Sunday, March 4, 2007

Day 41 : Melrose to Peebles

Saturday 24th February 2007

Distance Walked: 24.5 miles
Start Time: 9:03
End Time: 16:29
Elapsed Time: 7:26
Weather: Gloomy. Damp clouds on hills.
Distance walked so far: 798.6 miles

The suburbs of Melrose are strewn along the banks of the River Tweed and, walking west along the cycle paths, I bisect the industrial estates that lead towards the housing projects on the outskirts of Galashiels. These are not the places that tourists and walkers are encouraged to see. Poverty doesn’t really exist in Britain (even the high-rise council flats are peppered with satellite dishes) but this is a grim contrast to the rural idyll of the pamphlets. It’s refreshingly normal.

There are many miles to cover today, and I approach them with foreboding. The Pennine Way has scorched itself into my head to the extent that I contemplate a stupidly long, winding route in order to avoid the high places that I now associate with tortuous progress and potential disaster, but I put my faith in Scotland and Scotland does not let me down.

The Southern Upland Way is fantastic; safe yet exciting. It’s a steep climb up Cribs Hill but, having overtaken the wobbling bikers, the gradually rising path towards the forested and cloudy Minch Moor is a delight. No danger of disappearing here. The pockets of rain clouds sweep amongst the fir trees, but the downpours are so brief that I barely notice. The shapely hills elevate the forest above those on the English side of the border, and the view of Innerleithen on the descent is almost Alpine in its sheer prettiness. I drop down to the village of Traquair, famed for its beer and royal connections (apparently), and then it’s a long, long couple of hours on the winding B-road that eventually leads to Peebles, where a cute girl with big eyes let’s me stay in her hotel for the night, for a fee. Bargain.

Song of the day:

Emmitt Rodes
“Blue Horizon”

I’m not excited and I’m not enthused /
I’m disillusioned and so confused /
Ask your questions, I hope you’ll try /
I feel no judgement, I’ll answer with a smile /

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