Eskrigg Nature Reserve – Red Squirrel Spotting

Last week I was kindly invited to go squirrel spotting at Eskrigg Nature Reserve in Lockerbie. My cousins, who invited me, had been before and raved about how fantastic it was to see the wildlife up close. I hadn’t even heard of it before, but was definitely intrigued.

Traveling from Annan in the car took around 20-30minutes. On arrival, we parked in a small car park next to the Dryfesdale Cemetery, the home of the Lockerbie Garden of Remembrance. The parking easy to find, free and had plenty of space for around 12-15 cars. It was pleasant to jump out of the car on such a warm day – most likely the hottest we have had so far this year. Perfect for wandering through sheltered wooded area.

To find the actual woodland, we walked to the road side and turned left, back towards Lockerbie. Only a minute along the path, we found the entrance across the road. The temporary roadworks were handy for keeping an eye on the traffic, but with a long stretch either side, it was safe to cross when clear.

 

The path starts off with a large signpost telling you bits and pieces about the wood and what types of wildlife may be spotted. It then stretches off between the trees, lined with berry bushes along the way. The eldest cousin, who is only 9yrs old, decided he knew where he was going and led us down a side path. Although it was clearly a path, it was a little muddy in places, and not nearly as easy to follow as the main path. It did take us past a couple of make-shift shelters though which was interesting.

 

 

 

 

We quickly reached a pond area, where we sat and watched the ducks and small fish for a while. There was also a wooden walkway that went around the pond and ended at a small viewing hut which had two small stools in a wooden shelter, with windows facing the pond. After a short time in the hut, we turned back and followed the walkway back to the main path.

 

 

 

 

A few hundred yards away, we then found another viewing hut with seats and information leaflets. You could easily sit here and watch the squirrel area without disturbing them. The squirrel area was full of squirrel friendly trees, a number of which had boxes screwed to them full of nuts to feed the squirrels.

 

 

 

 

Even though we sat for around an hour, waiting for them to appear – there were sadly no squirrels came down to visit us. Although it was a very hot day – the squirrels were probably happily in the breeze higher in the trees, laughing at us!

If you are looking for something to do on a dry day, take a little visit to the woods. It is a lovely, easy walk and dogs are welcome too (although it is recommended to keep them on the lead so as not to scare the squirrels).

‘Fishing’ Through Annan History

 

As they do every year, Annan Riding of the Marches committee invited local businesses to take part in a window dressing competition this year, and sent us the categories at the end of May. In the past I have proudly earned a first and a third for the Riding of the Marches category; so this year I wanted more of a challenge!

‘Old Annan’ was the theme of choice this year, and I’m very glad I did. Having heard about haaf netting from various people, it was decided that fishing would be our theme.

Research started by reading up online about various fishing regulations and traditions based in this area, but it soon became apparent more in depth inquiry was needed. So off to the museum I went.

Annan Museum, located in Bank Street, is somewhere I hadn’t been for years, so I couldn’t honestly remember what it was like inside.

Downstairs was a very interesting exhibit about art work found in the basement of the old Creighton grounds. The paintings and drawings had been done by the patients and collated by Dr Browne during the years 1838-1857. The drawings were fantastic! I was shocked to find so much detail and such quality in their execution and design of the displays. It was incredibly interesting to read the story of the individual patients and be able to see the progression in their styles over the term of their treatment. According to the information displayed, it is claimed that during this time the most commonly used treatment was more electroshock treatments and other such drastic actions, so to read about this new method of stimulating the patients with art, music and general creativity really appealed to me.

This specific exhibit has now closed, but I am hoping to visit again soon to see The Sword in the Story exhibit about a mysterious sword reportedly linked to Kinmont Willie, along with other swords of years gone by.

Upstairs in the museum is where the research for our window display properly started. The room leads you from local discoveries about the bronze age, through the Victorian era and to more recent history such as Chapelcross Power Station. Although distracted by the fantastic artifacts including coats of arms, bronze age tools, Victorian toys and clothes, it was easy to spot the fishing area.

Annan museum have a whole area dedicated to various fishing aspects in the Annan area. There is a short video on a loop about the Haaf netting and how they do it; a selection of model boats showing the progression of fishing over the years, lots of artifacts from older methods of fishing as well as a book of commemoration of those who lost their lives whilst fishing the Solway and local waters.

After spending a while wandering around, I headed out and talked to the lovely ladies on the desk. They were happy to answer any questions I had and encouraged me to return a little quicker this time.

 

It was with great enthusiasm I came back to Mad Notions and started planning my window display. As you can see, it includes the three most common fishing types of this area including haaf netting, fly fishing and our wonderful harbour.

 

Judging day came and all I could do was hope for a good reaction from the judges… and I was delighted to receive a first place in our category!

 

Our display will be in place until mid July, but the museum is open most of the year. I recommend going for a visit – you may well be pleasantly surprised at what our little town has went through to reach where we are today.