Gorrenberry Estate 2011-
Gorrenberry is an ecological restoration project which aims to restore much of the biodiversity of a substantial area in the Scottish Southern Uplands, while maintaining a varied pattern of economic activity at a sustainable level.
In 2011 Gorrenberry was a 935 hectare hill farm including four dwellings and two groups of steadings on the Hermitage Water, Roxburghshire, Scottish Borders (55.266827N, 2.845836W). It was purchased in March 2011 by Jane Bower and Ken Lyall. The farm is approximately 20 miles south of Hawick and is reached by the unclassified road between the A7 and the B6399 signposted to Hermitage Castle.
The land at the time of purchase was mainly steep hills with about 70 hectares of
improved pasture (fig 1). The hills had been heavily grazed, probably for centuries,
and at the time of purchase there were about 1400 Southern Cheviot sheep and fifty
five store cattle on the land. There were three small stands of conifers planted
In March 2012 an application prepared with the help of UPM Tilhill was approved by the Forestry Commission for an SRDP grant to plant a further 366 hectares with native broadleaves. Martin Craig of UPM Tilhill was the project manager responsible for preparing the grant application, assisted by colleagues including Forest Ecologist John Gallacher and Lindsay Greer, forester. The application’s forestry outcome plan was supported by an archaeology survey, landscape appraisal, breeding bird survey, otter survey, vegetation and peat depth survey, ecological site classification, and an assessment of the impact on the hen harriers on the neighbouring Langholm Moor. The plan would leave the deep peat, marshy areas and space around badger setts unplanted, as required by environmental regulations, and allow sensitive landscaping of the plantings. After this planting only the 70 hectares of inbye land would be available for grazing. UPM Tilhill began implementation of the project immediately and planted the first 60 hectares during the spring of 2012.
Since this 366 hectare planting was to be carried out during the Diamond Jubilee Year of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II an application was made for it to be recorded as a Jubilee Wood. The application was accepted for entry in the Royal Record and, since this was such a large planting, it was additionally designated by the Woodland Trust Scotland as one of 25 Princess Woods, each representing a year of the Queen’s life before she came to the throne.
It was decided to start a small herd of Belted Galloway cattle which would co-
Gorrenberry is situated in Liddesdale in the “Southern Uplands with scattered forest”
Landscape character area in a hill range dominated by Pennygant, Tudhope, Crossbow
Hill and Cauldcleuch Head. Distincy rounded hills are dissected by steep gullies
As noted above the land in 2011 consisted of 70 hectares of semi-
The Hermitage Water which bounds much of the southern edge of the estate is a salmon
river and the fish spawn in the river and its tributary burns. The success of salmon,
trout and sea trout breeding here has diminished seriously in recent years. The English
Environmental Agency is responsible for the river and burns which are part of the
Esk catchment which drains to the Solway. They surmise that the problem may be in
the main due to the very heavy rainfalls in winter, which scour the spawning grounds.
The Billhope Burn is reported to rise by 4-
Most of the farm had been heavily grazed for many, probably hundreds, possibly even
thousands of years. There were few mature trees in 2011 apart from the three small
strips of conifers near the main steadings and a small strip of ancient woodland,
mainly alder, hazel and ash, along the Hermitage Water at the south-
There was a small, non-
At the time of purchase there were four dwellings on the farm which belonged to the
farm, Gorrenberry House, Gorrenberry Cottage, Old Gorrenberry Cottage and Old Billhope
Cottage. Gorrenberry House was the farmhouse and the others were rented out. Old
Gorrenberry Cottage, the oldest dwelling, was a Bastle house, a fortified farmhouse,
probably built in the 18th Century near the site of Gorrenberry Tower, a peel tower
which has completely vanished. The only remaining architectural features of interest
in Old Gorrenberry were the roof timbers which were hand-
A further house, Billhope Cottage, was surrounded by the farm but belonged to a neighbouring farming family and was not part of the purchase.
The Wildlife in 2011
The lack of trees and overgrazing had inevitably reduced the diversity of wildlife on the farm. There were at least 20 roe deer, several badger setts, a pair of otters, many foxes, some rabbits and hares in 2011. Red squirrels could be spotted from time to time in the ancient woodland along the Hermitage Water at the south east corner of the farm.
Bird life was varied on the farm but not numerous.The farm lies across the river
from Langholm Moor, site of the Langholm Moor project which aimed to encourage nesting
hen harriers to co-
On the ridge tops blanket bog and modified blanket bog were present. The commonest
community on the hillsides was unimproved acid grasslands, with patches of base-
It is not possible to exclude the possibility that circular enclosures and what may
be the remains of hut platforms are of prehistoric date. Placenames of p-
Gorrenberry Tower was a tower house at 55.266827N, 2.845836W. No structural remains
can now be seen but there was reported to be a slight rectangular mound, about 11.0m
1912 – Bartholomew Survey Atlas of Scotland, 1912 shows Gorrenberry.
The Brownie of Goranberry was reputed to live in the tower with one of the Elliots.
Local place names are mainly anglo-
The purchasers’ objective was to establish a pattern of ecological restoration activity
and land management which would eventually create an area of rich biological diversity
with a self-
1. Remove the sheep from the hill ground (completed 2011)
2. Establish a small pedigree herd of Belted Galloway cattle on some of the inbye land (started 2012).
4. Make good the damage to the 2008 plantings (started 2011).
5. Obtain grant funding to plant the rest of the hill ground with appropriate broadleaves up to but not including the deep peat (grant approved March 2012)
6. Design the plantings to enhance the landscape and, on the lower ground, to support a larger shoot.
7. Carry out necessary maintenance and in some cases total refurbishment of houses and farm buildings.
8. Establish a baseline record of the estate at the time of purchase and a programme of record keeping to monitor the activities on the estate and their impact.
It was planned to publish a summary of the baseline record and subsequent monitoring on this site.