WITH spring and a new visitor season approaching, the Ettrick and Yarrow Tourism Association (EYTA) have launched the James Hogg Poetry Trails.

This is a new guide that brings the poetry of ‘The Ettrick Shepherd’ to life on a journey through the stunning Ettrick and Yarrow landscapes that inspired him.

Born in 1770, Hogg was inspired by Burns, admired by Walter Scott and was an acquaintance of Wordsworth, Byron and Coleridge.

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Growing up in the Ettrick and Yarrow valleys surrounded by local story-tellers, he became known as The Ettrick Shepherd and his writing celebrates the folklore and tales of the time. While he travelled all around Scotland, he always returned to the beautiful valleys that were his home.

The new guide brings together his poetry and plots it against the places and landscapes that inspired him and the journeys he took through the region.

Designed over two trails, one in each valley, they can be enjoyed in a number of ways, by foot, bike or car and highlight key landmarks, places of interest and local businesses that are as interesting and inspiring to visit and explore today as they were in Hogg’s time.

It also includes a pull-out map and colouring sheet for children.

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This is the first time Hogg’s work has been presented in such an accessible and visual way, opening up the stories and scenes of the valleys for all ages.

Launched at The Cross Keys Inn Ettrickbridge on Wednesday March 22, local tourism businesses were joined (virtually) by Hogg’s great-great-grandson Bruce Gilkison in New Zealand. Bruce was involved in the initial concept and planning of the Trails. He commented:

“The Ettrick and Yarrow valleys are a truly wonderful area, with music and literature and history and nature and fun around every corner.

“The James Hogg Poetry Trails are a great way to experience it and I’m honoured to be able to be part of the launch.

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“I look forward to many more people discovering what the valleys have to offer and being as inspired as I and my great-great grandfather were.”

Developed as a core part of the Ettrick and Yarrow Tourism Association’s drive to encourage more visitors to stay longer and explore more of the valleys on day-trips or short breaks, the James Hogg Poetry Trails booklet will be available for free through all EYTA businesses (self-catered houses, B&Bs, hotels, pubs and visitor attractions) as well as in shops in Selkirk and the surrounding areas.

Linda Jackson, Chair EYTA said: “The James Hogg Poetry Trail has been a tremendous project with a huge amount of work from a lot of people. We’re excited to be able to use the work of one of our most famous locals to promote our stunning area to visitors from near and far in such an innovative and engaging way. We anticipate many of our member businesses and their visitors will get a lot of enjoyment from the Trails in the coming months as our busy season commences.”

Local residents Sue Briggs and Barbara Harrison shaped and edited the Trails with input from Hogg scholars Adrian Hunter and Dave Stewart, Ettrickbridge-born designer Scott Muirhead created the design and Ailsa Cullens did the illustrations. Photography was provided by Ian Linton.

Any local businesses wanting to stock some of the Trail booklets can contact Barbara Harrison via email bckharrison@btinternet.com.