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]

Monday 26 August 2013

To, From and To Kirk Yetholm

“This feels like it’s been some odd kind of illicit meeting” said Mick as we headed off in opposite directions at 7am on Friday morning. Mick was heading off north, as I returned to Byrness to pick up the car to drive up to Kirk Yetholm.

Although the day held promise, it wasn’t a good morning for views. In fact, with the cloud right down the visibility varied between ‘a few’ and ‘quite a few’ yards, meaning that within twenty minutes I was wondering whether I was walking in the right direction or whether I had veered off and was accidentally following Mick. The compass confirmed that I was heading the right way.


The cloud was breaking up by the time I got back to Byrness and the sun poking through

The conundrum of the morning was how a walk, which had been 95% uphill the previous day, was now 60% uphill on the return leg. The further mystery was who had snuck up during the night and nicked all of my energy. Whilst I was now carrying a very wet tent, two sleeping bags and two Neo-Airs as well as the rest of the usual gubbins, my pack was still not heavy, so it wasn’t that which was sapping the energy from my legs.

At least I had a good long sit down ahead of me, as I drove up to Kirk Yetholm, where I might have been tempted to just sit and contemplate the world, except that I didn’t have a phone signal and Mick was expecting to see me on top of The Schil. So, I left the car and uphill I went. Then I paused, thought a moment, rummaged in my (now almost empty) pack and went back to the car. Ten minutes after first leaving, I set off uphill again, this time with my lunch in my pack.

I do like this area, although on this day it was a little lacking in clear views, but the Pennine Way route doesn’t half go up and down. It was the downs which were disturbing me most, as I knew that I would have to go back up them later in the day.

I nearly failed in mustering the enthusiasm to go up to the top of The Schil, but having paused for a two-minute sit down, and a bit of a sugar boost, at the foot of the final climb I decided that it would be silly to get that close and not make it to the summit (I was sure that I hadn’t visited the summit itself last time I walked this section and couldn’t remember whether I had the first time either).

I was only about 100 yards away from the top when Mick came striding towards me but there was no way I was going to get that close only to turn back, so as Mick sat down for lunch I continued on. Having left my bag with Mick I didn’t have my camera with me, so don’t have any photographic evidence. I’m not sure I would have taken any photos even if I had got my camera, as it was so windy up there that I was concentrating on remaining upright.


Things became much easier after lunch. Perhaps my morning lack of energy had much to do with the strength of the head-wind I had been battling? Even so, I was mightily glad when Mick decided that, having walked the high route a couple of times (or three in my case), and with the views being largely absent, we would see what the low-level route was like.

Very pleasant was the answer, although in clear weather I would definitely recommend the higher option.

I didn’t join Mick for the final bit of road walk, having left the car before it, so past him I went to wait for him by the Border Hotel, where he arrived having spent 13 and a bit days walking the Pennine Way over the course of a month and a half, all in good weather (indeed, he wore shorts the whole way and although he did put his jacket on once, the rain had stopped by the time he had it zipped up).


My stats for the day were 14 miles walked with 2900’ of up. Mick’s were 21 miles with an unknown amount of up.


  1. Good stuff - are you continuing further? St Cuthbert's Way > SUW?


    1. Don't go putting ideas in his head! I need him to do a bit of housework before he goes off again ;-)

  2. I know someone who is off to the Harris Walking Festival...
    Nice little outing that. I could do with one of those but don't think I can shimmy it in. Roll on spring! ;-)

  3. The PW was the first proper backpack I did back in April 1987. I had a bad night in the old railway wagon just before The Schil with a wet sleeping bag and no food, and I had tears of emotion as I walked into Kirk Yetholm too early on a Sunday morning for anybody to be about.

    I hitched home to Preston and arrived in time for a late lunch.

  4. I would be upset with a wet sleeping bag and no food, let alone no beer at the end. I got a free pint as I was the first person to finish it that year in one go. I had old grumpy guts book, but they upgraded the beer to a full pint. Very nice too and I spent a fine night in the hotel.

    I note Mick gets more miles and up hill than you Gail. So he should be let off house work. Well done Mick and stand your ground we say :)

  5. Have lost your email address !!!! Email !!!!