|Day 48 – May 26||Bryness to Jedburgh|
|Weather: Cloudy and cool||B&B: Airen Lea B&B (£40)|
|Departed: 8:05 Arrived: 15:30||Walked: 6h 29m Rested: 0 hr 58m|
|Distance Today: 19.4 mi / 31.22 km||Total Distance: 748.81 mi / 1205.09 km|
|% Complete: ~ 65.11%||Pint of the Day: McEwan’s 70-shilling Ale|
|GPS Track for: Day 48|
It’s hard not to notice that the days are getting longer when your bedroom window is lit up at 5:30am. At the moment its light until 9:30pm and I suspect by the time I reach John O’Groats there may be only a few hours of darkness at night.
Walter took full advantage of the daylight and was on the road by 6:30am. Steve and I hung around for one last “Full English” but were still on the trail just after 8am. It was a bit cold to be wearing shorts and a light shirt but I knew we were in for an extremely steep climb right off the start. The Pennine Way climbed from the roadside straight up the side of forested hill. It reminded me of a ski slope at times and by the time we reached the summit a light mist was falling.
Once on top we began a 6-mile walk along the exposed tops of the Cheviot Hills. There were some boggy sections to deal with but the dry conditions meant the were manageable … there are sections here that are famous for burying walkers up to their waist. There were also some fantastic 360-degree views and the visibility was excellent despite the odd light shower.
As we neared a small forest we walked over a long section of boardwalk and then turned west towards the border with Scotland. The border which generated so much bloodshed in centuries past is now marked by a simple fence. Steve’s father was born in Aberdeen and so he wanted to mark the occasion with a photo. I provided musical accompaniment courtesy of my iPod Touch and so we marched into Scotland to strains of The Black Bear and Scotland the Brave.
The Pennine Way briefly re-entered England near the old Roman fort at Chew Green but a couple of miles later we left England and the Pennine Way for good when we veered left on Dere Street, an old Roman road. This part of the world is absolutely riddled with Roman remains: forts, fortlets, camps, settlements, etc..
Dere Street followed a course through a spectacular section of the Cheviot Hills, one of the highlights being the narrow trail above a deep valley with a small forest in the middle called Blackie Hope. This valley reminded me a bit of High Cup.
Dere Street was our route for the next 8 or so miles and like most Roman roads it contained very few turns but quite a few ups and downs. So far there was very little to indicate that we were in Scotland (Scottish sheep are just as stupid as English sheep) with the possible exception of the Gorse that was in full bloom along the way.
Eventually the Cheviots gave way to less spectacular farm land although it was unusual to be walking through crops again after hundreds of miles of fields dedicated to grazing. One of the highlights was a two mile stretch where Dere Street followed a dirt track lined with beautiful Beech trees.
We left Dere Street to take advantage of a shortcut to Jedburgh along a quiet local road. After 19.4 non-stop miles we stumbled into town with tired feet and aching shoulders. In doing so we passed right by my b&b and so Steve and I parted company. There’s a good chance we’ll meet again as we make our way towards the West Highland Way over the next week or so.
Earlier today I had a phone call from Bill Williams who I met in Gloucester many weeks ago. He was on his way to north-west Scotland and we arranged to meet up for a meal in Jedburgh. It was great to see him again and we had a great chat over our Chicken curries and pints of McEwans. Thanks Bill!