Craigvinean :: Introduction


The area described in this booklet lies around the Towford Outdoor Centre in the upper Kale Valley, on the northern slopes of the Cheviot Hills. The Centre was formerly a primary school, built by a former Duke of Roxburghe about 1876, for pupils from the outlying parts of Hownam and Oxnam parishes. At one time the school had as many as forty pupils but as rural populations declined the school roll diminished. When the school finally closed in 1964 the late Duke of Roxburghe generously presented the school and the grounds to the Education Authority for use as an Outdoor Education Centre.

It would be difficult to find a better location for a Centre as the Towford area contains a surprising variety of features of educational interest, quite apart from its out-standing potential for hill-walking. The area is typical of the Scottish Cheviot country, with its rolling hills and wide valleys, clear streams, shelterbelts and rich grazings. The widely scattered hamlets and hill-farms are linked by narrow, winding roads, little used but essential to settlement in the area. Roman remains, along with standing stones, hill forts, cultivation terraces and the like all add to the educational potential of the area.

In 1973 the Towford Conservation Area was formed with an additional gift of land by the Trustees of the late Duke of Roxburghe and Mr John Tweedie of Bughtrig Farm. The Centre survived 21 years of Regional Education and in 1996 was closed as part of a series of cut backs by the new single tier Scottish Borders Council. The Craigvinean Outdoor Centre Trust is a Scottish Charity committed to providing quality facilities for outdoor activities and was fortunarte to obtain favourable terms in 1997 to lease the Centre, keeping it open for the benefit of others.

In the chapters which follow, an attempt has been made to present a fairly comprehensive picture of the area under a number of separate headings. The unifying theme throughout is that of manís activities in relation to the local environment and his effects on that environment through centuries of use. It should become clear that the landscape we see at the present time is largely the result of manís choice in the use to which he has put the land.

This guide has been designed as a general introduction to the area and it is hoped that it will be of considerable value to parties using the Towford Outdoor Centre. Each chapter begins with a short statement of general principles, preceding the more detailed information on the Towford area. In the nature of the exercise it was not intended to provide highly specialised information but those who wish to pursue their studies should find the stated Sources of Information useful. It is assumed that visitors to the area will have a copy of the O.S. 1:50,000 map, Sheet 80.

The original editor would like to thank colleagues A.T.Hewat and J.W.Pearson for their assistance in the compilation of this guide in 1979. The Trustsí editor of the revised text in 1997 would like to thank has fellow Trustees, Bill Brunton, Graham Dodds, Graham Hall and John Walker; Derrick Burgess of Scottish Borders Councilsí Education Department whose cooperation, faith and vision allowed the operational transfer of the property to happen, the Trusts volunteer and corporate supporters named in Appendix D.

Suggestions for amendments or additions to any future editions will be welcomed.

Colin Wood
The Craigvinean Outdoor Centre Trust
Musselburgh, 1997