Saturday, 17 May 2014

Day 18 : WindyGyle/Trows/Byrness - Kirk Yetholm (25km)

Total distance covered so far : 448 km


So the last day! Hard to believe! It's been so long that I have been getting up, packing up my suitcase, putting on my rough hiking gear and setting off on another long day's hike that I can't remember what it was like to not have to to it!

This morning, my BnB host arranged a ride back to the foot of Windy Gyle, put me down at Trows farm, wished me well, turned round and drove off. It felt vey odd to be deposited in the middle of nowhere, hemmed in by interlocking hills, with only roaming sheep and a stream for company. Something about the transition from the wam interior or a Land Rover with good conversation to just being left in the big solitary outdoor lonely outdoors was quite a jolt! In moments, the land rover had disappeared around the first corner and I was all alone! So backpack on; poles out; get on with it!

The 2.5km from Trows (286m) up to the top of Windy Gyle (619m) is quite a climb. Most people do that kind of thing once in a long while and call it a day. But that's the second time I climbed it in less that 24 hours! Oh boy!

It was quite breezy on the top and there's a shelter made out of rock there. Theres a picture of it here somewhere. It's just a circular wall about 3 feet hight made out of rubble on top of the huge cairn-like pile of rocks on the summit. No roof, just a simple construction offering some respite from the wind. The wall has a break in it on one side (presumably the side that's most often downwind) so you can get in and out easily. I though I'd take a little rest from the climb and sit inside and look at the view for a while; which is what I did.

After about 10 minutes, I heard the distinctive sound of rocks crunching and realised that 'that ain't no bird out there' and that shockingly, though it was still only about 10am, someone else was on the summit too. So I slowly stood up to have a look and as my head and body popped over the wall, came face to face with and elderly man and his wife just outside! He nearly died!!!!! That was last thing he'd expected! Lol.

So onwards with the trail. For about 3km heading towards King's Seat the way is 'paved' which is welcome because it is in part quite boggy. Then you are on your own to scramble up the black peat and grassy knolls to the summit. And it was very windy up there too. The forecast had been for a lovely warm day. Wrong! It was a lovely, chilly and very windy day! In fact very, very windy! The gusts were heading for 'blow you off track' strong!

From the highest mountain, The Cheviot, the view offers the promise that you must be able to see the end of the trail, but as it turns out it is not a straightforward nor easy hike to get there. From that height, you can see where you must have to go to end the walk, but Kirk Yetholm is situated in such a way that it hides in the folds of the hills and until you are only half a mile away from it you can't see it at all! Also, the Pennines don't give up easily and through they are dying away, they become even more aggressive in their spasms of ups and downs before finally expiring. The last three miles are indeed trying! And on top of those last few hills, the wind was again strong enough to nearly blow me over! But after fighting my way all these hundreds of km, it would take more than a few last hills to stop me, and arrive I did!

And that's it! The last kilometre on the road into Kirk Yetholm and the trip was done. A free pint in the Border Hotel and a certificate to say I completed the trip.

Nothing more to say I suppose! An incredible, long, hard, wet, lonely trip. I loved it and despised it in equal measure. I'm so glad I did it, but I won't be doing it again any time soon. The hills and moors have a wonderful allure, but for me, for now, the warmth and safety of my own home is what I want most. It's been a fantastic trip of a lifetime, but I'm tired and ready to go home!


Hello summit of Windy Gyle (again)!
Oh, and there's that wind break that I hid in! Lol!
Heading for The Cheviot
It got messy about here...
But was thankfully paved for the worst bits
And was WINDY!
Kirk Yetholm!!!! Nearly there!
The last few foothills, but as ever, the camera doesn't tell you how steep these were. They kick your arse one final time!
And the wind howled and buffeted from behind and from the side as though the vast empty expanses behind me were angry that I had escaped and were screaming as they expelled me back into the real world!
And finally.... calm!
Here's the last place that you encounter anything other than Tarmac road. In many ways, this is the end of the trail, though not officially so. It's where I sat and had a late lunch, cleaned up my boots, took of my gaiters and generally reflected in readiness for the return to society!
The Kirk at Yetholm. It was locked!
The Border Hotel in Kirk Yetholm. This truly is the official end.

Finished, showered, clean, safe and sunburned!

I'm going home!



1 comment:

  1. A great achievement Simon. Even I thought is was lonely at times and I had the company of my wife through this ordeal, but to walk it completely alone through the cold wet bleak lonely moorland is a huge feat. How did you stay sane? Magnificent story :)