Distance: 19.75 miles
Weather: clear sunny start, then varying amounts of cloud, finally clouding completely by 5pm and raining by 6.
To my surprise, we stepped out this morning to find yet another warm sunny day. Everyone (including the weatherman) had said the fine spell was to break, and even though the rain wasn't forecast to reach us until evening, I had expected it to be overcast and cooler.
The first task of the day (after another quick dash to the supermarket to pick up cheese (omitted from last night's shopping so it didn't spend the night sweating)) was to get out of Galashiels, and I thought I had a good plan to achieve that*. Not feeling the need to follow the Way into Melrose, having walked through there on a couple of previous occasions, the intention was to take the path which follows the disused railway along the riverside. Unfortunately, what isn't apparent from either my (4-year-old) map or aerial photos is that a new railway line is being constructed along that old railway bed and thus the path is no more.
Heading along a minor road going in the right general direction, we were about to cross the river to take another road on the other side when we spotted a well-trodden path along the riverbank and opted to follow it. The route came good (kinda), but I wouldn't recommend it. The bit where we squeezed along the tiny bit of ground lying between the railway fence and the steep drop to the river was bad enough, but at the top of the next rise we found ourselves in a construction site, complete with heavy plant.
Faced with the prospect of backtracking a mile to the nearest accessible bridge, I voted to continue, apologise and plead for permission to proceed to the road just 50 yards hence. Apologies and pleading were unnecessary. The chap who came out to intercept us merely gave us directions to get off the site and join the new path that proceeds from there. Phew!
The day was pretty uneventful after that start (well, until the teabags incident; that was certainly an event!). Under blue skies we walked predominantly along an old drove road through gently undulating, lush grazing land full of sheep and lambs.
In Lauder we intended to buy scones from the bakery, but somehow walked past without so doing (not that we're in any way short of food) and ended up just with orange juice from the convenience store. Past the castle and onto more undulating green grazing land we then went until at Blythe Water we reached our intended night-stop. It's a location I selected based on prior knowledge of what a good spot it is, having stayed there before.
However, it was only 3pm and, with a need to be in Cockburnspath in time for the 12.44 bus on Sunday, it made sense to go further today, even though we knew we wouldn't find another pitch of anywhere near such quality further on.
Happily, in the tussocky moorland we then entered there sits a rusty iron barn, and next to it is some flat(ish) grass. With the skies behind looking ominously dark, we took it; a good decision, as half an hour later the rain hit.
(*Looking at the map now I wonder why I didn't consider heading N out of Galashiels to take the route to the E of Buckholm Hill, then via Langshaw to take the path which joins the Way by Bluecairn. I'm sure it would have been a more straightforward way out of town.)
(Sorry, no picture today. Completely failed to get the Blackberry out during the day.)
Sent using BlackBerry® from Orange