14th June 2021: Peebles to Innerleithen – 11 miles

I found the bed a bit lumpy last night and the pillows were hard enough that I have a sore ear this morning, but they’re about the only complaints I can make about the Green Tree Hotel, it’s been a great place to stay. I was awake around 5am again and dozed until 7.30 when I began to stir properly. The early morning looked really promising, with a clear blue sky, seen from the high window in my bedroom.

Rooftops of Peebles

I went down to the lovely bright and airy dining room at 8am and had the full Scottish cooked breakfast, with tea and toast. It was excellent. I agreed a late check out with the manager, as there is no point leaving here too early – even at my slowest pace I’d be way too early at my destination, where I can’t check in until 4pm. Normally I would find a pub to have a couple of post walk drinks to while away the time before I could arrive at the B&B, but today the pubs will be rammed with Scotland fans watching the game against the Czech Republic, and I’m not sure I’d find that particularly relaxing. So I’m leaving around 10.30 and I’ll take lots of breaks on the hill and arrive as late as possible. As you may be able to tell, I’m actually writing this before I set out, just killing some time in my room.

I don’t have great expectations of today’s walk, certainly not compared to yesterday. The first mile and the last 4 are on tarmac, which is around 45% of the total for the day, I just hope the bit in the middle can make up for it. It looks OK on the map, but only time will tell.

In the B&B in Innerleithen now after a definite walk of 2 halves. Overall it probably deserves a 7/10 and if there had been some way to avoid the final 4 miles along the road that could easily have risen to 9/10!

By the time I set out the blue sky of earlier had been replaced by banks of increasingly grey clouds, stacked out in the direction of my travel. It was also very windy and I almost immediately lost my Tilley, and had to scamper down the high street to catch it, much to the amusement of a couple of kids (who I suspect should have been in bloody school!)

The first mile out of Peebles was easy enough and I hardly noticed the fact that it was along the road. The tarmac pretty soon gave out to a quiet little track that climbed quickly away from the town. The track offered great views all round and it was mostly sheltered by trees on either side for a good while.

The path surprised me, it just kept climbing and once again my fitness levels surprised me. Although I stopped regularly to take photos of the surroundings, it wasn’t like I actually needed to stop and I could easily have plodded steadily without taking any breaks. The higher I climbed the better the views of course, but also the better the path became. It soon opened out onto the hillside and I avoided the side track that climbed up to the summit of Craig Head in favour of finding a sheltered spot behind a wall. Having left the tree lined lane, the full ferocity of the wind had become quite apparent. It was cold and after losing my Tilley another couple of times I decided to change tack. I hunkered down behind the dyke and added my hard shell to the soft shell I had on. I stowed my hat on my pack and pulled the hood over my head. I made a quick call to the local garage that was looking at my wife’s car today and got an update from them. Good news, apart from the bill, so that was one less thing to think about!

It was about noon now, but too early for lunch, after my massive cooked breakfast, so once I’d finished my call I headed back out into the wind. I reached a gate and was surprised to see the path climbed again, a thin path through the heather now, but running between two walls about 20 yards apart. I wondered if they were a throwback to the old drove road, a way of keeping the cattle from straying off down into the valley. The views here were incredible, green hills rolling off in all directions, with more hills stacked behind them in the distance. I could still see Peebles too, nestled deep in the valley behind me. The wind was cold now, and strong and I was glad of three layers and the hood. I had a other layer in my pack if I really needed it too.

I’d been trying to go as slow as possible, and the climb had assisted that approach, but now a squally shower encouraged me to pick up the speed a bit. If I had to sit in a pub at the end then so be it. I reached the highpoint of the day on Kirkhope Law and really enjoyed the view across the hills. The path and the hills here reminded me of the Cheviots section of the Pennine Way, a good path through rolling heather-clad hills and lots of long views.

At Yellow Mire, the path turned left beside a large plantation and I began to look for a spot to enjoy my lunch. I soon found a sheep scrape in a bank that blocked the wind completely and I spread my tarp and sat down, immediately enjoying the lack of wind. I sat munching my lunch, when something very strange happened! I met another walker! He was heading towards Peebles and he seemed as surprised as I was at meeting someone else. We chatted for a minute or two, he was on a day walk, not walking the CBDR, he lives quite local (Livingston) and used the bus to create a linear walk.

The path beyond my lunch spot continued to be excellent, skirting the edge of a lovely valley before beginning to descend gently towards civilisation at The Glen. Just beyond this, with 4 miles still to go, I joined the tarmac road. It was mostly fairly quiet, but it was uninspiring and hard work on the feet. I passed loads of vans working on the overhead cables, it looked like they were adding broadband capability to some of the outlying houses. An hour and a half later I reached the outskirts of Innerleithen. It was 3.20pm, so I stopped in at the Traquair Arms and ordered a pint of Edinburgh Gold and watched the last 30 mins of the Scotland v Czech Republic match. They were already 2-0 down when I sat down and the bar was pretty subdued.

As soon as the game was finished I walked the last 1/4 mile to my B&B and knocked on the door. The Old Town Hall B&B wasn’t easy to find and I almost walked past it, but Pam was lovely and we chatted for a while as she showed me around. I’m the only guest tonight, which is always nice, especially as I don’t have an en-suite room. It’s been a while since I’ve stayed in a ‘family house’ B&B, I’m more used to hotels, pubs or ‘business’ B&Bs. I have a double bed at least, the first one on this trip and it’s clean and tidy. The shower is also excellent!

I’ve been out and eaten. I’m feeling so good at the moment that I didn’t even mind the walk back to the Traquair Arms for tea and another couple of pints. I stopped at the co-op on the way back to the B&B to get some bits for lunch tomorrow and I treated myself to a 1/2 litre of Flake ice cream! I expect to walk it off tomorrow, for the biggest day of the lot, 14 miles and almost 3,000 feet of ascent. It’s also the day I’d been looking forward to the most. It’s along the Southern Upland Way for most of the day, with a couple of trig points and then down paths of my own selection into Selkirk. I just hope they are actually navigable – route selection in Scotland isn’t always that easy, as there’s no green footpaths to follow on the map. I’ve got my fingers crossed!

Anyway, enough for tonight. Three pints is more than I’ve drunk for a while and it’s not particularly conducive to good typing!

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