Thursday, March 1, 2007

Day 39 : Byrness to Jedburgh

Thursday 22nd February 2007

Distance Walked: 20.7 miles
Start Time: 9:07
End Time: 16:13
Elapsed Time: 7:06
Weather: Wet.
Distance walked so far: 758.5 miles

The nights of sporadic sleep continue. Weeks of strange beds have taken their toll and, despite the effort exerted daily, I’m up at six and strapping myself into the contraptions that will convert this skinny, ravaged shell into an unstoppable limping machine. It’s quite an operation, but it’s strangely reassuring to pull on the supports and apply the gels. We are creatures of routine, and this is mine.

The rain had been crashing down all night and there are rivers forming in the streets as I squelch up the path through the forest that leads to Byrness Hill. The Pennine Way has one more treat in store, for up here I’m enveloped by cloud and sucked again into the earth. It’s hard to quell the resentment that forms. How irresponsible of them to suggest that people could walk here! Don’t the fools know how dangerous it is?

But I’m the fool and this is my punishment and, as I extract my feet from the mire and slowly prance over yet another bog, I adopt my most stoical posture and plunge pathetically on. It’s not entirely clear at what point I first cross into Scotland, there was no obvious fanfare at least, but for me the celebrations begin when I leave the Pennine Way for the final time, flop over a fence, and follow the scarcely discernible remnants of Dere Street, the old Roman road that should sporadically take me straight to Jedburgh.

The party in my pants soon fades. If this is Scotland, it’s as wet and bleak and miserable as anything that England had mustered. The historic, but soggy, delights of Dere Street soon fade and, heading for the safety of the tarmac lanes, it’s a long damp trudge into Jedburgh, a town which, when I arrive is, strangely, at war with itself. Shop windows in the high street are boarded and rain soaked youths are splattered across the streets. People are running wild. Screams reverberate. It’s carnage. The horror, the horror.

At the B&B I’m reassured that I’ve simply stumbled upon the town’s ancient, annual street-football game, one of those peculiar British traditions that defies reason or interpretation, and whilst I’m apparently permitted to side with either the Uppies or Doonies and join in, I instead opt for a traditional Scottish curry and an early night. I’ve got enough to worry about at the moment without the prospect of a marauding Scotsman pounding my head into the road for mishandling his misshapen leathery ball. I may be a fool, but I’m not stupid.

Song of the day:

Sufjan Stevens
“They Are Night Zombies!! They Are Neighbors!! They Have Come Back From the Dead!! Ahhhh!”

I know, I know my time has passed /
I'm not so young, I'm not so fast /
I tremble with the nervous thought /
Of having been, at last, forgot


John said...

I am a Turnbull whose ancestors claim Jedburgh and the surrounding Rule Valley as the clan's home. I also, from America, operate a website on world football ( It would do me honor to post pictures of the street football match you encountered, if you had any luck with your digital camera at the time. Who seemed to have the upper hand? Uppies or Doonies?

DaveG said...

Hi John. Fantastic site you've got there. Football is the greatest game on the planet, and I am one it's many inexpert practicioners.

Sadly i didn't actually have my camera on me when i was watching (from a distance) most of the tussling. I've only got shots of the hoardings on the windows. Not much of a photo-journalist.

Hard to say who was winning. I think they have a series of games stretched over the entire day, and they don't wear colours, so how they know what's going on is anybody's guess.

It's probably worth a Google to see if there's any info about it.

Thanks for reading.

DaveG said...

Having said that, there are a coupleof pictures here:

The Global Game said...

Thank you for taking the time to post the link, and thanks for the kind words about the website. We hope that John o' Groats comes into view soon ...