Ettrick Water flooding

The Ettrick Water rises in the Southern Uplands in the Ettrick, Craik and Eskdalemuir forests and flows north eastwards for around 30km towards Selkirk. Along the way, it is joined by several major tributaries, including the Tima and Yarrow Waters before joining with the River Tweed at Lindean. It is reported to be the second fastest rising river system in Scotland.

Over the centuries, the Ettrick and Yarrow Waters have inflicted sporadic, but severe flooding along the respective dales, with accounts from as early as the 18th century describing the loss of bridges across the Ettrick. Flood events on the Ettrick and Yarrow Waters tend to result from steady, prolonged rainfall across the entire catchment. Here is a selection of recent flood events:

1768 (courtesy Chronology of British Hydrological Events)

From Selkirk we have the following account of the storm on Sunday last: 'About ...noon, the horizon was entirely over-cast.....the lightning flashed along the streets, and the hail fell so thick and fast, that it beat down both man and beast.....lambs were much hurt. ......The Tweed was greatly swelled, and swept off all the hay that was on the haughs. The impetuosity of the current was so great, that stones of many tons were rolled down the stream, and carts and cart-wheels were floating down like the shavings of timber.....The damage done is very great.....


November 1926, a combination of heavy rain and early season snow melt caused the joint highest recorded flow on the Ettrick Water. The picture below was taken across the old cauld which stretched from Bannerfield to Victoria Park and was reportedly taken a few days in advance of the flood peak:

August be added

October 1977, a slow moving autumn storm caused the joint highest flow ever recorded on the Ettrick Water (with 1926) and memorably caused the loss of the Philiphaugh Bridge and inundation along Ettrickhaugh Road, Riverside and Lindean:

'Troubled Waters - Recalling the Floods of '77' is a fantastic record of the last major flood from the Ettrick in Selkirk. Compiled by the pupils of Kirkhope Primary School and published in October 1997 this book blends eye-witness accounts, recollections and dramatic photographs. Mo Brown, Head Teacher of Kirkhope PS, recently attended the Selkirk Public Exhibition No. 1 and discussed the book, the task of putting it together and the flood of '77 with Conor Price and the Project Team.

If you are interested in the book please visit the Kirkhope Primary School Website at or visit your local library.

Even recent history shows the power of the Ettrick and Yarrow Waters in flood as the northern edge of the record breaking weather system which devastated Cumbria in November 2009 caused severe flood warnings to be issued for both rivers and caused inundation of property along the Yarrow Valley and at Lindean, along with the loss of banking and the bridge at Ladhope, Yarrowfeus.

Video Footage of the 1977 Ettrick Flood

During the Public Exhibition in June Mo Brown, Head Teacher of Kirkhope Primary School, identified to the Project Team that she was in possession of actual home-video footage shot live by two different cameras in October 1977. Since then we have been able to get a copy of this video and convert the film into digital DVD format. This video footage is now provided in the windows below for you to view.

The Project Team would like to acknowledge and thank the following people:

• Maureen Brown, Head Teacher of Kirkhope PS: for providing the Project Team with the video footage
• Lawrence Hamilton: for shooting the footage in the Ettrick Valley and the footage of the aftermath of the flood
• Peter Ewart: for shooting the footage of Selkirk Bridge collapsing

Furthermore, the Project Team would like the identify the value of this video footage for the following reasons:

• The actual live footage of a major flood event on the River Ettrick has been used by the project's Design Consultant, Halcrow Group Limited, to analyse the actual behaviour of the Ettrick during this flood event. This has allowed us to undertake additional testing of our new Hydraulic Model to ensure the accuracy of the Model. It has also allowed us to increase our understanding of the Ettrick and the flood risk is holds for Selkirk.
• The footage is a valuable historical resource which is now saved on the internet for future use
• The footage of the 'Auld Stane Brig collapsing is extraordinary and emphasises the raw power of the River Ettrick when it rises to flood levels.

Selkirk's 'Auld Stane Brig Collapsing

On the morning of October 31st 1977 after a night of torrential rain the town of Selkirk awoke to the roar of the Ettrick in flood. Later that morning the town's only road-bridge collapsed severing the town in two. This left townsfolk trying to reach the Philiphaugh and Bannerfield (and vice versa) areas taking a long detour over the next available bridge at Lindean or Bowhill.

The following footage is extracted from the main body of video footage, however all the old video footage may be viewed in full further below. Click the image to play the video.

Selkirk's 'Auld Stane Brig Collapsing

All other video footage from 1977

The following window has various clips of footage shot at locations in the Ettrick Valley and Selkirk. They include powerful footage of the Selkirk Rugby Club under water, the immense power of the Ettrick carrying debris at full force, the new concrete Selkirk Bridge constructed to replace the collapsed bridge, and fields littered with stone and debris after the waters had receded. The footage is a little mixed however it is brought to you in its original format to view at your leisure.

1977 Flood Video