Guide to Places in The Borders
Now that the Borders Railway has (re)opened, it is easier to get to places in the Borders without long trek by bike along the A7.
As usual with any major projects in Britain the new railway is not all it could be because of the stupid penny pinching that is always prevalent and ends up costing far more than it would have originally when capacity and scope has to be expanded.
With the Borders Railway, a decision was taken to make it mainly a single track line with some passing loops, though even the extent of these loops was cut back. Provision has been made in some places for a doubling of the line, but even where this has been done it will be expensive and disruptive to do.
At least the platforms have all been built for 6 car trains, but the initial service has seen overcrowded 2 car trains the norm.
The railway currently only goes as far as Tweedbank (this did not have a station on the old railway as it didn't exist) and seems to have been chosen as it is as far as the new railway can get without some expensive issues getting the railway through Melrose, as the former route has been used for the A6901 Melrose by-pass.
The success so far of the reopened railway will hopefully see extensions to the railway to undo one of the worst closures stemming from the era of Transport Minister Ernest Marples.
Page Updated 21/04/13
Some ueful Kintyre-realted sites
Scottish Accommodation Index, West Scotland, Argyll & the Isles
Kintyre Accommodation/Visit Kintyre, Scottish Accommodation Guide
Kintyre comes from the Gaelic phrase ‘ceann-tire’ which translates into English as ‘headland’.
From the Bronze age, some 30 standing stones remain in Kintyre, and would have probably been the responsibility of the Picts. The first Scots - a tribe of Gaelic speakers from Ireland) by around 250 AD and established the kingdom of Dalriada, which at its height encompassed a large swathe of the west of Scotland, ruled from Dunadd, near Kilmartin in Knapdale just north of Kintyre.
The Kintyre peninsula calls itself the mainland island, and it is very nearly is an island - less than a mile wide land strip at Tarbert, Loch Fyne keeps it attached to the mainland. Tarbert is a common name around Scotland, with various spellings (also Tarbat and Tarbet) from the Gaelic "tairbeart" meaning an isthmus or more literally a place over which a boat can be dragged - a habit dating back to Norse days when this was used as a way of defining an island - prior to claiming dominion over it. King Magnus the Barefoot used this method to annex Kintyre in around 1098.
Norse raids and occupations continued until Somerled established his rule over the Western Isles as "ri innse Gall" - King of the Hebrides, though his descendants were more usually termed Lord of the Isles (Righ nan Eilean) - a title now conferred on the heir to the throne. The Lords of the Isles were as powerful as the kings of Scotland, until the end of the 15th century. In the early 16th century, King James V sought to strengthen his hold on the area by repairing the castle at Kinloch Kilkerran (modern Campbeltown), however, Macdonald of Kintyre took the castle and hung the Governor from its walls immediately upon the King's departure.
James granted the peninsula to the Campbells of Argyll and they drove out the Macdonalds after some years of struggle and general depopulation of the area.
From 1638 the 8th Earl lead the Covenanters in the Scottish Civil War, but ultimately this was to lead to his execution and forfeiture of lands in 1661. His son was also executed (1685), but the family's fortunes, titles and lands were restored by the 10th Earl who was created Duke of Argyll for finally picking the winning side in the various religious inspired wars of the time. All of this again had a devastating effect on the population of Kintyre who were expected to act a cannon fodder for their Lordships' adventures. Many fled to Ireland, the first of many emigrations from the area, though later ones were further afield.
When peace finally came, Lowlanders who had fought with the Duke were encouraged to settle, and the Campbeltown area began to grow - it became a Royal Burgh in 1700. Fishing and farming (as tenants of the Argyll family) were the main occupations until the whisky industry got going in the 19th century.
The 20th century saw the decline of Campbeltown's whisky importance, the decline of its fishing fleet, and the general switch away from sea transportation made the peninsula ever more remote - though the Mull of Kintyre became famous thanks (??) to Paul McCartney.
Photos on this page were taken by me. Click on photo to enlarge. Full size versions available on Flickr: