Friday, August 31, 2012

St. Boswell's to Harestane

So-called "Dere Street"
Today started out bright and sunny and we set out in high spirits. Our walk today however, turned into another day of slogging through mud. It would have been a lovely woodland walk along the River Tweed, and walking down a Roman road called Dere Street sounds pretty straightforward, right? The mud was like quicksand in some  places and almost took Marlene's boot off, causing her to twist her knee. She limped to the Harestane Visitors Centre where we had tea and waited for a taxi to take us to our Bed and Breakfast at Airenlea in Jedborough. Hopefully, her knee will be better tomorrow. Meanwhile, I seem to have left my journal somewhere which is a heartbreak because it also contained my journaling from the Camino.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Over the Eildon Hills from Melrose to St. Boswell's

Melrose Abbey
We are off on our first day of walking. We had arrived in Melrose from Edinburgh by bus. The skies had opened on our way and by the time we were approaching Melrose, the roads were so full of water that the bus had to take a detour at one point. I was dreading the thought of walking in that rain tomorrow! But as we reached the pretty little town of Melrose the rains stopped. We got settled in the Station Hotel, and then went to explore the Melrose Abbey. Then lo and behold, the sun came out as it began to set, and the abbey was bathed in a rosy glow. Here at this abbey, our dear St. Cuthbert was called to service and eventually became Prior.

Eildon Hills
We left Melrose and climbed the saddle between the Eildon Hills. The day was grey and windy, the climb invigorating. The hills were full of purple heather and gorse. I was feeling strong and capable thanks to my pre-walk training. I soon found myself humming and singing "Wild Mountain Thyme" and reminiscing about the days long ago in my youth when I wandered the Scottish hills. After our descent, we walked through a beautiful forest full of giant lime and beech trees. Alas, we missed a turn-off and got a bit lost. We had to retrace our steps, but found the signpost we had missed.

Muddy Boots
Then we started going through some serious mud. This was due to the terrible torrential rains of the previous day, and the fact that this has been the rainiest summer in Scotland in a hundred years. Even though it was only a six and a half mile walk, it took us from 9:30 to 4:00 to finally get to St. Boswell's. We were staying at a fancy hotel called the Buccleuch Arms, and we were embarassed to stand in the lobby with our muddy shoes. But when we finally roused the receptionist, she was not the least put out with us. We had a fantastic supper of fresh salmon an grouse, and Marlene bought a hazelwood walking stick which she chose among several that were for sale in a corner of the restaurant. (She had broken her "high tech" stick in the mud that day.)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Waiting is the worst part

Tomorrow at noon I leave with Marlene for the Louisville airport . I have had many well-wishers. Some have said "I hear you are going to Ireland"or "Switzerland" but nonetheless they promise to pray for my safety. I have no fear. I know from the Camino that a pilgrim walks in faith and that when you do,  every experience is a blessing.
My preparation has been a bit different this time. Instead of long walks I have been working out at the gym, trying to build muscles. That doesn't  toughen  the feet, though. So we shall see if that ends up as a good strategy (muscles and blisters or no blisters  and sore muscles, what's your pleasure?) At any rate, my trusty Compeed is at the ready. God bless it!
An encouragement for Marlene, and for anyone who finds a task overwhelming:

"O snail. Climb Mt. Fuji. But slowly, slowly."
Kobayashi Issa, 1763 - 1827

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Preparing for the next pilgrimage

Our official guidebook
On Monday, the 27th of August, my friend,  Marlene and I  will be headed to Glasgow, Scotland, to begin a pilgrimage of sixty miles across the Borders and down into England to the Holy Isle of Lindisfarne, once the home of the famous Lindisfarne Gospels. It is called the Way of St. Cuthbert.
I hope to blog about our adventures and send some photos, too. The hardest part right now is typing with this fancy new touchscreen! My kids say I will get used to it but I am itching for my trusty Blackberry.  Change is hard !
Our way  will be much easier than the Camino since we have booked B&B's for the whole week and will have our luggage waiting for us at each stop with day packs and ponchos our only burdens.
When we finish our walk, we will head to some of my old haunts including Edinburgh and St. Andrew's, and then through the Highlands and out to another pilgrimage site, the Isle of Iona.