Skip to main content

FAIRHAUGH




 So as promised a blog about Fairhaugh, the destination of our walk last Sunday, if you Google Fairhuagh it comes up as a holiday cottage set in the beautiful and remote Cheviot Hills. I have often wondered myself what it would be like to stay here so remote and with no electricity, I think it would be an awesome experience, not least because of the impression the place leaves with me.

I have found this piece of writing in D. D. Dixon’s Upper Coquetdale in which the author himself quotes from another source,

“There is an attraction in these billowy uplands which increases the better we know them; beauty in the mighty stretches of green pasture, sloping upwards and backwards, as often as not vanishing into grey mist in the acres of waving brake, the many coloured rocks and boulders, the flashing streams and burns, the flowers wild birds, less wild here than in the peopled lowlands.  Then there is the silence and all-aloneness of the borderlands, you may walk all day and see no one except some solitary fisher, or a shepherd and his collies on the fellside; above all, perhaps there is the consciousness that you are treading on historic ground, where each hill could tell of some fierce conflict, and where each valley and stream is associated with the loves, the passions, and the death throes of buried races.”

Cheviot Mountains Lone – Field, Oct 3rd, 1885.


This seems to encompass everything; it is all this that I am trying to convey when I talk about the “magic”, there is so much here from peace to heartache and all the trials between.

Fiarhaugh is an 18c farmhouse built on the Usway, probably in years gone by it would have been a shepherd’s cottage. There are many tales of hardship for the dwellers of this region and Fairhaugh has its share, around 1874 Fairhaugh was very nearly crushed under an avalanche, the shepherd who lived there was out at the time, he came to the crest of a hill and noticed that a large area of snow had slipped during his absence, the avalanche had demolished an out house and hay stack but had stopped within a few feet of his cottage. It seems there were a few similar incidents in the area over the years not all with such fortunate outcomes. It is indeed an area full of the mysterious, there are countless tales tell of travellers becoming lost once the mists had descended, it should be no great surprise to learn that the area was well suited to the development of innocent whiskey, stills being easily hidden in the inhospitable landscape, confusing to those unfamiliar with the terrain, thus often undetected by the authorities. Smugglers sold this innocent whiskey at the farmhouses up and down the valley, carried in kegs and large stone-ware bottles known as “grey hens”. It is said that the raw materials for the manufacture of this contraband was carted in the open and during daylight hours, the smugglers were so confident of their natural concealment. During this time the main bridges across the Coquet were situated at Warkworth, Felton and Rothbury at certain times when the river was in flood it would have been a perilous task to venture a crossing elsewhere.



Hundreds of years before the smugglers were selling their contraband border warfare was rife, fierce raids and fights, lives lost families devastated, blood spilt upon the blood of ancestors across the hills and valleys, a harsh period in history when some borderers it seems lost their sense of kindred ties and nationality becoming almost a singular race. Even before the border raids the area was inhabited by the Romans stationed at Chew Green, the very source of the Coquet, remains of standing- stones and cairns studded around the hills and by the waterways are witness to the lives of a pre historic people who lived if not permanently in the area then with a close association to it. The area known as upper Coquetdale is one of those places where the ancient past, the historical past and the present mingle readily; an area that still holds so much of the primitive it is easy to imagine life in other times. As usual I have found so much in the history and folklore of the area that I can not possibly do it justice in a blog, but I may have peaked your interest and you might decide it is worth a visit.

Popular posts from this blog

Tighnabruaich and Loch Riddon

Our stop over in Carradale had coincided with the Carradale Canter, a 5 and 10k summer run in which our daughter and crew member was participating. The course started at the harbour and unfolded along Carradale Bay taking in the stunning beauty of this area of Kintyre. From our deck we had a prime view of the start and finish lines and watched the proceedings along with the local seal who popped up in the harbour interested by all the commotion. There was a lovely atmosphere in the sunny harbour enhanced by a second place on the 10k run for our Shemaron crew!We had a quick turn around after the race, the wind had dropped during the morning and we set off again around 2.30 PM leaving our neighbours free to go to their fishing later that night. 
Our plan was to anchor off St Ninian’s Bay on the isle of Bute. On our approach the wind changed direction, a swell rolled into the bay from the south west which would have meant an uncomfortable night at anchor, we decided not to stop and cont…

RE-VISITING DUNADD

The Rowan tree grew precariously on the side on the old Dun, its roots stretching under the fallen stones had found a tenuous hold. It was late September and the bushy branches supported a few clusters of bright red berries. From where I stood on the highest point the sides of the Dun fell steeply down to the ancient valley, where, the river Add meandered its final course before emptying into Loch Crinan. The Vale spread wide below and beyond the river’s reach it ran in a rich verdure towards the sea in one direction and the Moine Mhor Bog in another.





Seaward the valley stretched evenly, beyond the small cup of blue that denoted the ocean the northern tip of Jura lay gray and low beneath the sky. Rising in a gentle rocky fold at the eastern edge of the valley the land began to climb, here pockets of trees grew on the hillside, on the following downward slope a band of green conifer tops spread wide until the land climbed once more. The distant rocky hilltops rose under the moving sha…

Under Starlight

UNDER STARLIGHT

Today Facebook threw up a memory, it was of a post I had written in December 2012.  On a very beautiful night back in the early days when Chris and I were on Shemaron we had the most exceptional time and it gave me much pleasure to remember it - so I have re-posted it...

Somewhere in the world of latitudes and longitudes fifty five degrees north and five degrees west, north but not so far north as Lapland and on the western fringes where the light defilement is minimal we find ourselves on the deck of our boat, it is night, it is dark, and there is a sharpening in the breeze.

In a lonely marina far enough away from all other boats to feel happily desolate we are sitting on deck wrapped in the woolly quiet of the night. All time is thrown open above us in random light, the past the present and the future an unfolding event on the astral plains. We are the smallest speck on the particular meridian that holds us in time and space, we sit afloat bathed in the supernal illume, …