The Sighting Towers of Harlaw Muir & Deepsyke Forest (Scottish Borders)

The sighting towers and pillars around Harlaw Muir were used to aid in geographical surveys during 19th and early 20th century construction projects. (Image: M. J. Richardson. Sighting towers and pillars around Harlaw Muir)

Yesterday we featured the abandoned remnants of the temporary Talla Railway, which was built to transport workers and construction materials for a large dam project in the Scottish Borders. But this isn’t the only relic left over from the construction of the Talla Reservoir and its associated pipeline, which ran for 35 miles between Tweedsmuir and Edinburgh.

Across Harlaw Muir, a series of stone pillars are thought to have been used as survey points for the building of the pipeline. One of these pillars, which stands near Nine Mile Burn, is pictured above. Isolated and anonymous, it bears no date or inscription but is thought to be related to the nearby sighting tower in Deepsyke Forest (below).

The Victorian sighting tower in Deepsyke Forest was used for surveys during construction of the pipeline from the Talla Reservoir to Edinburgh. (Image: M. J. Richardson. Victorian sighting tower in Deepsyke Forest)

Another Harlaw Muir pillar is pictured below near Carlops. On the skyline beyond is West Kip in the Pentland Hills Regional Park. Between the two, the wilds of the sparely-populated Southern Uplands give way to the Central Lowlands.

Back in the Victorian age, sighting towers and pillars were often erected to aid in the construction of aqueducts and other major subterranean structures.

(Image: Jim Barton. A historic sighting pillar near Carlops in the Scottish Borders)

In reference to the Talla Reservoir and its associated pipeline, M. J. Richardson wrote on the Geograph website that “…the whole project took ten years to complete and more than thirty men were killed in building the dam, laying a temporary railway and digging tunnels for the water main. Other sighting points are represented by concrete pylons on Harlaw Muir and at prominent hills between West Linton and upper Tweeddale.”

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