The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Day 59 - Peebles to beyond Cauldstane Slap

12 June
Distance: 18.25 miles

I was tired today. More tired than I've been at any point since Day 2. However, I put that down to the ignorami (I would be a little less polite except that my grandmother reads this (hello Much!)) who decided, amongst other unnecessary disturbances to do the hokey cokey at the top of their lungs outside of our tent in a fit of extreme drunkenness at 12.30 this morning.

The lack of sleep didn't stop me springing out of bed at the usual time, and I was cheered to find that after some very heavy and very prolonged rain during the night, the day was again a fine one, with lots of blue sky.

We were soon out of Peebles, making our way first to and then along the old drove road that leads to West Linton. A nice route it was too, with mainly nice underfoot conditions - albeit a bit hard in places (the dreaded tarmac, in particular).

We didn't meet anyone out walking the whole way to West Linton, although we did stop for a good chat with a chap maintaining one of the paths for the estate upon which it lies.

I can't comment on West Linton itself, which is in the midst of its festival at the moment, as we skirted around it, but I can recommend Rosehip tearoom on the outskirts. It's housed in the old drove road toll house and serves some excellent lunches. Being not a planned stop that meant that we find ourselves unnecessarily still carrying today's intended lunch - so much for lightweight!

'Twas hard underfoot again leaving West Linton and the tiredness was seeping through all of my bones.

Unexpectedly, at a time when I thought my weariness was going to make the rest of the day a trudge, I was cheered by the chance meeting of two very nice men.

Kenny and Jim were their names and they'd been out to the Caulderstane Slap on a 5 hour walk during which time we were the only people they'd met.

A bit of a chat was had and upon learning the nature of our trip we were invited to have a meal with them in a local pub. Alas, given that our intended destination for the day was up in the hills, we had to decline, to which Jim put his hand in his pocket and handed over a generous sum of money which he was quite adamant was to be spent on beer and food, not to be given to Macmillan. We will abide by that instruction and I look forward to finding a pub tomorrow, whereupon we will toast these gents.

Macmillan didn't lose out either, as we also came away with a £20 donation.

We continued our last few miles with a renewed bounce, reflecting on such random acts of kindness by strangers. It makes what is already an excellent walk even more special.

Pushing on having scoffed some very nice cake for sustenance, we passed through more wonderful open country, with just birds and sheep for company. At Cauldstane Slap it was time to leave the path to start looking for a pitch.

It's not a bad one that we found, not too near but not too far from our route, and with running water close to hand. We've the sight of planes taking off from Edinburgh not to distant, but beyond that, to the north-west is our first glimpse of highlands. Those are definite high pointy things on the horizon - and in just a few more days we'll be in amongst them.

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