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Harbour group make first trip to acquired patch

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By Donald Turvill
Annan and Eskdale
Land ahoy!
PONTOON . . . a specially constructed walkway was built for the visit

IT WAS a day of exploration and excitement for Annan Harbour Action Group on Saturday, as members stepped onto a derelict riverside patch they plan to breathe new life into.

Minister’s Merse, a spit of abandoned land adjacent to Annan Harbour, was brought under community ownership by AHAG in March.

With the plot inaccessible by foot and largely overgrown with weeds – with added pandemic restrictions – members and trustees had been unable to journey there since purchasing the land.

However, an offer from Community Land Scotland to pay for a temporary pontoon crossing from the harbour gave the group the opportunity to make its maiden expedition to Minister’s Merse on Saturday afternoon.

The group’s facilities manager Alan Thomson said: “It was a very exciting event for us because for the majority of people making the crossing, it was the first time they’d set foot on this piece of land. It was a bit of an adventure to be perfectly honest.

“People have been denied access to that part of the river for probably 50 years, so it was really important that people could see the potential.”

After crossing the pontoon, members raised the saltire and were addressed by group chairman, Richard Brodie.

RAISING THE FLAG . . . Harbour Group facilities manager Alan Thomson raised a Saltire flag at the highest point on the land 

“Richard gave us some words of encouragement and we talked about the possibilites for Minister’s Merse,” Mr Thomson added.

“We also acknowledged that the majority of these things are some way in the future because it’s going

to take us a long time to realise the different stages of our project. But people could see the potential and we’re very excited at the prospect of some of the ideas we’ve got in the pipeline.”

Addressing the issue of access, he explained: “We hope to install either a bridge or floating bridge at some point so we can gain access in the short term.”

And discussing possible long-term plans for the abandoned plot, Mr Thomson said the group hope to turn it into “an amenity for the community”.

He added: “It could be a place where people can go and walk,

walk their dogs, dip their nets in the water to try and catch minnows. We think we’ll want to perhaps use bird hides to observe wildlife in the river and on the merse beyond and we think that part of the ground should be designated as a place for nesting wading birds.

“We’ll be working with landscape experts as to how we design the layout so viewpoints and observation points will be pretty high up in the list of priorities.”

Meanwhile, AHAG chairman Richard Brodie called Saturday’s trip “a milestone in the voyage that Annan Harbour Action Group is on”.

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