13.6 miles – showers, some heavy
Unlikely as it may seem, the campsite in Melrose town centre partly occupies land which doubles as the local primary school’s playing fields. I muzzily dragged myself from bed and un-pitched my tent to the sight of children arriving at their school a few yards away. That part of the school fields given over to tents was merely roped off from the rest – bizarre.
I’ve never been much of a tourist. The joy of walking is in receiving and experiencing whatever is revealed as I walk along – unprepared. I made an exception for Melrose Abbey. It was founded in 1136, and although its gorgeous deep-red sandstone walls are now all that remain, it retains an air of strength and holiness.
Between Newtown St Boswells and St Boswells (presumably the prototype) the path meanders through woodland beside the Tweed. I’m beginning to realise how deep woodland is in my soul, as I always feel at peace, veiled by gentleness and mystery.
The last part of my walk took me along Dere Street, the Roman road. There is nothing more irritating to the walker wishing to keep his feet dry than long, wet grass. It sort of pushes the water into every crevice and seam of the boots, and nothing to do but squelch on and endure the abrasion of wet sock against toe. I had three miles of it, after which I had had enough, and pitched my tent beside the only safe-to-drink burn I had passed all day in sheltered woodland under a beach tree.