Hoddom and the Repentance Tower

Keepers Cottage, Hoddom

We spent this year’s May Day Holiday weekend in a converted gamekeeper’s cottage on the Hoddom Estate, between Lockerbie and Annan in Dumfries and Galloway. Nice views roundabout, and the NEIGHbours were friendly.

On Trailtrow Hill behind the cottage stands Repentance Tower (1565), so called after the inscription above its door. There are several potential explanations for the name, including that the builder, John Maxwell, 4th Lord Herries, had unwisely used stone from the Trailtrow Chapel that once stood on this site in the construction of Hoddom Castle, with the result that Alexander Gordon, Archbishop of Glasgow, might have required that a watch tower be built in compensation. Alternatively, Maxwell might have been repenting the death of fourteen Scots who were held at Carlisle Castle. He had pledged not to fight the English, and when he broke this pledge the hostages were executed, so the tower could have been a monument to them. Whatever, he sounds like a nice chap.

The views from Trailtrow Hill are lovely – you can see right down to the castle, or what’s left of it: an old coach house. It’s now a caravan park which, when we were there, had a bar / restaurant in the Coach House. I see the bar has now closed, but fortunately we were able to sample the beer before that happened.

The River Annan runs through the estate: the Salmon Trail has some interesting signs.

The day after we arrived, we walked part of the riverside path between the village of Brydekirk and the town of Annan. There were two ruined footbridges en route which looked as though they had been swept away some time ago, though I read later they had been destroyed by severe flooding just six months before. We’ve seen a lot of trees down on our travels as a result of last winter’s storms, but these were the first bridges.

Annan itself is a handsome little town which celebrates former residents such as Robert the Bruce, Robert Burns and Thomas Carlyle. And, of course, has more beer.

The next day we learned about The Devil’s Porridge, but that will have to wait for another post. I didn’t actually expect to have a post ready this week, because I should have been on Jury Duty. However, after two and a half years of successfully avoiding it, Covid has finally got us both and we are isolating at home. Fortunately, our symptoms are mild (so far). And I know that Jury Duty will eventually get me too! They don’t give up and neither, it seems, does Covid.


  1. Hope your testing negative now Anabel, amazing that you haven’t caught it before! Annan looks nice. It’s actually not that far from our van in Cumbria. Sometimes we have a hankering to have a day at the beach from the caravan, we usually head somewhere like Alonby on the Cumbrian Coast. Don’t think the Annan area is that much further. X


  2. I’m glad you got most of your trip in before you got sick! It looked like a fabulous place. I’m so sorry about getting Covid, and hope the symptoms remain mild. I honestly think everyone is going to get it, at least once. Hang in there! (I found drinking lots of water helped, not sure why but it did.)


  3. Sorry to hear that Covid caught you but it’s good to know you are now recovering. Are we taking bets on how many times you can avoid Jury Duty? 🙂 I love the horses, they are the sort of NEIGHbours I would be very happy to have 🙂


  4. After reading your gallivants for years, I realize I really should get myself a map of Scotland!
    Bummer about the Covid. Glad it’s mild and wishing you a quick recovery.
    I chuckled over the title of the Burns poem. Nobody likes the tax collector! Loved the Salmon signposts/sculpture.


  5. Another part of the borders I’ve not been in much. Sorry to hear you both have Covid. I found cold and flu strength lemsip , half a single packet morning and night helped a lot and also several packets of sweets to suck. Murray mints were
    long lasting and very pleasant. Not had them for years but they are brilliant.


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