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What is in a name?

Large organisations are usually known by the acronym of their names and one supposes that the Borders National Park would not be any different in this regard. However, the acronym for Borders National Park has other long standing associations which mean that another name for this National Park would be preferable. What do you think it should be called? Here are some suggestions that have been made so far.

John Muir National Park
John Muir's writings convinced the U.S. government to protect Yosemite, Sequoia, Grand Canyon and Mt. Rainier as National Parks, the first National Parks in the world. That this Scottish born naturalist and conservationist should be commemorated by naming a Scottish National Park after him is fitting, many would argue.

John Muir was not born within the Borders, however, but in Dunbar, East Lothian, which perhaps rather weakens the case for this Scottish National Park to be named for John Muir.

Cheviots National Park
The mighty Cheviot itself rises in Northumberland just a few miles on the English side of the border. The range of hills which take its name march Westwards along the border with Scotland before finally petering out in Cumbria. The qualities of these rounded uplands are just as evident on he Scottish side of the border as they are in the Northumberland National Park.

But are the Cheviots the defining feature of the Scottish Borders? Should a Scottish National Park be named for an English mountain? There is a good argument that there is much more to the Scottish Borders than the range of hills along its Southern fringe.

Waverley National Park
Sir Walter Scott lived at Abbotsford, the house he built near Melrose in the Scottish Borders. Here, he wrote a series of novels, poems and ballads. Because Scott did not initially acknowledge his authorship of the novels, they were styled as being by the 'author of Waverley', the first in the series, and so they are still called the Waverley novels today. And the novels were amongst the top best-sellers of all time, so that despite the fact that few of the Waverley novels are actually set in the Scottish Borders, the association of this area with Sir Walter Scott led to this becoming 'Waverley Country'. The tourists came intially by horse and cart, and then on the 'Waverley Line', which meandered through the Borders on its way from Carlisle to Edinburgh. And though the line itself was torn up by Dr Beeching in 1969, the terminus station in Edinburgh is still called 'Waverley Station'. The line has now been re-instated from Edinburgh to Tweedbank near Melrose, and such is its success that there are plans to carry on to Carlisle and put the whole line back.

However, the re-instated line is called the 'Borders Railway', which is perhaps an indication that few people today can claim to have read a single Waverley novel. Perhaps Waverley as a word which defines the Scottish Borders has had its day.

Roxburghshire National Park
It is interesting that the proposed boundary of the National Park (click on the 'boundary map' tab above) closely follows the boundary of the ancient county of Roxburghshire. This was not intentional, but in terms of history, culture, landscape and economic activity, Roxburghshire as-was does seem to enclose this unique story.

Roxburghshire was administered by its own county council from 1890 until the Local Government Scotland Act (1973) incorporated Roxburghshire into the newly formed Borders Region. It maintained a quasi-autonomy as an administrative area, though, until 1996 when Scottish Borders Council finally took over full responsibility of the old county of Roxburghshire.

Scottish Borders National Park
At the end of the day, this seems the most down-to-earth, boring-plain-vanila, easily identifiable name for a National Park in the Scottish Borders. It is not particularly imaginative, but there is no mistaking where the Park is located.

If you have a suggestion for a name for the National Park, put it below in the comments box, along with your reasons why you think it describes and defines the National Park.

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