Sitting in stunning border countryside, Philiphaugh is a vibrant estate being run meticulously with consideration to the community at its very heart.
With an enviable position on the River Ettrick, the estate has created a Salmon Viewing Centre, which serves as a popular tourist attraction but, possibly more importantly, is also a superb educational facility. Children can learn the life cycle of salmon and their journey upstream. Three underwater cameras show live footage from the river and fish pass. A fish counter is to be fitted in the pass: this will give an accurate reading of the number of salmon and sea trout, which migrate over the Murray cauld every year.
In addition to the Salmon Viewing Centre, a massive metal water wheel can be seen on the mill lade. In high water, the wheel will still turn slowly to demonstrate the power of water used to turn the old circular saw in the sawmill. The fully restored walled garden grows a wide variety of produce that can be tasted at the Waterwheel Café or bought fresh from the soil to take home. Three trainees have found full time jobs, following training under the head gardener.
Children can be kept busy with The Brass Rubbings Trail. The Estate acts as host to many and varied groups including the Ettrick Forest Archers, who meet regularly throughout the year. Scouts frequently camp at Philiphaugh for their annual outing and recently over 500 Scouts from all over the country camped on the estate: it being the perfect environment for orienteering, learning survival skills, map reading, outdoor living and team building. The local Mountain Rescue Team regularly train here too.
Continuing the education via recreation theme, there is a designated walk, following the site of the Battle of Philiphaugh of 13th September 1645. This was a battle between the Covenanters and the Royalists and as one walks along the route, there are information boards on which you can scan your smartphone and download an audio description of how the battle unfolded. The Estate has also hosted a re-enactment of the battle played out by some 200 members of the Sealed Knot and even Musquetiere from Memmingen. Alasdair Hutton of Edinburgh Tattoo fame was the commentator and some 1000 people attended over the two days.
The Estate has built an extensive car park area for the public, as this is a popular area for dog walkers along the river. In addition to this is The Waterwheel Café, which is heaving all year round and serves fabulous produce, much of which is derived from or grown on the estate. Naturally, the café is a commercial enterprise, but it has created local employment and is a welcome addition to the hospitality available in the area.
Further up the valley towards St Mary’s Loch, the estate has been planting native woodlands on the hill to help restore the ancient Ettrick Forest.
What is most impressive about Philiphaugh is that much of what is on offer has been developed at the expense of the Estate to benefit the local community and greater public. Not only that, but it has been done with thought and consideration. It is tasteful, educational, accessible and simply a lovely place to visit, and the family who own the estate are thrilled to share their surroundings with the wider community.