South Scotland

Talla and Gameshope estate purchase bid

Talla and Gameshope estate
Image caption The John Muir Trust and the Borders Forest Trust want to purchase the estate in the Scottish Borders

Two conservation charities hope to raise more than £1m to buy "wild land" in southern Scotland once roamed by William Wallace and the Border Reivers.

The John Muir Trust and Borders Forest Trust want to purchase the Talla and Gameshope estate in the Borders.

It has been put on the open market with an asking price of £1.1m.

The two trusts said it was a "rare opportunity" but need to have money committed to the bid before making an offer in early March.

The estate covers 5,300 acres (2,150 hectares) and includes the summits of Great Hill, Molls Cleuch Dod, Carlavin Hill and Firthhope Rig.

It lies at the heart of the historic Ettrick Forest, which for centuries provided "a sanctuary for the dispossessed and a refuge for rogues and rebels".

Image caption The trusts say their plans would benefit "key wildlife" to be found in the area

Its earliest known history was as a royal hunting forest in the 12th century.

It also provided a stronghold for William Wallace and a battle ground for the Border Reivers.

Today, the trusts said it remained a relatively remote area but its formerly wild and natural qualities had been "largely tamed due to overgrazing".

John Hutchison, chairman of the John Muir Trust, said: "This is the finest area of wild land in the Scottish Borders.

"The scale of the hills and crags is breathtaking and yet it's highly accessible from central Scotland and the north of England.

"There are 12 magnificent hills over 600 metres in height as well as the magnificent valley of the Gameshope burn running from a high mountain plateau down to the Talla reservoir."

He said the area could be turned into a "flourishing mosaic of young woodlands and open hill tops" but it would need public support.

'Key wildlife'

His counterpart with the Borders Forest Trust, John Hunt, said: "After centuries of overgrazing the land is seriously degraded in biological terms and there is huge potential for ecological restoration to bring back natural, more diverse vegetation and greatly enhanced wildlife.

"Talla and Gameshope lies at the heart of the historic Ettrick Forest and borders Carrifran Wildwood.

"Linking these properties would bring a large connected area under conservation management."

If the bid is successful the two organisations would work together to manage the property with the help of volunteers.

They believe the restoration could benefit "key wildlife" like the golden eagle, black grouse and rare mountain plants.

However, they must first secure major financial support if that vision is to become a reality and are seeking pledges of support towards the purchase.

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