A Walk & Talk event on private water supplies was kindly hosted by Alan Baillie at Spital Tower near Hawick on Wednesday 17 September. A great mix of attendees including estate managers, farmers and solicitors listened as Alan offered an excellent insight into a member’s experiences when working with a Victorian water supply, trying to develop a new camping holiday business and provide safe and reliable water to properties.
Alan showed the group the old plans of the supply and took them to see the source and associated infrastructure. It was explained how the historic drainage works affect his current land uses and the issues that woodland planting has on certain areas. The group examined the large holding tank and were interested to hear Alan’s plans for converting a drained mill pond into an attraction for wildlife and visiting campers. Alan also explained his plans of collaborating with neighbours and the local council to develop a community path network up to Spital Hill.
Attendees also had the opportunity to undertake a tour of the Ruberslaw Wild Woods Camping. This comprises a central hub with fantastic facilities, tent pitches in the beautiful Edwardian walled garden and German safari tents contained within the woodland. Alan also explained he has ‘wild camping’ plots available to those who want a group trip or to be further from facilities. Attendees were also shown the glass house and discussed the problems being faced with disease in the vines and lead paint.
Alan discussed his potential plans for the future and issues with lack of grant funding to improve the water supply and therefore build the tourism business.
Alan’s entrepreneurial attitude was commended and rather inspiring. He has retained the character of the walled garden and the wildness while providing modern facilities. Alan clearly loves welcoming people to share the peaceful surroundings of Spital Tower and exploring the wider area.
Walk and Talk days are a fantastic way to gain insight into how other members run their businesses and overcome problems. They are relaxed events where attendees are encouraged to ask questions and share ideas. As groups are fairly small, attendees can direct the day themselves through questions or expressing an interest in seeing something other than the prescribed topic.