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We walk around the reservoir and follow a metalled track over a high grass moor with close cropped grass and sheep. It is reminiscentof the White Peak or Yorkshire Dales and unlike anything we have encountered on the Southern Upland Way.
Just outside Lonformacus, we come across a playing field beside a river which is ideal for a cup of tea. Water and a bench! We watch the rabbits play and also see a stoat run in and out of the hedge. Charl has a lot of difficulty getting the water. There is a big drop to the river. Strange place for a children’s play area then!
We continue on the road out of Longformacus and then climb, once more, onto rough heather moorland. We enter a beech wood, a conifer plantation and then an area of felled trees. It is all very pleasant walking.
On the way down, we pass a field where they are bringing in the hay. Two very large lorries are transporting it down the track on which we are walking. They are going at breakneck speed and seem to have the whole thing timed to the nth degree as there isn’t any room for the two lorries to pass as one comes back and another starts with its load. The track is white and dusty and as they pass we hold our breath, jump off the track and face away but we end up covered in fine dust - a shower at the B&B will be heaven.
I have a phone number for a B&B in Abbey St.Bathans but we have no idea where it is. At the bottom of the track there is a phone booth but unfortunately it is out of order. There also isn’t any signal for the mobile. We ask a farmer where it is and he recognises the name and tells us it is “just up the road”. (I've heard that before).
It is indeed “up” the road. Up being the operative word. We carry on along the road for 2.5 miles and eventually reach the Southern Upland Way again, where it crosses the road, without a sign of the B& B. We give up and decide to continue along the path until we can find somewhere to wild camp.
This proves to be harder than we think. We are in farming country. We reach a lane that meanders down for a few miles to reach the A1. If we do not find a spot to camp soon, we will have to cross the A1 and climb up through the wood, a pretty stiff climb it seems from the map, and on to Pease Bay, which will add a further four to five miles to today's walk. As we have already walked nearly seventeen miles, this is not an attractive prospect.
We reach the A1 and not only have we not found a place to camp but we cannot find water either. Tantalisingly enough, we could hear water all the time we were coming down the lane. It was gurgling there somewhere but too difficult to reach. We cross the A1 and I resign myself to a couple of hours more walking.
The ever resourceful Charlie finds a camping spot between the A1 ... .... and the railway .... A small strip of no man's land. We still do not have any water. I am quite prepared to make do with a sandwich and settle down for the night but Charl is off on a mission. If he could hear water running down the hill, there must be some at the bottom. So, back he goes, across the A1, water bottle in hand, and returns, some while later, triumphant. We slide into our sleeping bags, tums full of pasta and, even though between the A1 and the railway is not one of the quietest of spots we may have camped in, we don't hear a thing until the next morning.
We set off, up through Penmanshiel Wood. It is a warm morning and after initial drizzle, the sun peeks through and everything in the forest is glistening. The walk up through the forest is very pleasant although the views are restricted. It is hot work as it is very humid. Towards the top we start to get some breaks in the trees untill, at last, we see the sea!
We plan to camp at Pease Sands and stay for a few days. We can complete the way on a round walk from the tent without our rucksacks, a matter of a few miles. We arrive at reception, almost feeling we have completed the walk, but are told they do not take tents anymore! We buy something to eat and drink and continue along the coastal path.
The coastline takes on a more dramatic look as we approach Cove Harbour. Soon after the path swings inland, goes under the railway and the A1. As we round a corner, we see, in bright red letters “Cockburnspath” on an industrial building. It seems to shout out to us -”You’ve arrived!”
We sit on the bench beyond the cross. We have a celebratory cigarette and lament the fact that there is no pub in which to say “cheers” nor anywhere to even get a cup of coffee. Nothing ………. but we look pretty smug anyway.