Tuesday, 18 June 2013

26. Land's End to John O'Groats.David and Robbie look after a stray dog. Cheviot Hills. Midges and headnets. Bagpiped into Scotland. Kelso.

Rob's grandfather Bob Hay,
 piping Rob and David over the border,
Kirk Yetholm
David Sansom and Robbie Brough, both 19,  have completed the longest and most exposed stretch of the Pennine Way, between Byrness and Kirk Yetholm along the England–Scotland Border Ridge. This part of Northumberland is so remote that two mountain refuge huts are provided "for those too tired or weather-beaten to continue." One of these huts was indeed used by the boys.

They were unexpectedly joined by a stray dog which they called Ajax, whether after the Greek hero, the kitchen powder or web system is not known, but they enjoyed his company for a few days and hope to reunite him with his owner. 

Floors Castle in 1880, viewed across the Tweed
Floors Castle near Kelso is the splendid seat of the Duke of Roxburghe. In 2005 the World Meeting of 2CV Friends was held in the grounds of the castle. 

The duke, 59, and the chairman of Sotheby’s, Henry Wyndham, have just been on a charity walk of 190 miles from St Bees in Cumbria to Robin Hood’s Bay in North Yorkshire to raise £1 million for cancer research at Brunel University, and Orbis, which restores sight in developing countries. Their walk was from east to west,  coast to coast.

David and Robbie meanwhile have raised  £5,076.25 for their chosen charity Emmaus Oxford, which houses and gives work to the homeless.

 Kelso 2005 

Once Brewed A
Bellingham B

Byrness C
Kelso D
Hadrian's Wall
Northumberland National Park
16 June. Email from Robert Brough.

"Hey sorry it’s taken so long to get this email to you.

Will fill you in on what has happened since Once Brewed.

We set off at 8 from Once Brewed to walk the last 2 miles along Hadrian’s Wall. The walking was hard work as there were lots of ups and downs and after we left the wall it was all Forestry Commission until we got to Bellingham. 

Alex (the guy we picked up in Middleton-in-Teesdale) was good company and it was refreshing to have someone new to talk to for a long period of time. Alex is at Leeds University doing his Masters in Mathematical Physics. He is into downhill long-boarding and kayaking in his spare time. He was walking the Pennine Way with his friends from university but they were going too slowly for him so he decided to join us instead. 
Robbie in new Viking? headgear 
Cheviot Hills
Cheviot Hills
The walk to Bellingham was just through Forestry Commission so reasonably easy. We wild camped outside of Bellingham that night in a field of sheep and cooked sweet and sour pork sausages. 

The day after that was rainy, and due to the sudden downpours there was a huge influx of midges. This was our first experience of these on the trip and we have since invested in headnets and Skin-So-Soft (a trade secret repellent);  other tips are also cigarette smoke and increasing garlic quantities in our food. 

David with Ajax

As we dropped down into Byrness we stopped at a picnic spot. There was a walker in front of us who was talking about seeing a car pull in and the door open and then pull away and speed off and then suddenly a dog appeared. A very small brown well behaved terrior-ish dog. 

After playing around with him for a while we guessed he may have been abandoned or lost (as he had no collar) so we took him into Byrness and asked at the cafe whether or not anyone had lost a dog. When we had established that no one had we were stuck for what to do. We didn't want to let him go off wandering in the woods again! So we made a makeshift lead and decided to take him to Kirk Yetholm (the end of the next day) where my grandfather would be meeting us and try and come up with something there.

 June 2013: Patch of snow on the Cheviot Hills

Between Byrness and Kirk are the Cheviot Hills: these are the most desolate places in England and have no civilisation in at all! The going was tough with lots of ups and downs and we eventually bedded down in a mountain rescue hut. The hut was a very rudimentary wooden box but it was a welcome surprise to us having walked 25 miles! 

We named the dog Ajax and he seemed very happy just to trot alongside us all day and it was fun having a 4th companion. 

When we got to Kirk Yetholm we were greeted by a true Scottish welcome and my grandfather piped us over the border. He fed us and gave us some encouragement in that we have now walked the whole length of England!  

We pressed on the last 8 miles to Kelso where we stayed that night and yesterday morning met with one of my grandfather's friends who has many dogs and agreed to look after Ajax for a bit. We have put pictures up on charities which deal with these things and when we get to Edinburgh we will contact the Forest Rangers and Park Association to see if anyone has lost a dog.

Yesterday we walked from Kelso to Cafragill where we camped at the camping and caravanning club there. I'm afraid I've been taken very ill as of yesterday morning and have been throwing up and had terrible stomach aches since then. We hope to reach Edinburgh by this evening where my grandfather will put us up for a few nights. 
Donations for Emmaus Oxford please to:
Twitter: Trading Places @DRtradingplaces