Day 1 Cockburnspath to Longformacus – about 17 miles

My route brushed the coast at picturesque Cove harbour. A touching commemorative statue a short distance from the SUW depicts anguished women and children watching more than half their men drown in a sudden storm that claimed 189 lives off Berwickshire in 1881. For me, all was calm.


Study of the exposed rocks along this coast helped the eighteenth century scientist and farmer, James Hutton, develop theories that earned him recognition as the Father of Modern Geology. That’s enough “Fathers” for 212 miles!

I walked steadily inland through the pleasant nature reserve of Pease Burn on a well maintained and clearly marked path. The soft, grassy road through the first section of forest was delightful: only the noise of the A1 and railway intruded on my peaceful progress. Thereafter I climbed along a tarmac lane lined with golden gorse, passing steadily across large pastures and arable fields that typify the Scottish Borders. James VI of Scotland (James I of England) began refashioning the area from lawless frontier to a place of capitalist agriculture on large landed estates in the seventeenth century.


The SUW continues on lanes and field paths across this open landscape, a few small plantations of conifers appearing here and there, before dropping to the Whiteadder Water at the quiet village of Abbey St Bathans where I sat in the sun and consumed a welcome pot of tea at the Gallery restaurant.


Upstream of the village the river flowed gently, though debris in the trees showed its potential fury.


The SUW climbs through forest to cross sheep pastures before dropping into a valley and rising again to Black Hill, a pleasantly green spot with views towards the town of Duns. The main land uses are grouse, wind power, forestry, cattle and sheep. It’s hard to see what other money-making activity would succeed. Black Hill was the highest point reached this day, and it’s the highest in an easterly direction until the Urals, a distance of 2400 miles crossing more than 60 of longitude, one-sixth of the way round the world. (I know people who like that kind of stuff!)

Dropping down from Black Hill, my route joined a road to Longformacus, a pleasant and quiet village devoid of any services apart from a telephone box. I passed an uneventful evening while Real Madrid and Barcelona enacted a disgraceful display of histrionics that provoked politically piquant remarks from my Scottish host.

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