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.
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.
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.)