Sunday 7th September – Day 3, Kirk Yetholm to East Horton
After the obligatory full Scottish breakfast I set off from the Border Hotel at about 9 o’clock in brilliant sunshine. For a couple of miles the SCW follows the Pennine Way and, although heading south, it brought back very fond memories of our team of six heading the other way and crossing the finishing line in 2000.
The village green at Kirk Yetholm, especially on a bright, fresh sunny day is quite beautiful and I was in good spirits looking forward to a shorter (16 mile) walk today. However………!!
I was walking in my lightweight Meindl boots which at least three of my walking friends (Gary, Graham and Elaine) have. The route was dry, the forecast was good, and it made a nice change to get out of my much heavier leather Meindls. The lightweight fleece that I put on at the start quickly came off as I ‘warmed up’ on the initial uphill section which, although along a tarmac road, was still pretty beautiful.
After a mile or so the road thankfully ended and shortly after I said a fond farewell to the wonderful Pennine Way. Hope to see you again, my friend! Soon after the divergence of the two paths I should have crossed a fence marking the border between our two fine countries with twin signs saying, ‘Welcome to England’ and (going t’other way) ‘Welcome to Scotland’. Either I had my eyes closed or I took a minor deviation, but I certainly didn’t know that I’d crossed the border but, what does it matter? We are all one nation, aren’t we and borders are divisive??!!
The route was quite boggy and slippery as I continued and I realised that the lightweight boots, from which the tread had worn at least a couple of years ago, weren’t going to serve me so well today. Thanks to the miracle that is the mobile phone I was able to contact my support team and arrange a “boot swap”!
I continued up to Elsdonburn, no more than a farm and a couple of cottages but with the very pretty Elsdon Burn itself flowing through the small valley. The views began to open up and in the bright sunshine were absolutely stunning.
I descended and followed a long farm track, tarmac in parts, to Hethpool, another place with a farm and couple of cottages, but with some (supposedly) interesting ruins which I didn’t go out of my way to take a look at but, along came my wonderful support team, i.e. Noelene, with my change of boots which was very welcome. I continued on a road for a short while and then onto another stony farm track. I met a very lovely Canadian couple, she called Terri and he Alan. They were from Vancouver and often walk in Europe. She told me about walking the Camino del Norte – 736 kms of the Camino de Santiago Pilgrim’s Way across the whole of northern Spain in 38 days a few years ago. Got me thinking!!
I continued along the stony track taking great care and watching the path, as I was afraid of twisting my ankle again on the very uneven surface. After shooing a herd of cows out of the way and walking for almost 2 miles, I realised that I had ‘lost the track’ and was almost in the small village of Kirknewton.
I looked for a shortcut back to the proper route but couldn’t find one so had to backtrack and that added almost 4 miles to today’s walk. I know, my reputation precedes me but I really was trying, honest guv!
Back on the correct path (having shooed the cows away again) I walked to a cairn and stopped for lunch. It was absolutely beautiful in the sun. Another couple of SCW walkers, from Sheffield (he’d gone to the same school as Jess Ennis!) passed me and stopped for a quick chat. It took a while to motivate myself to get moving again but I continued past grouse butts. Visions of Dictator Johnson in his tweeds shooting at the wee beasties as he ruins the country came to mind!
The SCW goes over a hill called Gains Law and from there I got my first view of the sea. I had mixed feelings because I knew that each step I took was one step closer to the end of this wonderful walk but I plodded on, of course. Shortly afterwards I passed the two couples who I had seen earlier. The Canadian couple, Terri and Alan, said that they had seen me heading into the distance when I missed the turning earlier, they nearly having done the same. It made me feel just a little better. It seemed that everyone else was staying overnight in Wooler, walking close to the Lindisfarne crossing the following day and then just taking the causeway in two days’ time.
The route was signed “Permissive Path” and, with a wry grin wondered what went on there and if I should come back later!
I passed through some woodland to the rather beautiful Wooler Common and into the town itself which seemed pretty lively with a scooter rally going on (Vespas, sadly, rather than the much better Lambrettas!). As it was Sunday and with few places to eat, Noelene had booked us a table at the Milan Restaurant which, much later on turned out to be extremely busy but also excellent and where we had our best meal of the trip.
I climbed out of Wooler, up Weetwood Bank and onto Weetwood Moor which was very pleasant in the mid-afternoon sun. After a couple of miles, the SCW descended to the very old and very narrow (for vehicles) Weetwood Bridge which dates from the 16th century and was restored in the 18th. The route went along a tarmac road for a mile or so into West Horton (NOT Westhoughton!!) – a farm and a couple of houses, past Weetwood Hall to East Horton, which seemed to be just one farmhouse – the B&B in which we were staying!
East Horton B&B was an old and very extensive farmhouse, though it didn’t seem that much farming is done there anymore. By the look of it, the paintings, etc. the owners are very much of the ‘Jam and Jerusalem’ brigade, horse riding, hunting and fishing! Nevertheless, we were given a very warm welcome, tea and cakes by Angela, the owners’ daughter and sat for a while in the lovely lounge. I checked my GPS and it seemed that my ‘diversion’ had turned the 16-mile route into almost 20 – well, another interesting experience, I suppose. Though one I could do without.
We sat in the garden for a while whilst I cleaned my boots, got things ready for the next day and then headed for the bright lights of Wooler. We had a drink in the Black Bull first where there were a few SCW walkers including the couple from Sheffield who we chatted to for a while.
I had the beer of the day – Wadsworth’s Summer Ale – and we then went for the meal of the trip so far at The Milan (guess what type of cuisine!) – the only restaurant open in Wooler on a Sunday night and therefore crowded. But the food, service and ambiance were all excellent and we were well satisfied and there was a decent bottled ale to complete my satisfaction!
Then ‘back to the ranch’ and a good night’s sleep in anticipation of tomorrow’s final day!
Day 3 in Summary
Day 3 Stats
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Tee Shirt of the Day
I bought today’s tee shirt when I was still working, and the slogan seemed very apt then. In fact, today’s walk was dry and mostly sunny all day so I particularly thought of my former colleagues and friends with their noses still to the grindstone (note to self: but ‘twere a Sunday, idiot!).
Better a Rainy Day on a Hill Than a Sunny One in the Office
Some Day 3 Images