Water. It is 5 kilometres (3.1 miles) long and 1 kilometre (0.62miles) wide. Local legend had it that the loch has no bottom and is reputed to be the coldest loch in Scotland. Immediately upstream form St Mary’s Loch is The Loch of the Lowes, a smaller lake. Between the two is situated Tibbie Shiels Inn at grid reference NT240205. The Southern Upland Way crosses between the two lochs.
Things to do…
As well as boasting some of the most stunning scenery in Scotland, St Mary’s Loch has activities to get even the most active of people out of breath. The Inn itself is a perfect base to enjoy the area and is ideally placed for access to the sailing and fishing clubs. From time to time we also host events at the Inn. In the past we have held events for Poppy Scotland, The Scottish Paragliding Championships and The Scottish Windsurfing Championships to name but a few!
The local area is perfect for walkers. Whether you fancy a good 10-15 miles walk or just a stroll around the loch, there is plenty of choice. The Southern Upland Way is a 212 mile coast to coast footpath from Portpatrick on the west coast to Cockburnspath on the east which runs down the Captains Road, around the back of the loch and over to Traquair. We offer a luggage transfer service and packed lunches for those serious walkers amongst you.
Grey Mares Tail
A ‘hanging valley’ waterfall. The valley was scoured out by glaciers during the last ice age leaving the outlet burn from Loch Skene falling about 300 feet down a sheer and dangerous cliff face. The whole area around these falls belongs to the National Trust for Scotland and is rich in wild flowers. Wild goats can sometimes be seen too. The valley opens up below and a car park at the bottom of Grey Mares Tail has information panels and maps to help you plan your walk up the side of the falls.
Retained by the largest earth dam in Scotland, the reservoir contains 64 million tonnes of water and was completed in 1983 to supply water to Edinburgh. Supplying up to 100 million litres of water daily, it takes 18 hours for this water to pass through 28 mile-long underground pipes, propelled only by gravity, to reach water treatment works in and around Edinburgh.
Buildings, including an old ruin, farms and houses, were all moved above the proposed new reservoir level and a large earth fill dam was constructed before the valley was flooded.
St Marys Kirkyard
A short walk up the hill on the side of St Mary’s Loch you will find St Marys Kirkyard. This was the original burial ground for the old church, which has now been converted into a house. There are old graves dating back to the 1800’s.
March Wood is a small community woodland on the banks of St Mary’s Loch. It is an open woodland and contains some mature larch and scots pine. March Wood has cultural and historical significance and is referred to by Walter Scott. Local volunteers and school children built 10 tree boxes and planted them with the next generation in mind to ensure the continuity of this wood in the future.
This was a 4 storey strong peel tower and was the birthplace in 1550 of Mary Scott ‘The Flower of Yarrow’. Mary Scott married Walter Scott of Harden in 1576. The tower suffered following the Scotts involvement in treachery against James VI in 1592 and was rebuilt in 1613. It had fallen from use as a Scott residence by the late 17th Century. The tower passed to the Buccleuchs and is now the property of the Philiphaugh Estate Trust.
Carrifran is a magnificent ice-carved valley just outside Moffat. The vision has always been that the valley should develop to resemble, so far as possible, virgin woods. A major archaeological discovery of a yew bow on the plateau at the head of the Carrifran valley helped realize this aim.
The bow dates from 6000 years ago, placing it in the very early Neolithic, time before agriculture had started to make an impact on the vegetation. Core sampling of the peat on the plateau where it was found, organised by the Museum of Scotland, yielded a uniquely detailed pollen record. Each species of the tree or shrub planted in the valley has been selected on the basis of this record and other evidence that it would have formed part of the original wildwood.
For more information on this fantastic area and indeed the things it has to offer, simply click on the links below