A man made beauty in Scottish Borders
In the days I used to work night shift, after a stressful nights work I often found myself taking off in the car to follow the route of what I call the 3 reservoirs (Megget, Talla and Fruid).
There was something about travelling out of the townscape towards St Marys Loch – even this area felt too occupied to sooth my mind, body and soul. But when I pulled off onto the road signposted “Tweedsmuir” everything changed.
A big blue sign signified that this was now a single track road with passing places. Because this was the small hours of the morning where the rest of the townspeople were fighting over bathroom space, making burnt toast and arguing with the kids to get ready for school these passing places had no use to me as there was not another human I came in contact with.
A short distance and just as it starts climbing up hill I reach the Megget Valley and Megget reservoir. Its self a spectacular to see with its huge dam structure and spanning water holding capacity. But, there is something that doesn’t sit right with this reservoir to me, maybe its the use of bland concrete building material in the 1960s fashion, or maybe its just the detail that has been scrimped-on on mass industrialisation and demand.
Never the less, I continue my journey around the reservoir which is now a realigned road from how the road originally passed the valley. I remember my father telling me stories of how a branch of the family used to farm the lands around Megget and that there is a lost village lying at the bottom of the water.
On the way round there is a few good spottings of wildlife that have adapted the changed environment to suit their needs. I sometimes stop at one of the viewpoints that contains Cramalt tower. This its self is a ruin of a mansion house complex that was re-sited before the flooding of the reservoir.
The road continues round till you obviously hit the original road possibly carved out by horse and cart in days gone by. Twisting, hilly with a small screed of tarmac placed on which was once a mud track and with no fencing to keep the sheep confined, this is their domain now and a car is not welcome. If I’m sitting comfy on the Tar, I’m not moving for you.
The road to Talla Reservoir
The hillscape becomes so dramatic now that it looks beautiful (and wild) in any weather. You realise now you are very heigh up, closer to the heavens that draws out your inner peace.
It is impossible to not to switch the radio off and just absorb every bit that is going on around you, but with the road becoming hard to navigate its hard not to want to stop and get out and sample the feeling direct on your skin.
I make a stop at a quaint bridge structure that a burn flows under. The bridge its self shows you of the craft of workers and country men of days gone by.
Its hard not to loose yourself and sit beside the stream just listening to the sound of the water trickling by on its course to where ever its going. Your head completely clear of any woes you once started out with.
Its time to jump back in the car as this journey has a greater secret waiting along its path. A few 100 meter on suddenly the world opens out for you.
Here you’ll stumble across the original, the first reservoir to be skilfully build in this area. It is not hard to understand why this site was chosen to store a vast amount of water. Buttressed between 4 hills that fall vast in to the valley they create. Years worth of glassier movement ripping earth and dumping material on their passage to leave these great mammoth fellows in the beautiful Scottish Borders.
Here you travel down a very steep twisting hill. Caution should be made here as this hill can be very slippy with gravel left by water flow and icing up in any season. Also there is no passing places so a good look to see if the way is clear before proceeding, as passing at this point can be white knuckle.
At the bottom of the hill is a couple of ancient farmsteads that obviously still practice tending the rough land by traditional methods – if it works, why break it? This of course adds sustenance that this is a tranquil place.
While travelling around the reservoir is a iron and wire fence that is decorated. Even though there is rusting apparent, its obvious that this is the original built fence that required little or no maintenance over the years – built to last!
On reaching the damside of this man made structure, you soon realise what era this was created in – Victorian.
The passion that was involved in creating the decorative brick work in all the structures. From the take off house, to the overflow that looks like a old town centre with cobbled streets.
If you turn and look behind you, perched not far up the hill you will soon see what is known as the Victorian Lodge. This was solely build as what would be the site office when being build. I mean where do we see such luxury build site (temporary) structures in this day and age – it goes to show this was a mean feat back in its day.
A small car parking area on the dam lets you get out and read the several information boards surrounding the building of the reservoir.
It shows how machinery and material were moved to such a remote area. This was carrier out by a specific made railway from Bigger. Information about this can be found here:
Also detailed is the unfortunate loss-of-life in the construction. I guess health and safety wasn’t as important issue in those days.
The reservoir itself was built for the every growing demand of the city of Edinburgh, it serves no purpose to the Scottish Borders. Another interesting fact is that the water flows a course of 30 miles through aqueducts and tunnels that are solely gravity fed, no pumping needed.
The journey home involves travelling to the village of Tweedsmuir where you can see communities of the forestry community which is quite quaint in its self. Here you can travel the road from Edinburgh to Moffat with a slight detour off on a B road through the village of Stobo and arriving at the outskirts of Peebles deciding on your route to get back home in the central Borders.
I would seriously recommend you take this journey if some soul searching is needed – I guarantee this couple hour trip will have solved this in one visit.