The Hirsel and Bughtrig Garden

River Tweed at Coldstream

This 9km walk starts in Coldstream from which you can look across the River Tweed into England. To start with, we walked along the river through the Lees Estate stopping to admire Lees House and Lees Temple, an octagonal 18th century gazebo.

After a while, the other side of the path was lined with wheatfields. When we reached the farm track at Fireburnmill, we headed back up to the road.

Crossing the road, we entered another estate, The Hirsel. This has been the seat of the Earls of Home (pronounced Hume) since the 17th century and the earliest parts of the house (not open to the public) date from then.

When the 11th Duke married Lady Lucy Elizabeth Montague Douglas in 1832, his estate was amalgamated with that of the Douglas family. The present Earl is the son of Sir Alec Douglas-Home, the 14th Earl, who gave up the title in 1963 to serve as Prime Minister. I can just about remember that.

There are 500 acres of park to explore, including a lake and a small river, the Leet Water. The Cow Arch provided access to the riverside pastures for the Hirsel herd of cows.

Some of the out-buildings have been made into a small visitor centre and café where we had a good lunch. We then made our way back to Coldstream where our car was parked in this pretty square.

There was still a lot of afternoon left, so we decided to visit nearby Bughtrig Garden as well. Bughtrig, which means farm on a ridge, has belonged to only three families in its traceable history from the 14th century: the Dicksons, the Franks and, since 1938, the Ramsays. The present house was built for the Franks in the late 18th century – it and its surrounding lawns are not open to visitors.

The formal garden, however, is a delight and we spent some time wandering about, as well as relaxing on these rather unusual loungers (which were quite tricky to get off).

The owners, William and Natasha Ramsay, have also started a sculpture garden, beginning with a bronze statue of William’s grandfather, Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay, who commanded the evacuation from Dunkirk and was subsequently killed on active service in January 1945. I recently read that plans have been approved for a small museum to the Admiral at Bughtrig.

Unfortunately, I didn’t note what this sculpture was or who it was by.

However, I can tell you that these are Godwin and Bernard. Godwin is a 14ft Rastafarian “a monument to cool” by Araba Ocran. Bernard is a life size camel by Josh Gluckstein. He bears a notice saying “Please forgive the state of poor Bernard. He prefers the desert and has suffered in the Scottish climate! He will be back all patched together in due course.”

By this time, the weather was cooling and our stomachs were rumbling, so it was time to head back to our cosy holiday cottage for some dinner.