Windydoors

Having spent a very lazy week, when all thoughts of the government-sanctioned daily exercise was replaced with just one more chocolate digestive and a cup of coffee, I decided that exercise was in order today.  It was sunny, too, for the first time in days and so we went on an eight-mile round trip walking out of Stow to the little farm of Windydoors.

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I’ve cycled up here before, some of the hills almost finishing me off as they are pretty steep. The views of the surrounding countryside are worth the effort, though, looking out over the Selkirkshire countryside towards the Eildon Hills.  Hare, pheasant, sheep and cattle were the only inhabitants we saw on most of our trip, although nearer to Stow cyclists and walkers were all out for their exercise time, too.

We were hoping to catch a glimpse of one of the many ruined tower houses that can be found throughout the county.  There are some forty or so, listed – whether standing or mere marks in the turf. Ancient, tall castles, so emblematic of Scotland and remnants of turbulent times, many fell into ruins as more peaceful times and more elegant fashions took hold.  Some, like Neidpath, outside of Peebles, are still lived in, but most lie shattered in ruins, or have vanished utterly, beneath the ploughs of later farmers.  Others, like Kirkhope and Aikwood – connected in legend to the great southern wizard, Michael Scott – have been restored.

I’m hoping we visit as many of these ancient places, when time allows.  I’ve always loved visiting castles and once hoped to restore and live in my own!  Alas, the lottery win has yet to happen, so not quite yet.

But, today, Windydoors Tower was our destination.  The place, ‘Windiduris’ was first recorded in the year 1456, but the current tower was begun in the following century. The name simply means ‘windy pass’.

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Probably three or four storeys high, little remains above the ground floor, cellars.  The rest was plundered to build the adjoining farm steading and house and two doors have been broken through into the old castle cellar.  The remains are not particularly impressive, but they are more substantial than many other sites which once had a castle.  The setting is particularly pretty, however, overlooking the sloping fields and Stantling Craig reservoir.

It’s worth pointing out that the ruin is situated within a working farm, so we didn’t want to intrude, taking a quick photograph from a distance.

In 1797, a Thomas Gibson was listed as the proprietor of Windydoors in the Dog Tax returns.  Having two dogs, he was taxed 10 shillings (his neighbour, the Duke of Buccleuch at Bowhill House, had four dogs listed and was taxed £1).

I haven’t found much else about Windydoors.  Unlike Buckholm, there doesn’t appear to be a haunting to investigate.

One thing I will need to remember, though, is a plastic bag in my backpack.  The verges have more litter than the last time I cycled past – clearly from drivers throwing fast-food wrappers and plastic bottles out of their car windows.  Grrrrrr.

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