Day 3 of St Cuthbert’s Way: Morebattle to Kirk Yetholm
On our third day of walking we confirmed one thing for certain.
When it came to estimating how long it would take us to finish a day’s walking, we were absolute rubbish.
On our first day, we’d predicted 5:30pm and were two hours off. The second day we’d predicted 1:30pm and we were two hours off again.
On our third day we got up and left extra early to try and make it to Kirk Yetholm by noon and we were once again, two hours off. Only this time we were off in the other direction.
To be fair, our guidebook described this part of the trail as the most difficult because it was the highest elevation day. On leaving Morebattle, we began to climb steadily for a couple of hours to what is both the highest and the halfway point on the trail.
Our early start meant we were alone but for the horses and sheep on the rolling green hills. It was overcast but not raining, which was pleasant. I did huff and puff on the ascent, and puzzled at how no matter how much I walk, I always feel desperately out of shape when walking uphill.
We worried a bit that our friends from Yorkshire would catch us if we went too slowly, but the way down from the hills into the village was easy. Practically running down the soft grassy fields, we landed in town far earlier than we ever imagined.
It was 10am when we wandered into Kirk Yetholm. We were just in time to see our bag being delivered by the baggage transfer service to our bed and breakfast. We knocked on the door thinking we might get a change of shoes and a book to read out of our bag, but no dice. Even though we had just seen her open the door and receive our bag, our hostess did not answer the door.
I could hardly blame her as it was so early that she might have thought we’d want breakfast.
Across the river from Kirk Yetholm is Town Yetholm. The two villages which are in the Cheviot Hills about one mile from the border of Scotland and England boast several bed and breakfasts, two hotels (each one with a restaurant), a hostel, some self-catering homes, a plot of garden allotments and one small shop. Exploring the whole of both villages can take an hour if you walk slowly enough, and that’s including stopping for photos and for visits with the shopkeeper and a gardener.
We made a dinner reservation at The Border Hotel (near our bed and breakfast) and found a bench to sit on until the other hotel opened for lunch. We figured we’d spread our love around the two restaurants. This was a mistake.
The Border Hotel marks the end of the Pennine Way, which is a much longer and more strenuous walk in Britain. 267 miles.
And maybe because The Border Hotel is the only welcoming point after one has completed this crazy long walk, the proprietor is making an effort at being a end destination worth the journey. After we had our dinner there, Anna and I were both sorry that we had not eaten lunch there as well.
In fact, we wished that we were staying there. The feel of the hotel was chic without being pretentious or fussy. And the food was both gorgeous and delicious. It was the only meal we had along the way that rivaled our glorious lunch in St Boswell’s.
(In fact, if you happen to be taking notes for a drive through the Borders area of Scotland, write this down. Eat lunch at Main Street Books in St. Boswell’s. Eat dinner at The Border Hotel in Kirk Yetholm. Then drive back to Melrose and sleep at Sheila’s house. If you can find it.)
Leaving the superior food at The Border Hotel aside, here’s how I would describe the difference between the two restaurants in Yetholm.
In Town Yetholm, your dog is welcome to come in and have dinner with you and in Kirk Yetholm, if you want to dine with your dog, then you’ll have to do it out front.
Side note to all the dogs in Yetholm: Just because your owner adores you and wants you to sit at their feet in a restaurant does not mean that every other diner in the establishment shares in the sentiment. Some people don’t care for strange animals brushing around their legs and begging for bits of sandwich while they go for a meal out. I’m not talking about myself necessarily, I’m just saying some people.
While we were lingering over our lunch with the dogs, our Yorkshire friends appeared, looking none the worse from the climb over the hill.
“Lovely walk today, wasn’t it?” I swear they would have said that if they’d come through a hailstorm. Mrs. Yorkshire did not have a single hair out of place. I would have envied their unwavering energy more if they had not been so dang adorable.
They echoed our lament that this shorter day meant we still had practically half the walk ahead of us.
We left our friends to enjoy their mediocre lunch with the dogs and went to try our luck again at the house. We walked the long way around so that it was 2pm when we knocked on the door.
“Dear goodness, you’re awfully early!” remarked our hostess.
“Oh well, we’d be happy to go have a cup of tea across the street at the hotel, but can we just pop in and get our books from our bag?”
“Oh no, I guess it’s alright. There’s tea in your room, but I don’t know what you’re going to do with yourselves all afternoon. I imagine you’ll be bored.”
“Oh we’ll be fine. We’re tired (lying) and we’ll just rest until dinner. I promise we’ll be quiet.”
I felt a bit like we were in trouble, but once we settled into our cozy room with our books and our tea, we were happy little bees. Anna tried not to fall asleep and I finished one book and started another. Uninterrupted afternoon reading is one of the most lavish luxuries of a mother’s life, so I did not take it for granted.
Soon enough the church bell rang six o’clock for dinner, which as I’ve mentioned, we thoroughly enjoyed. We said a final farewell to our Yorkshire friends who were also having dinner at The Border Hotel. (Of course.)
We told our hostess we would be happy with toast and cereal left out in the morning because we needed to get an early start on our 15 mile day. We were still trying to make up for being so awfully early.
To which she replied, “I’ll be up early in the morning anyhow, so you’ll have your breakfast.”
We did not argue. Off to bed with us and not a peep.