Corbie: River island is Kelso’s hidden jewel

Campion and comfrey  two of the Annas specialities.
Campion and comfrey  two of the Annas specialities.

Previously, I always thought that Anna was simply a quite attractive female Christian name and nothing else, until last Saturday, while on a visit to Kelso.

Kelsonians too have an attractive Anna but nothing to do with the fair sex. The Anna is the name of the large area of land underneath the new road bridge over the Tweed and as I discovered, a fascinating place to have a wander.

Anna, or Annay, is the old word for a river island and although this particular area is now separated from the main bank only by the Wooden Burn, at one time it was a proper island which could only be accessed by a suspension bridge.

Now a low concrete structure takes you onto the vast area of lovely meadow, which is now the Anna.

The area is managed by the Kelso Community Woodland Group, who are striving to return the area to the type of woodland it would have been previously.

As I crossed the bridge, I met an elderly gentleman from the group carrying spraying equipment.

I enquired if he was dealing with the last of the giant hogweed, but he told me it was far worse than that.

Himalayan balsam was the new threat and this invasive plant had got a real hold on the Anna and he was trying to keep it at bay.

Once you can shut out the traffic noise from the busy road above, you can start to appreciate the bird song of the place. It is a great place for warblers and I heard willow warbler, blackcap, whitethroat and sedge warbler during my brief visit.

The hawthorn blossom was at its glorious best and the grassland flowers were stunning in their profusion.

Large clumps of comfrey were in full bloom, their flowers ranging from pale blue to deep purple.

Lower down, where colonies of shorter flowers intermingled, amazing colour combinations were created.

Pale yellow crosswort mingled with deep blue speedwell, while white stitchwort and red campion blended beautifully.

Butterflies too abounded, with mainly orange tip, green veined white and peacock on the wing.

I will certainly be back to visit Anna.

It is a hidden jewel in 
Kelso’s crown.