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  • Writer's pictureJane Smith

Scotland Day 2 - Pennymuir to Jedburgh

There have been so many ways in which today has been a contrast to yesterday. Just as joyous, but very different. The day started strongly with breakfast. I am mainly pescatarian, only eating meat rarely, and red meat almost never. But I was in Scotland for my first morning, and it seemed wrong not to open with haggis and tatty scone. Delicious, yet I was feeling a ghost of the anxieties of last year, possibly brought about by the familiar routine of preparing my rucksack earlier. So I had to make myself eat it, knowing how important fuelling myself properly is, not just for the day ahead but also for preventing injury.

I'm mainly doing this walk on my own, but today I had the delight of walking with Alison, a friend from school. We had many adventures together as teenagers, but have not spent much time together as adults, as she lived for a long time in Japan. However, she is now based in Northumberland, and kindly drove the 90 minutes over to spend today with me. She is an experienced walker, and therefore was not fazed by the less than promising weather forecast, coming fully equipped. Better equipped than me, in fact, as I realised in the car that I had left my lunch behind. So much for my earnest statements in the first paragraph about my knowledge of the value of nutrition. David kindly drove us both over to where I finished yesterday, at the edge of the Roman fort of Pennymuir that the explanation board breathlessly described as clearly visible. Maybe you need an archaeologist's eye. But Alison is hoping to help at a local dig soon, so maybe she will be able to discern such things next time.

The first mile or two was out on the fells, like yesterday, but this was less wild, with cattle and sheep and the corresponding electric fences and stone walls dividing the fields. The views were still great though, and the rain was half hearted.

I like to spend quite a bit of time the night before studying the next day's map, imagining what I might see, looking forward to particularly exciting bits. One thing that stood out for today was that there was a stone circle very close to the path, and I showed Alison in advance where we would find it. And then we were so absorbed in our conversation that we completely missed it. However, there was a very dramatic skull on the floor, that we made look a bit more arty for the photo with my poles.

Almost all of today has been continuing on Dere Street. And today there have been moments when I really could imagine a phalanx of centurions. We also considered how it would have been with the oxen carts and horses also bringing supplies up to the hill fort, and the busyness of this main thoroughfare running from York to Scotland. Not now, we saw only one other person in the whole day.

We briefly walked on a quiet road, and then rejoining Dere Street the landscape was transformed. Less wild fell, and much more gentle rolling fields. The Roman road turned into a grass lined path, sometimes through tree lined avenues, sometimes with wild flowers framing the way.

The rain came and went, meaning that our coats were on and off again for the first two hours. There was a moment of dry, so we took the chance to rest and have a cup of tea from my disappointing thermos. Alison had a fold up lightweight cushioned mat to sit on. She is an expert. I sat on an old purple bin bag. I am a classy bird.

Past more forestry areas, with piles of logs and stakes possibly indicating planting areas. In investigating these, we noticed a pine cone next to one of the stakes. We thought that that was possibly the forestry company playing an unlikely long game, but who knows.

Rain coats now permanently on, the drizzly rain was more consistent, but we happily chatted our way along Dere Street. We agreed that the large column on the horizon was probably erected by a man, and discovered later that it was to commemorate Waterloo. The gentle landscape surrounding it now felt more belonging to Amersham than Scotland.

At a junction, Dere Street joined St Cuthbert's Way, and crossed Drovers Abbeys Way, adding the St Cuthbert's cross symbol to the marker posts that already had attached the Roman helmet for Dere Street. Drovers Abbeys Way was a new one on me, and is a circular route that links the ruined abbeys of Melrose, Dryburgh, Kelso and Jedburgh. St Cuthbert's Way runs from Melrose to Lindisfarne. Both look lovely routes, giving me ideas for the future, perhaps.

And then from undulating farm land we ventured into riverside meadows, adjoining the Teviot. Not for the first time, I wished that I had the nature knowledge that my fellow walker and blogger Sophie Holroyd has. Follow her blog on for lovely descriptions of her walking and her observations of the natural world. There was a beautiful purple flower that reminded me of a geranium, but I'm hoping she will help me out!

Riverside walking is always lovely, even in the rain with grey skies. As you can see in the photo above, the Teviot is crossed by an extremely fancy suspension footbridge. Funded by the EU in 1999, it was a thing of beauty, but one of perturbing bounciness. We should have possibly expected it, given the way that it dangles, but I'm sure the nearby heron enjoyed our surprised squeaks.

And then a final joyous surprise. On crossing the river, the land became manicured, and we passed an extremely impressive stately home, later discovered to be Monteviot House. We walked alongside the astonishing gardens, lured by the smell of Turkish delight, in a surprising Narnia twist. The smell emanated from the luscious beds of roses that led up from the river to the rest of the garden. What an extraordinary place.

Past some large specimen trees, and then through a copse to the road where David transported us and our wet kit to an excellent garden centre cafe. It has been such a pleasure catching up whilst enjoying a really varied and interesting walk.

David and I took a final tour of Jedburgh after dinner, admiring the outside of the Castle Jail, that looked like I'd have enjoyed going round, and the rugged little town bedecked with blue and red bunting. Is there a bunting specialist who can tell me why those colours have been especially picked? Or maybe there was a job lot on at Buntings Are Us?

Our conversation today has been wide ranging and very interesting, most particularly sharing the experience of working as a new listening volunteer for the Samaritans, as Alison started her training just after me. I'm so proud to be working for this fantastic organisation. Being able to be there for emotional support to people feels such a privilege. And if this walk raises a bit of money for them, and maybe a bit of awareness too then that is all to the good. The link for the fundraising page is at the top of this blog and also here. Last night Claire, one of my lovely choir members, suggested that I should make my music playlist sponsored. This struck me as an excellent way to perhaps raise more, whilst keeping me on my musical toes. So if anyone reading this feels like throwing a few pennies in the hat, then give me the name of a song or other piece of music in the comments of the fundraising page, and I'll promise to listen to it the next day! Who knows where this might end up....


Distance travelled: 11.5 miles

Total ascent: 1200 feet

Calories burned: 1500

Local tipple - Menabrea lager

Dinner at The Capon Tree, Jedburgh - excellent

Panko crumbed halloumi with tomato relish

Warm superfood salad with pretty much everything the chef had in the kitchen, including pomegranate, quinoa, chickpeas, edamame, you name it....

Video of the day

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