Day 61 Wednesday 16 June Jedburgh to Melrose

Miles walked: Today 20 cumulative 937

I thought 20 miles was too far for my first day so about 2 months ago I drew some short cuts on the map. Unfortunately today I thought they were wet weather alternatives so I walked the full distance. I wasn’t even put off by the couple who said to me : “That’s a long way, it’s over 20 miles.” Anyway, I made it.

The day was dull with occasional drizzle but it was warm. I stopped at Queen Mary’s house, where she stayed when she visited Jedburgh in 1566. It is closed because of COVID but the outside is impressive.

There are some pear trees in the garden. Pears were introduced by the Augustinian canons when they arrived from France and they thrived in the climate of the Scottish Borders. They were highly sought after in the 19th Century, but their popularity waned after the Victorian era.

I decided to leave Jedburgh by joining St Cuthbert’s Way (see day 69 for an explanation) and retraced my steps to Dere Street which I first met on the Pennine Way. Bad move! That added an extra mile, I should have walked down the road. At this point Dere Street is a farm track that descends to the Jed water. I followed the stream through woodland to the river Teviot. I walked along the river, past a swan sitting on her nest, to a relatively new, but wobbly, suspension bridge. I then passed through the mixed woodland and rhododendrons of the Monteviot estate and crossed a road to rejoin Dere Street.

Monteviot House

Almost immediately there was a cafe that had been recommended to me by one of the guides at the Abbey yesterday. The cake was indeed perfect and, as it was stuffed with raisins and had a sugar icing, I claim I ate it for medicinal reasons, to boost my carbs.

Suitably refreshed, I continued in a dead straight line along the Roman Dere Street. This was now a very pleasant grassy path passing between fields and woodland over gentle hills. To the left, on top of a hill about a mile away, I could see an old Victorian mausoleum which is meant to be well worth a visit. After a couple of miles the path passed Lady Lilliard’s Stone. The inscription is worn but is reproduced on a metal plate:

Fair maiden Lilliard

Lies under this stane

Little was her stature

But Muckle was her fame

Upon the English loons

She laid monie thumps

And when her legs were cutted off

She fought them on her stumps

Legend tells of a woman who fought in the Battle of Ancrum in 1544 (in the Nine Years war, see yesterday’s post). She fought the English, some say by the side of her lover, and was grievously wounded but continued to fight on. However, in the Ballad of Chevy Chase there is a verse describing a squire who suffered a similar fate at the Battle of Otterburn in 1388 (recounted in the ballad of Chevy Chase) so it may not be true. An information board near the memorial suggests that even if there was no Lady Lilliard it is an appropriate memorial to all the women who were brutally raped, killed or both in the border wars.

Eventually Dere Street joined the A68. Here I could have taken a short cut along the road but decided to continue along St Cuthbert’s Way. I passed a small church at Maxton that had a stained glass window that was impressive and then had a very pleasant walk along the River Tweed. I had hoped to see Dryburgh Abbey which is on the other side of the river but the ruins were obscured by trees.

I walked through St Boswell that had an interesting monument to commemorate the establishment of a freshwater supply in the mid 19th century

My final barrier of the day drew closer. These are the Eildon hills. My path passed over the col between the middle and right hand hill. There is a Roman fort on the right hand hill, Trimontium. Important finds are displayed in the National Museum of Scotland and there is also a small museum in Melrose.

Just before the Eildon Hills I walked through the village of Bowden. Here there is a Pant Well, one of only 2 remaining. Pant wells were constructed in the early and mid 1800s, water was diverted from a spring or well through a pipe to avoid contamination. Interestingly, this well was built before Snow’s report linking the cholera outbreak in Soho to a contaminated pump in Broad Street; so it appears that the importance of isolating a clean water supply was becoming appreciated at several sites, at least, in the North East and Borders.

I climbed up to the col in the Eildons but I was too tired to go to the top. The cloud cover was heavy and it started to drizzle. Even so, I could see back to the Cheviots and forwards towards the moors that will take me to Peebles.

View back towards the Cheviot Hills

I continued down a steep path into Melrose. This was a very enjoyable day’s walk through varied countryside. I am staying in Burts Hotel After a long soak in the bath I went down to the bar for some lamb rump and a couple of pints of Timothy Taylor. Recommended.

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