Annan, Tweed and Clyde rise out of the same Hillside.

The Scottish Chronicler Hector Boece (1465-1536) wrote that "the water of Clyde rises out of same mountain within the Wood of Calidone from which rises the Annan"(1). 

Mostyn Armstrong writing in 1775 about Tweed's Cross(2) noted "From this eminence , it is vulgarly understood, the Rivers Clyde, Annan and Tweed issues; nay, modern, as well as ancient geographers, have derived a fort of credit, from exploring sources unknown to them, and delineating the heads of these three Rivers to be with-in half a mile of each other, certain, however, it is, that there is no branch of Clyde within two miles of Tweed's Cross, or Errickstane brae."  Armstrong was obviously not impressed with his fellow geographers and he was more or less correct in his own observations.

 The Moffat-Devil's Beeftub section of the Annandale Way passes through Corehead Farm in the Devils Beeftub - The following from that site - "On the coll between Chalk Rig Edge and Spout Craig, you'll squelch across the watershed between the sources of the tributaries that feed the Annan and Tweed. This is the official start or finish of the Annandale Way. After you have celebrated, turn south into the valley here, following the rapidly growing waters in a gully that will spit you out below Corehead Farm".

From an old Borders Poem came the couplet "Annan, Tweed and Clyde Rise a' oot o' ae hillside."(3)(4).

From the above it is apparent that there is no dispute that the Annan and Tweed have a common source but that the Clyde shares this source is not accepted.


Above is Blaeu's map of Lanarkshire  of 1662 that does give a clue as to how this idea of a mutual source came about..

At bottom of image towards the right can be seen Tweeds head and Annand head close together at the county boundary.  Just to the left of this can be seen a river starting at Airikstone (Ericstane) this is the present source of the River Annan.

Just to the north of Airikstane can be seen the source of a river named Little Clyd.   This river is a tributary of the large south/north river that is named as the Clyd.

Hence ,from the map it does look as if the Clyde indeed rises in the same mountain as Annan and Tweed and accordingly the Devil's Beeftub area is shown as being part of Lanarkshire!.  The ediface shown by the Little Clyd as Clydheadsheels must surely be Tweeds Cross?

However, since 1662, the date of the map, there had been river name changes instigated by the Ordnance Survey - after consultation.

What was the River Clyd in the above map is now the Elvan Water and the tributary the Little Clyd is now the Crossburn.  On the map above, at top centre/left, a tributary of the Clyd is named Poutrail Water  and this is now the River Clyde formed by the confluence of the Daer and Potrail waters at Watermeetings.   This spot is about 10 kms from the sources of the Tweed and Annan at the Devil's Beeftub.

Although Water Meetings  is not all that far away the saying that Annan, Tweed and Clyde rise out of the hillside no longer holds true.   But, what is certain is that a local shower of rain at the head of the Beeftub could end up in the North Sea, Solway Firth or the Firth of Clyde.


1)  Clarkson, Tim; Scotland's Merlin A Medieval Legend and its Dark Age Origins, Birlinn, Edinburgh, 2016. p60-61

2) Armstrong, Mostyn, John; A Companion to the map of the County of Peebles or Tweedale, W Creech, Edinburgh, 1775. p108-109,

3) Buchan, J.W. and Paton, H. Rev; History of Peeblesshire, Jackson Wylie, Glasgow, 1927. Vol III p363.

4) Crockett, W.S. Rev; The Scott Country, A&C Black, London, 1930. 6th Edition, p106.