Cheviot to Kirk Yetholm (14 Miles) Sunday 25th August 2002

As soon as it is light enough in the morning we decide to strike camp and head down hill. The map indicates a mountain refuge hut a couple of kilometres away, which we make a bee-line for. Inside are two chaps walking south, who are just finishing their breakfast. We prepare ours and share tales of the night before. One of the guys admits to leaving some sunglasses back along the trail “If you find them, they are yours”. Keith found them, then a year to the day after, he lost them. I wonder where they are now? The sunglasses not the chaps.

We walked so far yesterday that we only have around 7 miles left, so we take our time over breakfast and saunter out into the grizzling day. One last major ascent, The Schill, then when we get to Black Hag, a choice, high road or low road? Unanimously we go for the low road. It’s wet and windy and we’ve had enough of being blown around. 2.5km outside Kirk Yetholm, the PW takes to the road, and undulates into KY, the elastic last kilometres keep stretching out. Can I hear the band tuning up? We pass a slightly dilapidated establishment with a couple of boarde up with windows and a couple of sullen youths hanging round. Looks like a young offenders half-way house. Not the most inspiring site to greet the weary traveller. A final steep hill (marked on the OS map as 1 in 7 to 1 in 5) and suddenly! We are walking into Kirk Yetholm.

No bands or pennants flying, just a Saab, Linda and Two Children. Hugs and misty eyes all round, final photos outside the Border Hotel. Then it’s a quick change of footwear and into the bar of the Border Hotel. We sign the book and accept our complimentary Guinness. A toast to absent friends, we sit in silence for a while. Scanning the previous names we see no sign of Richard and Julie. Maybe they gave up, or just didn’t bother to come in or sign the book. We enjoy a pleasant meal in the Hotel, then decide it’s time to head for home. We had originally intended to stay the night in KY, but it is barely 1 PM so we leave a note pinned to the door of the hostel explaining that we had come, conquered and left.

I decide to make a dash for home, so Linda and Keith drive me to Berwick where I can catch a train back to London. Feeling rather tired and emotional the journey passes in a bit of a haze, except for being bussed past Doncaster (engineering works), and a call to Mike’s widow that I made as the train passed between Durham and Newcastle. Janette wasn’t at home, she had gone to see Mike’s grave in Newcastle, tomorrow would have been his birthday.

So what do we know now, that we didn’t know before we began? Well, I’m as tough as I thought, but not as tough as Keith. And Linda is a woman of extraordinary patience and generosity. Would we do it again? You bet! Will we do it again? Well… the 10th anniversary is starting to loom on the horizon. Maybe we should do it from North to South next time, and have a proper rest day at the end of each week. Now I have mentioned the weather grizzling quite often in these despatches, but we probably only got a proper wetting on three out of the nineteen days, for which we thanked our personal weather angel, who really should have been walking there with us.

To the memory of Mike McTeer

~ by @mmonyte on August 25, 2006.

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