18.8 miles – light showers clearing to warm sunshine and puffy clouds
I awoke at 5:00 to the sound of what, in my bleary half-sleep sounded like prison doors being unbolted. Coming to and remembering where I was I realised this was an unlikely explanation, and peering through the mesh of my tent I saw what appeared to be tree trunks being hoisted onto a lorry. They had gone by 6:30; I wonder, could it have been a case of tree rustlers?
It proved to be a happy day, in contrast to some of the preceding ones, in which despondency had seeped into my core. I have no explanation as to why some days go one way and some the other; only that a long walk on one’s own, brings out what might otherwise lay hidden. It’s part of the meaning of the walk.
The suspension bridge over the River Teviot is one of those this which delights by its unexpectedness. It oscillate as soon as you step onto it, and interestingly, the amount of vibration varies as you cross; midway is a low-vibration point, five-eighth of the way across the highest, three quarters fairly low and so on. The degree of movement seems to vary according to the natural harmonic series.
St Cuthbert’s Way takes in a couple of long woodland strips. I assume they were retained from the ancient forest to act as a windbreak; but being 100 feet wide or more one feels immersed. The sun was shining during these stretches and I was engulfed in that increasingly familiar woodland peace.
Morebattle Community Shop is run by two paid staff and 22 volunteers. It’s owned by the community and not run for profit, and it means this small, isolated village retains its independence. It caters for St Cuthbert’s way walkers and I gratefully bought blister plasters and new socks: I was delighted to support them.
The afternoon’s walk took me over Wideopen Hill, where the sense of being in a borderland was palpable.
Kirk Yetholm Youth Hostel is just as youth hostels were when I first went hiking at the age of 18 – except for the element of youth. At the age of 60, it was generally acknowledged that I was the youngest person present!