Friday 29th August: Mounthooley to Kirk Yetholm – 6 miles
Breakfast was just as good as the dinner last night. I had a five minute chat with the warden (about her fell running – I think she runs marathons in her sixties – and the the imminent Scottish referendum), settled up for the bed and board and left for the last day of my walk. I climbed up the west side of College Burn Valley, opposite the bunkhouse.
Up to the Schil
The climb was hard work – it was 200 metres up a steep grassy slope. A quarter of the way up a gunshot went off in the distance and a frightened flock of sheep around scurried around.
It was one of those stretches where I couldn’t find an obvious path, and instead of just heading to where I needed to go, I spent too much effort being hard on myself and going round in circles trying to find evidence of a course made by human feet.
Eventually I found the path up the hill, when another heavy squall passed over and soaked me. At the top of the hill I decided to keep to my plan of detouring away from Kirk Yetholm to summit the Schil, which was a kilometre away. On my climb up there, I passed a couple of gents in country gear carrying shotguns (which explained the gunfire).
Up on the ridge the wind was very strong. For the first time on the walk, with only six miles to do that day I had plenty of time to contemplate my surroundings.
At the summit of The Schil, I could take twenty to thirty minutes, albeit initially sheltering behind its rocks from the blowing gale.
Before long, the wind had blown away the storm clouds and the sun, blue sky and wispy clouds appeared. I savoured the three-sixty vista of the Cheviots.
The Last of the Cheviots
Heading towards the finish, I kept going along the ridge and the border fence.
By now I was in something of a celebratory spirit amongst those gorgeous green hills, but the fierce wind kept blasting away at me.
The wind was the strongest that I encountered; perhaps apart from the conditions towards the end of day four, coming off Pinhaw Beacon into Earby.
I finally Ieft the border fence for good and after ambling downhill through some sheep fields I got to the road that leads into to Kirk Yetholm. It had been a long, long walk and now, even with just two miles left, I couldn’t resist stopping at the two park benches along the road, just to sit down and idly contemplate the world for a quarter of an hour or so. I wasn’t in anything of a hurry.
Then, the harvested crop fields and the bungalows of Kirk Yetholm came into into view.
Finally at 3.15 I finally reached the green at Kirk Yetholm and my walk was at an end.
At the Finish
There were a lot of cars parked around – a funeral had taken place in the village and the mourners were having a drink at the Border Hotel. I ventured in a have a celebratory pint of ale to mark the finish – an enjoyable drink. I then retired to the green to finally have my sandwiches and enjoy the rest of the afternoon.
It was then across to the SYHA, just behind the green. The warden was out so I waited a short while, before one of the other guests returned: an old Scottish gent on a walking break in the hills. I chatted with him interestedly about our holidays. The warden, an affable English chap, then arrived and after checking in, I had a pleasant conversation with him about my walk and the world of youth hostelling.
A Night in Yetholm
On his recommendation, I didn’t go to the Border Hotel for my dinner, but instead strolled across to the Plough Hotel in Town Yetholm (the neighbouring village). It was rather quiet in there though, except for two dogs about to badly fall out with each other.
Back over at the Border Hotel, the Scottish gent and a rather hard of hearing Northern fellow had clearly been enjoying their evening in the bar. I grabbed a pint of bitter and spent the rest of the evening hearing them put the world into some sort of order.