Borders Abbeys Way 2007


The Border Abbeys Way is a 65 mile route linking the four great ruined Abbeys in Jedburgh, Melrose, Dryburgh and Kelso; and also including the towns of Hawick and Selkirk. It was chosen for our 'Away Weekend'  in 2007 and was walked from 5th - 8th October.

The Weekend started extremely well as 15 of us met in the shadow of Jedburgh Abbey on Friday lunchtime. Introductions took place over a sandwich in the October sunshine as we welcomed 5 visitors - local lad Bob from nearby Galashiels, Brenda & David from Nottingham, Will from Alnwick and Tony’s son Andrew with Anne.

The first day though a mere 13 miles seemed longer as we climbed first out of Jedburgh across the flanks of Black Law before dropping down for tea in a sun-drenched Denholm. Easy walking along the River Teviot lead us into Hawick and the hospitality of the Elm House hotel.

Saturday was the crux day with two sections of the Way to be completed though fine balmy weather meant that rucksacks could be lightened and shorts worn by those so inclined. The morning 12-mile section to Selkirk started with a long gradual climb, with the party breaking into several groups, and continued in pleasant pastoral surroundings through Woll golf course, Common Riding country then forestry on the descent to civilisation. Al fresco lunch in Selkirk’s market square was slightly marred by exhaust fumes from waiting buses though the handy transport was useful for those who wanted a shorter day. The hard underfoot conditions meant that blisters and sore feet were almost the norm.

The 10-mile Selkirk to Melrose section started with an attractive path through Selkirk Hill before the now familiar climb onto the rolling hills between the Border towns. On descending past Cauldshields Loch en route to a welcome tea break at Abbotsford House rumours seeped back about England’s unexpected rugby victory over the Aussies. Suitably invigorated the final hour along the Tweed quickly passed in an orgy of heron spotting and tired limbs were soon being rested in Melrose’s central George & Abbotsford hotel. Good food and wine followed and those of a sporting mind were able to enjoy more rugby upsets as France beat the All Blacks.

The next morning dawned grey and misty though improving visibility and mild temperatures meant walking conditions were excellent throughout the 18-mile section to Kelso. The flatter terrain and increase in rather dreary road walking made the walking day a lot shorter though the sections through Dryburgh and along the Tweed maintained interest. Passing the bustle of Kelso races on the outskirts reinforced the weekend’s sporting flavour.

On booking into the town’s Cross Keys hotel we learnt that the meeting had been cancelled after two races thus allowing the local pubs to profit from the disappointed punters. A few of us watched the drinking exploits on show in awe and admiration. Perhaps sorrows were being drowned before the impending demise of Scotland’s rugby World Cup hopes. Our own evening was pleasantly spent enjoying an excellent carvery meal before retiring with the anticipation of a final short day to complete the Way.

Kelso to Jedburgh is a 12-mile section and, with the weather a re-run of the previous day, we left Kelso by its Abbey and enjoyed a fine morning walk along a further reach of the River Teviot. We then followed an old railway track before joining St Cuthbert’s Way and Dere Street for a brief mile, finally to drop back into Jedburgh finishing along the Jed Water. All groups re-united for refreshments and post-mortems in the local coffee shop before parting company and, save for ‘Gala Bob’, heading back to Albion’s Plain with many fond Border memories.