Get closer to nature with a tour of West Linton's organic Whitmuir Farm

"Get off my land" is perhaps the normal response to people sauntering across private pasture, but the polar opposite approach is what you'll find at Whitmuir organic farm, 15 miles from Edinburgh in the Scottish Borders.

Pete and Heather Ritchie actively encourage people to get out into the countryside, and see for themselves where their food comes from.

Wellies are a must for this visit. There is a signboard in the car park so you can choose one of the four waymarked walking routes. You will be met by Lily the resident border collie, who takes a great interest in getting to know visitors to her farm. Your own dogs are welcome, but must be kept on the lead.

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The Duck Walk is a very easy waddle, starting at the shop entrance and following the path past the duck pond. All the animals on the farm are on strict organic diets. Luckily, organic bread is available for the peckish ducks from the farm shop. It's great fun to watch the antics of Elvis, the Muscovy duck and his harem. Or check out the crazy hairstyles of the Indian runner ducks.

Head up the hill past the observation Bee Hive and Tipi, currently closed for the winter. But you can seek out a fabulous musical spider sculpture hidden under the trees. Young ones can bash at various pots and pans which make up the spider's body with spoons for drumsticks. Stop for a breather at the picnic tables, before wending your way back down the woodchip path to the start. It's a nice ten to 15-minute wander, so perfect for little legs.

If you are up for more of a challenge, head out between the polytunnels on the Hen Walk. Peek inside the cavernous plastic constructions to see what tasty seasonal vegetables are on the go, before heading across the Home Field. The hens always rush over to greet you; they are free-range and can pretty much wander at will. When you reach the boundary hedge, turn uphill to the sheds.

Piglet from Winnie the Pooh is one of my favourite fictional characters and there are loads to be found in the sheds. The sows love snoozing, and who can blame them with so many offspring to look after? I'm permanently exhausted with just two. We could happily spend hours watching them, but there is a strange burbling sound coming from behind us, which we have to investigate. The noise emanating from over the hedge comes from the turkeys, destined for the Christmas table. Up close they look amazing, blue faces and red combs on their heads, which wobble when they squawk.

All tuckered out from the fresh air, we head back down to the farm to wash our hands, before being tempted by hot chocolate by the wood burning stove. Maggie the restaurant manager convinces the girls that she individually counts the chocolate drops on top, to ensure fairness. Next time we will attempt the slightly longer Pig Walk, but I'll leave the one-and-a-half-hour Cow Walk to the seriously adventurous.

This place is constantly changing, but one factor stays the same - there is always something interesting happening down on the farm.

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Whitmuir Farm, Lamancha, West Linton, EH46 7BB, tel: 01968 661908,, open Monday-Friday 10am-6pm, Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm.


Help the little ones write that important note with Christmas Letters to Santa,

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This article was first published in The Scotsman on December 4, 2010