Did I mention yesterday that we have completed one third of our challenge? Yes, that is correct, 1/3, 33.3333*%, a slice of pie split equally between three people, and so on. This walk will be full of landmarks: quarter of the way, half way, one week completed, 100 miles done, etc and we will celebrate each with one with vigour and joy.
To give you an example, we went past the 200-mile mark today after about 1.5 hours of walking and did a small jig and a high five. We should have been there more quickly, but we got off to a shocking start. Our designated start point was the car park of the Leadburn Inn. Our driver and organiser extraordinaire had decided to join us for the first couple of miles, however, as we strapped on our backpacks and tightened our laces someone from the pub popped out to tell us that the parking as private and that we could not leave our van in the (near empty) car park. So we bid farewell to Jeff and stood at a crossroads looking in vain for the starting point of our walk which was hidden there somewhere. After some serious looking we found an overgrown path up onto the edge of field. We were, apparently, on a dismantled railway line and this was to be our path for the next 5 or 6 miles.
We enjoyed a lively, if a little cold, stroll along this line until we came to a crossroads. We had to go straight but path was clearly littered with fallen trees and nettles. We had not choice but to carry on and after some clambering, a few stings and a locked gate we fought our way through to open grazing farmland. This was part of St Wilfred’s Way, an old pilgrimage route that was clearly underutilised.
After a couple of miles we came across a chicken farm. Our way was blocked again but we managed to navigate around a huge shed, we assumed full of hens, and back onto our dismantled railway line. The lonely (ex)track drove a straight line through the countryside over old railway bridges and through culverts, all no longer required. A bit sad really.
We joined a drover’s path to Peebles, part of the Tweed Trails and made a small diversion after 6.5 miles to pick up a new walker, Karen, at the Barony Castle Hotel. Karen was excited to share with us the “Great Polish Map of Scotland”.We were a little confused, having spent days walking through Scotland with our own supply of maps. Imagine our surprise and delight when Karen led us through the hotel gardens to an open space that contained a very large concrete map, in relief, of Scotland. Created by Polish exchange students in the 70’s at the behest of the Polish owner of the hotel, Jan Tomasik, this is the largest known physical representation of a country. So there.
We found our way back up to the drover’s trail and there followed 6 miles of really wonderful walking. Firm, well-made paths winding through valleys, past (but not through) forests and round hills with iron age hill forts visible on top. Around 2pm we descended into Peebles and found ourselves eating our packed lunch in the ruins of the Cross Kirk. A holy site since the 13th century the church was abandoned in the late 18th century. We found Peebles decorated in red and white flags and bunting. This was part of their annual Beltane Festival. Is hard to explain exactly what this is about so I will leave it to you to go here to read more about this historic celebration.
Our final 6 miles were spent mostly on the banks of the river Tweed as well as that dismantled railway line. The Tweed is a beautiful, shallow, slow moving wide river and it was a shame that we did not spend more time next to it. We passed through Cardrona, a new village built in the late 90’s. A slightly surreal place with many identikit houses but one in which the clearly happy residents took pride. Gardens were well kept, the streets were clean and children were playing happily on the green. A flashback to a happier time.
As we finished in Innerleithen I reflected on a lovely day’s walking in good company and the reason why we were doing this – to support five great charities.
If you are reading this and you have made a donation – THANK YOU! If you have not yet donated, please do go to our BTMyDonate page https://mydonate.bt.com/fundraisers/brysonline and help us raise money for these wonderful charities.
See you down the line.
Walker miles 75
Total Walker miles 1410