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  • Writer's pictureJane Smith

Scotland Day 7 - Peebles to West Linton

The forecast for today was pretty poor, with a high chance of rain for a lot of the day. But the hours up until 10am were the most likely to be dry, so we got up early in order to be walking by 8. David was joining me again today, the last time I'll have walking company till Loch Lomond when my lovely sister in law Magda and niece Flo will be accompanying me for a couple of days.

We strolled through Peebles, which was gently waking up, and climbed up through the edge of the town, enjoying the hardy looking terraces of houses that appeared capable of coping with all that the weather would throw at them.


There was a special garden created to commemorate Peebles man Taylor Winyard's world record in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, with a full size model of him in his boat. I am proud to know Frankie Tuck, the daughter of my good friend Angie, who completed the trip in the same year that Taylor did. It is such an enormous challenge, being on the sea for weeks and weeks, and no chance of a change of clothes, or decent food. Makes what I'm doing seem literally like a walk in a park.

A steepish climb out of the town, leading to a few stops to keep my heart rate under control, whilst pretending to be taking photographs. Looking at Peebles nestling in the Tweed valley we could see why there is a problem with flooding. The amount of water that must rush off all of those hills onto the town must take a lot of dealing with.


Today we walking on the Cross Borders Drove Road. This is an ancient thoroughfare on which drovers would move their livestock from the trysts in Falkirk and Crieff to markets south of the border. Thousands of cattle and sheep would use this route between the 16th and 19th centuries, marked for us by a new icon to follow. This 21st century iteration of the path is a 52 mile well marked trail aimed at walkers, cyclists and riders. Instead of the centurions whose sandalled feet I was following a few days ago, this time it was hobnail booted drovers. As the weather threw all sorts at us today, I thought a lot about what the drovers would have worn to keep the water out. No extra waterproofing spray for their cagoules for them, and woollen clothes would take some drying out!

At the top of the first ascent of the day the moors laid themselves out to the incongruous sound of an owl hooting, and then the more expected sound of rain. Into full wets, knocking a few seconds off my previous record, and started off again with the skies immediately clearing. It came and went all morning, but mainly it was less than we'd feared, allowing us to enjoy the views and the easy walking. Having not seen any since arriving in this area, there were wind farms visible in the distance, and the trees showed such how strong the weather is round here.

This area does feel like a border, or a 'debatable land' as Graham Robb's book describes it - an independent territory that used to exist between Scotland and England. Parts feel familiar, more gently pastoral, and others are everything I had expected of Scotland with big hills and valleys, moorland and wild.

There were three main ascents today, with the second one finishing in a forest. This was dense pine, with the trees closely growing together blocking out the light. The moisture in the air had made my hair go full Brian May.


David found the forest rather dourly intimidating, I was somewhat seduced by it. To me it felt rather magical, and certainly the fact that it blocked the rain was a benefit. We found a wonderfully springy bank of pine needles to sit and have a break, and I enjoyed the sun filtering through the branches in front of us.

Out onto Green Knowe and the moor again, and I put on Hothouse Flowers' version of 'I can see clearly now', added to my sponsored playlist by my friend and fellow walker Sophie. She had hoped that it would give me dry weather, and she clearly has magical powers. The skies cleared, and there was blue, and bright greens and joy everywhere. The ferns were unfurling, the pine trees were glistening, the little becks were happily bubbling and the drove road led out in front of us, beckoning us onward.


Happily coming off this blissful place, we walked through another wood. I thought it might be a plan to stop there for lunch before the last section, and this was a fortunate choice, as the mood changed, the skies darkened and it lashed with rain, as heavily as I've had since coming up here. We snuggled up to the trees for shelter, but they were no match for the onslaught. So togged up yet again we trudged on towards West Linton. The end of the walk was more dull, on road with rain dripping off our noses, so it was good to have a momentary lift of the skies to see the village, and have The Gordon pub as an oasis whilst we waited for Keith the taxi driver to take us back to Peebles.

We could have gone straight back home to dry off, but if you've got the choice of that or an award winning chocolatier's fantastic creations then surely there is only one option. Possibly one of the best hot chocolates I've ever had, flavoured with dark chocolate and chilli. It's worth making the journey to Peebles just for CocoaBlack.

Stats

Distance travelled: 13.2 miles

Total ascent: 1875 feet

Calories burned: 1894


Local tipple: half of Traquair Jacobite Ale

Dinner at our Air BnB, thanks to David

Cod, Parmesan mashed potatoes, mixed vegetables

Strawberries and cream, with a bit of Clootie Dumpling


Sponsored piece of music, thanks to Sophie

'I can see clearly now' - Hothouse Flowers


Video of the day


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