Day 79 – Traquair to West Linton

Beautiful weather when I set off – it was all sunshine and little fluffy clouds and I was in good spirits. I managed to miss the forestry path on the way up from Traquair, so ended up just following the road up to Cardrona, where I found a cycle path that ran into Peebles. This avoided the road, and was fairly pleasant to walk, but was hard underfoot, and I was glad to make it into Peebles in time for lunch.
Peebles was a pleasant surprise – it was both much bigger and much nicer than I had expected. I had an excellent coffee from a small deli in a backstreet and sat outside drinking it and chatting to two men who were there on a bus tour from Leicester. When he heard that I was walking LEJOG, Arnold, who was 96, endeared himself to me instantly by asking if I were on my gap year!
From Peebles the route goes up over moorland and the Meldon hills – this was a really nice walk and felt surprisingly remote.
As I came past some sheep, I heard a clanging sound, and found a ram who had managed to get his horns tangled in the fence wire. Judging that I would probably do more harm than good if I tried to unwind him, I took a short detour to the farm to let them know.
Still feeling surprisingly energetic, I thought about climbing up to the top of White Meldon, just for the heck of it, but then a heavy shower when I was two-thirds of the way up made me remember I still had a long way to go and I slithered down the steep west side to head for Green Knowe.
The route, on an old post road and forestry track, was easy to follow until I reached the village, at which point I discovered “the fork” described in the strip map was actually a junction of several paths. I chose wrong, and wasted an hour floundering around in rough pasture. (For those following the route, it’s the right-hand of the two middle tracks heading up towards the sheepfield.)
I eventually got myself sorted out, and after a sweaty climb up through a recently felled plantation found the hill fort site. It was now raining heavily, but the views out over the countryside were lovely.
More forestry track came out on a hillside facing Green Knowe. I then spent another hour or so making my way down the hill, leaping over (or in one case, falling into) lots of burns and trying to negotiate the boggy and/or tussocky ground, all in a heavy downpour. By the time I eventually crossed the burn at the bottom of the hill I was exhausted, wet and fed up.
However, the drovers’ path which I then followed over Drum Maw and down into Romannobridge was a delight – a lovely wide track following the sweeping curves of the hillside. I would have been much better off ignoring the suggested route, heading further north from White Meldon, and following the drovers’ path through the forest.
The walking into Romannobridge was easy enough, but by the time I got there I was exhausted. I wasn’t too disappointed to find that Arran had arrived to pick me up. We stopped at the Bakehouse restaurant in West Linton on the way home, and had an excellent meal (the haggis pakora in particular was delicious) with a very friendly and attentive waitress who went out of her way to be welcoming. Home to our campsite in Bathgate to prepare for tomorrow.
Highlights: the sun coming out on the drovers’ road; being mistaken for a 21 year old!

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