Tower In Jedburgh, Borders
A beautiful pele tower perched on Minto Crags peaking out of the trees.
For those who know me, I love a pele tower up a hill, so the first thing I do when visiting an area is to have a bit of a Google to see what is nearby. On our trip to the borders, there were obviously a few, due to the border reivers, but then a tower with the most amazing name popped up - Fatlips Castle.
On our journey, we were the wrong side of the River Teviot so had to do a bit of loop to get to the castle, but in doing so, we had amazing views as it peeked through the trees, enticing us as we made our way closer.
Parking at the base of the hill, there is a winding path taking you all the way to the top, but it's worth it as the castle emerges from the trees opening out on breath-taking views.
Perched up on Minto Crags in Roxburghshire, this 17m tall tower has gone by many names including Minto Castle, Catslick Castle and Mantoncrake Castle, although we like its current name best.
We've written aplenty about the skirmishes taking place along the borders with a lot of the places on the Fabulous North website being fortified against border reivers. Fatlips Castle was the fortress of Turnbull of Barnhill, well known border reivers and was built sometime at the beginning of the 16th century.
However Lord Hertford destroyed the castle during his pursuit of Mary Queen Of Scots in 1545. He was sent by King Henry VIII as she was betrothed to his son Edward VI.
After the Turnbulls had vacated, Sir Gilbert Elliot purchased the castle in 1705 and his family became known as the Earls of Minto. Then 150 years later the castle had a lot of restoration work done by Sir Robert Lorimer with it eventually being used as a private museum and shooting lodge right up until 1960.
Now I know you have been avidly reading this post looking for why on earth it was named Fatlips and you won't be surprised to hear that there are a number or explanations.
My favourite is that there used to be a castle goat nicknamed Fatlips who would bleat loudly if it saw any approaching English. How it knew the difference in nationality, nobody knows!
A more mysterious explanation is that is was named after a spirit dwelling in Dryburgh Abbey. A hermit woman living in the abbey ruins claimed that “Fatlips stamped the moisture away from the ground where she slept with his heavy iron boot”.
The more common justification is that “Fatlips” was a form of decent greeting where gentlemen would kiss ladies upon entering the castle. Probably named after them puckering up!
The castle has recently been refurbished and although you can visit it from the outside, it is a private residence, so please be respectful as usual.
There is a clear track to walk through the woods up the hill, but would recommend a sturdy pair of shoes.
Or why not just enjoy a short video from Red5 drone.
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From the parking, just walk straight until you get to the bottom of the hill and there are clear paths that wind their way to the top. Wear sturdy shoes and give yourself 30 minutes to get to the castle.
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We parked on a little side road of the main forest road where there was a verge enough for a couple of cars.
Contributed by Simon Hawkins
Thanks for checking out this place on the Fabulous North! I do enjoy a wander out in to the countryside trying to find hidden gems that not many people know about. You can't beat a rogue Pele tower up a remote hill or a mysterious stone circle or a stunning waterfall secluded in a forest.
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