Walk completed August 28, 2011

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Day 60, Saturday, July 30, 2011 – Melrose to Innerleithen, 18 miles

I surprised myself when I awoke this morning to discover that I had survived last night’s beer festival. Then the thought occurred to me that maybe I hadn’t actually survived it, but rather had gone to heaven, because the sky was totally blue, and the sunshine was stronger than I’ve seen in weeks. The stiffness in my legs confirmed I wasn’t in heaven, but rather in the same place I was when I went to bed. The warm sunshine continued throughout the day.

Cairn atop Hog Hill
The footpath from Melrose started on the Southern Upland Way, a national trail running along the River Tweed. I encountered many locals who were out enjoying the Saturday morning sunshine. After passing through a series of parks between Melrose and Galashiels, the SUW borders a forest and then climbs to a high hill, descends through cattle pastures and again crosses the River Tweed at a place called Yair Bridge. Here I was faced with a difficult choice.

Moi and her dogs Kira
and Sophie
I could follow the SUW as it ascends steeply through a forest to another high moor, and then runs along an historic drovers' road to Traquair, a distance of 18 miles from Melrose. Traquair is two more miles from Innerleithen, making for a 20 mile day. Alternatively, I could skip that portion of the SUW, and continue along a little used road (now a cycle path) following the River Tweed all the way to Innerleithen. That route would be 2 fewer miles and avoid 1,000 feet of climbing, but it involves road walking, which isn’t fun. I chose the road to save the distance.

View from cycle path

I’m not sure my feet liked the choice. About three miles from Innerleithen, my right foot started hurting unmercifully, and I couldn’t avoid limping. I desperately needed to sit down and examine my foot, but there was no place to sit. The road was tarmac, with tall grass and stinging nettles covering the verges. There wasn’t so much as a rock or a fence gate to sit on. As I limped on, I had all sorts of horrible thoughts that unless I could take care of my foot, this may be the end. I couldn’t help but think about Daryl May’s blog, and all of the benches he photographed. I may have been hallucinating about benches.

Serendipitous bench
And then, almost miraculously, 100 feet in front of me was a bench. It was the only bench I’ve seen all day, and it was right there in the middle of nowhere when I desperately needed it.  I sat down, removed my boots and socks, massaged my foot, ate some cookies, and generally relaxed for 15 minutes. I then put my socks and boots back on and walked smartly the remaining two miles to Innerleithen without any foot pain or limp.

© 2011 Ken Klug

1 comment:

  1. You need to booz it up some more, you seem to walk longer and definitely have better weather.
    Hope your feet feel better.