Jedburgh to Melrose
I awoke this morning, ear plugs in due to a party going on in the pub last night, completely shattered. This was not a good start to the day and the thought of walking was pretty much the worst thing I could think of as I lay in my bed.
I lay there waiting for my alarm to go off and even when it did I just couldn’t be bothered to move for at least fifteen minutes later. I just couldn’t snap myself in to action and it was only when I realised that I’d end up getting out the door late that I really started to move.
I made it down to breakfast on time but boy do I wish I hadn’t bothered. Yesterday, in typical day off fashion, I didn’t bother rushing out of bed for a breakfast and boy am I glad I didn’t bother. The breakfast this morning was awful! It is now officially the worst breakfast of the walk so far. I don’t know how they managed it but the sausage was crispy on the outside and almost water-like on the inside. I ate as much of the food as I could handle, had some toast and left it at that.
In short, the room at the Royal Hotel in Jedburgh was ok, although the lock on the door was temperamental to say the least, but pretty much everything else about the place was bad. I wouldn’t recommend staying there if you ever find yourself staying in Jedburgh.
Jedburgh though was a really nice place and I tried to make sure that the Royal Hotel didn’t spoil it for me. It’s certainly somewhere I’d recommend popping in to if you’re touring round Scotland.
After checking out I hit the road in the sunshine a little concerned that this was going to be another nightmare day on the track. Fortunately there was a bit of a breeze blowing but I just didn’t want to think what it would be like if that died down.
I headed out of Jedburgh on the A68 but after half a mile I turned off on to a much nicer, quieter lane. This was much nicer than walking along the busy A-road and within a couple of miles I crossed the A68 again, picking up St. Cuthbert’s Way, a long-distance path that stretches 62 miles from Melrose to Holy Island.
The path followed a river and after a short walk through some woods I found myself out in open farmland again. Unlike some other paths I’ve followed on this stroll of mine this had actually been kept pretty well with no knee length grass to wade through.
It was here that I bumped into a lovely couple walking to Jedburgh. They told me that I had a lovely walk ahead of me, which was nice to hear after the last day’s walking, and we spoke about my walk. They also gave me some tips on other places to go walking but I think I’ll get this one out of the way first before planning another long walk.
Chat over with I continued along the path until I came to a bridge over the river that I had to take. Much like the suspension bridge the other week at Low Force waterfall as I made my way across it it bounced nicely, but unlike the other one, as I shifted my weight from one foot to the other the bridge wobbled from side to side too. How much fun? Well, I thought so anyway.
Before joining up with Dere Street again, the old Roman road from my last day’s walking, St. Cuthbert’s Way kept me nicely shaded from the heat of the sun which was great. Once on Dere Street though there was a less shade but the breeze was now quite a strong wind so I wasn’t over heating at all.
The stretch along Dere Street was as interesting as the other day, i.e. not very, except for one thing: Lilliard’s Stone, at the summit of Lilliard’s Edge. The myth relates to a “fair maiden Lilliard”, whose exploits at the battle of Ancrum Moor were recorded in doggerel verse on an earlier memorial. The verse was:
“Fair Maid Lilliard
lies under this stane
little was her stature
but muckle was her fame
upon the English loons
she laid monie thumps
and when her legs were cuttit off
she fought upon her stumps.
I eventually hooked up with the A68 again just outside St. Boswells. St. Cuthbert’s Way meandered around a bit through St. Boswells but it eventually headed out through Newtown St. Boswells towards Whitelee along a nice quiet lane before turning back in to a track again through the trees.
As I headed down towards Bowden I met another walker, Kirsty, who had walked over from Melrose. We chatted for quite a bit about the walk to Melrose, my walk and the reasons for doing it and the path ahead of me up to Fort William and beyond as she’d walked the paths I was aiming on taking. It was a great chat and really put a smile on my face this afternoon, especially when I showed her my photo of the “gateway to Scotland”, or in other words the gate in the fence I went through the other day – she did laugh. Kirsty, if you’re reading this thanks for the chat!
The way to Melrose from Bowden takes you up and over the Eildon Hills. Fortunately the path takes you between two of the hills. Yes, you still have an up hill climb to get there but nowhere near as bad as it could have been had the path taken you over the top of one of the hills! You can walk them if you want to but being so close to the end of the day’s walk I just wanted to get to Melrose, have a pint and chill out for a bit.
I did however stop at the top of the climb to look out over the landscape behind me, confident in the knowledge that for as far as the eye could see, I’d walked my way to where I am from there. That’s a very satisfying feeling indeed. Turning round and looking out over Melrose I knew that I’d almost certainly be walking as far as the eye could see over the coming days. That spot, between the hills was a cracker and the views were stunning.
Views admired I made my way down in to Melrose and found the Kings Arms Hotel, my bed for the night. When I got there I popped in to the bar to see what the football was doing and was shocked to see that Germany were beating Argentina 3-0. I checked out the bar and was so happy to see proper beer! They had Deuchars and Adnams on pump so I ordered a pint of Deuchars and promptly sunk the pint in three gulps…lovely! The best pint I’ve had in quite a few days for sure.
I went to my room to sort myself out and was ecstatic to find a bath in my en-suite bathroom. I haven’t had a soak in a bath since being at Russ’ place the other week and it’s something I’d been dreaming of for a few days now. Showers are great but there’s nothing like a good soak after a long day’s walking.
Clean and refreshed I headed out the door to see what Melrose was like. I was a little disappointed to find out that I’d missed the Abbey opening time by ten minutes but I had as good a look at it as I could through the fence. Ok, it’s not as impressive as the Abbey at Jedburgh but I’d certainly have enjoyed having a proper look round if I’d had the chance.
With it being almost time to phone Alice and Elisa I found a quiet spot in a park and sat in the sun to phone them. There were a few technical problems with phone signals – not my end – but I eventually had a quick chat with Alice but Elisa didn’t want to talk at all. Not exactly the best phone call with them but I guess it was better than nothing?
Dinner was next on my list of things to do, seeing as I was beginning to get quite hungry. I’d passed a nice looking restaurant on my little stroll round so I headed back there. I can honestly say that it was the best meal I’ve had in the last 150 miles or so. I guess that wouldn’t be too hard really seeing as most of my meals have been standard pub fare as of late but it really was cracking food, including a lush sticky toffee pudding…yummy! If you find yourself in Melrose you could do far worse than head out to Marmions Brasserie.
I’d started off today in completely the wrong frame of mind. I think the stay at the Royal Hotel – that breakfast, yuck! – and the bad day’s walk before, plus other stuff, were playing on my mind and I think I was beginning to doubt whether I could actually do this any more. This made the start of the walk a lot harder than it needed to be.
It wasn’t until after lunch that it dawned on me that I was actually really enjoying today’s walk and from then on my mood changed considerably. St. Cuthbert’s Way was a great path to follow, made all the better by virtue of the fact that it was sign posted fantastically well. I’ve walked quite a few long-distance paths on this stroll of mine and this is by far the best for markers I’ve had yet. The woods, rivers, views, everything was just great today and I need to make sure I keep that upbeat frame of mind from now on.