Veronica and Eddie Yarwood, long time friends of Minsteracres, have just returned from a 68 mile sponsored walk along the Borders Abbeys Way to raise funds for the retreat house restoration. What seemed like a great idea when planned in the warmth of their own home, took an alarming turn when the snow arrived just in time for the start of their trek.
Undeterred, they strode out, raising, once all the promised donations are collected, around £800 for Minsteracres in the process. Along the way they found help and support from everyone from the local taxi firm which ferried them between their start and end points each day, fellow walkers, shop keepers and cafe owners to the staff at the Glenbank House Hotel in Jedburgh which they made their base.
Veronica wrote an account of their experiences which we have reproduced below. If you would like to donate to their fund, it is open until the end of May at this address https://mydonate.bt.com/events/theyarwoodswalk/294460
1st day Jedburgh to Hawick
Having had a snow-swept and foggy drive up over Carter Bar we despaired of getting any walking done next day. Lo and behold, the day dawned bright and clear with only the Cheviot hills clad in snow.
From Jedburgh Abbey uphill to the Castle Gaol was a fairly steady climb with a bitter wind at our backs. Further climbs up side of Merlin wood into Black Law. From Denholm and into Teviotdale following the north bank of River Teviot into Hawick where we took a photo of 1514 Horse memorial. Came across three doe deer in woods.
Day 2 Hawick to Selkirk
A long steady climb out of Hawick and through some forestry. Toward the old track, known as the Thief Road. Then on to Hartwoodmyres Forest and on to The Haining by the old stone doocot.
Sir Walter Scott was Sheriff in Selkirk for 33 years. King David in 1113 gave land to monks from Normandy but the abbey was relocated to Kelso due to the ground not being suitable.
As we turned corner into woods saw a large hare and came across a dead badger.
Biscuits I’d packed from Minsteracres were squirreled away from Eddie and I savoured them one at a time over two days. I reckon they should be packaged and sold at Hexham farmers’ market marked ‘homemade Minsteracres biscuits’. Good money spinner!
Day 3 Selkirk to Melrose
Via Abbotsford – Sir Walter Scott’s home.
Another steady climb out of Selkirk using one of the Borders ancient drove roads. Stopped in Abbotsford House visitors centre (home of Sir Walker Scott). Staff allowed us to have our packed lunch on bench by the entrance. Slight detour at Cauldshiels Loch due to flooding. Persistent rain all day with muddy grooves made by tractors and horses making walking challenging.
Crossing the river Tweed we entered Melrose over the riverside path to the Chain Bridge towards Melrose Abbey.
Melrose Abbey founded in 1136, built by a community of Cistercian monks. The 16th century Commendator’s house is now a museum and Chapter House contains the burial casket of a heart, thought to be that of King Robert 1 “The Bruce”. St. Cuthbert was abbot here before moving to Lindisfarne.
Day 4 Melrose to Clintmains via Dryburn Abbey
Dryburgh Abbey founded by Premonstratensian Order about 1150 approved by King David 1. Like all Border Abbeys, it was devastated on various occasions by English forces. The abbey grounds are the burial place of Sir Walter Scott and field Marshal Earl Haig. Wonderful walking day along river Tweed with anglers along the river bank Crossing over the metal bridge we came to the Wallace Monument.
Stopping at Dryburn Abbey we got chatting to the ticket officer who recognised us from last year walk when we told him we were doing the walk this year for charity he did not charge us – so more money for Minsteracres.
The day was sunny with scattered showers with an easterly wind. Thankfully we did not have long to wait after today’s walk to be picked up by our dependable taxi driver.
Day 5 Clintmains to Kelso
Although there was a hint of rain during today’s walk we, thankfully, escaped but we had gale force winds to contend with and as we walked along the river Tweed we were surprised to find a game of swans in the middle of a wheat field.
A lot of road and lane walking today with wonderful views over the Cheviots. We approached Kelso via the race course and discovered there was a race due: lots of officials, horse boxes and punters. Eventually we made our way along the Cobby riverside walk into town passing the famous Floors Castle home of the Duke of Roxburgh. (Our gardening club is going there this summer on a visit).
At the far end of the town is the abbey. It was one of the largest and wealthiest in the area. Attacked by English armies and eventually Spanish mercenaries and now little remains.
Kelso is a beautiful town with a large cobbled square with a number of building dating from late 18th century.
Day 6 And so return to Jedburgh
Jedburgh has a commanding view of the ruins of the Augustinian abbey founded in 1138 by David 1, occupying a commanding position overlooking the Jed Water. Up the hill is Jedburgh Castle Gaol built on the site of the old castle and now a museum.
Our taxi driver told us that most of his time is spent fetching and carrying walkers doing the different walks to and from their destinations and the different accommodation. St Cuthbert’s Way also overlaps The Borders Abbey Way and our hotel houses walkers from America, Australia, Germany and Holland.
Today our progress was hampered due to the strong gale force winds which make the pace much slower. However the route was easier due to walking along the Treviot riverpath up Dere Street – the old Roman road built around 80AD. This road originally ran from York to Perth. Our walk took us opposite the famous Trieviot Water Gardens – another visit perhaps!
And on towards Jedburgh where we stopped at an award winning butcher’s to purchase some pork pies for our kindly neighbours looking after our house. At the hotel we said our goodbyes and drove all the way home after a wonderful week’s walking. In fact we wondered should we just turn back and do it all again – well maybe another day.
Veronica & Eddie