Ettrickbridge spent much of its life known as Kirkhope, which helps explain the names of both its church and community hall. Only with the coming of a bridge over the Ettrick Water at the east end of the village in the late 1700s did it become known as Ettrick-Brig-End, and later as Ettrickbridge.
The "B" road that runs south from Selkirk eventually to Langholm or Lockerbie via Eskdalemuir passes through some extremely lonely countryside en route. And while Ettrickbridge is by far the largest settlement you'll find on the road, it's still extremely small by most standards.
The original name, Kirkhope, came from Kirkhope Tower, a mile to the north west. This is a five storey tower house, built in the late 1500s by Walter Scott of Harden. There had been an earlier Kirkhope Tower on the same site, but this had largely been destroyed in an attack by the Armstrongs in 1543.
These were dangerous times in the Borders and Walter Scott was more widely known as Auld Wat, an infamous Border Reiver. Though seen by their victims as no more than raiders and bandits, an aura of romance built up around many Reivers.
As a result Auld Wat's marriage to Marion Scott of Dryhope, The Flower of Yarrow, is recorded in the form of a ballad, The Dowie Dens of Yarrow. And his part in attacking Carlisle Castle in 1596 to free a friend, William Armstrong of Kinmont (or Kinmont Willie), held prisoner by the English, gave rise to another ballad Kinmont Willie.
Kirkhope Tower remained in use until the 1800s. In the 1900s it was restored and is now once more occupied.
Ettrickbridge grew, as Kirkhope, partly as a result of mills built to exploit the power of the Ettrick Water in the 1700s (and now long gone), and partly to service traffic on the main route of the day from Selkirk to Moffat which forded the river here until the bridge was built.
Today's Ettrickbridge is a pleasant, quiet place. The role of servicing passing traffic has passed to the nice-looking Cross Keys, towards the western end of the village. You'll also find a gallery in the village, and a crookmaker's shop.
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