Monday, 27 July 2009

The Philosopher and the Gingerbread - Peebles to Traquair

From the comfort of our sheep fank home (er, not) we followed the beautiful grassy Roman road to Lyne, west of Peebles. The line of the drove road we had been following the previous day actually goes pretty well through Peebles (to take advantage of the bridge) but since this was a Monday morning, and it's a busy town, I thought not!

The route I picked out on the map skirting the town to the south and west was on the whole very quiet, apart from a short section on a very busy road... Luckily there was a wide verge, which unluckily an
extremely smart house had incorporated into their garden. Normally I try not to go on mown verges, but as it was that or sharing the road with lorries and buses belting past - hmm, no contest really!

Even so, it was nerve-wracking for us all and it was with relief I turned down a small lane, sweating and grumpy (THAT MAKES A CHANGE - DOOGS).

"You look rather hot," came a voice from the cottage garden at the corner, "would you like a cup of tea?" The voice belonged to the simply delightful Joyce, who by her kindness turned my day around completely, and we spent a quiet hour chatting, while the ponies grazed the verge.

At the risk of sounding fey, I have for some time had a growing sense that someone - or something - is looking after us on our journey. Whenever things start to unravel, a person appears to help - long may it continue! It has left me feeling quietly confident and without
worry, most of the time anyway.

Meeting people like Joyce - so calm and thoughtful- reminds me what this journey is about: not accruing mileage or achieving anything, but simply making the most of the experience and trusting that things will work out as they should.

Joyce and I chatted about philosophy (while I scoffed her delicious gingerbread) - a welcome change from looking at maps! (Every night, as I'm dropping off to sleep, an OS map is dancing before my eyes...)

In the best tradition of 'Millionaire', Joyce phoned a friend, so, well armed with directions through the maze of lanes, we set off again to negotiate Peeblesshire.

The day became really hot: with that and a very early start we were delighted to come across a beautiful spot by a river - time for a graze, a paddle and a snooze to fortify us before negotiating the southern suburbs of the town to rejoin the Drove Road.

There is an information panel at the foot of this section, which points out that the early drovers didn't mind about the steepness of the ground as long as the grazing was good. That, and a passerby in Peebles description of our route as 'a bit of a hike' should have been a bit of a clue perhaps!

The 'gypsy Glen' as it is known locally does in fact start off very steeply...and then gets steeper! (FOR BLOODY MILES - DOOGS). But breathtaking (in all senses of the word) especially on such a beautiful evening. We ended up on what felt like the top of the world , making our way between the parallel drove dykes (as well as guiding the sheep and cattle they served as a means of keeping the flocks separated.)

A newly erected march fence however, meant that we had to go a few miles further than anticipated in order to get off the hill beyond Traquair and double back along a minor road to meet up with Bill for his weekly visit...and this time he'd brought Yeoman! Horses are
amazing: I would swear that Doogs somehow knew Yeoman was going to be there for the last three miles or so by his demeanour. Yeoman meanwhile had apparently been testing out his soundness by charging around the silage field (cut!) we had kindly been loaned by the
Renwicks at Traquair Knowe.

Our unexpected detour meant it was getting late by the time we trudged into Traquair...the Renwicks offering us a bed for the night rather than have us camp - and supper, even at that late hour! Bless you both - your kindness is, well, pretty humbling actually.

One small sadness would be saying goodbye to the extraordinary little Ladybird, who had so gamely and bravely stepped in at the last minute, and who had shown every sign of thoroughly enjoying her trip (once the initial astonishment had worn off!) The same little mare who had balked at crossing a drainage ditch on her first day completed her journey having calmly waded the river Tweed on her last.

But just great to see the goofy, quirky Yeoman again, looking fabulous and ready for adventure...


  1. Hi Kate, Yeoman and Rowley
    Just discovered your trip and blog, as I flippantly said: how much fun it would be to ride/walk home from Lagalgarve,(Kyntyre), where you will be staying with Sue and Simon, in August, with our 3 year old gelding, Glen, that we are buying from Sue and taking home to the hills of NE Portugal.
    Sue told us about your trip, inspiring and worthy it seems.
    I'd love to know the gritty details of the daily chores of camping, watering, tethering and all....
    Will look forward to more updates and wish you lots of joy and reward.
    Sally and Sean ( my 10yr old son)

  2. Hi Kate
    I love reading your updates. What an amazing adventure you are all having!
    Thank you so much for all you are doing for us. Stay safe...
    Best wishes from Mel and all at World Horse Welfare