Day 76 – Byrness to Jedburgh

What with injury time and flat tires, by this point it felt as if we had been hovering just north of Hadrian’s wall for ever. Arran was becoming openly mutinous at the prospect of doing any more ‘Roman stuff’ and I was really looking forward to leaving the Pennine Way, bleak moorlands and England behind in one fell swoop.
I wasn’t expecting much from the day’s route, though, and if truth be told was a bit apprehensive about leaving a national trail (even one as haphazardly waymarked as the Pennine Way) and heading over the border armed only with strip maps (having failed to pick up a map for this section).
The sky was grey and overcast when I set off, and I mentally braced myself for another cold, wet day. In the event, the rain didn’t materialise; it was squidgy underfoot but not too bad, and I made fairly good progress. There were some good views as I headed north, although signs by the path alternated bizarrely between military warnings (“Danger of death – do not pick up unexploded bombs” – I paraphrase) and archaeological notices (“Do not dig”). The latter showed a green circle indicating permitted activity, but it was impossible to tell what it was – my closest guess was either ‘holding a clipboard’ or ‘sketching’.
I stopped briefly at Chew Green (the site of a former Roman fort which is now in the middle of nowhere) before heading north, to finally leave the Pennine Way and cross the border into Scotland.
Actually, the border is a massive anticlimax. There’s a wire and post fence but nothing to distinguish it from any other fence or tell you that you have entered Scotland (not sure what I expected but a sign and maybe a saltire or two would have been nice).
The route from the border onwards follows Dere Street, a Roman road which for some of the way has ancient monument status. The path headed away from the Pennine Way to crest a hill, and when I puffed my way up, I was rewarded by the most amazing vista of the lowland hills and farmland beyond. The sun came out, and as I gazed over this landscape it finally hit me – I was in Scotland! More importantly, I had WALKED to Scotland! Definitely one of those LEJOG moments. Dere Street goes down the hill in a lovely curved sweep of grassy turf, and as I walked down I couldn’t stop grinning.
The rest of the afternoon couldn’t quite match that, but there was some pleasant walking through fields and the slightly comic sight of a farmer trying to herd sheep with the most inept sheepdog ever. The last bit into Jedburgh, down roads, seemed to take forever, but I marched into the campsite in a buoyant mood. Highlights: I’m in Scotland!


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