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]

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Day 27 - Melrose to NE of Lauder

Fri 15 April (0930-1545)
Distance: 14 miles
Weather: cloudy, one brief drizzly shower
Number of killer cows: 1
Number of windfarms: 3 (Tot: 6)*

It was a leisurely start to the day. A big breakfast and the purchase of pies featured before we bounced over the suspension bridge to take us north out of Melrose. It seems that barely a day of this trip has gone past (if indeed one has at all) without us being on one named Way or another, and today it was the turn of the Southern Upland Way (SUW).

It was pretty easy and fast walking too, with much of the day being on tracks (old drove roads, it seemed by appearance). Being a National Trail it was also, as you would expect, extensively waymarked meaning that we didn't have to pay much attention to the map.

Not very far into the day we met two women who are section-hiking the SUW, one of whom we caused to be re-united with her walking pole, which she'd left two gates back. Chatting to her we learnt that it was her third pole, the previous two having met the same fate.

Even with all of the named Ways that we've touched along our route, we've seen scant few other walkers, and these two ladies were the only SUW-ers we saw all day.

Having bade the ladies a good trip, we'd not walked many paces into the next field when a cow looked up from its grazing and promptly ran straight at us. Unusual behaviour, I thought, but looking around we realised that her calf was the other side of the fence and that we were about to walk between her and it. A quick change of path saw us avoid over-stressing the cow, not to mention a trampling.

Having stopped for a cup of tea in Lauder, and then for lunch a mile later, overlooking the castle (a lunch of the very tasty pies from the butcher in Melrose; Dauphinoise in my case which was a splendid change from fish and crackers) we were debating where to end our day. On the itinerary, I had us walking 20.5 miles, but Mick held a suspicion (admittedly one based on precedent) that if we walked that far today then I would push for us running the next two days together. So, when we reached a perfect camping spot 14 miles through the day I was happy to stop. Aside from the eminent suitability of the ground I pointed out that it would remove any possible notion of reaching North Berwick tomorrow. Plus, the map didn't show the likelihood of anywhere so good further on.

With the joys of being in Scotland now, there were no concerns when the farmer drove his sheep through the field above us just after we pitched. We enjoyed watching his excellently executed drive, and got a friendly wave from him as he moved on.

Now we sit here, cups of tea in hand, enjoying the babble of the stream/river next to which we are pitched. It's our favourite sort of pitch.

(Maike: we certainly did get lots of snaps of the otters, plus a little video snippet. I'll post them over Easter)

(*it's really difficult counting the windfarms; I keep losing track of which ones I've already seen from a distance)

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