Islands MSP celebrates his Borders roots with new book

Alasdair Allan pictured on the border at Carter Bar in the Scottish Borders. NO F53 carterbar (2)
Alasdair Allan pictured on the border at Carter Bar in the Scottish Borders. NO F53 carterbar (2)

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ThunderPoint Publishing will next year publish a book by Na h-Eileanan an Iar MSP Alasdair Allan.

Any royalties from the book will be divided equally between the Western Isles Cancer Care Initiative and the Maimie Martin Fund, which supports the education of girls in Malawi.

ThunderPoint Publishing (originally based in South Uist) has announced it will be publishing Tweed Rins tae the Ocean by Mr Allan in the autumn of 2021.

The MSP has lived on the Isle of Lewis for 14 years, but Tweed Rins tae the Ocean, is about the place he comes from originally – the Scottish Borders.

The book follows a 100-mile, east-to-west-coast walk by Mr Allan and some friends, and was researched on occasional weekends over the course of the last two years.

The book gently explores the history, literature and language of what Mr Allan, who grew up in the tiny village of Ashkirk near Selkirk, contends is the oldest national land border in the world.

The title of the book takes its inspiration from a line of the Burns song, Such a Parcel of Rogues in a Nation.

The journey described was the product of a challenge Mr Allan set himself, not just to walk the Border line, but to read a way through its literature too.

Cameron McNeish, author, broadcaster and mountain walker, who has written the foreword for Tweed Rins to the Ocean, commented: ‘There is nowhere else in Scotland I sense an ‘uncanny watchfulness’ as intensely as I do in the Borders.

‘It lurks on every hill-top, in every cleuch, and in every castle ruin, and Alasdair Allan has, almost magically, captured this essence of the Border.’

Seonaid Francis, editorial director of ThunderPoint, said: ‘This absorbing book is a well-researched exploration of the Border through history and literature; it is a warmly-written and entertaining book, bursting with humour and a deep-rooted love of the Border regions from which Alasdair hails.’

Mr Allan said: ‘It should be no surprise that a book by a politician about a political boundary offers occasionally opinionated views. However, I hope that the account of my walk from Berwick to the Solway Firth will be appreciated by anyone who likes dry humour and wet weather.

‘The Border line has always been fascinating to me, not least because so many of my own family grew up, and worked the land there, often a matter of yards from the Border itself.

‘The book tries to explain why writers (and bandits) down the centuries have been similarly fascinated. I hope this book will appeal to hillwalkers, and anyone else who is curious about how this line on the map came to be where it is today.

‘Western Isles Cancer Care does great work in supporting people throughout the islands, and I am very happy to see the book hopefully support that work.’