Day 36: Melrose – Newtown St Boswells – St Boswells – Dere Street

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.

Melrose Abbey
Melrose High Street
Oddities revealed on the walk… What is it? It’s in the village of Bowden; no windows, no door; the inscription just reads: “Erected 1861”

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.

Woodland, veiled in gentleness and mystery near St Boswells
Last view of the Tweed near St Boswells looking back towards Melrose

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.

Dere Street, whither the English and Scotts came 800 years ago to settle their differences.
Knee-deep, wet grass – impossible to avoid.

Comments (5):

  1. Guy

    2 July 2022 at 16:01

    On searching t’interweb I understand that the aforementioned ‘oddity’ is the village well.

  2. Penny

    4 July 2022 at 22:32

    Well done Toby. It’s interesting following your journey in the opposite direction to mine!
    Unfortunately I had to return home with a leg injury yesterday and also had one of my boots stolen from my awning a couple of days after our paths crossed. I’ll be back to complete the Scottish section as soon as I’m fit!

    • Toby

      6 July 2022 at 06:50

      Well done, Penny! I know how disappointing it is to have to change plans, but it is in the nature of this kind of walk to compromise sometimes. You have already achieved a huge amount! Compromise doesn’t mean failure, rather, it’s an acknowledgement that we are just human. I have been compromising by changing course from my intended route. It’s all OK! If you can, get back on the trail; if not, enjoy your huge accomplishment.
      Warmest, Toby

  3. Jason

    16 July 2022 at 08:38

    Catching up on your posts, as I sit in the building site that I just woke up in, I am thinking of new boots, tents and open fields and byways. You really are an inspiration Tobes. The pictures are amazing and I love your writing.

    • Toby

      20 July 2022 at 05:48

      Thanks, Jason,
      Yes, this life would suit you.


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