I did promise to write up this walk; but it was 3 months ago now so I might be making most of this up.
Loyal readers will recall that I was camped in Town Yetholm, in my cheapo Millets tent, in below freezing night-time temperatures. I’d not had time to think about where I was going to walk, so I just booked in for one night until I’d had a chance to look at my new maps. It was soon pretty obvious that there was plenty of opportunity for good walking – with St Cuthberts Way and the Pennine Way on the doorstep – so, in the morning, I extended my booking for another couple of nights.
Satisfied that England was where it should be, I left the road and started to link up whatever paths I came to. It was a beautiful day; the cold night nicely balanced by warm sunshine but with a slight bite in the air. Sitting in the sun at the edge of a path, I was suddenly overtaken by a strange urge to go up a hill. I’ve found this has been happening more and more recently, and I’m not sure what the cure is.
The climb was hard work at times, but there was no need to rush and I took my time admiring the views or (for those of a less charitable nature) huffing and puffing whilst clinging to my Pacer Poles for support.
The climb was worth the effort:
Dropping down off the hill, I ended up on St Cuthberts Way and heading back into Scotland. I called in at the Town Yetholm shop on the way back to the campsite and was disappointed to find that they did not sell any proper beer; just industrial waste in cans, so I made do with pop with my tea. I was delighted to find that the out-of-date couscous in the split packet which had been in the back of my car for a couple of years was delicious!
I did another circular walk next day, taking in parts of St Cuthberts Way and the Pennine Way. After only 10 or 15 minutes, I realised that something was amiss. I have a Suunto miniature compass and thermometer which I clip onto my rucksack shoulder strap so that I can easily get a rough compass bearing without having to get out my full-size compass. I’d hung this up inside my tent so that I could keep an eye on how cold it got overnight – and I’d forgotten to take it with me on the walk. I did have my Silva in my pack, but I’d not realised how dependent I’ve become on the smaller Suunto; the Silva seems HUGE by comparison.
I can’t remember much about this day’s walk – pleasant though it was – although I obviously still had last night’s beer disappointment on my mind. I knew that the shop shut at 6pm and I decided that I’d give it another chance to satisfy my
alcoholic cravings desire for a drink with my dinner but this time I would buy a bottle of wine. Unfortunately, I only decided on this course of action at 4:30 when passing a PW marker which said “Kirk Yetholm 6 miles”. Oh dear, the shop is in Town Yetholm which is further away, but I should be able to do 6 or 7 miles in an hour and a half, shouldn’t I?
I set off at a fair lick; jogging the downhill sections and walking as fast as I could on the rough bits. I came to a sign which, to paraphrase, said “Steep, nasty PW this way; Flat but slightly longer PW that way” – I took the flatter route.
As I walked/jogged, I thought through my options. I didn’t really want to burst into the shop at 1 minute to 6, just as the shutters were coming down, and splurt out “Wine! I need wine!”, so maybe the pub in Kirk Yetholm was a better option? However, I’d been in there on my first night and I reckoned they’d charge a lot more for a bottle of vino plonko than I usually pay – so the shop was still my best option.
Eventually, I reached the tarmac road at the end of the Pennine Way and walked uphill to Kirk Yetholm as fast as I could. Having not heard the distinctive chimes of the church clock, I assumed that I was still on schedule and took a quick look at my watch. Oh bother! It was 5 past 6. I’d failed in my mission.
The only option now was the pub. I’d seen some bottled ales behind the bar so I decided to buy a couple of those rather than the more expensive wine. After a slight delay while I arranged a meeting with the Building Society to arrange a mortgage, I left the pub with two half-litres of liquid gold served in crystal decanters. Yes, it looked like beer – but it certainly wasn’t priced like it! How can a pint of cask ale, served in a glass, cost £3 but a 500ml (ie less than a pint) bottle cost £4? As I walked away from the pub, I swear I could hear loud chortling and cries of “There goes another one!!”, but hopefully I played my part to help the local economy. You’ll be pleased to hear that the beer went very nicely with my [in date] dinner.
I enjoyed this trip very much. The new tent worked well and the walking was amazing. The Border region has a lot going for it and I’ll certainly be going back – but via an Off Licence.