Well, it’s the final day, the final walk eastwards and what a fantastic day we’ve woken up to, bright blue skies, brilliant warm sunshine and such an idyllic setting at Green Hope B&B.
We started our walk to Abbey St. Bathans along the bank of ‘Whiteadder Water’, what a fantastic treat on our last day, our legs getting wet from morning dew on the long grass, but warming sunshine at our side as we wandered along the gently flowing river.
From Abbey St. Bathans we had to navigate through a number of arable & pasture fields, farmers were busy collecting their silage. The farm at Blackburn Mill looked like it had enough for at least a couple of winters already.
Crossing the A1 & the East Coast Mainline momentarily brought us back to the hustle and bustle of modern life until we were plunged into the relative quiet and darkness of Penmanshiel Wood, the path deep, soft & scented with pine needles.
From there it wasn’t far to the end, but the trail keeps you in suspense for the first glimpse of the sea for a very long time. When we eventually reached the coast the sea mist had enveloped ‘Pease Bay’ and all we could see were a few waves rolling onto the beach. We then risked life & limb on the cliff path in the thick mist until Cove Harbour was in our sights.
After Cove Harbour, where I threw the pebble I’d been carrying since Portpatrick into the North Sea (the 2nd highlight after our early morning walk), there was just 1 mile to the official/rather disappointing end in Cockburnspath at a kind of ‘bus shelter’ construction.
Nevermind, despite that, it’s been a great walk.
Stats: Total Mileage: 228.5 Pint Count: 36
Today was the penultimate day and ‘the big one’, the day we’ll walk the furthest.
From Lauder we first ventured through the Thirlestane Castle estate where we encountered a large herd of very inquisitive cows. Keeping them at arms length was a challenge whilst trying to reach the ‘exit field’ stile.
The main part of today’s walk would be spent venturing over ‘The Lammermuir Hills’ (or Lambs Moor) a vast expanse of nothingness, except heather, bog & old barns. The highlight, the trig point and large twin cairns at ‘Twin Law’ (447m), we used this as our halfway lunch stop.
Next was Watch Water reservoir, it seemed like a prime spot for local fishermen. We, however, didn’t have time to be sitting on the bank with a rod & reel waiting for something to happen. On we went to a little village called ‘Longformacus’, now in the planning this was a potential overnight accommodation stop, but unfortunately I was unable to find anything there. No pub, no B&B, nothing.
So instead we had about 5 miles left to walk to the next B&B I’d been able to find. The bonus being we’d have fewer miles to walk on our final day tomorrow and so we can take our time & savour it more.
Despite it being the furthest we’d walked we still managed to arrive before 5:30 🙂
Stats: Total Mileage: 214.2 Pint Count: 32
After a very comfortable stay at the excellent Townhouse Hotel, (our evening meal really made it special) we set off with Jim & Elaine. (Adele’s Mum & Dad, they’d be joining us for a short walk this morning)
We had a quick look at Melrose Abbey, while we were in the area. It dates back to 1136, apparently Robert the Bruce’s heart is buried there? (The rest of him is in Dunfermline… who knows why!)
We crossed over the Tweed (river) via the famous Chain Bridge to the Gattonside side of the river (the north side), we’d eventually be heading north on a long straight ‘Roman’ road towards Lauder.
First we had to negotiate a few gentle slopes away from the river and after about two and a half miles we said our farewells to Jim & Elaine. Shortly after that we were on the ‘road’, we passed several groups of ‘young adults’ (probably doing something like the ‘Duke of Edinburgh award’) going the other way. My jolly ‘Good Morning’s mostly fell on deaf ears…
Now today wasn’t the shortest day, but it was probably the easiest. Our legs fit from over a week of walking, our spirits high nearing the North Sea, no steep or long climbs, it was all plain sailing…⛵️
We reached Lauder at about 2pm, just in time for a lunchtime sandwich and a quick pint before freshening up for dinner.
Stats: Total Mileage: 193.1 Pint Count: 31
Today really was the perfect day to be walking through the Scottish Border hills.
The climb up onto ‘Minch Moor’ from Traquair, was a little arduous, a guy walking past us said it was “Murder”, in a Taggert-like Scottish accent.
But having reached the high point of our climb the way ahead was utopian. Warm morning sunshine, clear blue skies, a cooling westerly breeze, a well defined track laid out before us. Everything was perfect.
After a whole morning of fantastic walking we decided to stop for lunch at ‘The Three Brethren’ (3 enormous cairns or ‘stone men’ each representing a local parish) alongside a trig point painted white (464m)
Next we descended to cross the ‘Tweed’ (a river in these parts) then we traversed more low-lying hills to reach the outskirts of Galashiels (a sort of neighbouring town to Melrose)…
From here a combination of the route and continuously high temperatures began to take it’s toll, the ‘pace’ began to slow to a plod… the scenery became decidedly more urban/urban decay… we were now keen to get to our destination, Melrose.
When we eventually arrived we were welcomed with an arrival party (Adele’s Mum & Dad had travelled countless miles to greet us) & cold alcoholic beverages. The accommodation and evening meal was pretty good too xx
Looking forward to a relatively easy day tomorrow.
Stats: Total Mileage: 182.6 Pint Count: 27
First thing on the agenda this morning was a short but very steep climb up ‘Scabcleuch Burn’ on the pass between Craig Hill & Scabcleuch Hill. Adele didn’t appreciate it very much, straight out of the car, onto the steepest climb of the day. After that we wandered through the rest of the hills to St. Mary’s Loch in broken cloud and sporadic sunshine.
We descended to the shores of St. Mary’s Loch and the site of the former Inn the ‘Tibbie Shiels Inn’, famous in these parts for (and probably named after) the hard, independent, strong, well loved & revered woman who ran it until 1878, “Tibbie Shiels”. She entertained Sir Walter Scott & James Hogg to name just a couple.
The route then follows the southern shore of the Loch for about 3 miles, during this time the wind from the south west was beginning to brisken.(I know that’s probably not a word)
Dryhope tower loomed on the horizon next, it’s a ruin of a 14th century lookout tower built by villagers for defensive purposes.
All that remained today was 8 miles of rolling hills through sheep pasture, pine plantation and open moorland, during intermittent showers. (Coats on & off & on again) Then a couple of miles on the road through Traquair, home of Traquair House, famous for being the ‘Oldest continuously inhabited house in Scotland’ (the marketing people obviously put the hours in for that one) to Innerleithen.
Dinner tonight was: Chicken Curry for me (the 3rd time on this trip). Adele had Steak & Ale Pie & chips
Stats: Total Mileage: 163.2 Pint count: 24