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Information on the village of Stichill, near Kelso in Scotland.
The walk starts off in the village of Stichill, at the parking area at the top of the village, near the Parish Church and the Post Office (Eildon View).
The priority at the road junction has been changed, as the road from east to west used to be a straight road with the Kelso road coming at right angles.
The massive gate structure at the entrance to the drive is where we start our walk. The road is uneven in parts, but a pleasant, fairly dry, walk can be had, up to the site of the old Mansion House. After this, depending on your route and the weather and the time of year, wellingtons or walking boots may be necessary.
The gates themselves were built in 1869. This was the main entrance to Stichill Mansion House. The gates were a great structure, built to the instructions of George Baird. The Baird crest is on the North side of the gate stanchions, along with the year they were built. Sadly, the gates themselves were removed as part of the war effort in the early 1940's, and since then the driveway has remained open.
Walking up the drive, you will see houses on the left which were built from the 1930's onwards into the 1990's. Walk through the old woods, known as the 'Fair Oaks' or 'Farrock's Wood'. From the clearing, you can see the grass parks in front of you. At the end of the driveway stood the Mansion House in all its glory.
The Mansion House only existed from 1863 until 1938. By 1938, the house was thought to be worth more in pieces than as a house, so it was knocked down for the stone, lintels, slates, marble wood etc. The cost of the building, in 1861-63, was £34,000.
On the South side of the ruins, you can still see an old, rustic set of gates, probably taken from around the house at some point, and used, now, as the entrance to the little bungalow which sits there.
From here there is a choice of two walks either to the North Lodge or to the West Lodge.
To the North Lodge
From the stables, continue along the drive to the North lodge. Alongside the road you will see the remnants of the original metal fencing lining the driveway and also an old hand-operated water pump. From this point you can see, to the North-west, the site of the water works on the side of Sweethope Hill which supplied the Mansion House. These water works consist of a holding tank and a pump house, both of which are still in reasonably good condition. The water was pumped from there into a holding tank and then to the big house, a great improvement on the previous supply which had been sorely inadequate.
To the West
Laird's Hill is full of earth workings near the top, and is the site of an Iron Age fort. On a winter's day, when the vegetation has died down, it is possible to see and walk some of the old walks in what were the 'Ornamental Woods'. Originally there were fine specimens of beech, oak and lime interspersed with silver fir and other trees. There used to be thousands of rhododendron bushes in the area. Only through the imagination will you be able to envisage what it looked like when at its best.
The same is true of the walled garden, which remains as a double wall, stone outside and brick and stone inside. The east entrance is an arch with a 'Weather God' face both inside and outside. The inside of the garden is totally derelict, as are most of the buildings associated with the garden, though the remains of the bothies may be worth a quick inspection.
From the gardens you can walk through the woods to 'Parkend' and on through to the road, or you can continue around the Laird's Hill out to the site of the former Sweethope West Lodge, where you rejoin the road. The walk back to your starting point is about 3 miles from Sweethope Lodge and about a mile less from the Parkend junction.
[With thanks to the Stichill Millennium Project on whose text this is based]
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