HISTORY repeated itself in Selkirk last week, when retired local GP John Wilson undertook the same 87-mile cycle ride made in 1916 by the town’s legendary medical practitioner, Dr John Muir, at the age of 71.

Dr Muir served the medical needs of Selkirk from 1867-1928, becoming one of the local community’s most respected and well-loved figures.

Not only was he a keen cyclist, he kept a meticulous record of his family life and his day-to-day dealings with the public in a series of diaries.

In 2014, some 40 of Dr Muir’s diaries were presented by his descendants to the Scottish Borders Archive & Local History Service, and these were then transcribed by staff at Hawick’s Heritage Hub.

Two years later, at the request of Live Borders, Selkirk playwright and actor John Nichol used material from the diaries as the basis for his one-man, one-act play, Dr John Stewart Muir: The Beloved Doctor.

Taking the title role himself, John’s play received a rapturous reception at its premiere in the town’s County Hotel in February, 2017.

One scene features Dr Muir recounting an ambitious cycle ride he took to Moffat in 1916, returning via Boreland, Eskdalemuir and Ettrickbridge.

It is this ride that retired local GP John Wilson retraced last Wednesday, following the exact route described by Dr Muir.

“I always thought it would be amazing to recreate that ride,” John told the Border Telegraph this week, “so I’m just so happy that John Wilson was able to do it.”

Just as Dr Muir had done before him, John stopped off at Moffat’s Buccleuch Arms Hotel, where he was welcomed by director Polly Smith, while on the return journey he stopped at the Cross Keys in Ettrickbridge, where he was given a glass of water by owner Trevor Logan.

Dr Wilson’s encounters throughout the day were filmed by retired Selkirk journalist John Smail, who is making a documentary entitled A Souter’s Year, covering all aspects of life in Selkirk and the Valleys during 2018.

At the end of Wednesday’s ride Dr Wilson, himself an extremely proficient road cyclist, said he’d thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

He added: “The landscape is spectacular and it makes you appreciate the history and cultural importance of this area.

“I’m sure Dr Muir would have had similar thoughts and feelings.

"I can’t imagine that he didn’t appreciate the cultural background of the Borders, and how important its history and traditions are in forming the people who live here.”