About the Border Esk

Eskdale and Liddlesdale

The ownership of Eskdale and Liddlesdale was a source of constant dispute between English and Scottish feudal barons for many centuries. The area that was known as the 'Debatable lands' was fought over countless times and it is said that the redness of the soil is a result of much spilt blood.

The Border Esk & its catchment

The Border Esk has a catchment area of 430 square miles. Small burns in the Ettrick Hills gather to form the White Esk in the Eskdalemuir Forest. The White Esk then flows south through the Castle O'er Forest to Bailiehill where it is joined by the Black Esk, which flows from the Black Esk Reservoir.

At this junction the river becomes the Border Esk which then flows east down Eskdale for 3 miles to be joined by the Meggat Water near Bentpath, then southeast to Langholm where the Ewes and the Wauchope Waters enter the river. Downstream of Langholm the Tarras Water joins the Esk which flows south through woodland areas and farmland through Canonbie to the junction of the rivers main tributary, the Liddle Water.

The Liddle is formed by burns which rise in the area of Dod Fell and Windy Knowe and meet at Saughtree in upper Liddlesdale. The river flows southwest to be joined by the Hermitage Water at Sandholme, the Black Burn at Newcastleton and the Kershope at Kershopefoot. Below this the Liddle becomes the border between Scotland and England and follows a circuitous path with many twists and turns down Liddlesdale to its junction with the Esk at the Willow Pool downstream of Canonbie.

At this point the right bank of the river is in Scotland and the left bank in England but half a mile downstream at Scotsdike both banks are English. From there the Esk flows through farmland to Longtown and the tidal waters of the Solway Firth below the M6 motorway bridge.




Fishing the Border Esk

Gilnockie Tower beat



Fishery control & licence requirements

Although regarded as a Scottish river, for fishery purposes the Border Esk system has been under English legislation since 1860 and the Environment Agency is responsible for the fisheries on the river. The Environment Act of 1995 requires the agency to carry out its functions on all parts of the river.

Further to this, section 25 of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975 requires that the Agency regulate fishing throughout the area of its responsibility through the licencing system, and section 39 applies the act to the whole of the river including the Scottish part.

On April 1st 2005 the EA licence system came into effect, and ALL anglers must now have an appropriate and current EA license before they begin to fish.