Walk completed August 28, 2011

Friday, July 29, 2011

Day 58, Thursday, July 28, 2011 – Byrness to Jedburgh, 19 miles

Byrness from high moor
Byrness is a small village, formerly devoted solely to logging. I suspect that everyone who lives here is still employed in one capacity or another in either logging or forestry. There are no shops, pubs or restaurants, and of the two B&Bs, one was formerly a hotel and one formerly a youth hostel. I stayed in the former youth hostel – with a private room and shared bath. Dinner and breakfast were served family style.

George and Justine
I said my final good-bye to James at breakfast. He will be finishing the Pennine Way today, and I shall not be seeing him again. Also at breakfast were George and Justine, father and daughter, who will also finish the PW today, as well as two other Englishmen whose names I didn’t get. Two other dinner companions, Paul and William, left before breakfast, attempting to walk the final 29 miles in one day.

One topic of our breakfast discussion was the famous biting midges of Scotland – swarming black flies whose bite seems always to draw blood and takes days to heal. I hadn’t seen any midges yet, but I remember them from the last time I was in Scotland. Apparently, the only effective repellants are DEET or Avon Skin So Soft. DEET melts plastic, so you need to keep it away from watches and eyeglasses, and if it’s on your hands, you can’t touch plastic parts of a camera or GPS, not to mention water bottles, etc. It’s nasty stuff, so no wonder the midges don’t like it.

When I mentioned that I didn’t have any Skin So Soft, Justine gave me a small spray bottle of it. Since she is finishing the PW, she doesn’t need it. I was happy to receive it, because I knew that sometime in the next month I would need it. As things turned out, I needed it this afternoon. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Today’s route involved a steep climb out of Byrness to the top of a ridge where the moorland was more featureless grassland than heather. I initially followed the Pennine Way, and the route was never in doubt. After 5 miles, I was to leave the Pennine Way at Dere Street, a former Roman Road constructed in AD 81 by Roman governor Agricola. It originally ran from York to Edinburgh. Today, parts of it are paved and other parts are merely footpath. Like most Roman roads, it is generally straight, and seems to curve only when contouring a hillside. Dere Street runs through hills, across streams, and through woods, almost to Jedburgh. It was difficult to get lost, and with 19 miles to walk, I didn’t even try.

I thought the trail junction for Dere Street might be difficult to find on the featureless moorland, so I kept checking my maps to be sure I didn’t pass it. Actually, when I arrived at the trail junction, there were several large signs, which couldn’t have been more obvious if they were flashing lights with my name on them.

Ford for cars, footbridge
for walkers
After passing through the Dere Street gate, I arrived in Scotland. On the remote moor, I didn’t expect to be welcomed to Scotland by a kilted bagpiper, but a lass offering samples of Scotland’s national drink would have been nice. Alas, there wasn’t even a welcome sign. Maybe the Scottish tourist board got my entry date wrong.

I met only one other person the entire day: Malcolm, who is finishing the PW. He and I walked together on and off from the high ridge above Byrness until I finally turned off at Dere Street. But I wasn’t lonely, being accompanied along the way by thousands of sheep, cows and midges. Usually I smell like a sheep or cow at the end of the walk, but today, thanks to Justine, I emitted the perfumed scent of Avon SSS. I wonder if my host noticed when I checked into the B&B. He didn’t comment.

Today’s puzzle: What is the derivation of the name Dere Street?

a. The name of the archaeologist who identified the road as a Roman construction.
b. The manufacturer of heavy equipment used by the Romans in construction.
c. A near-sighted Roman mistook a sheep for a deer.
d. Other (explain).

Dere Street

© 2011 Ken Klug


  1. Dere Street name given by Anglo-Saxons in the post Roman era and means the forest way.
    Not bad for a Mauritians.....
    Have fun Lost a lot!

  2. Well, according to Wikipedia, Dere referees to an old Anglo-Saxon kingdom with the name Deira. The 1st part of the street goes through this former kingdom. But I reckon looking it up in Wikipedia doesn’t count.