The Welcome to Langholm volunteers have been exploring their area in the last few months in preparation for Spring and Summer visitors.
They have been able to take part in visits to various sites around the area and been able to be tourists in their own back yard. On one of the visits, local historian and Vice Chair of the Langholm Alliance Billy Young, acted as the guide and explained the history all the way up the Ewes valley to Carlenrig, back down the valley and over to Hermitage Castle and down the Liddel valley to Newcastleton.
Another visit saw the volunteers welcomed to the Eskdalemuir Old School and Community Hub with a piece of poetry written for the occasion. They were able to see the exhibition space, the therapy room and shop and have a lunch in the dining room. As the temple at Samye Ling had just reopened some of the volunteers were also able to visit it.
At Gilnockie Tower, those volunteers unable to climb the spiral staircase were able to listen to the description of what each room in the tower has to offer using the audio guide. Others were fascinated by the potential of ghosts inhabiting the tower and enjoyed hearing stories from guide Tom Jack.
The visit to the Tarras Valley nature reserve was able to let the volunteers see hen harriers who put in an appearance on the day while Angela Williams of Langholm Initiative described future plans for the area.
The visits were able to utilise the services of the Annandale Transport Initiative with driver Simon going above and beyond to make sure the volunteers had a comfortable journey.
The volunteers now feel much better able to give visitors information about what they can see in the area or within a short distance from Langholm.
Volunteers at the Eskdalemuir Old School and community hub and members of the Langholm tourism group have also taken part in some of the visits.
The project started in January and as well as the visits, has seen the development of a comprehensive written guide to Langholm and Eskdale and a guide to exploring genealogy and social history in the area which is not quite ready yet. Both guides will also be able to be provided in a format that can be put onto websites.
The Explore Langholm and Eskdale project has funded by the Scottish Government’s ‘Ideas into Action’ fund and is now reaching its conclusion.
Led by the Langholm Alliance in conjunction with SURF, the project has seen a collaboration with the Langholm Initiative, the Eskdalemuir Old School and Community Hub, Gilnockie Tower and members of the Langholm tourism group.
One of the volunteers at the Welcome to Langholm said she thinks all of the volunteers involved in recommending places to visit should have visited them in advance as this provides them with a much better knowledge and insight and the ability to recommend places with enthusiasm.
Eileann Bloomer who co-ordinates the volunteers said
“When this idea was proposed in early January, my initial thought was how was this going to work? However, with Mairi organising transport and me the volunteers, it all seemed to fall into place and we had a full bus practically every trip. Some even having a bus in the morning and a car in the afternoon making sure no one was left out who wanted to go. For the Carlenrig trip we ended up at the Copshaw Kitchen at Newcastleton who kindly opened especially for us and provided a very welcome and hearty lunch. Feedback from participants has been really positive, even to the point of wanting more. As we open Welcome to Langholm for longer from next week, this is perhaps another project for next spring.”
Mairi Telford Jammeh of SURF said “The project had to be done very quickly and completed by the end of March so it focused the mind and meant we had to be well organised. We hope that as well as the paper guide an electronic version can go onto various websites so that visitors can download it themselves. I’m glad that the Welcome to Langholm volunteers found the visits worthwhile and hopefully visitors to the area will reap the benefits.”
Denis Male, Chair of the Alliance was delighted that the project saw a number of different organisations work together for the benefit of Langholm and Eskdale. Partnership working has to be the way forward for the future.