full day in Scotland started wet, but soon cleared. I followed the St Cuthbert's
Way over Wideopen Hill, a fine ridge walk, then through woods and farmland to
my B&B at Ancrum. Next day, Day 58, took me north along
Dere Street, a Roman road as straight
as any. It
seems that the Romans penetrated well into Scotland, presumably to keep the Picts
and Scots away form Hadrian's Wall. Beside Dere Street, at Ancrum Moor, a monument
recorded later border conflict, where "fair maiden Lilliard..upon the English
loons laid many thumps". St Cuthbert's Way then took this English loon (happily
unthumped) along the banks of the swollen River Tweed and over the Eildon Hills
The morning of Day 59 was wet, and I was
glad of some respite in a cafe at Galashiels. The afternoon was wetter still,
as I headed up to the hills on the Southern Upland Way. It was 12th August, the
start of grouse shooting, and amazingly the shooters were also out in the pouring
rain. I passed the Three Brethren, said to be the finest viewpoint on the whole
Southern Upland Way, in thick mist, and squelched my way down to the isolated
youth hostel at Broadmeadows.
Next morning there was
no water at the youth hostel - the storm had washed away its water tanks. But
at least the rain had stopped. I climbed back into the mist, and groped my way
along the Southern Upland Way to Traquair.
From there it was a mix of road walking and the trails of Cardrona Forest to Peebles.
Susan had flown up for a few days, and we stayed that night in a B&B just
Day 61 called for some complicated
navigation. Away from the recognised hiking areas and trails such as St Cuthbert's
Way, Scotland lacks the signposted footpaths which are everywhere in England.
Even footpaths marked on the map often did not exist on the ground, and I got
to be an expert in negotiating barbed-wire fences and bridgeless streams. That
day I had to abandon looking for a path south of the Cloich Hills, and made my
way by forest tracks to Noblehouse, then by road to Carlops.
the road, a guy came out of his house and immediately asked me if I was walking
from Lands End to John O'Groats. I was taken aback - I had not realised it was
so obvious. He explained that he used to assume that walkers passing by were just
local ramblers, but last year the Naked Rambler walked past. Since then he had
assumed that everyone was walking to John O'Groats. I told him that the route
was in McCloy's book, so he was probably right.
day was brilliant weather. From Carlops the route lay over the Pentland Hills,
and feeling energetic, I climbed up two of the summits, West Kip and East
Kip. Ahead lay Edinburgh, the Firth
of Forth and Fife. From the Pentlands I followed the Water of Leith Walkway,
which took me painlessly past Murrayfield Stadium into the centre of Edinburgh.
It was Festival time, and the streets were busy with musicians and performers.