When my friend Rachel and I go walking it often rains, as it did when we did this walk. I’m pleased to report that this time we walked in sunshine all the way round the Hoddom Castle and Repentance Tower walk. And a very nice walk it is, too, partly alongside the River Annan, through farm and woodland with great views from Repentance Tower – not forgetting an excellent lunch at the Hoddom Castle Caravan Park.
We started the walk from the car park just south of Hoddom Bridge and the entrance to Hoddom Castle Caravan Park. The path took us along the riverside.
We must have missed a detour to the Hound’s Monument but I’m not really sorry about that. Apparently it’s a monument erected in 1898 in memory of an otter hound called Royal, who is said to have perished having spent too long in the water pursuing an otter.
The riverside path skirts the edge of a golf course until we went through a gate and over a footbridge across the river. Here we found the Salmon Pole – one of four installations illustrating the life cycle of the salmon.
We also met some cute lambs.
After Hoddom Mill, deserted and a decidedly creepy the path brought us to the banks of the Water of Milk, a tributary of the Annan. Here a stone wall with orange floats represents the salmon eggs in the gravel riverbed.
The path meets the River Annan and continues downstream to a wooden carving of a salmon and its predators, an otter and eagle. Further on is a sculpture of a salmon fly before the path brought us back to the footbridge we’d crossed earlier.
From there, we carried on through the wood to Hoddom Castle Caravan Park and lunch at the café.
Hoddom Castle was built in the 1560s by Sir John Maxwell of Terregles, probably as a barracks and defensive structure against English invaders. It was invaded several times, blown up by the English, repaired and expanded in the 17th century and in the 19th century was given a Scots Baronial makeover. The army used it during the second world war after which it was in a state of disrepair and some of the Victorian additions were demolished. The old uninhabited tower can still be seen but it is all fenced off. Still, it makes an impressive backdrop to the caravan park.
After lunch we headed uphill to Repentance Tower, which was built as a watchtower on top of Trailtrow Hill at the same time as the castle. It had a clear view across the Solway Firth and had a bell and a beacon platform to warn of approaching enemies.
One story for how it came by its unusual name is that Sir John Maxwell was trying to atone for some act of treachery. He had pledged allegiance to Henry VIII of England during the 1540s and, when he dramatically changed sides at the Battle of Durisdeer, hostages, mostly members of his family, held as assurance of his loyalty were executed.
Around the tower is a small graveyard containing family graves of the Murray family who bought Hoddom Castle in the 17th century.
One story which I found most fascinating was that Sir John Murray went to America and brought back a slave called Moses. They were close friends and Moses became a free man, taking the Murray name and is buried next to the family. Now, I have to find out more about this Moses Murray.
We headed back down the hill, and were soon back at the car park – and the sun was still shining.