Saturday, July 28, 2012

A boggy hike through Scotland and England

The cliffs between Eyemouth and Berwick u. Tweed
From the 7th to the 15th of July I walked along the South East Coast of Scotland and North East Coast of England.
Initially I had planned a 180 km hike. Firstly along the coast from North Berwick (near Edinburgh) down to Holy Island (Northumberland) and then, following the St Cuthbert's Way, finishing at Jedburgh after a little stretch on the Border Abbeys Way.

Unfortunately, after two months of continuous heavy rain, paths and tracks were often ankle deep boggy and sometimes even flooded. So advancing was painful and slow. During my last leg, a few miles after Belford, I had even to wade knee deep a large field in order to get to the stile.
Even with gaiters, (that I could get only at Berwick upon Tweed. I had never carried any), footwear, socks and trousers were awfully soaked and muddy.
Two times I had to stop for a day in order to dry footwear and socks.
So, having lost two days I was obliged to shorten the hike. I changed the itinerary as well, remaining along the coast in the hope of finding a less flooded and boggy soil.

So, this year, my hikes are marked by pretty bad weather! See previous post.


July 7th North Berwick - East Linton

Because the heavy rain that had been pouring all the night long I was quite resolved to skip the first leg and take a bus to St Abbs. As there was a spell just after breakfast I decided to set out on foot.
But the path was covered by high grasses so wet that, only after half an hour walk, my feet were splashing in footwear full of water and mud.
Sometimes the soil was so boggy that progressing was very difficult if at all.
I decided then to quit the path and follow tarmacked country lanes. Although the traffic was scarce it was dangerous nonetheless because the narrowness of the roads and the speed of the cars. I saw even two deer killed by cars.
I got exhausted to East Linton after about 7 km of hard walking. I had a cake and coffee in a nice café and then took the bus to Dunbar where I remained the following day in order to dry my footwear and socks.

July 9th St Abbs - Eyemouth

Due to the awfully bad weather and the state of the soil it would have been difficult to camp, especially with my tiny shelter. I was then obliged to skip the stretch from Dunbar to St Abbs where no accommodation is available. So I went by bus from Dunbar to St Abbs from where I walked the 6 km to Eyemouth. A short leg indeed but hard nonetheless because the state of the soil.

July 10th Eymouth - Berwick upon Tweed
A natural arch

During the 18 km of this stretch heavy rain, wet high grasses and deep bog continued and I was obliged to stop one day at Berwick u. Tweed in order to dry footwear, socks and trousers. I also bought a pair of gaiters.

July 12th Berwick upon Tweed - Brockmill Farm (near Beal)

Luckily a good deal of this 19 km hike was along the beach so I got to the B&B in better condition than usually.

July 13th Brockmill Farm - Holy Island - Brockmill Farm
The causeway to Holy Island (in the background)

I had originally planned to stay in Holy Island but no accommodation was available in spite of the awful weather. So I stayed at the splendid Brockmill Farm which I warmly recommend for its quality and the niceness of the landlady.
I didn't want to miss Holy Island so on the 13th I walked the 9 km to the island and came back crossing the lagoon at low tide in order to avoid the dangerous and fastidious car traffic of the causeway. I must confess that although the tide was still ebbing I was a bit thrilled when I was in the middle of the lagoon a 2,5 km from each end. The information panel said that the crossing along the poles, besides to be never undertaken  by rising tide, should be always done with some guide. I proceeded warily and I was a bit comforted seeing many recent footprints.
A refuge along the crossing of the lagoon

 July 14th Brockmill Farm - Belford

This leg was only 11 km but hard nonetheless: bog over the ankles along a great deal of the trail. Luckily I wore gaiters but, unfortunately, they promoted inflammation to the main tendon. I had bought the only kind I could find and they are not fit for me.

July 15th Belford - Bramburgh

Approaching Bramburgh from the beach
I started high spirited: at last no rain and even some spells of sun!
But alas my pains were not over. I found high wet grasses and deep bog until I reached the Budle Bay sands, just before the end of the leg.
And it is in this very leg that I was even obliged to wade knee deep a flooded field just after Belford.
When eventually I got to the beach I took off boots and socks and I walked the last 3 km naked feet in order to let the footwear dry a little: I had to spend the night in the airport waiting for my 6:30 A.M. flight.


No significant differences with my previous hike in South West France (see last post). I only carried an additional fleece in case of cold nights at the camp.

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