Saturday 6th September – Day 2, Jedburgh to Kirk Yetholm
After a good night’s sleep, probably due to the combination of yesterday’s long walk and the ‘several’ beers last night, I was up with the lark getting everything ready for an earlier getaway than yesterday. Breakfast, another calorie-laden full Scottish, was excellent and, after the customary starting line photo, Noelene and I walked downhill to Jedburgh Abbey which was closed like Dryburgh Abbey on Thursday but it’s very impressive, more complete than the one at either Dryburgh or Melrose and looked very beautiful in the early morning sun.
I was really looking forward to today’s walk a) because it finishes at Kirk Yetholm with fond memories of 19 years ago and b) because it crosses the highest point of the SCW, Wideopen Hill at 368 m – easily a Wainwright! Sadly though, I was also to pass the half-way point of this beautiful walk that, after just one day, I was already in love with! ?
I walked back through the town and followed Jedburgh’s river, Jed Water, behind a housing estate and back onto the Borders Abbeys Way backtracking on yesterday’s final 2½ miles to the SCW. I met the two guys I’d seen the previous day and they explained that they had already done the Wooler to Lindisfarne section of the Way and were therefore only going as far as Wooler this time. Maybe I’m a bit OCD but I think long distance paths lose something if you split them up or do them in stages over a long period of time. Some years ago, Graham, Julie, Noelene (some of it) and I walked the Llyn Peninsula Path over about 18 months. It was lovely but it just didn’t have the same feeling about it.
The SCW continued through woodland on a beautifully soft path covered in early autumn leaves (walkers will know what I mean!) and I came upon a couple who I walked with for a while. They were also going to Kirk Yetholm this evening and eventually Lindisfarne, though taking a total of five rather than four days. Shortly after passing them a fox crossed nonchalantly in front of me and disappeared into bushes on the other side as I reached for my camera. Coincidentally, my friend Elaine, had seen a fox on her lawn in Horwich as she had her dinner a couple of days previously and I marvelled at how the animal had managed to get to the Scottish Borders so quickly!
I came upon a gate in the middle of the path with no fence on either side but, as it was on the route, I just had to pass through it and followed the instruction to ‘Please Close the Gate’. I was reminded of a stile in the middle of a field we saw when walking with the Bolton CHA Ramblers, again with no fence on either side. The gate photo has since been used by the CHA on their Facebook page!
At one point I saw a farmer tending his sheep and asked him if he was responsible for maintaining the Way over his land. He said that he did his best and I thanked him on behalf of all we walkers who take such efforts for granted. I think he was quite taken aback.
Shortly afterwards I passed a newly built and quite imposing wooden house with an EU flag flying from a flagpole in the garden. I stood to attention, saluted, cursed Cameron, May, Johnson and Farage and continued on my way.
The countryside began to change from farmland to rather hillier, almost moorland-like terrain and there were a few miles of ‘tarmac walking’. I reached the remains of Cessford Castle, built in the mid-15th century and looking very pretty in the warm autumn sunshine.
I continued along tarmac towards the village of Morebattle and caught up with another solo walker, slowly ambling along, who turned out to be from the USA. I asked him, with such incredible scenery in the States, why he came to Britain to walk. He answered:
- You have such wonderful marked footpaths everywhere
- The scenery is quite spectacular
- Nothing’s gonna eat you
- No-one’s likely to shoot you
We talked briefly about politics and he wisely said, “We can get rid of that idiot Trump next year if we have the will, but you guys won’t be able to undo Brexit for at least a generation”. He was absolutely right, of course.
I carried on into the pretty little village of Morebattle and sat in the lovely sunshine on a bench having my lunch. It was so gorgeous that I stayed there much longer than I’d intended and had to force myself to get going again. Whilst using the village’s ‘communal facilities’ I met another four SCW walkers (two couples) and chatted with them for a while. The men were rather taciturn but the women much more interesting and we swapped stories of ‘the walk so far’.
Just around the corner, walking out of Morebattle, I came upon the Templehall Hotel with a sign outside offering ‘free beer to SCW walkers’. I read and re-read the sign and then dived in through the front door! Belhaven Brewery were sponsoring the offer and it would have been very rude to them to have not partaken of their generosity. I eschewed the Foxy Blonde and chose the Cheviot Ales’ Harbour Wall which was very nice indeed and I was tempted to tarry awhile but iron-will and discipline propelled me forwards!
I was soon back on the trail, suitably refreshed. There was another mile or so of road walking before crossing a stream and beginning the long, quite steep climb, up Grubbit Law (328 m) and to Wideopen Hill, suitably named and, at 368 m, the highest point on the SCW. It also marked the half-way point of the Way, something that I felt a tinge of sadness about. I was having so much fun! ?
The views from Wideopen Hill were, appropriately, wide open and quite lovely.
From there it was a long downhill walk into Kirk Yetholm, partly following the lovely Bowmont Water into the village, past the YHA hostel to the wonderful Border Hotel where I received a very friendly welcome 19 years after my previous stay. Unfortunately, I wasn’t eligible for the free ½ pint of beer from the proceeds of Wainwright’s books since that’s for Pennine Way finishers only. But I’d already had one freebie today, so I was happy enough.
I celebrated my return with a pint of Cheviot Ales’ Trig Point and later Green King’s Abbott Ale and later still with another Trig Point – it’s good! We sat in the sun enjoying the repartee with Pennine Way finishers and a few SCW walkers. The Manager searched through their logbooks of Pennine Way finishers for 16th July 2000 when, together with Pete ‘the eat’ Haines, Harry and Elaine Russell and Maryke and Peter Groest (a Dutch couple doing the Land’s End to John O’Groats walk), we celebrated 16 days of walking. And there it was:
At that very moment some grit must have got into my eyes – well, something made them water. ? We sat outside on the warm sun for quite a while, watching the masses of butterflies in the garden and just enjoying being alive. ‘Twere wonderful.
Later, I prepared for the slightly shorter (or so I thought!) 16 or so mile walk to East Horton tomorrow then ate in the hotel a) because it’s pretty good and b) because there ain’t anywhere else. The fish and chips were excellent.
I noted in my journal, which I keep when walking, “I DON’T WANT THIS TO END”!
Day 2 in Summary
Day 2 Stats
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Tee Shirt of the Day
Today’s tee shirt was another gift from one of my wonderfully witty friends. I have no idea what they’re on about! ?
Don’t Follow Me I’m Lost
Some Day 2 Images