Scotland's countryside magazine. The team explore the Borders as a new railway opens up the region to more visitors. Sarah visits an award-winning beef farm.
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Hello and a very warm welcome to a brand-new series of Landward.
From now all the way through to Christmas,
we'll bring you the best stories from the Scottish countryside.
This week, I'm heading to the Borders...
TRAIN HORN HONKS
The recently opened Borders Railway
is expected to attract a whole host of new people to the area.
So what better time to bring the team down
to get a taste of what this beautiful part of the country has to offer?
Sarah will be discovering the secrets behind Scotland's best beef farm.
Now, a little bird told me that, um...
you're so passionate about Aberdeen Angus
that there was a wedding present...?
I'm heading to Sir Walter Scott's Abbotsford estate
to explore the little-known legacy
of one of Scotland's most famous authors.
Scott wrote that he wrote books in order to pay for more land,
in order to plant trees.
And Euan's taken to the hills with man's best friend
to discover a unique Borders sport.
-DOGS YAP AND BARK
-This is hound trailing.
Many people arriving in the Borders
will head straight for the fishing on the River Tweed.
But our Euan has been having a SHOCKING time in the water.
The River Tweed, or just Tweed if you live locally, runs for 96 miles.
It rises at Tweed's Well in the Borders and enters the sea
at Berwick-upon-Tweed in Northumberland.
Add to that all the tributaries and the burns,
then looking after this river is quite a task.
People come from all over the world to fish here.
And it's the job of the Tweed Foundation
to make sure there's plenty to catch.
I'm joining them on one of their regular checks on fish numbers.
And I'm hoping to get an answer to one of nature's greatest mysteries.
And it all starts in burns like this.
-How do you do?
-How are you?
Right, I've got my net, I've got my bucket,
I've got my wellies. What are we going to do?
Today, we're going to be electrofishing,
which is a method of surveying juvenile fish numbers.
We're up here in the Kelphope Burn,
which is the top of the Leader Water,
one of the major tributaries of the River Tweed,
and we're going to have a look
at what's there in terms of the fish numbers.
'Biologist Kenny Galt's hi-tech backpack contains a battery
'which puts 180 volts into the water.'
It's using electricity, which is normally illegal,
-but we've a special licence to do it.
'The electric current immobilises the fish for a short time,
'making them easier to catch and to count.'
So we're on. And, straight away, you can see the fish coming down.
-Oh, goodness me.
-And just lift the scoop, and there you go.
Wow! Look at that!
That's almost instant.
And, as you see, as soon as the fish come out of the electric current,
they regain control of their own muscles
and do their best to try and get out of the scoop.
And we'll do one more sweep.
If you get right in next to the bank here,
there'll be a lot of fish hiding under the cover.
Now just sweep it down.
And there you go, and lift.
So why is this method so good for catching the fish?
In here, we're in a shallow stream,
the fish are hiding under the stones, under the bank,
they don't see you coming, and you can get right in next to them,
it works at relatively short range.
'Once all the fish are collected, it's time for the measuring,
'and that's where biologist Ronald Campbell comes in.'
Ronald. How do you do?
-I've got you some fish.
-Lots of fish.
-There we go.
'The team have been doing more than just measuring species and length.
'They've been helping to solve one of nature's mysteries.'
So are they going to be sea trout or brown trout?
Well, that is the big question.
That's actually the big problem for this sort of survey work.
Because we can find lots and lots of little trout,
but we don't actually know what it means.
Does it mean there's a good spawning stock of brown trout
or does it mean there's a good spawning stock of sea trout?
Cos I always thought they were the same thing.
And it was a great mystery and it was kind of in the lap of the gods
whether fish decided to go to sea or stay in the river.
Well, they are the same species,
but they have two different ways of life.
Now, as you say, it's a bit of a mystery as to why
some go to sea and why some stay behind.
But the team, along with Napier University,
have been carrying out isotope testing,
which goes some way to solving that mystery,
determining if the juvenile fish
are the offspring of sea or brown trout.
So that's a trout, 71.
So you know where they come from, but you still don't know
-if they're going to turn into brown trout or sea trout?
But to know where they've come from will be a great help.
It also helps us to interpret our electrofishing results.
So here, we've got a lovely piece of burn, the Kelphope Burn.
Is it being populated by sea trout or brown trout?
In the whole catchment of the Tweed,
where are the brown trout? Where are the sea trout?
Or are they all just mixed up together?
It's rather important from a fisheries management point of view.
So, hopefully, one day, we will know
what triggers some of these young fish to go to sea
and some to stay in the river.
But, today, Ronald's satisfied that the stocks are good and healthy,
so just one last thing to do.
Well, here we go. The fish going back in the water...
..seemingly unfazed by the whole adventure.
And, hopefully, in a few years' time,
they'll make some lucky angler a great catch.
Ronald and Kenny may be securing the Tweed's future,
but the river's played an important role in the Borders' past.
One of our greatest writers, Sir Walter Scott,
built his home on its banks
and developed an estate that inspired him throughout his life.
You may think you know Sir Walter Scott.
He's commemorated in the largest monument in the world
dedicated to a writer.
Edinburgh's Waverley station is named after his famous novels.
And his face graces our nation's banknotes.
But there was a side to Scott you may not be familiar with.
He was a lover of nature,
finding in it creative inspiration and a way to fight depression.
He also used it to socially and economically improve the Borders.
As a child, Scott was sent to his grandparents' farm near Kelso
to recuperate from an illness.
It was an experience he never forgot.
Scott became fascinated with the local folk tales and legends.
And his love of the area and its stories
led him to buying a run-down farmhouse near Melrose.
He then converted that into this grand mansion
and estate at Abbotsford.
'The whole summer I spent digging, levelling, draining
'and planting trees at Abbotsford.
'It will be a pretty place one day, who so may live to see it.'
These gardens would keep Scott busy after many a morning writing.
'Pippa Coles has studied the history within these walls.'
Now, Scott designed these gardens, didn't he?
What would you say his vision was?
His vision was to do something quite different -
to go back to Renaissance times and medieval times
and create a series of rooms close to his baronial castle.
Scott wrote, at one point in his diary, that he wrote books
-in order to pay for more land, in order to plant trees.
So, as far as Scott was concerned, the focus of his life,
the wellspring of refreshment, creative refreshment,
was his woodlands and his garden.
-Mm. So hugely important to him?
Scott's depression was well-documented.
Do you think Abbotsford and the way he created it
helped with his mental wellbeing?
Yes, very much.
Scott traced the relationship between keeping fit,
being in a green space, being in nature,
his diet and his sense of wellbeing
and being able to control his depression,
which dogged him most of his life.
'Fighting with this fiend is not always the best way to conquer him.
'I have always found exercise and the open air better than reasoning.'
Scott loved walking in his woods. His diaries are full of them.
He once wrote, "My heart clings to the place I have created.
"There is scarce a tree on it that does not owe its being to me."
Scott wanted to share the benefits of his estate
with the local community, providing not just recreation but jobs as well.
That's a tradition which lives on.
-Philip, how you doing?
-All right, Dougie? Not bad. Yourself?
Yeah, very well. Can I give you a hand lopping the rhododendrons?
Certainly can, there you go.
'Philip Munro is the estate ranger.
'Today, he's getting some help clearing the dreaded rhododendrons.'
Tell me about the folk you've got working here today.
Today, we've got Gala Works -
it's a charity, part of the Tomorrow's People initiative,
which is helping young people gain experience and develop skills
and hopefully help them with their future careers.
Do you think something like this that's going on -
local people getting involved, helping out in the gardens -
does this fit into his idea of what should be happening at Abbotsford?
Absolutely. I think he'd be quite pleased
if he could see what was going on today.
You know, Abbotsford becoming part of the community
and encouraging people to come out here,
not just to enjoy the gardens and grounds but to help out
and, you know, get a sense of ownership of it, too.
'Well, that's all good in theory.
'But what does it mean for the volunteers?'
So, Sian, tell me, what do you think the long-term benefits will be
for you, getting involved in something like this?
It's experience for gardening
and, if I want to take up gardening, I've got experience.
And working in a group as well must be pretty good fun.
Yeah, it's pretty positive.
It's quite fun to work in a group cos I'm meeting new people,
I'm getting out of my comfort zone to talk to them and everything.
Sir Walter Scott believed strongly in sharing his beautiful woodlands.
He once said...
"Not one of my young trees has ever been cut,
"nor a fence trodden down, or any kind of damage done
"in consequence of the free access that all the world has to my place."
I reckon he'd be delighted that, almost two centuries after his death,
thousands of people still come here to admire these wonderful trees.
Now, just 15 miles south of Abbotsford is Hawick,
historic hub of the Borders textile industry.
Things haven't been easy for the trade in recent years,
but Sarah's about to discover
that there are still those making a global success of it.
These are the knits which have been keeping us warm for generations.
And they're rather fashionable, too.
Famous names like Pringle, Lyle & Scott
and Lochcarron all had their humble beginnings in the Borders.
It was in the 18th century that textile manufacturing began here
on a commercial scale.
Galashiels had tweed and tartan.
And here in Hawick, hosiery.
Hawick was an ideal place to develop a textile industry -
the Slitrig Water and River Teviot
could power industrial machinery and wash wool,
and its position between Edinburgh and Carlisle
meant finished garments could be easily distributed.
All around Hawick, you can see evidence
of the town's textile trade.
Mill buildings, workers' houses, dye works.
And, today, I'm heading in here.
Peter Scott has been employing the locals of Hawick since 1878.
And, despite some ups and downs over the years,
it remains dedicated to the town where it all started.
Alistair Young is the current operations manager.
That's what they first started making,
which, essentially, was undergarments.
-For a man?
-For a man.
Woollen outerwear wasn't really part of the in vogue at the time,
whereas underwear was - it needed to be functional as well as warm
because no central heating in the 1800s.
And what type of products do you make now?
Well, pretty much, we're into outerwear, knitwear.
We create products into Australasia, the Far East.
We've now just opened doors in the US as well.
30% to the Chinese market, which is bucking the trend,
cos generally it's imports from China.
It's heartening that Peter Scott's export trade is on the up because in
the 1970s and '80s the local textile industry was in decline.
Overseas competition hit hard and many mills closed.
Today, that overseas competition
now owns a number of the big Borders names.
Pringle are based in Hong Kong,
Barrie has been bought by French fashion giant Chanel,
and Peter Scott itself is now in Korean hands.
The company still make use of traditional Border skills, however.
Jackie Pullin and Morgan Wilson are hand stitching
and I'm trying to help.
So, Morgan, you're an apprentice.
-And how long have you been working?
-Roughly ten months now.
-So what do you do?
-I'm a body linker.
I don't know how else to explain it than the greasy section.
It's putting your front panel, back panel
and your sleeves into a jumper.
And it's obviously a highly-skilled job,
skills which I have none of, obviously.
-You're just about to correct everything I've done.
-I will, yes.
So the old ways still have a place in today's factory
but, in order to survive, Peter Scott are also embracing new technology.
Technical manager Mark Lyons is showing off their latest bit of kit.
This is the Rolls-Royce of knitting machines, the absolute cutting edge.
This is the whole garment technology.
It enables an entire garment to be created in one
knitting action and almost the finished garment
comes out of the bottom.
And how long will it take to complete?
-30 minutes to 90 minutes at the most.
Wow. That means there's just enough time for me to rake through
the company's archive room and its decades of fashion.
And the decade that style forgot. The '80s.
Only an hour later
and the all-in-one jumper is ready to come off the machine.
And there we go. Ta-dah.
So we've met the ladies who do everything by hand,
very intricate and traditional.
-How important is it that you also use this technology?
I think this machine embraces the newest methods of manufacture,
which enable us to compete
and create a garment that we couldn't create before.
And traditional Scottish manufacture
doesn't create this type of garment.
It's been a real pleasure to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse
at one of the Borders' and Scotland's
most important industries.
Old mill towns have not had it easy in recent years.
Jobs have been, and continue to be, lost.
But what is so great is to see the workmanship that continues
to exist here and that young people still see a future in textiles.
Making Landward, we travel all over Scotland.
And when we're out and about, we want to find out what the locals think is
the best thing about their patch.
This week, as we're celebrating all things Borders, I want to know,
what's the best thing about Peebles?
I would say the Crown.
Community. There's lots of things going on.
-..down the road.
-We had our honeymoon there 21 years ago.
Yeah, all the independent shops, I would say.
They have a fantastic little Caldwell's there
and they sell gluten-free ice cream and wafers.
Would you agree with that?
Is that your daughter saying that's the best thing about the place?
No, the best thing about the place for me is the people
because they all look very cheerful and happy.
Which is not very often the case.
It's a great place to live.
Only 20 miles from Edinburgh, if you have to go there.
I think the best thing about Peebles is the outdoors.
So do I.
As a keen cyclist, I think the best thing about Peebles
are the mountain bike trails at Glentress.
And don't take my word for it - they've won lots of awards.
Now, that is good fun.
Next week, I'll be on two wheels of a different kind
as I go in search of Scotland's finest road for motorcycling.
In the meantime, I think I'm heading back up.
Oh, my goodness me.
And you can see a couple of images from my marathon trip around some of
Scotland's most stunning scenery on our Facebook page, where you can leave
us your thoughts on the programme or suggestions for future stories.
If you don't use Facebook, you can e-mail us.
Now, we couldn't come to the Borders and not check out the cattle.
Sarah is visiting Wedderlie Farm in Berwickshire to meet
an award-winning herd of Aberdeen Angus.
The ancestors of this herd
have wandered these hills for more than a century,
and it's 100 years which have seen great changes in agriculture.
One of the areas that has thrived is our understanding of genetics.
That knowledge has been put to good use on this farm.
And fingers crossed, we're going to see some evidence of that today.
So, anything happening?
Not at the moment but I'll keep an eye out for most of the day.
'These carefully bred cows are indoors
'because they're about to give birth.
'We're hoping to witness a special moment with farmer Wanda Hobbs.'
-So you operate... You know, you calve twice a year?
-Yes, we do.
-Is that unusual?
I think there's advantages of calving twice a year for Wedderlie.
It's all year round that we have bulls available to
-sell to the customer.
-And it's all year round income?
But as well as their own breeding programme,
genetic material can come from unexpected places.
A little bird told me that you're
so passionate about Aberdeen Angus that there was a wedding present.
-Yeah, come on, talk me through that.
Five embryos were given to Andy and myself from Canada.
This unusual gift has helped Wedderlie Farm
achieve the prestigious title of Scotch Beef Farm of the Year,
and you can see why.
But this farm is a family affair.
Mum and Dad Marion and John Tilson
have nurtured this herd for many years.
They're a popular breed at the moment. Yours are award winning.
Do you think that's why yours are so sought after at the moment?
Why would you say yours...? What's the USP of your herd?
You know, under most circumstances.
And they do what they say on the tin.
I think it takes many years to build up a herd
and once you're there you have to... Attention to detail,
very selective. If they're not performing, we eliminate them.
That may sound harsh,
but John and Marion believe that, by only breeding animals with premium
genetic traits, they're keeping the herd strong and successful.
Back as the shed, it seems the cows are in no hurry
to bring on the next generation.
Fortunately, this little guy was born yesterday and it's tag time.
-Sore? A little bit.
Tagging complete, it's back to Mum.
So how busy are you expecting to be over the next few weeks?
-Yeah, fairly busy with cows calving and...
-All hands on deck?
Yes, all hands on deck.
Everyone will muck in together and just get on with the job.
Well, in true Landward style, we missed the big moment.
I've got no doubt that, when we leave,
-a calf will be born.
Mention a sport and the Borders, my mind immediately goes to rugby.
But Euan's been looking into an old sporting tradition
that you might not be quite so familiar with.
Something out of the ordinary is happening in the hills
It's been going on for more than 200 years.
But southern Scotland and northern England are the only
parts of the UK where you can witness it.
This is hound trailing.
Hound trailing started
when two fox-hunting gentleman
argued over whose dog was the fastest.
So they put on a race.
The sport was soon taken up by farm and factory workers
as a cheaper alternative to trailing with horses.
The dogs race over eight miles or so of rough country,
following a trail of man-made scent.
And laying the trail today is Ashley Horn.
-How are you doing?
-This is it, is it?
-This is it.
-Nothing fancy to it.
-The ultimate teabag.
-It is a big teabag!
-A very smelly one.
Paraffin, I'm getting here?
Paraffin, aniseed and oil, all mixed up together.
It just seems to be the best concoction of what
lays on the ground.
If they follow that scent they'll get their food at the end
-and that's what they learn.
-So if it all goes wrong, it's your fault?
Anything goes wrong, my fault.
-If the dogs go wrong direction, I get the blame.
'Enthusiastic dog owners gather most weekends between March
'and October for races like this.'
-This is Daz.
'Competing today is Jenny Horn's dog, Daz.'
What's his chances?
His chances are very good today because he's dropped down a class
because he's had a few injuries this year.
-So I've dropped him down a class.
I'm no expert but I expected a foxhound type animal
and this is very, very different.
Over the decades, they have been bred and they've been bred finer,
more racy. OK?
He's like a greyhound with attitude isn't he?
That's right. Well, that's right.
They are the ultimate athlete of the canine world.
And they will stop at nothing to get back
to a nice tasty bite on the finish.
-So it's a lot of pride at stake?
-You'd like to win this?
Well, everybody likes to win.
But it isn't the winning, it's the taking part.
I'd say it's the winning. Come on.
'There are five races this afternoon featuring various classes of hound
'from puppies to veterans.'
-So is any tactics involved in this?
-No, not really.
You go as fast as you can.
It is truly an amazing spectacle, isn't it?
The dogs are flying over the course
but, for some, following the scent isn't as easy as it looks.
Do you get nervous at this point? You've done all you can now.
When Daz was a puppy
and he won 31 trails, I couldn't sleep the night before.
But you can sleep now?
I'm all right now because he's nothing to prove, has he?
Driving the dogs onto the finish is the thought of some tasty grub,
and Daz is in for a treat.
-What have you got?
-It's chicken and pasta.
Does Daz like that?
Yeah. They don't look at it, actually, they just gulp it down.
-So what about yours?
-I've got pasta...
-Look at that.
-And a bit of fairy cake as well.
Each to his own, I suppose, but it certainly seems to be working.
THEY CALL OUT TO DOGS
As you saw, that was a pretty tense finish, but we do have the winner.
-Thank you very much.
And what's the dog's name?
-Tyler. He's not even out of breath.
-No, he's not.
He's had a good little race.
Goodness me, that was a really close finish.
It was. Really good finish.
-Were you confident?
-Oh, no. Just take it as it comes
with the dogs. I'm pleased to bits with him, though.
No gold medal for Daz and Jenny, but it's still a podium finish.
-Yes. He ran very well.
I'm very happy with him and he's come in safe and sound.
-That's the main thing.
-It was a close finish, though, wasn't it?
It was a close finish. Very exciting.
-That's what it's all about.
-He seems exhausted.
-Yes, he is.
You would be and all if you'd run round there.
'Never mind running,
'I'd be exhausted even walking round that course.'
So there you have it, a great Borders' tradition
in truly stunning countryside. Daz here is a real star.
But I've recently got a new puppy called Bracken.
She's a working golden retriever.
She's got a fair bit of speed but definitely hasn't got the stamina.
But what she does love is the camera.
And I'll be introducing her to the Landward audience a little bit
later in the series. Eh?
Yes, can't wait to see young Bracken in action.
In the meantime, for me, I'm heading back to Edinburgh.
Landward returns for its Autumn series, with the best stories from the Scottish countryside.
In this episode, as the new railway opens up the Borders to more visitors, the team explore the region. Dougie visits the forest and gardens that inspired Sir Walter Scott, Euan witnesses the excitement of hound trailing - fell racing for dogs - and Sarah visits an award-winning beef farm in the middle of calving.