On your doorstep … and free … the Farm
Much of our 1800 acre (700 hectare) upland hill livestock farm has been designated an “area of great landscape value”. Explore our farm, the flora and fauna, follow the sheep-paths winding their way up the heather-clad hill, picnic beside, or maybe paddle in the shallow burn (Scottish for stream). We have a store of wellies for you to borrow if the terrain is muddy. On our farmland we have two sites of scientific interest, one of which is a peat bog with a fascinating juxtaposition of mosses and lichen..
- From May to October our Charolais Cross beef herd roam our hill. We have about 100 cattle, each of which nurses a new calf every year. Watch them contentedly chewing the cud … or, just sometimes, gazing despairingly heavenwards when their coats receive an unexpected soaking. At 1000 feet above sea-level and rising, we are just that little bit closer to heaven!
- In wintertime, make the acquaintance of our cows and their gentleman friends at closer quarters. Cosseted under covered barns over the road from Orlege and the farmhouse, they munch away happily on home-grown silage (pickled grass) and supplements.
- Admire our hardy flock of 1000 or so ewes and rams (or “tups” as we call them in Scotland) which roam all-year-round over 700 hectares of hill. Wander our heather-clad hillsides, treading the criss-cross of paths created by our Blackfaces, Texel and Beltex breeds of sheep and wonder at their healthy life-style!
- Smile at the antics of new-born lambs gambolling in the fresh-green fields in the months of April and May, never far away from their mobile-milk-bar-mothers!
- All year round, watch John our shepherd at work gathering or rounding up his flocks, on foot or astride his rough-terrain bike, his specially trained collie dogs never far away.
- View seasonal activities like sheep-dipping, dosing, or wool-clipping up at the pens at Midcrosswood. Learn how it’s done and marvel at the speed with which a sheep can lose its woolly fleece.
- Watch the pleasure on young childrens’ faces as they gaze in awe at our tractors and machinery. For a non-arable farm Crosswoodhill is quite mechanised.
- Use the interpretative boards we have sited round the farm to learn more about what you might see on the farm.
Or perhaps you are more interested in birds, flora and fauna
- Pull on your boots and experience the serenity of our hill, the freshness of the air, that wonderful away-from-it-all feeling…
- Stride out to the far-away summit of Craigengar (1700 feet), perhaps lingering a while at the small waterfall en-route. Or venture even further afield on the public footpaths which traverse the Pentland Hills (but if so, bring a compass with you; we can provide the map.)
- Picnic beside the burn (Scottish for stream)
- Feel the silence. But don’t be surprised to be startled by the sound of curlews, migrating geese overhead, or even the kowk-kok-kok-ok sudden sound of a grouse disturbed by your footfall in the heather. Buzzards and kestrels are regular visitors to our moors.
- Approach our SSSI s with care (our SSSI’s are Sites of Special Scientific Interest designated by Scottish Natural Heritage to protect and preserve the unique varieties of sphagnum mosses and bog flowers to be found side by side in our often squelchy bogs. Glorious colours and patterns)
- Newly gripped by a fascination for peat bogs? Explore one closer to the house where we have extracted fuel peat in the past. Jump and feel the earth move beneath you. And perhaps, later that evening, enjoy the wonderful aroma of a peat fire.
- Hares, rabbits, foxes, badgers, squirrels – all can claim our EH55 8LP postcode. So, too, can the unwelcome midge at certain times of year.
- Looking for something less energetic than a hill walk? Take a gentle evening stroll through our roadside fields. Maybe Mr. Mole will be covertly at work underground. More likely, you’ll encounter some of the over-ground friendly work-force: farming partners Hew and G (your hosts) or shepherd John.
For those preferring more formal footpaths, you can explore other, drier, parts of the Pentlands. There are some wonderful walks, though you will need to take the car to their starting points. Explore www.pentlandhills.org
Below are some frequently asked questions:
FAQ 1: Can we help on the farm? Sadly no, our farm insurance does not cover this. Nor does it permit guests riding on farm machinery or quad bikes, so please don’t raise your children’s expectations on this.
FAQ 2: Do you milk your cows? No, ours is a beef suckler herd, with each cow nursing a calf instead. What about hens, then? Do you have chickens at Crosswoodhill? Sadly no, much to the annoyance of resident Mr. Fox and his large entourage. But at least you won’t be woken early in the morning by a cockerel
FAQ 3: Click here! One will come up. (scale 1:25,000 ). Please note you will not see Steading Cottage, Orlege or Craigengar shown on the map. Steading is immediately to the left of Little Moss Plantation forming part of the cluster of buildings beside the road and Orlege is part of Crosswoodhill Farmhouse. Craigengar Lodge is in the field adjacent to Midcrosswood Cottage.
Crosswoodhill Farmhouse Map
FAQ 4: What sort of footwear should we bring? If you bring waterproof boots with you, this extends the boundaries of where you can explore as parts of our land can be boggy even at the height of summer. Although we do offer a limited supply of Wellington boots rarely can we fit everyone in a party (we can however recommend a cheap farm supplier locally).
FAQ 5: You mean it rains in Scotland? Sadly more than we would like, so packing waterproof clothing also seems a good idea. Binoculars for bird-watchers are useful, too.
Farming is a way of life for us: we hope to share just a little of it with you during your stay.
Footnote! These squeeze with ease into most car boots!