Ascent/Descent: 1170m/1140m (less 100m & 1mile if you omit Eildon "Mid Hill")
Start/Finish: Melrose to Kirk Yetholm
Terrain: Muddy trails, some (very quiet) roads
Transport: First buses, and Munro's buses. Berwick-upon-Tweed is stop on main East coast train line, with shuttle buses to Lindisfarne (Mon - Sat)
Route: Route Map
St. Cuthbert's Way Stages: 1  Next
Although a low-level route, its fair to say I underestimated the terrain underfoot - and dragging a bike along would be a pain in the @rse, for me at least. I also underestimated how nice it is, expecting to be spending most of the journey trudging along the rough edges of samey fields. As well as fields there are great rivers, dells, pretty villages, woodlands, moorlands, abbeys, churches, monuments, castles, forts, country parks and country pubs with fire places...
Although the decision had been spontaneous I had looked into this route a few months ago, planning to split the run at Kirk Yetholm thus fitting it nicely into two of Winter's short days. There's a bus to Melrose Saturday morning from Edinburgh, and a train home from Berwick-upon-tweed not too far from the finish at Lindisfarne, but I was gratefully saved from working around public transport when my dad phoned up about something completely unrelated, I told him my intentions, and later he got back to me saying he was "allowed to go".
|Looking W from the 422m top of Eildon Mid Hill (a bonus option!)|
I parked in the tidy centre of Melrose, from where we walked the short distance to the abbey and found a nearby cafe in which to take refuge from a bitterly cold breeze. That breeze would be my tailwind for the day.
|The way ahead (snowy Cheviots on horizon)|
|Following Bowden Burn towards the R. Tweed|
The next mile or so was along the banks of the majestic river. I found the trail surprisingly hard going, lots of steps cutting up and down the wooded embankment, and between the steps was more of that greasy mud. I probably should have expected this having heard the reports from runners of the inaugural "Three Peaks Ultra Marathon" back in October, which followed this part of the route.
|A series of steps interspersed with mud along the banks of the River Tweed|
|Maxton Church (dedicated to St. Cuthbert)|
Excusing the pun, the St.Cuthberts Way religiously follows the roman road for at least 6 miles. After 4 of them I was begging for a corner, but there was stuff to keep me amused. On the hill to my left was a concrete tardis. A bit further on, another hill had
|Lilliard's Stone, with Dere Street going on, and on, and on..|
Sitting on the old railway platform here, munching on a banana, I contemplated how slow I was moving today, with only 17miles done and 14 to go. Sure this wasn't a race or time trial, nor was there any particular need to rush, it just felt like more effort to move forward than almost all other, much hillier routes I've done. Couldn't blame the (tail) wind, so was it the amount of under-foot grease? Or inside-belly grease!? It hadn't been long since Christmas, but I can't put all the blame on Terry's chocolate orange.
|"Please shut the gate". Footbridge over Oxnam Water beyond|
|Cessford Castle and remaining bit of wall|
|Road after Morebattle|
I looked longingly at the Templehall Hotel thinking of warmth and a pint, but knew I'd enjoy it all the more once safely arrived at Kirk Yetholm, hopefully before dusk.
|Overlooking the valley of Kale Water|
|Waymarker on Wideopen Hill|
To be continued..
St. Cuthbert's Way Stages: 1  Next