Ale Water

Hawick Word Book by Douglas Scott

Ale Witter (¯al-wi’-ur) n.

Ale Water, a tributary of the Teviot, with source on Henwoodie Hill near Roberton, it flows for 24 miles (38 km),passing through Ashkirk and Lilliesleaf to join the Teviot near Ancrum. The upper section of  the river experiences several falls, then passes through the Alemoor Loch, and then runs between high hills (along the ‘Hill Road to Roberton’) and through the ‘Leap Linns’, before entering  a broader valley near Lilliesleaf. A series of about 15 caves on its banks near Ancrum are said to have been places of refuge during rieving days. Streams which flow into the Ale include the Wilson Burn, Langhope Burn, Woll Burn and Woo Burn. The name is common for rivers elsewhere, e.g. a tributary of the Eye, running through the area once known as Coldinghamshire

– ‘. . .Where Aill, from mountains freed, Down from the lakes did raving come Each wave was crested with tawny foam, Like the mane of a chestnut steed’ [SWS],

‘The hill road to Roberton, Ale Water at our feet, And grey hills and blue hills that melt away and meet’ [WHO],

 ‘This isna me, bit jist my ghost Ti tell ye how I won an’ lost The sweetest lass that ever cross’t The wimplin’ Aill, And how I hope, at ony cost, Ti find her still’ [WP]

(formerly spelled ‘Aill’ etc.; the origin of the root is uncertain, but is probably pre-English and may be the same as the root for Allan Water; it occurs from at least the late 12th century as ‘Alne’ and is  ‘Water of Eall’ in 1604; it is ‘Ail fl.’ on Gordon’s c.1650 map, ‘ail w.’ on Adair’s map c. 1688).

 the Yill (thu-yil) n. older name for the Ale – ‘Yeh bit sate on the kei-stane o the brig; yeh deek at the gurlin Yill’ [ECS].

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