The Pennine Way, 1983

Day 14: Chew Green to Kirk Yetholm, Wednesday, 10th August

20.6 miles in 9hrs 7 mins (08:35-17:42). Hottest day of all.

Accommodation: Town Yetholm £1

Chew Green – Lamb Hill – Beefstand Hill – Mozie Law – Windy Gyle – King’s Seat – Auchope Cairn – Hen Hole – Red Cribs – The Schil – Burnhead – Kirk Yetholm

And so the big day dawned, and all were awake by 07:00 to bright sunshine. I had a good breakfast of tinned pineapple slices (delicious), beans and sausages (the novelty had started to wear a bit thin by now), two bread rolls, and a can of Coke. The teachers were off first (as usual), closely followed by the three lads. Our long trudge began at 08:35. It was good walking for most of the morning, but the heat kept building up and it became very thirsty work. The Klingon latched on to us again, but Richard started a go-slow and he eventually shot off alone up Windy Rigg, arms swinging like mad. Dave gave him a start and then set off to overtake him as he was flagging on the climb up to Windy Gyle.

We took an early lunch by Russell’s Cairn. So did the Klingon, but everyone else sat about 20 yards away from him. I don’t think my mouth has ever been so dry as it was that day. The heat was oppressive, and there was no wind or shade. The Coke was good while it lasted, but that was gone all too quickly.

We didn’t do the unnecessary diversion to the Cheviot itself, although Dave and the teachers went for it. After the interminable climb up to the fork, I don’t know how they could have bothered with it! Richard went down to get some water from College Burn so that we would have something to drink after we’d got up the Schil (the final climb!). It certainly took ages to get to the Schil, never mind up it. Richard and Sally had a brief altercation about Richard wanting us to get a move on so that he wouldn’t have to queue for a shower when we got to Town Yetholm! But all was calm after we finally reached the top and tried to slake our thirsts. On days like that, one litre of Apeel between three does not seem to go very far.

The Pennine Way main route now continues over more tops (which means more climbing) to come down onto the road at the bottom of the infamous last hill (Wainwright’s route is now classed as a bad-weather alternative). We decided that the weather conditions we were experiencing were not all that good, and so followed Wainwright. Which was just as well, really, because we then had the unexpected bonus of a woman at the old Halterburn Hotel (now a Pentecostal Mission, or something as equally obscure) running out and offering us a free jug of squash, which worked out at about two and a half glasses each. She was warmly thanked for the donation! Suitably refreshed, it was on and up to the top of the nasty little hill on the road, and then a rush down to Kirk Yetholm which had finally shown its face.

The Border Hotel was already open when we arrived at 17:42, and so we were spared the final torture of having to wait for the free drink courtesy of Wainwright. The pub was keg only, unfortunately, so I decided that all I really wanted was a Lucozade. Nearly 270 miles just for a free glass of Lucozade, then!

We ordered a meal at the Border Hotel for 20:30 and set off down the road to the campsite at Town Yetholm. I bought a “Pennine Way Conquered” badge there (80p) as it’ll probably be my only souvenir of the trip – apart from the blisters, shoulder zits, and ever-present ring sting. The meal at the hotel was good, and set me up for my return to beer in The Plough Hotel at Town Yetholm. The beer was Allsopps 70/- and was excellent – although it must have been a bit on the weak side as I felt little effect from it. After the pub, we lounged around with Pat and Ivan until about 01:00, chatting and looking at shooting stars and satellites.

And so to bed…