South Scotland

Talla and Gameshope estate purchase bid fails

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

Two conservation group have failed in a bid to buy "wild land" in southern Scotland once roamed by William Wallace and the Border Reivers.

The John Muir Trust and the Borders Forest Trust had hoped to purchase the Talla and Gameshope Estate.

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

The two organisations launched a public appeal to help raise the necessary funds but it is understood they were narrowly outbid.

The identity of the estate's new owner is not yet known.

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 said their plans would have benefited "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.

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, had described it as "the finest area of wild land in the Scottish Borders".

He said: "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 have been turned into a "flourishing mosaic of young woodlands and open hill tops".

The conservation groups had wanted the restoration to benefit "key wildlife" such as the golden eagle, black grouse and rare mountain plants.

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