It’s strange to think, if all goes to plan, that in a day and a half I’ll be leaving Scotland and heading into England, exactly one month after starting this walk. If there’s one thing I’ve learnt since setting off, it’s that Scotland is much bigger than you think. Consider that Inverness is regarded as being so far north that most Scots won’t venture that far – and I had to walk 120-odd miles from John O’ Groats just to get there.
398 miles down the road – the exertions of the last few days have really accelerated the count – and it’s a damp evening in Melrose, though there’s a lovely golden tinge to the sky where the clouds don’t quite reach to the western horizon allowing the setting sun to break through. It’s going to be strange to leave Scotland behind after its been my effective home for so long and cross the border to a land where Haggis, Neeps and Tatties isn’t a fixture on every menu, where all the money is printed by just one bank, where people can still smoke inside pubs and the papers make reference to football teams using nicknames I can actually understand.
Still, it’s not over yet, and tomorrow’s another day of following the Tweed for a while before picking up the old Roman road of Dere Street and heading into Jedburgh. I guess the presence of Roman roads indicates how far south I’ve come – somewhere in the last few days I must have crossed the path of the Antonine Wall, but I’ve no idea where.
The plan’s still as I laid it out earlier in the week – Jedburgh tomorrow, then Byrness on Friday, Bellingham on Saturday, Once Brewed on Sunday and then (cutting off a corner of the Pennine Way and following the South Tyne instead) Alston on Monday where I may take a day off. As ever, anyone wanting to join me for the day, or offer any other kind of help is more than welcome.