The A708 that heads north-east from Moffat through the Ettrick Forest to Selkirk is less well known that it ought to be given the beautiful countryside through which it passes. The highlight of the journey is the Loch of the Lowes and, just beyond it, St Mary's Loch.
On the hillside to the west of the road overlooking the narrow piece of land that separates the two lochs stands the imposing James Hogg Monument. It is possible to park near the head of Loch of the Lowes and walk up the fairly gentle climb that leads to the monument, and to the nearby arc of stone walling that has information boards about the area, about the monument, and about James Hogg.
The monument itself is a startling white - possibly white-painted stone - and depicts a larger than life James Hogg sitting atop a tall pedestal. It was unveiled on 28 June 1860 in front of a crowd of 2000 people who had gathered for the event.
The statue is gazing out over a landscape he knew and loved in life, a landscape which includes, on the land separating the lochs, Tibbie Shiel's Inn. This was an inn which Hogg and his friend Sir Walter Scott both knew well in the days when it was run in person by its redoubtable landlady, Tibbie Shiel. (Continues below image...)
James Hogg lived from 1770 to 21 November 1835. Commonly referred to as The Ettrick Shepherd, he was a poet and novelist who wrote in both Scots and English and who became one of the most unlikely literary figures ever to emerge from Scotland. You can read more about James Hogg on our biography page about him, but he was born and brought up in a farming family at Ettrick, four miles to the south-east of the monument. After leaving school at the age of 7 he became a shepherd. Largely self-educated he began publishing poems and longer works and rose to become a star of the Edinburgh literary scene and a friend of Sir Walter Scott. He remained close to the land, however, and continued to work as a farmer in the area until his death.
Today's visitors to this remote part of the Borders can combine a visit to the monument with the hospitality on offer at the Glen Cafe, beside the main road close to the monument (though see below).
Our thanks to Dave Palmer who has allowed us to use images he took on a visit he made in January 2022 showing severe storm damage to the trees surrounding the monument, which amazingly left the monument itself unscathed.