The forecast was not great, and it looked like it might be worse tomorrow – while I had the option of doing the last stage of the Pennine Way in 2 days I thought I would try and do it in one – all 26 miles!
After an early breakfast I was out on the road by 8am, so that I would have as much time as possible to complete the stage. I hoped it would take around 10 hours, though it could easily take more.
There was a sharp climb out of the valley, along a narrow path through tall plantation conifers – then at the top of Byrness Hill I was hit full in the face by the gale force wind that was still blowing from the northeast. That wind was going to make the day a whole lot harder.
The path skirts along the edge of a large MOD training area, with all of its warning signs and keep out messages – and every so often you could hear the sound of explosions coming from over the hill.
The path then headed for a fenceline that marked the border between England and Scotland, though after a few brief metres in Scotland it headed back to England and around the rather disappointing earthworks of a Roman fort at Chew Green.
After another couple of flirtations with the border, and after following the line of Dere Street (an old Roman road) the first of two mountain huts is reached. I sat down inside to get out of the wind for a few moments, though I did not pause for long after reading the notices about what to do in an attack from ‘guns, mortar or proxy bombs’.
Leaving the hut behind me the path heads uphill and alongside the border fence (which it seemed to do for most of the day – both continue uphill and with the fence!).
I made Windy Gyle in good time (the name is most appropriate) and decided that I was going to do the stage in one, so cancelled my other arrangements and set off at a brisk pace towards The Cheviot – not that I could see it, it was covered in low cloud.
I stopped for a little sit down near King’s Seat, and took my time to reach the top of West Cairn Hill, though when I got to the cairn the weather had worsened and the cloud had got thicker. There was no point in heading up to The Cheviot so I took the left turn passing Auchope Cairn and headed down to the second mountain hut.
I was more than two-thirds the way, but there was still quite a way to go. Heading up The Schill I started to rue my decision to complete the stage in one go, I ground to a halt about half way up with a total lack of energy. Thankfully many days previously I had packed a small bar of Kendal Mint Cake and that perked me up a treat.
There are two possible routes to chose from: a higher route into Kirk Yetholm, or a lower route. I chose the latter and headed off into Scotland. Descending down into the valley and it started to rain, though I was now getting a bit of shelter from the rain. The path meandered around a bit, though it was gentle walking and I was soon with just a mile of the finish.
Having travelled down the valley, along Halter Burn, and joined up with the higher level route which also descended to cross the Burn, there was just one small hill to go over before the descent into Kirk Yetholm. Then as you enter the village the end is in site at the Border Hotel – I had made it!View the map in Google Maps, or here is the Google Earth KML file.
More photos (from all the days of walking) can be found in the photo gallery.