Solway Firth Stories: Alistair Braidwood’s Annan Anecdotes

Welcome to the third episode of Season two.

In this episode Dawn is joined by Alistair from the Scots Whay Hae podcast to discuss his favourite place in Scotland: Annan and the Solway Firth, located in south-west Scotland in Dumfries and Galloway.

Alistair shares nostalgic memories of his childhood holidays in Annan, highlighting its charming countryside, historical significance, and local culture. He reminisces about cycling through quiet streets, playing in fields, and enjoying fish and chips. The conversation also touches on Annan’s efforts to revitalise itself as a tourist destination, with events like the Annan Harbour Festival and the town’s rich history. Tune in for a delightful journey through Annan’s past and present, filled with personal anecdotes and cultural insights.


Alistair- ⁠Scots Whay Hae⁠


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00:00:00: Introduction by Dawn
00:01:00: Clip from Scots Whay Hae Podcast
00:01:54: Dawn Welcomes Alistair
00:06:01: Alistair’s Favourite Place in Scotland: Annan
00:08:09: Childhood Memories in Annan
00:09:16: Recent Visit to Annan
00:10:36: Beaches in Annan
00:11:48: Historical Railway Viaduct
00:13:08: Annan’s Red Sandstone Buildings
00:14:00: Robert Burns’ Connection to Annan
00:15:13: Pagani’s Fish and Chip Shop
00:16:02: Staying with Family in Annan
00:16:42: Travel Time to Annan
00:17:20: Scenic Routes to Annan
00:18:04: Childhood Activities in Annan
00:19:26: Walking Routes in Annan
00:20:47: River Annan
00:21:34: Annandale Way Walking Route
00:21:44: Stone Bridge Designed by Robert Stevenson
00:22:36: TV Programme Featuring Annan
00:22:45: Scandinavian Origin of Solway
00:23:19: The Wicker Man Filming Locations
00:24:47: Overlooked Beauty of Dumfries and Galloway
00:25:08: Scenic Drives in the Area
00:27:48: Riding of the Marches Festival
00:29:37: Community Spirit in Annan
00:31:13: Annan Harbour Festival
00:33:10: Potential for Tourism in Annan
00:34:07: Future Visits to Annan
00:37:32: Where to Find Scots Whay Hae podcast.
00:38:36: Facts About Annan and Solway Firth
00:40:33: Conclusion and Next Episode Teaser

Solway Firth – Wikipedia

Solway Firth Visitor Guide – Accommodation, Things To Do & More | VisitScotland

The Solway Firth Visitor Guide | Out About Scotland

Solway Firth (song) – Wikipedia

Annan, Dumfries and Galloway – Wikipedia

Annan Visitor Guide – Accommodation, Things To Do & More | VisitScotland

Annan, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland

Annan Feature Page on Undiscovered Scotland

SWH! Podcast | Scots Whay Hae!

Scots Whay Hae! | Scots Whay Hae!

In Cold Blood: A True Account of a Multiple Murder and its Consequences (Penguin Essentials): Written by Truman Capote, 2012 Edition, (Re-issue) Publisher: Penguin [Paperback]: Truman Capote: 8601417132517: Books

File:Ashley Jensen June 2016.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:Haaf Net Fisherman on The Solway Firth – – 4116075.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:The river Annan at Annan – – 3626304.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:Annan Bridge – – 4113600.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:High Street, Annan – – 3536074.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:High Street, Annan – – 5919085.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:Lonsdale Cinema and Bingo Club – – 6001711.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:Annan, alongside the river – – 4594853.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:Solway shore at Powfoot – – 3644589.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:Remains of tidal swimming pool at Powfoot – – 4513403.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

Lonsdale Cinema, Annan | Home

BBC – Robert Burns – The Deil’s awa wi’ the Exciseman

File:Town centre architecture, Annan – – 6001690.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

(2) Facebook

(2) Facebook

File:River Annan railway viaduct, Annan, Dumfries and Galloway.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:River Annan upstream of the pedestrian bridge, Annan, Dumfries and Galloway.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:Footpath beside River Annan – – 1067582.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:Annan river bridge – Oct 2006.JPG – Wikimedia Commons

BBC Scotland – My Kind of Town, Series 1, Annan

File:’The Wicker Man’ Filming Locations, Plaque On Whithorn Public Library – – 4085699.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:Annandale Distillery, Annan, Dumfries & Galloway. Chimney and courtyard.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:Chapelcross Nuclear Power Station 2.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

File:Chapelcross04JM.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

Annan Harbour – Dumfries and Galloway south west Scotland

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Written and Produced by Dawn Young

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Production Company Name by Granny Robertson

Dawn [0:00 – 0:59]: Welcome to episode three of season two of Scottish Digest. In this episode, we will be speaking to Alister from the podcast Scotsway Hay, who will be talking to us about his favourite place and area in Scotland, which is Annan and the Solway Firth. Alister is the host of the podcast Scots Whay Hae, which discusses modern Scottish culture, whatever and wherever that may be. And Alister has had some fantastic guests on his podcast. Alistair and I also appeared on the BBC Scotland show the Big Scottish book club crime special episode, which you can watch on iPlayer if you’re in the UK. Just before we speak to Alister, here’s a wee clip from an episode of Scott’s Way Hay.

Alistair [1:00 – 1:53]: Hello, everyone, and welcome to another Scots Whay Hae podcast. And today I’m joined once again by writer Denzil Meyrick to talk about his new novel, Murder at Holly House. Hello, Denzil. Hello there, Alistair. It’s nice to see you again. And nice to see you again. And this is, as we just mentioned before we start recording, this is a bit of a departure. So what can you tell listeners about murder at Holly House? Murder at Holly House is set in 1950s North Yorkshire and it involves Di Frank Rasby, who arrives in the village of Elderby to find somebody dead down a chimney, something he wasn’t expecting. And one of the lines that the young laird of the manor says on this discovery, well, Santa got it terribly wrong this year.

Dawn [1:54 – 1:57]: Hi, Alistair. It’s lovely to have you on the podcast.

Alistair [1:57 – 1:59]: Hello, dawn. Thank you for asking me.

Dawn [2:00 – 2:11]: Oh, I wasn’t going to not ask you after meeting you. Billy Conley esque. So, can you tell us a little bit about you and about your podcast Scots weigh?

Alistair [2:12 – 3:00]: Sure. Well, Alastair Braidwood, who runs the Scots Whay Hae website and podcast, both of which look at Scottish culture. They’re a celebration of all things about Scottish culture. So it started out kind of focusing on books, but now it’s music, it’s theatre, it’s paintings, it’s opera, even. So, covering all sorts of different things. I just recently did a podcast with a couple choreographers who’ve got two dance shows out, or they did have last month. So it’s amazing the different things that we’ve kind of covered. I’ve learned so much doing it over the years. We’re coming up to our 300th podcast, so that’s coming up fairly soon.

Dawn [3:01 – 3:03]: Good God, that’s an achievement there.

Alistair [3:03 – 3:20]: Yeah. So it started 2011, I think was the first one. Website started in 2009, and both just been regularly doing over the years and it’s been great. I’ve absolutely loved it.

Dawn [3:20 – 3:31]: Yeah, you’ve got an amazing, like, so many different guests. Like you were saying, it’s just. It’s just so random, isn’t it? Each episode is just. You never know what you’re going to get. I like that.

Alistair [3:31 – 4:30]: Well, it’s interesting because when I started the website, people said, well, concentrate on one thing, you know, and that’s. That’s the best advice. And I thought, I don’t want to do that because I’m interested in loads of things. Yes. I was doing a degree in literature at Glasgow Uni at the time, which is one of the reasons I started it. But I also love my music and I love going to theatre and all sorts of things, so I kind of ignored that advice and maybe that was the right thing to do. But it does mean that you get a real mix of people coming on. We did one with Nancy from Crimecon, for instance. I never thought I would introduce her through yourself, and, of course, had the podcast sharing collaboration that you sorted out last year, which had all different people from different areas. Yeah, it’s been. It’s a great way of meeting and talking to new people. I think that’s the main thing. And if you’re interested in people, there’s nothing better.

Dawn [4:31 – 4:49]: Definitely. And it was. That’s where we met Nancy as well, didn’t it? At the BBC’s. BBC, Scotland’s, the big Scottish Book Club. That was where I first met you as well, in person. It was lovely doing that with you. But that wasn’t your type of book, though, was it? It was Truman Capote in cold Blood.

Alistair [4:49 – 5:48]: Well, in a way, it was my type of book. I would have read before I said Scottsdale. Hey, I’d read it and years and years and years ago, when I used to read a lot of american writers and things like that. I was really glad you asked me because it was something different for me, because now I mostly review fiction. That’s not true. I review a lot of nonfiction as well, but in terms of crime, it’s mostly crime fiction instead of true crime. So it was interesting to go back to a book which I kind of still thought of as a novel, because it’s a kind of novelization, a dramatisation of a true crime, which is what we ended up talking about a lot on the day. So. But actually, you asking me to do that, I think that’s a great example of the kind of connections that you make through doing podcasts and meeting new people, and then someone will say, oh, I don’t know who might do that. Don might do that. You know, that’s the way that he’s. And that’s probably why you’ve asked me on today, because, you know, these connections are made.

Dawn [5:48 – 5:59]: Oh, sure, yeah. Always. I love making connections and just sharing. Like you say, it’s interesting meeting new people and different walks of life, so. Yeah, definitely. I’m glad we met.

Alistair [5:59 – 6:00]: Yes, absolutely.

Dawn [6:01 – 6:08]: So, anyway, we’re here today to talk about one of your favourite places in Scotland. Do you want to tell us where it is?

Alistair [6:08 – 6:27]: I was so excited when you said this, because the place is Annan in Dunfisher, in the borders, and not a lot of people still know what it is. It’s become a little bit more famous recently because Ashley Jensen, the new lead on Shetland, that’s where she’s from. Yeah, she’s from Annan, yeah.

Dawn [6:27 – 6:28]: I didn’t know that.

Alistair [6:28 – 8:09]: Yeah. And I’m kind of surprised we never bumped into each other as kids because she’s a year older than me. She, I think, was born in 69 and I was born in 70, but. But we didn’t, however. Yeah, we used to go. The reason I picked Anand is because when we were kids, from a young age to teenage years, that’s where we would go on our holidays. So whether it was Easter, whether it was school holidays, whether it was summer holidays, that’s where we would go, because that’s where my mum’s from, so, her mum and dad. But although my granddad passed away when I was only three, we used to go down there for our holidays and it was, in hindsight, it was a good thing because I was from cambus Lang in Glasgow, a very different place, I think, to be playing on the streets. Dan Annan, which is very much. It was a kind of. Almost like a famous five time. You know, we were young, there was lots of fields. You had the solway, not that far, you know, you would go fishing for tadpoles, it sounds like, from something from the 1950s, but all sorts of things like that. There was a pipeline that used to go down to the solway, which we would walk down. Don’t think we were supposed to, but we did, and we would climb trees and build tree houses and we would play putting and it was just a lovely child go cycling. I don’t think we would have been allowed to cycle around Cambusland all day, but in Annan there was hardly any cars, really, on the street back then in the seventies and eighties, and we just went everywhere on bikes. It was a great time, it looked.

Dawn [8:09 – 8:13]: Sounds amazing. And you went there, you’ve got a brother as well. That’s who you went there with, wasn’t it?

Alistair [8:13 – 9:15]: Yes. Me and my brother’s three years younger than me. And we would go down. You asked for a picture, a picture of me and Andy. Now, Andy would have been really young there, looking at that picture, but, you know, there was a little play park and we would go, and as he reminded me back then, play parks were all covered in concrete. They were dead traps, you know, and we’re swinging up as high as we could. And it was beside Annan High School, which was the local high school. So we soon made friends with local kids, Peter and Helen Gilmore, if they ever hear this. Hello. Who lived in the same crescent as my granny did, and other folk like Pete Jackson and then later on, other kids. And so they were almost like your holiday friends, if you know, your school friends, camber slang. Friends, school friends here. And then you had your holiday pals when you went down there and. Yeah, so it was like another life, slightly from the rest of the year.

Dawn [9:16 – 9:21]: So have you been more recently? I mean, have you ever been back again? When was the last time you were there?

Alistair [9:22 – 10:35]: Funnily enough, I went last year because my mum and I were going down for a wee break down south, and she still got friends there that she went to school with and keeps in touch with them. So she was going to meet two of them for a lunch. So I was driving, so I said, I’ll drop you off, you go and have your lunch and then I’ll have a wander about and, you know, old memories. And it was great. It was really lovely to do. It’s not a big place anand you can walk around it quite easily. And it was great to see some of the old places that I remembered were there. Of course, a lot of them weren’t, but the basic structure of the town and the high street northwest was still there and some of the old buildings and Lady street cinema, which was the cinema we used to go to as kids, you know, the kind of morning shows off various things. Yeah, it was great to go back and have lots of memories, but I do often if I’m going down south or I’m passing nearby, I’ll pop in, because my granny and granddad are both buried there. So I’ll go and, you know, give the stone a clean and put some flowers on and that kind of thing. So that’s kind of the only time that I’m down. But it was nice to go back last year and really explore again.

Dawn [10:36 – 10:40]: And I’ve got some beautiful beaches there as well, haven’t they? Did you ever.

Alistair [10:40 – 11:29]: Absolutely. The one we used to go to was pow foot, which was. I mean, I could cycle to it, you know, quite a lengthy cycle, but, yeah, so that’s not too far from Annan at all by car. And it’s got some great beaches and jellyfish on the beach, you know, just lots of. There was a. There was a. I think they were called the notman’s, and I don’t know how legal this was or even anything, but they used to sell ice cream out of their kind of back kitchen, like proper ice creams they’ve got in their freezer. So jellyfish and ice cream. That’s what I remember a lot about power footage. But there’s a nice hotel there and the hotel still there, and there’s a golf course, and it is quite a kind of destination. But for us it was like jumping in the car, going and playing in the rock pools, and then maybe braving a swim.

Dawn [11:30 – 11:48]: Sounds good. And I mentioned, obviously it was maybe before your time, but I mentioned that there used to be a mile over the viaduct. There used to be a railway over the viaduct. Did you know anything about that? It was quite interesting.

Alistair [11:48 – 11:49]: In Ireland.

Dawn [11:51 – 11:56]: Over the sottles hallway. It used to be from England to Scotland.

Alistair [11:56 – 12:25]: Oh, right. I was thinking more just about Allan, but there was a bridge that went over, because the railway line still has to go over the solway. I think it’s a while since I passed, but when you. My memory here is if you’re driving south from Annan towards Gretna and then Carlisle, particularly near Gretna, you can look out your right and you can see a bridge where the rail, where the railway goes on it going down south, so that’s probably true. Yeah.

Dawn [12:26 – 12:38]: I read that it was. The Scottish used to go over into, use the bridge to go over to England, because the. You could drink there seven days a week and you couldn’t. I like that.

Alistair [12:38 – 13:08]: That’s probably true. I have to say, there is a great history off the borders. I read a book last year and his name escapes me, but it was all about the history off the borders. The writer had walked from one side in the east all the way along, jumping between the two sides, going from Scotland to England, back to the Solway. And yeah, it was a fascinating history a lot. I didn’t know a lot about it, but it really is.

Dawn [13:08 – 13:13]: I haven’t ever been to Annan, but I read somewhere that a lot of the buildings were made of dark red.

Alistair [13:14 – 13:55]: Yeah, that’s right, that’s right. And a lot of the municipal buildings which are still standing, a lot of them unfortunately, look pretty empty from when I went around recently. And a lot of the. Yeah, they’ve got that real kind of red sandstone. I don’t know the history behind where that might come from. But. Yeah, that’s true. It’s a really interesting. Oh, there’s a lot of history there as well. Thomas Carlisle is linked. In a moment I’ll talk about a cracking fish and chip shop, which is there, but the tale is that on that space, Robert Burns wrote the deals awa with exciseman because he worked down in Dumfries. He was an exciseman down in the fries shirt.

Dawn [13:55 – 14:00]: And there’s a cairn on the jetty that commemorates them as well, I think.

Alistair [14:00 – 14:01]: Yeah, there will be.

Dawn [14:02 – 14:04]: No, I like that. Robert Burns, eh?

Alistair [14:04 – 14:05]: Yeah.

Dawn [14:09 – 14:11]: Tell us about the fish and chip shop.

Alistair [14:11 – 15:12]: Well, I was thinking about. Because you’d said right away, where did you go to eat? And we didn’t go out a lot. It was usually kind of even back then it was going to take away. I will say, when we were really young kids, there was a corner shop which was. We could walk down to that used to sell at five p mixtures and, you know, really fruit salads and blackjacks and all those kind of things. And I mean, no wonder my teeth are so bad. We were kind of raised on if my granny would give us a five p, we were straight down here for something very sugary and sticky. That was probably the first place I thought of. And then there was the Solway cafe, which when we were young, when I was kind of 1213, about to become a teenager, I don’t think my folks were that happy about me going there. It was almost like the coffee shops off the fifties, you know, I think that’s where the bad kids hang about, all that kind of stuff. It’s absolutely fine. And I never saw any bother. And coming from cambus Lang, it was unlike, you know, it’s a different thing there.

Dawn [15:13 – 15:15]: Well, you would be the ball there. You’re not bringing the ball out there.

Alistair [15:15 – 15:46]: I was a very good child, but then there was. Now I remember this is a pagani’s fish and chip shop. And I looked it up and it said the cafe royal. And I think that’s its real name, is the cafe Royal. But the family who ran it, well, the paganis. And that’s what everyone knew as paganis fish and chips. And it’s a crack it. It was a really good. People travelled for miles around. In fact, I was looking at the tripadvisor, and people still travel from Carlisle to get some fish and chips.

Dawn [15:46 – 15:47]: Really?

Alistair [15:47 – 16:01]: It’s supposed to be freezing by the time they get home. I think you can sit in. I’m pretty sure you can, but, yeah, that’s a really good fish and chip shop. Worth visiting. If you’re in Ireland, that’s definitely the place, I would say, to visit.

Dawn [16:02 – 16:07]: And what about staying, when you went, did you ever stay? Did you stay with family or did.

Alistair [16:07 – 16:42]: You just stayed up? My grandson, my gran, lived on Solway Crescent. Now, living on a crescent’s great, because there’s hardly any cars again going round. So you’ve got this grass mound in the middle and we could just cycle round it and round it and round it. And so that’s where we would stay at my granny’s every time. Yeah. She passed away in 2011, so since then, that’s why we don’t visit like we once did. But right up to the end, you know, I would still go to visit her back then. Yeah.

Dawn [16:42 – 16:47]: How long does it take to travel from where you are now? Is it not going down?

Alistair [16:47 – 17:20]: I would say if you really put your foot down, you could probably do it in an hour, but probably about an hour and a half, I would say. And there’s some lovely ways to get there. You know, you could just east it down the M 74 and do that. But the old road, the b, I’m going to say 778, I might have got that wrong. But the old b road is still open, which is a really lovely road. Once you get down to kind of beatuk, you can take the back roads and go through things like Lockerbie and Eckelfeken and all these wonderful names.

Dawn [17:20 – 17:22]: I love that name. Always love that echo.

Alistair [17:22 – 18:04]: Fecken and Lochmaben and all these places. And these were the places we used to cycle to, because those roads were quiet. So you would get on your bike on a summer’s day and go out to Hodham Castle or go down the coast and go down to the solway. And we used to. We used to play in the fishing nets, which now seems like a strange and probably quite a dangerous thing to do. But they were all kind of like walls and you would kind of like little mazes and. Yeah, I now know that the tide is actually quite dangerous in there, but as kids, danger wasn’t really a kind of just went and did it. That was the kind of famous five side of things. You would just go and you know, luckily you were safe.

Dawn [18:04 – 18:09]: I love that famous five reference I can picture in my head, because I was a fan as well.

Alistair [18:09 – 18:39]: Yeah, it was. It was fun. And my friends actually had a dog, so we had our own Timmy the dog as well, to get it. As I said, it was just such an. It sounds. I don’t know if I’m viewing it now through real rose tinted specks, but it was a really idyllic place to kind of run about in summer and, you know, and just enjoy it. Plus it was also, you know, half an hour drive to Dumfries or Carlisle, so if you wanted to go into the big town, if you like, you could still go and. And do that.

Dawn [18:40 – 19:00]: His kids, though, I think I preferred the country as well. I liked. I wasn’t bothered about the towns or shopping and all that. It was like you sprang over things and splashing about. That was. Yeah, happy times. Don’t get that anymore, really. Was just jumping in puddles with your welly boots was just a great time.

Alistair [19:01 – 19:17]: Yeah. And, you know, going back to the old swim parks and everything, they were absolutely brutal. But you didn’t think that you might come off and split? I think I did once come off and split my head, but, you know, you did. You know, you just got back on and went and did it again.

Dawn [19:17 – 19:26]: Just what you’re used to, isn’t it? It’s normal. And are you into walking, Alistair? Because there’s a big walk, isn’t there, from.

Alistair [19:26 – 20:46]: I am into walking, but I wasn’t really at that time, so I would go walks and some of the ones I would go would be down to the solway along the coast and back up. I had. I was a runner when I was younger. I used to run a lot, so I would, you know, go running to power foot and even further. My grannies, my uncle and his wife, great uncle, I should say. He was an ex gamekeeper. So he lived in this wee place called green hill with really low roofs and there was a couple of ferrets running about the house and stuff like that, you know, real old school. But sometimes you would run out as far as there to go and. But there’s a lovely walk that goes down the river, and the river Annan’s a hugely important part of it. You know, fishing was a big part of the kind of economy there. Although my mum’s dad actually worked in Cochrane’s boilermakers, which was down in Newby. They’re actually from a little village called Newby, which is just down the river. And Cochrane’s was a big employer in the area and did boilers for boats and trains and all sorts of things. But, yeah, the river Anning is a big thing and you can still do a great walk, which is all path now, you’d have to fight through bramble bushes to get there. That’s a really beautiful walk, actually, to go out that way.

Dawn [20:47 – 20:51]: And there’s a route called. Is it the Annandale way as well? Is that the one you’re talking about?

Alistair [20:51 – 20:59]: I’m not sure if that’s the name of it. I wouldn’t know the name of it, but it could be. But there’ll be walks up hills and I’ve tried to remember the names of them.

Dawn [20:59 – 21:02]: Now, there’s a Moffat, Moffett Hills.

Alistair [21:02 – 21:08]: The one starts the Moffat hills. That’s quite a distance away, though, is it?

Dawn [21:08 – 21:12]: Yeah, it’s a 53 miles walking route. If you’re really keen.

Alistair [21:12 – 21:32]: Well, you’d have to be really keen. It must be about that. It must be about that. But you could probably a bit like the West Highland way. You could walk and do it. And also, as I was saying earlier, you can walk the border line. You might have to, you know, sometimes move from one side to the next to make it along. But you can do it. It can be done.

Dawn [21:34 – 21:43]: And you mentioned, is there a stone bridge there as well? It’s quite designed by Robert Stevenson. I love old things. I love these kind of old designy things.

Alistair [21:44 – 22:36]: Beautiful bridge. When you arrive in Annan that goes over a stone bridge. Now. I don’t know, again, I don’t know, my research, we just arrived and that was it. And we’d be cheering. When we arrived. And we passed the sign that said Annan, we thought, whoa, we’re in Annan. But it’s a beautiful old bridge and. Yeah, that’s very much. There’s lots of these kind of striking features in the place. If you like your old buildings and you like a bit of a local history, it’s worth checking out. In fact, have you seen the television programme where the presenter goes from town to town? I think it’s called in my town, something like that. He’s a visually impaired presenter and he goes with his guide dog. I think they’re all on BBC iplayer. And he did one in Annan and that’s if you’re interested in what I’m talking about. He’ll give you real dates and times and people and places on that.

Dawn [22:36 – 22:45]: Oh, that’ll be interesting. Have a look at that. The solway is that of scandinavian origin. Do you know, about that, the name.

Alistair [22:45 – 23:18]: Of it, it could be. There’s lots of cook named places in the area, which is a scandinavian for church. And so I don’t know if it is or not, but it’s. It was a place where, I think, kind of border raids happened, you know, the fights for the rights of the lands on the solway and fishing rights and all sorts of things. I think the Vikings would have been in and around that area at some point, considering how far down the coast they went, and then over to Ireland as well.

Dawn [23:19 – 23:24]: The wicker man was filmed round in a boat down that area, wasn’t it? Were you a boat for that?

Alistair [23:24 – 23:33]: A little bit before my time, but actually, Don, it’s one of my favourite films. I love the Wicker man in a big, big way.

Dawn [23:33 – 23:38]: I didn’t know. I always thought it was up north, further north it was filmed, but I.

Alistair [23:38 – 24:47]: Think it was filmed nearer, kind of Castle Douglas way, so slightly more into Galloway. I think that’s right. I’m not entirely sure I should know because I’ve read books about the making of the Wicker man. I think that’s right. And where they got that lovely sunset. And I think that’s all filmed on the mainland. And I should know where the house is that the Lord Summer Isle stays as well. I can’t remember. But, yeah, you’re right. It’s in that Dumfries and Galloway area. And what I would say is a lot of people overlook not just Annan, but Dumfries and Galloway in general. I think that’s partly because they built the M 74. Right. You know, beside it. So if you were travelling from Glasgow to Carlisle, for instance, you would go through Annan. That was one of the main roads, so it was really busy thoroughfare. And then, of course, that changed, and a lot of these places are forgotten for that reason. I’ve spoken to a lot of people who live in Galloway and love it, and it’s a beautiful part of the world, as is Dumfries, but a lot of people forget about it on their way up to the central belt or even on their way up to the Highlands.

Dawn [24:47 – 25:08]: Mm hmm. I do the same. I come from the northeast and I get over to Carlisle and straight up in the motorway and, you know, it’s such a boring. I am used to driving in the Highlands and I love, you know, actually doing something with your brain and actually driving a car around corners. That’s what straight line is, boring. So I don’t know why, but it’s just. It’s quicker, I think, isn’t it?

Alistair [25:08 – 25:54]: And it’s a good bit quicker, which is why they did it. What I would say is, if you’re ever visiting Ann, and instead of just jumping back on at the motorway, head out towards Lochmaben and Beatock. And those be back roads, because they’re beautiful roads to drive and they’re quiet these days. Unless you get stuck behind a tractor, which can help, you’ll come out kind of near Moffat. So it’s quite a nice drive and it doesn’t take that much longer than it would on the motorway. But if you want to go, say you were going up to Ayrshire, that drive Dumfries, Galloway, Castle Douglas, and then up the corner, up past Killane Castle and into Ayres. That’s beautiful drive.

Dawn [25:55 – 26:14]: I’ve never done that. I’ve actually looked at properties over in Annan and over that way, because it is. I think I saw it one time on escape to the country, and I was like, oh, I’d love to be over there, but I’ve never, never made it. Do you think, is that somewhere you would ever, you think, maybe have a wee retirement tool? Or is it not for you?

Alistair [26:16 – 27:48]: Now, it’s interesting you talk about escape to the country because it’s a programme. I used to work in television. Well, I used to subtitle television. I didn’t work in television. I subtitled the Telly for a few years, and I remember doing an escape to the country, kind of in Perthshire, and I thought, oh, that would be quite nice. And my brother’s up in Braemar, so it’s not that far. So I think I might think of going further north than there. But my brother saw a programme, a property programme, and one. He must have read it online or something, and there was a beautiful old house which overlooked the river, and it was quite inexpensive in terms of, you know, how much. And he kind of went, oh, that would be good to maybe buy as a holiday home or something. But then cents kicked in and, you know, and I went, no, I don’t. I don’t think that’s right. And I kind of wonder if you were to go back there, if that would spoil the memories that we have of it when we were kids, because it’d be such a different thing. I don’t know. But it was nice to go back and visit and I think it made me feel I should visit more often. But my mum’s got connections still there. I don’t really have connections there anymore, although I’ve still got family on mum’s side who are farmers. They’ve been farming in the area, and some of them are still down in that area and teaching and doing all sorts of things. But, yeah, I don’t know is the answer. There’s some lovely spots. There are some absolutely gorgeous spots.

Dawn [27:48 – 27:51]: Yeah. Like you said, it will spoil it.

Alistair [27:51 – 28:44]: It’s nice to consider, I think, definitely something I would. I’d like to mention, if it’s okay. One of the things they do every summer now, border towns have their ridings of the marches. They have their kind of celebrations every summer, and Annan had the riding of the marches every year. And we like people because it’s a country area, there’s lots of horses and that kind of thing. And people would get dressed up in the hunting. I don’t know if they actually hunted. I never suddenly crossed my mind if there was actually hunts going on, but they were dressed up in that way and they were blowing horns and they were on horseback, and everyone went down and cheered and all that kind of stuff. And I have to mention this, or my mum would kill me. There’s always a queen of the border each year, and my mum was once queen of the border with the crown and the staff and all that. Yeah. I think she’d only be about 15 or 16, maybe.

Dawn [28:45 – 28:47]: Is that like a gala or something? Is that. What is it?

Alistair [28:47 – 28:57]: It’s a gala. It’s a kind of gala. Yeah, yeah, yeah. All over the borders. But the Annan one’s called the riding of the marches, and that’s because it’s nearly all done on horseback.

Dawn [28:57 – 29:02]: That’s an amazing thing to watch. I mean, obviously, I don’t agree with the hunting side of it, but I.

Alistair [29:02 – 29:12]: Don’T know if they did, you know, I don’t know. They weren’t dressed in red things and, you know, it was. It seemed more ceremonial. But I could be wrong about that. That could be me being naive, kid.

Dawn [29:13 – 29:37]: You know, you don’t think about that. But no, it’s just been part of that. I, on my other podcast I did, I hadn’t ever heard of this gala when there’s queen queens and such like. And I did an episode that talked about Lockerbie, something that happened in Lockerbie, and that was the first time I heard about it, and it sounded amazing. And my sister and I were saying, why did we never have anything like that? That would have been so cool, so interesting.

Alistair [29:37 – 30:55]: It seems to be a real border town thing because they have it in Jedburgh and gala shields and all of these places. And. Yeah, the more I’m thinking, I think it was more about. You talked about the Wicker man earlier. There was more about kind of celebrating the summer and, you know, almost like a kind of harvest festival aspect to it, but on horseback, if that makes sense. Yeah. And they used to have fancy dress competitions where you would get dressed up, going, and one year, this. This ages me. It was the year after Scotland got put out, the World cup in 1978, or it was maybe that summer, and Ali’s tartan army, Ally McLeod’s tartan army, came back with her tail between her legs and everything. And we got dressed up as Ali’s battered army and we were like, in football strips with bandages and all that around us, and took part in this parade. We were on my uncle Alec’s van and I met talking to my mum before, about. Before we started talking. I said, how did we get Alec’s van? Why would you let us have this van? But, yeah, it was, again, that idea of kind of. You wouldn’t get that in Glasgow, or at least, you know, not that way. So it was a really interesting kind of very different experience.

Dawn [30:56 – 31:01]: I like that. It’s like all communities coming together. You can do that in the weird places, can’t you?

Alistair [31:01 – 31:13]: Yeah, it was stuff like that because the leader of the march might be the local hairdresser, and then there would be the farmers, and then there would be. The schools would take part and, you know, it really did bring the community together, no doubt about it.

Dawn [31:13 – 31:38]: I’m talking about events that take place. Have you ever been to the Annan Harbour festival? Have you ever been down when you’ve. No, no. It’s on every year and it’s on towards the end of your September time. And it just sounds. It doesn’t sound as good as the writing thing about, but it’s just cooking demonstrations, you know, food and drink and crafts and arts and lightning.

Alistair [31:38 – 33:09]: Sounds like that’s much more recent than I would have been, but it sounds like a good thing to visit. And I think. I think, from what I could tell last time, Annan’s really trying hard to have a bit of a regeneration in terms of trying to make it more of a destination for tourism having. They’ve got Annan distillery. That’s where my mum went for lunch that day. They’ve got their own distillery down there that’s new. They’ve got a lot more kind of brown sign spaces, you know, historical. They didn’t really play on their history back then. The other, I talked about fishing industry, but the other big industry in the seventies and eighties and into the nineties was there was the chapel cross power station down there, which was a huge power station, and a lot of people worked there. And then that closed, as you can imagine, and has been flattened. When we were. When we used to go down to Annan in the car, a game that we always played was the first person to see Chapel cross from the motorway. And you can still see the kind of where it was. But they’ve not got these big cooling towers that they had previously. But I think it was really struggling in the eighties and nineties for that reason. Apologies if that’s not correct, but that was the feeling I got when a big industry kind of left, as it did in so many places. I get the feeling it’s really trying to kind of reclaim its own identity with lots of different things going on. So that harbour festival sounds perfect for that. And something I might cheque out at some point.

Dawn [33:10 – 33:19]: And you think it can do that, then? Has it got the, you know, the structure about it, that it can actually make it a little tourist spot destination?

Alistair [33:19 – 34:06]: So it’s close to lots of lovely countryside? It’s close. It’s got a lot of its own identity, historically. Lots of old buildings, statues, that kind of thing. Lovely. It’s got the river with everything that goes on down there. And an athletic football are doing better than they used to when I was a kid. They are now doing all right. So, yeah, I think it could do that. I think it probably is doing that. And what I was really impressed the last time I was there was how busy it was. It really was busy. And it looked to me like a lot of them would be tourists. So I think, yes, I think it can, and I think it is doing that, to be honest.

Dawn [34:07 – 34:07]: Good.

Alistair [34:07 – 34:14]: But that’s. That’s taken from, like, a couple of experiences recently. As I say, I kind of haven’t been for a long time.

Dawn [34:14 – 34:18]: Yeah. So do you get any. Have you got any plans to go again soon or.

Alistair [34:18 – 35:17]: Well, Andy, my brother and I always talk, or often talk about the two of us going and just walking the streets that we used to go. And I think we will do that, no doubt about it. Go up and walk around the crescent, up Hecklegarth, which was the name of the street, another great name, Hecklegarth. And maybe even walk down the pipeline, if we can still do that, and look at the fields where we used to make the tree houses and carver names, and the railway bridge where we used to wave at the drivers, you know, that kind of stuff that you did and. Yeah, I walk down to the solway and probably go to power foot. Yeah. And do all the things that we used to do and just kind of refresh our memories for all those things. I don’t know if the tennis courts and the putting are still open. That used to be a regular thing, but yeah, we do that and we fish tea and paganis would just kind of round the whole thing off.

Dawn [35:17 – 35:29]: God, you know, I’ve not heard of fish teas for a wee while. Fish teas? Yeah. You can’t beat a cup of tea in a fish shop. That sounds like a lot. I think that’s a nice idea. We video it though, so you’ve got it.

Alistair [35:29 – 36:12]: We’ll certainly be taking lots of pictures and selfies with it when we do. If we do, I’m sure we will, actually. And I’m sure Andy would love to take his son down and show him, you know, where we kind of went and played as well. I think the swing parks will be more child friendly than they were in early, but it was just like, you know, kicking, picking a football till it was past dark and you couldn’t see it anymore. And it was. I think it was because my mum grew up there and she felt safe, so she felt safe, us just, you know, getting up in the morning and chewing, see us for the rest of the day and it was fine. And she never worried, you know, at all.

Dawn [36:13 – 36:29]: These are the days, eh? I remember these days as well, showing my age as well. When you said the football, see, when you said about the football and how Ali. I thought you were going to talk about Ali McCoys. That’s my era. I didn’t know that. Oh, I know. Oh, no, I don’t know him.

Alistair [36:30 – 36:58]: No, no, that’s, uh. Admit I watched him play a game of handball. Ali McCoys back in the day, East Kobride boy, I was canvas lang, so we. I used to go up Teesco bride quite a bit. But no, Ali Macleod would have been before your time. He was the manager in 78 and I was only eight years old. There was only a kid myself, but yeah, it was. It kind of traumatised the nation when we went to Argentina thinking we were going to win the World cup. And then we’re just battered.

Dawn [36:59 – 37:03]: It’s gotta be a bit better, though. I remember it always used to be getting battered.

Alistair [37:03 – 37:06]: Yeah. No, recently it certainly has.

Dawn [37:07 – 37:15]: Alistair. It’s been really, really good listening to you talking about your childhood memories. I’ve loved it, really. Thank you.

Alistair [37:15 – 37:30]: It’s been lovely it’s been lovely to think about those days and kind of think about time spent in Annan, where it really was a. An escape for us all, you know, it was. That’s how it felt anyway. A real escape to the country.

Dawn [37:32 – 37:39]: You had to get that in, didn’t you? Can you tell everybody where they can find Scottswehy?

Alistair [37:39 – 38:32]: Well, yes, absolutely. is where the website is, and on there you’ll find all the podcasts. And also, I should say, I do a radio show on Cam Glen radio every Sunday night between seven and nine. You can find the links there to that show, too, but there’s lots of reviews and the podcast interviews and a whole lot more. On the website, you’ll find the Scottswahi podcast. If you just put in Scotsway Hay, that’s s c o t s w h a y h a e, wherever you get your podcast from. I know we all say that these days, but it’s true. It’s on everything. And then we’ll go on social media as well. Same spell in the scots way, hey, on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, or X, as it is now known. But yeah, so that’s where you can find everything. Scots with heish.

Dawn [38:36 – 40:33]: So Annan, according to Undiscovered Scotland, is probably derived from the gallic goddess of prosperity, Annu. And according to visit Scotland, Annan is a town on the north shore of the Solway Firth, lying on the east side of the River Annan and being about 8 miles or 13 kilometres from the english border, the Solway Firth estuary, which forms part of the border between England and Scotland, between Cumbria and Dumfries and Galloway, and is the third largest estuary in the UK. Being a special area of conservation comprises coastal dunes, salt marshes, raised mires and agricultural land. If you’re a bird lover, there are also two nature reserves along the coastline where, according to Visit Scotland, you can see thousands of barnacle and pink footed geese from autumn until spring. And I did, you know, is that the american heavy metal band Slipknot released a song called Solway Firth in July 2019, which was named after the Firth. I also mentioned the Annan Harbour Festival, which takes place in September each year and is a fun and free family event with a range of activities including cooking demonstrations, food and drink, crafts, children’s entertainment, live music and boats, fishing and heritage displays. You can visit dot uk for more information. And that’s almost the end of the episode. If you have enjoyed this episode and would like to hear more Alister’s Billy Connolly esque voice. Then, like Alister said, you can find Scotsway. Hey, podcast. Wherever you get your podcasts, a link to this, as well as to everything mentioned in this episode will be in the show notes as well as on our website, scottishdigest that’s scottishdigest. We hope you join us next time for another wee slice of Bonnie Scotland.