Devil’s Beef Tub
The Devil’s Beef Tub is one of Scotland’s most striking landmarks. It is a deep dramatic hollow in the hills north of the Scottish town of Moffat. The 500-foot (150 m) deep hollow is formed by four hills, Great Hill, Peat Knowe, Annanhead Hill, and Ericstane Hill and is one of the two main sources of the River Annan. The unusual name derives from its use by the Border Reivers, mainly the Johnstone clan, whose enemies referred to them as “devils”, to hide stolen cattle deep in the hollow created by the hills.
The Beeftub also has a great deal of history. On 12 August 1685 fleeing covenanter John Hunter attempted to escape pursuing dragoons by running up the steep side of the Beef Tub. He failed, was shot dead on the spot, and is buried in Tweedsmuir kirkyard. A monument to Hunter stands on the southwest rim of the Beef Tub.In his novel Redgauntlet, novelist Walter Scott said, “It looks as if four hills were laying their heads together, to shut out daylight from the dark hollow space between them. A damned deep, black, blackguard-looking abyss of a hole it is”. Scott also describes the flight of a highlander fleeing the aftermath of the failure of the Jacobite rising of 1745; the soldier rolls down the hill amid a hail of enemy gunfire, and escapes. The Beef Tub is also known as MacCleran’s Loup after the tumbling highlander.
William Wallace is reputed to have used the concealed hollows of the Devil’s Beef Tub for covert gatherings with men from the Border Clans ahead of his first attack against the English in 1297 and is said to have camped within the Beeftub itself. Today, the Devil’s Beef Tub lies a wonderful environment of native woodlands and heather moors and encourages a habitat for returning Scottish wildlife such as the golden eagle, mountain hare and black grouse.