Northumberland-Breaks-Border-Reivers

From the Border Reivers to the SAS

In 1974 Bob and Pat Hodgson set up a training business and converted the Comb’s main farm buildings into accommodation. This was the beginning of the Reivers estate as visitors see it today.

But the Comb has a long and colourful history that goes all the way back to the 14th century when ferocious Border reivers fought over these lands. There is still a ruined fortification known as a Peel Tower from that period buried in the grounds. Across the Tarset burn visitors can also explore the remains of Corby Castle, the ancestral seat of the Millburn reiver family.

In the late 1700’s the present stone buildings were constructed as a border hill farm with a focus on livestock, using stone from the old peel tower. Then, after the Second World War, much of the land was given over to forestry. It presented ideal terrain for training soldiers, which is why it was soon used for exercises by the Special Air Service regiment of the British Army, otherwise known as the SAS.

Unsuprisingly the cosy bar at the Comb proved very popular with officers from the SAS after a day or night in the field. Two of these officers were regimental legends, Sir Fitzroy Maclean and SAS founder David Stirling.

Maclean was a tall charismatic highland Scot and is widely thought to have been the inspiration and basis of Ian Fleming’s James Bond. During a visit to the Comb, the Duke of Roxburgh and others organised a surprise event for Maclean and Stirling. Because neither man had ever passed through formal SAS training or received their coveted beige coloured berets, it was decided that a simple ceremony should be organised where they would finally be given berets of their own. This took place in the bar at The Comb, and we have the photo to prove it!

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