Borders Abbeys Way – Day 1
Melrose to Kelso – 16/02/2010
Long Distance walking is a passion of mine, and a week off work, in February, in Scotland is never really the best time to be undertaking one, especially during one of the harshest winters that I can remember. However, the need took me and I ended up on this fairly local, and relatively new 60 odd mile circular walk from Melrose, in the Scottish Borders.
The Way starts in Melrose and works its way, fairly serenely for the most part towards Kelso. It was a stunning day, if a tad cold, which was quite remarkable considering the weather over the winter had been nothing short of horrific. There was to be no camping this trip though. Purely B & B’s.
The way rises quickly out of Melrose and we soon had a fine view back over the town, one that would stay with us for most of the day. The waymarks were a simple, but very clever A superimposed inside a W. Fortunately the acronym had not been used, otherwise we would have been walking on the BAW (it’s funny if you’re Scottish!)
The first part is a fine river walk along the Tweed, passing Dryburgh Abbey only after a few miles and then only after linking up (briefly) with BAW’s older brother, the St Cuthbert Way. The weather made this an absolute pleasure, with fine views back towards Melrose and easy walking over the fairly frozen ground.
The way here was fairly secluded and it came as a great surprise to see a huge number of Swans, feeding on the Kale by the riverside. I don’t think I have ever seen so many of these birds in one place at the same time. The wildlife was in abundance, probably breathing a sigh of relief after the melting of the snow, Deer, Buzzards and Oystercatchers were all in abundance.
Around the halfway mark to Kelso, the Way changed, slowly and surely. It left the river and started along green lanes, most of which had been left incredibly muddy by a combination of farm traffic, horses, bikes and of course walkers. Eventually though these changed to roads. Fairly quiet ones, but roads nonetheless, something I hate walking on at the best of times. Unfortunately this meant around 7 miles of road walking into Kelso.
The big problem here it seems, and this is only conjecture, is that to have a “cross country” route, so to speak, would mean passing through the grounds of Floors Castle. Floors Castle is private land (you have to pay to get in to the place) so I can understand why the planners took the path the route that they did. It meant that the latter half of the day was rather uninspired, not helped by the clouding over and the rather rapid temperature drop.
However we slogged it into Kelso, and although the route may seem a little odd, it is worth following right back down to the Tweed for a last little river walk before hitting the Town Centre.
Day rating 6/10 (First half 8/10, Second 4/10)
This would have been higher had it been consistent all the way. A fine opening half to the day followed by a rather dreary road walk. An excuse to walk this in reverse perhaps?