The Waterwheel Tearoom

Following on from the previous post, we pulled up at the Waterwheel Tearoom in Philiphaugh, a few miles from Ettrickbridge.

The tearoom was housed in a sort of wooden chalet.


entrance to waterwheel

Entrance to the Waterwheel Tearoom.

Inside, it was warm and welcoming with fresh flowers on the tables. We picked a table and made ourselves at home.


It was a raw and chilly day, and the idea of hot food was especially appealing. Delightful assistant no.2 and I both went for spicy parsnip soup, which came with a crusty poppyseed roll. The soup was hot and thick and almost eye-wateringly spicy.


Delightful assistant no.1 opted for a bacon roll.


As I ate the the spicy soup I became aware of it doing a very efficient warming job.

After the soup delightful assistant no.2 felt an urgent need for ice cream and opted for a small tub of award-winning mango and coconut.


He also chose a fruit scone.

fruit scone

The fruit scones looked very nice, but when I saw the apple and cinnamon ones I had no problem deciding which to have. I was chuffed to bits when the one that was brought to me came complete with tail.

Apple and cinnamon scone with tail


The scone contained big chunks of apple and plenty of cinnamon, just the way I like it.

apple and cinnamon

Across the room from us was a table looking out over a field of sheep. I took this picture quickly between one couple leaving and two more punters arriving.


As we were leaving the tearoom, one of the ladies sitting at the table above stopped me and asked if she had seen me in Ettrickbridge earlier. I admitted that we had indeed been there, and that we’d been drawn by the knitting after seeing an item on the TV news.

She seemed pleased to hear this, and much to my astonishment proceeded to tell me that all the little people and animals I had been photographing in the morning had been produced from her own busy needles. Apparently the only bit of yarn bombing in the village not done by her was the decoration of the telephone box, but she did everything else – the bench seat, the spider, the poppies, etc.

As you might imagine, I was very pleasantly surprised to meet the creator of this splendid spectacle, and I quizzed her about the business. I learned that prior to the yarn bombing she had never knitted without a pattern before, and that it hadn’t cost her anything as she’d used up old bits of wool she had lying around. One of the things that had particularly intrigued me was how the knitting had fit so well in its various locations. Surely someone must have measured the lion water fountain, the bench uprights, etc. to make sure the knitting was the right size. Indeed, this is exactly what had happened. Under cover of darkness to avoid arousing suspicion, this admirable knitter had snuck around Ettrickbridge, measuring here and there and making notes. She had then gone home and knitted like mad, hoping that her measurements were accurate. The result, as you can see in the previous post, was truly magnificent.

The little lady on the horse attached to the bench seat that I had so much admired was a model of a local lady who has a horse and wears a tabard and boots exactly like those in the knitted version. The knitted lady with the fluffy white hair and the teapot was a model of the knitter’s own mother (who was sitting across the table from her in the tearoom as we spoke), and the teacosy was a replica of a real teacosy knitted by the knitter’s mother and used at village coffee mornings. Each of the little models on the bench represented someone or something in the village, which made the whole thing even more fascinating.

I asked what happened if it rained and the knitting got spoiled, and learned that it was regularly attended to and tidied up after bad weather (I’m not sure what this involved, but perhaps more knitting to replace damaged pieces?). I also discovered that after the knitting had been on display for a month it was all going to be taken down and undone, and made into bedding for a pet charity.

Meeting this lady, responsible for such an inordinate amount of incredible knitting, reminded me of something my sister once told me. During a discussion about knitting in a nursery she used to work in, one of the children, a little girl of 3 or 4 years old, proudly piped up: “My mum’s a great knit!”

I take my hat off to the great knits of Ettrickbridge, and thank them kindly for providing such a wonderful day out for me and the delightful assistants.


The small village of Ettrickbridge, home to a number of great knits.


16 thoughts on “The Waterwheel Tearoom

  1. How wonderful for you to meet this knitter!! That soup looked delicious as did the apple cinnamon scone. This turned out to be a very special day for all of you.

  2. What a fab story. To think nearly all those intricate creations came from the needles of one knitter! Excellent. And the food there sounds and looks scrummy. Love the snap of your Dad consulting the map. Yay for actual paper maps!

  3. I can’t believe that you bumped into the person responsible for the knitting! That is such good timing. You’d make a great detective, Lorna! So interesting to hear your findings, and I love the idea of the lady going round at night, measuring lamp posts and benches and the like! Delighted also that the wool will be re-cycled and made into pet bedding. I love that story about the little girl and her Mum who was a great knit! Better a great knit than a poor knit, I would say. Also, those scones look delicious, and I like the pic of Delightful Assistant No. 2 studying the OS map. Looking at maps always makes me happy!

    • You’re too kind, Jo. When I read crime novels I often think what a lousy detective I’d make, I never guess the correct solution to the problem. It was wonderful to meet that lady, and to get the low-down on all the knitting. I had enjoyed it for its own sake, but getting the inside story made it all the more special. A poor knit is precisely how someone might describe me. I agree, much better to be a great knit. 🙂 Delightful assistant no.2 does love his maps.

    • It was such a treat to meet her, and to be able to tell her how much we had enjoyed her work. I hope the knitting didn’t get too badly damaged by rain, we were lucky to see it looking so fresh and intact when we were there.

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