Jedburgh was my first overnight stay in Scotland. As I explained in my previous post, the weather was dire as I crossed the border. But by the evening in Jedburgh there were blue skies. I’ve lived and worked and holidayed in Scotland, so I’m no stranger to the country. But it feels different this time – I’ve walked so far to get here, and on foot the differences between places are so much more noticeable.
Three and a bit days into my Scottish leg of my journey, and I’ve been bowled over by the Borders countryside, the weather, and by the friendliness and kindness shown to me. The sun has shone every day. I know it won’t last but it is wonderful to wear shorts instead of waterproof trousers. Along the Cornish coast I walked along paths bordered by bright yellow gorse. Now here, so my much further north, the gorse has also flowered. It has the most wonderful smell on warm days. Vanilla and coconut. Someone should make Gorse Perfume.
Also, I’ve experienced three acts of kindness.
On my first evening, the landlord at The Clock Tower bar in Jedburgh refused payment for my celebratory border-crossing whisky. Thank you Malcolm!
Then a mountain biking girl who I got chatting to up on a hill summit offered me a bed for the night if I was to pass through Edinburgh. And on arriving at a guest house in Innerleithen, the lovely owners, once they’d heard of my journey, asked if they could throw my clothes into the wash. (It wasn’t that I was really stinky, honest!) (NB if you are ever in the area I would thoroughly recommend Caddon View as a place to stay. The best food of my trip so far).
I’ve always driven through the Scottish Borders on my way up to the Highlands. I can now see that this was a mistake. It’s really wonderful. Probably my joint favourite scenery so far along with the Cornish coastal path. Although I don’t like to do favourites. Really, these are isles of wonder. My route has taken me from Jedburgh to Melrose via St Cuthbert’s Way, and then to Innerleithen via the Southern Upland Way, and onto Peebles via an easy amble along the newly opened Tweed Railway Path.
One of the differences that’s noticeable on crossing the border, and proceeding as slowly as I do on foot, is that this side the villages, towns and even farms that I’ve passed feel comparatively more affluent than those I saw in Northumberland and the other northern English counties. It made me realise that distance to the capital city is probably a factor. Places like Peebles and Melrose are not far at all from their capital city, whereas the Northumbrian towns are several hundred miles from theirs.
I would love to walk the Southern Upland Way sometime. My route coincided with just one day of the trail, and it was terrific. All the paths up here so far have been extremely well maintained and signed. The Southern Upland Way is a coast to coast trail. It’s another one of our National Trails. It’s not that popular. Partly that’s bound to be down to it’s name. All you marketing types out the will be well aware of the importance of a name in capturing people’s imaginations. If this trail was called The Scottish Coast to Coast, I bet it would have double the walkers.
One last thing, that tickled me. I said hello to an elderly chap passing me yesterday. He replied, “I like your red curly hair. You must be of the Highlanders, aye?”
Here’s a little video of my first few fabulous days in Scotland…
I made it on my phone so apologies for the abrupt ending – I am still learning how my iMovie app works.