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Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Y is for Yetholm, and a Yarrow Ballad

Welcome to a Look Around 
"My Scottish Borders"

Y is for: 
Yetholm and a Yarrow Ballad 

YETHOLM is actually two villages - Kirk Yetholm and Town Yetholm straddling the Bowmont Water, and nestling in the Cheviot foothills, about 1 mile from the English-Scottish Borders.


The opening in 1965 of the long distance walk the Pennine Way, helped to make Yetholm more widely known, as it marks the end of this 270 mile national trail along the "backbone of England"  from the Derbyshire Peak District, across the Yorkshire Dales and through Northumberland National Park.   The last stage across the Cheviot Hills into Scotland is the most challenging section - a lonely 27 miles of uninhabited land. The  Border Hotel at Kirk Yetholm marks the official end - a grand opportunity to celebrate with a drink, some food and a bed!  

The YARROW valley in the Scottish Borders could well earn the title of the home of Border ballads,  The 19th century novelist  and poet Sir Walter Scott spent much time there gathering material for his "Minstrelsy of the Scottish Borders".  Tower Houses across Yarrow  and its neighbour Ettrick Valley  are evidence of a turbulent past of raiding and ‘reiving’ not only across the Scottish - English border, but between warring Border families - as recounted in the ballads.

A lonely road in the Yarrow Valley

"The Dowie Dens of Yarrow"   is one of the best known of the Border Ballads, telling a cruel tale of love and death.  A young man is lured into combat with rival suitors - or in some version the girl's brothers - and killed  by a cowardly sword stroke.  His corpse is flung into the Yarrow Water, until his love rescues his bodyt 

 "Dowie dens" means "doleful glens"  Like many a Border ballad,  ii is a long tale - 20 verses - so here are a few to give you a flavour of the story. 

At Dryhope lived a lady fair
The fairest flower in Yarrow
 And she refused nine noble men
For a servant lad in Gala. 

Her father said that he should fight
The nine lords all tomorrow
And he that should the victor be
Would ge' the Rose of Yarrow. 

They've taen the young man by the heels
 And trailed him like a barrow
And there they flung the comely youth 
In a whirlpool o' Yarrow.  

But she wandred east and, so did she west
And searched the forest thorough
Until she spied her ain true love
Lying deeply drowend in Yarrow. 

She kissed his lips  and combed his head
As oft she'd done before,o;
She laid him on her milk white steed
An bore him, home from Yarrow."

On a less tragic note, English poet William Wordsworth made a number of visits to Yarrow, meeting fellow writers Sir Walter Scott and James Hogg and penned these words

"Should life be dull and spirits low 
T'will soothe us in our sorrow
That earth has something left to show
The  bonny Holmes of Yarrow"

["Holmes"  means meadow land besides water].

Follow the final  stage of this A-Z Journey 

through the Scottish Borders

Do take a look at earlier  posts in "My Scottish Borders

A-Z Challenge Preview
A-Z Challenge A - Abbeys,Abbotsford and Armstrong's
A-Z Challenge B - Border Reivers, Border Ballads and Blackmail

A-Z Challenge C - Common Ridings and Carter Bar 

A-Z Challenge D - Dryburgh Abbey,  Duns Scotus and The Douglas Tragedy 

A-Z Challenge E - Ellio's, Earlston, Enigma Hero and Eyemouth Tart   
A-Z Challenge F - Flodden, Fletcher and Flowers of the Forest    
A-Z Challenge G - A Green & Pleasant Land and Galashiels   
A-Z Challenge H - Hermitage Castle and Hawick  
A-Z Challenge I - Inspirational Land  of James Hogg & Will Ogilvie
A-Z Challenge J - Jedburgh, Jedthart Justice & Jethart Snails 
A-Z Challenge K - Kalaidoscope, Kelso and Kinmont Willie   
A-Z Challenge L - The Fair Lilliard and Leaderfoot Viaduct  
A-Z Challenge M - Muckle Mou'ed Meg and Melrose   
A-Z Challenge N - Newark Castle and Nature    
A-Z Challenge O - Oxford Connections - Sir James Murray & Mary Somerville   
A-Z Challenge P - Pele Towers and Princely Connections    
A-Z Challenge Q - Queen of Scots and Queen of Elfland
A-Z Challenge R - Rivers, Rugby and Rumbledethumps 
A-Z Challenge S - Scott's, Sir Walter and 'Scott's View 
A-Z Challenge T - Turnbull's and Thomas the Rhymer    
A-Z Challenge U - US Presidential Connection, Unusual Sight & Unusual Facts  
A-Z Challenge V  -Valour  Votes and Vital Statistics  
A-Z Challenge W - Wallace, Waterloo, Walks and Woods
A-Z Challenge X - EXplorer, EXcursions, EXprressions and EXhaustion


  1. Beautiful pictures, but a sad poem. Marriages weren't meant for true love in those days - more for parental gain & politics unfortunately.


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