Selkirk to Berwick

Sunday 8th April

This was possibly the best day’s cycling of all. We left The Croft at about 10 a.m., walked up the track to the road and spent the first half-mile or so climbing to about 980′ and that was the highest point of the day. The next 8 miles, to St. Boswells, were the cycling equivalent to a bobsleigh run. The wind was behind us and the gradient was with us. 45 minutes later we stopped at the Buccleuch Arms for very good coffee and shortbread. The sun was putting in an occasional unexpected appearance and the A699 was so innocuous that we eschewed Sustrans’ finest and went via the direct route to Kelso. We had some lovely views of the Tweed and the Teviot and I photographed the confluence of the two. A pair of goosanders was diving for food. We speculated that if YACF named a river it would be called the Deviot.

In Kelso we walked, to avoid the discomfort of the cobbled streets, around the large and impressive town square until we found a very welcoming pub called The Cobbles. We had not really intended to have a particularly large lunch but to ther cyclists were tucking into what looked like a very good ham salad that we followed suit, and I had a portion of chips as well. Jan had tea, but I ordered a pint of Tempest, a very hoppy golden ale which was just perfect.

The two other cyclists had been slogging their way over from Berwick, fighting with their headwind which was our friend, heading for their B & B at Inverleithen. They left the pub a little before we did but the Cobbles is a real find: friendly, excellent food and even better beer. I must go to Kelso again.

Encouraged by our morning A-road experience, we decided to used the A698 out of Kelso as it involved less climbing than the Sustrans route and gave better views of the Tweed. We turned off a mile or two before Coldstream and joined NCN 1 and it was shortly after this that we were overhauled by a group of cyclists and had a quick chat with them. They were staying at a private school near Berwick which does accommodation for cycists at £40 dinner, bed and breakfast. I think the place they mentioned was Longridge Towers and it seems to be worth investigating. One of the chaps, who originated from Grays in Essex, was a cyclechatter and was familiar with Arch, also of this parish.

By this time the weather had closed in rather. The skies had become leaden and the wind was up but, fortunately, still favouring our direction. Jan was beginning to struggle on some of the climbs so we decided to miss out the chain bridge and honey farm and head directly into Berwick. We found the B & B with no trouble, taking are to photograph the viaduct from the road bridge. From our room we have a lovely view of the viaduct.

So, we have just about finished our quirky coast to coast. It’s been fantastic fun and I’m really proud of the way Jan has taken to solo touring. Some of the terrain we have tackled has been quite tough and on one or two days the weather had been challenging as well, yet she has done exceptionally well. Today’s average speed, in favourable conditions, was over 9 mph and we managed a 40 mile day with no trouble at all.

I suspect that we will do a little unladen cycling tomorrow, probably out to the honey farm for tea and cake. The afternoon looks as though it’s going to be wet so we will probably walk around the walls, never before having visited Berwick other than as a spectator on a train.

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