The Walk – in memory of two members of the Teviotdale Young Farmers’ Club who tragically died – Zac who died at age 18 in a farming accident and George who was killed in a road accident aged 20.
It was good weather for walking – not too hot, but no rain and over 60 people had signed up for the walk which started from the Greenyards at 9.30am. Some of the Young Farmers were hung over from a dance the night before following Jed Sevens, but at least most of them turned up to do the walk. Border TV camera crew also turned up and interviewed the mums of the two boys in whose names the walk was being made. The Walk was organised by Scott Thomson, now Chairman of TYFC, and he was complimented on the careful way he had planned the route, which was around 11 miles from Melrose to the top of Minto Hill, where Zac and George’s memorial benches were to be found.
They walked off and up High Street and then onto the Eildon Hill Walk which started with about 230 wooden steps which lifted everyone, with great effort, up to the level of the foothills of the Eildons. The Saddle, the flat part between the hill before the climb goes either way up to North Eildon or Middle Eildon, was gained, and some even had the energy to climb North Hill, and pay tribute to George who often took his trail bike up to the top and George had even succeeded in taking his bike up Middle Eildon which is no mean feat. Down the other side of the Eildons and through the village of Bowden and onto the track which was to lead them through the country side for about 2 miles to Belses, but thankfully, just after half a mile, there was a very welcome coffee stop supplied by Steven Amos and his mother Vivien just in a corner of a field at Northfield.
The young farmers who were struggling from the previous night’s excesses really tucked into sausages, sandwiches and sausages rolls, cakes and biscuits all kindly supplied by Vivien and Stephen, as well a fluid refreshment such as coffee, soft drinks or a beer. Feeling much more energetic the speed of walking was increased and soon we were all in Belses ready to enter onto the old Waverley line. At this moment it was a great joy for all the 23 dogs who were accompanying their owners, as they were all allowed off their leads for the first time during the walk – what joy, running back and forth meeting up with their friends. It was just a couple of miles along the track from Belses before we passed through the area of the former Standhill Station of which there is no trace , but allowed to walk through the steading by kind permission of Jim Shanks, and then onto Minto Kames, by permission of George’s grandfather Peter, and back onto the railway line until a point was reached to leave the old track and take the direction straight up through a couple of fields and onto Minto Hills. This was the hardest part as after 9 miles, great effort had to be mustered to climb the flank of the hill to reach the relative flatness of the top and walk across to where the OS marker was to be found but more significantly the memorial benches made out of sturdy tree branches with a power saw to two young men who had sadly died at 18 and 20 years respectively – Zac and George.
The benches had been hewn from large tree branches by Scott Wylie who was shepherd at Minto Kames with whom George had done lambings and Zac worked alongside too. Nigel Murray, a longstanding friend who lives at Minto Cottages, helped Scott with the hard job of getting the bench to the top of Minto Hill and Grannie Susie Manners had provided the plaque to add to George’s bench. There was already a plaque in place for Zac’s bench. All who were there had made the walk in the memory of these two young boys who had been very active members of Teviotdale Farmers Club, and were sadly missed, but remembered with happy memories by all who had known them.
Zac’s parents had done the walk, as had George’s father and grannie Esther, other members of the family being absent because of other engagements such as holidays, horse events etc etc. Everyone made their way down to a barbecue held in the shed at the back of Peter and Susan Manners’ house, George’s grandparents, who were absent because of holiday on a farming tour, so they were involved in that way. Very happy, emotional day, with many happy memories of these two boys. We were to find out later that over £800 was raised on the day.