Date: Sunday 7 June 2015
Walked from: Windy Gyle, Northumberland
Walked to: Kirk Yetholm, SCOTLAND!!!
Distance: 14 miles (ish)
Stayed: The Border Hotel
Weather: Dry, sunny later, great visibility
The final day of our 260 mile walk dawned bright and dry, and having hugged goodbye to Colin and Joyce, the wonderful hosts of Forest View, it was time to set off back up the leg stiffening climb we had walked down in the rain the day before. The wind was still with us, but in positively benign mood compared to the day before, and the rain decided to let us be for the day.
Today’s walk was fabulous, and a fitting end to my Pennine Way adventure. Picking the trail back up again at Windy Gyle, we walked on the English side of the border for miles, up to the trig point at King’s Seat before hanging a sharp left and heading to Auchope Cairn and the spectacularly beautiful decent down the side of the emerald green hillside of Hen Hole, towards our last refuge hut of the trip. Next came the glorious climb up to The Schil, which – my guidebook states – is said to be the most attractive hill in The Cheviots. How you’re supposed to pick one among so many equals I don’t know, but it was another lovely climb, and on from there were more climbs up White Law and Whitelaw Nick, as we opted for the high route to finish our walk.
The last stretch saw us dropping down into Kirk Yeltholm, our final destination, via a soft green path strewn with cattle, sheep and their offspring, and then on to a quiet country lane. The Border Hotel suddenly loomed into sight as we came to the village green – our last stop on what has sometimes felt like the UK’s longest pub crawl. And to the pub we went, to claim our free half pint provided to those who complete the Pennine Way (thanks Scottish Borders Brewery) and get our certificate (naff, yet sort of sweet too) for having finished the walk.
Tonight nine of us dined together, celebrating the end of our walk over food, drinks and a memorable ‘awards’ ceremony, hosted by Colin, which involved the downing of tequila shots and a lot of laughter. I’ve met some great, truly interesting people from all sorts of places and backgrounds on this trip, made new friendships and hopefully cemented some existing ones. Long distance walking throws together such random assortments of people, yet there is something about the sense of humour, desire to achieve and the sheer joy of spending hours outdoors pitting yourself against the challenges that geography and climate throw at you, that pulls us all together. Fellow Pennine Way Farers, it was my honour and my privilege to walk with you, whether for a few hours or days on end.
Photos: Walking the border / view from Auchope Cairn / nearing the end / certified!