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St Mary’s Loch

James Hogg (born 1770 – died 21 November 1835) ‘The Ettrick Shepherd’ wrote the following concerning a water cow that was said to have lived in the 5 km long St Mary’s Loch, which is the largest natural loch in the Borders. "A farmer in Bowerhope once got a breed of her, which he kept for many years until they multiplied exceedingly; and he never had any cattle thrive so well, until once, on some outrage or disrespect on the farmer's part towards them, the old dam came out of the lake one pleasant March evening and gave such a roar that all the surrounding hills shook again, upon which her progeny, nineteen in number, followed her all quietly into the loch, and were never more seen”. This story was again repeated by James Mackinley in his Folklore of Scottish Lochs and Springs (1893).

According to local tradition St Mary’s loch is also thought bottomless. A statue of James Hogg can be found near the loch close to Tibbie Shiels Inn.

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