Day 34 Thurs 02-06-2005
Byrness to Jedburgh
Talk about an early start - Paul and I are up at 5:30, and walking at 6:00. Keith, who was in our dormitory, woke, looked at his watch, and started getting dressed. When we said goodbye, he realised he had misread his watch, and was about two hours too early to rise. I tried not to feel too guilty about disturbing him.
We had a very steep climb for the first couple of miles, and when we paused (frequently) we could look back down onto clouds in the valley below. Eventually, we left the forest to one side, and continued over bleak moorland, as the fog and rain settled upon us.
I had been thinking about Scotland for many days, looking forward to crossing the border. Today would be a real milestone, I would have walked the length of England! Paul and I were walking along the border, and near Blackhall Hill, he would continue on the Pennine Way, and I would divert north towards Jedburgh. Paul had quite a gruelling day ahead of him, involving either an impossibly long trek to Kirk Yetholm, or an overnight stay in a refuge hut.
At 10:00 we reached the point where our paths separated. Shaking hands, we wished each other the best of luck. After only one or two hundred yards, it was difficult to make out Paul's figure through the mist - he was gone. It had been a pleasure meeting and walking with him.
Having definitely crossed the border, I felt none of the elation I had expected, and it seemed a bit of an anticlimax. I suppose the weather didn't help, so I plodded on into the gloom.
Paul had mentioned that when walking he often had the tune from the film "The Great Escape" in his head, keeping time with his footsteps. I noticed a similar thing, and once a tune got into my head, it would often stay there all day. Today was a "Maggie May" day, courtesy of Rod Stewart. Goodness knows why the tunes came into my head, but I reckoned I had about ten or twenty regulars, now including "The Great Escape", of course.
Moorland now gave way to grassy hills, home to some hardy cattle, and when the clouds broke, there were great views of rolling hills in each direction. My route followed Dere Street, a Roman route from near Edinburgh to York, built around 1900 years ago by Agricola. With my head full of Rod, Agricola, and other random stuff, I missed the path, and had to cut over fields. At one point there was an electric fence, which I didn't bother about too much, as I had encountered many before, and considered the shock very mild. Half way over the fence, I received a huge jolt, which made me shoot up into the air, and my heart seemed to miss several beats. What sort of animals was this designed to keep contained? I would keep a good look out for them, whatever they were!
I descended from the hills, and found my way into Jedburgh along lanes. I booked myself into Scotland's oldest continually-licensed hotel, the Spread Eagle. After sorting myself out, I had a look around this splendid Scottish town. I had the usual trouble finding maps, but was much more relaxed about this sort of thing now. After all, I had walked the length of a whole country by now! I ate a delicious fish supper in the Carters Rest; one of the regulars sat at the bar worried me with stories of the Forth Bridge being closed, but other kind souls told me it was the rail bridge, not the road bridge, which was affected.
The Spread Eagle Hotel
20 High Street