Lilliardsedge to Kirk Yetholm

Day Two – St Cuthberts Way

The day dawned fine with mist quickly disappearing and leaving only dew soaked grass in the early sunshine. I wanted to be up and away at six thirty as I knew I had one of my longest days today. This was the first full day of walking with a fully loaded backpack. Soon the tent and everything else was packed away and I set off to back track a short distance to rejoin Dere Street.

I was back at the trail after wading through waist high rough and very wet grass to the site of Lilliards Grave.

I was thinking that St Cuthbert might well have travelled on this section of the trail as Dere Street seemed to have been a recognised route well into the medieval times. There were views on both sides and looking to the right I sought out Rubers Law in the distance. I remember one summer when I was unemployed stopping a couple of nights with my Dad’s army friend in Bonchester Bridge and climbing that hill on his recommendation. A return visit another time maybe.

I felt fine along this stretch of the trail, though it was downhill at this stage. As I approached the River Teviot it was back into woodland around the Monteviot House estate. To get across the river the trail has to go the long way round. It reminded me of other walks I had been on where the private landowners exclude the public from their land.

I was then faced with the footbridge across the River Teviot. It was a well constructed bridge but perhaps because I felt unbalanced with a heavy backpack on I found crossing it really scary. I do suffer from vertigo much more as I get older but this was quite intense.

I walked along the vanks of the Teviot for a while and then over the Jedfoot Bridge before rejoining Dere Street. This seemed a bit mor like a Roman Road – even if it’s condition I am sure owed more to it being a farm track too.

The next part of the walk was a delightful mix of woodland, pasture and arable fields.

It was in this section of the walk that I began to struggle. It was getting hotter and hotter and the ups and downs were getting steeper. There was a lovely valley, a steep track through woodland then a path up through the field opposite. I was able to exchange greetings with a family on this section but the walk up the steep hill was a killer. After reaching the farm at the end of the field I was faced with a stretch of road going directly up to the brow of the hill. It was a struggle I would walk and then stop walk and then stop. I got there but I felt the weight of my load in contrast to the family I met who just had day packs and were staying in hotels and B&Bs. There was a little bit of respite as the gradients didn’t seem so bad but it was getting hotter.

I did feel at this point I was running out of energy, snacks and electrolyte tablets in my water didn’t seem to make much impact. I was focussed on getting to my rest stop at Morbattle before going on to my overnight stay at Kirk Yetholm Hostel. I did distract myself though by looking at the fields around with the farmers gathering the straw and musing how different it would have been for my ancestors working the land in this area. My family history research had shown that my 2x and 3x Grandfathers were from this area and were agricultural labourers.

Sadly I was at this point my energy levels had dropped really low and the approach to Morebattle was mainly roadwalking with little shade. I got there and found the village store which had some seating at the back and got something to eat and drink. I had some serious thinking to do, I knew the next section was really steep but had some of the best views but I wasn’t sure I could make it. I had a booking at the hostel and I knew I had to get to Holy Island because that was the real purpose of my walk. In the end after much agonizing I decided to catch the bus. I had a while to wait so sat on a bench and watched other walkers pass me by. It was difficult not to feel something of a failure because I wasn’t going to walk all the way.

Once I checked in to the hostel and chatted to the volunteer wardens, had a shower and something to eat I did feel a whole lot better. In my heart I knew I wasn’t there just for the walk but this was my pilgrimage in honour of St Cuthbert. Getting there was more important than how I got there.