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  • Writer's pictureJohn

Part 4 - A Journey Along The Tweed

Updated: Sep 9, 2021


 

Part 4 is the last final section of three using a cycle as a mode of transport and because the weather was conducive for cycling I made the decision to include two additional detours bringing the total distance to just over 53 miles. As a Scottish river, both sides of the river bank have been in Scotland so far. Later in the blog slightly to the west of the English village of Carham the Tweed will form a natural border along the river course between England and Scotland for the next 17 miles travelling east.


I started from Cornhill-On-Tweed at just gone 8 am and arrived at the Wallace memorial car park shortly after 10 am. I then continued north to take in the breath-taking scenery at Scott’s View which is reputed to be one of the favourite views of Sir Walter Scott, who was a Scottish historical novelist, poet, playwright, and historian. After a short break here I then started the return leg of this 22 mile (extended) route. Then was a steep decline which took me to a junction for a left turn onto cycle network 1. In the distance circled green in the image is the 150 ft Waterloo Monument near Jedburgh to commemorate the battle of Waterloo. It took 7 years to build between 1817 & 1824 and was designed by the architect Archibald Elliot. Apparently the original monument designed by William Burn collapsed.


Scott's View.



Circled is the Waterloo Monument.


Looking back at the river in the Tweed valley below with an image of one of the milestones along the route.

 

The second detour of the day was to Smailholm Tower which was built in the 1400’s which has survived centuries of border conflict. In 1544 reivers from Northumberland made off with over 700 cattle, 108 horses and 104 prisoners from Smailholm village. As a child Sir Walter Scott recovered from polio at his grandparents farmhouse and the then abandoned tower had a powerful effect on his imagination. Unfortunately the tower is currently closed to visitors due to Covid, check their website link below for updates.



 


Cycling along these quintessential country roads I imagined John Steed (Patrick Macnee) overtaking his Bentley.


The view looking back at the Eildons and Smailholm Tower.

 



The church was built in 1808.






The War memorial at Makerstoun. Brave men and women fought in the wars and three people with the same surname lost their lives from this small community.


 


With numerous signs en route some of them drive (cycle) you round the bend. If you get lost just follow the blue pic road, follow, follow…











For fans of retro phone boxes I think this is a K6 variant designed by Giles Gilbert Scott and Battersea Power station amongst other things. On closer inspection it was a games/books exchange so it was unlikely any cute aliens could ‘phone home.’









 

I now arrived at the familiar border town of Kelso which has a long meteorological history. Up until 1982 it had recorded the coldest UK lowest temperature of -26.7 degrees centigrade. The coldest since was -27.2°C on 30 December 1995, at Altnaharra in Sutherland, Scotland.

There are lots of interesting historical facts about the town which can be found online. One quirky fact is that in 2005 it held a world meeting for the friends of Citroen 2CV cars attracting over 7000 visitors and generating over £2 million for the local economy.


The impressive Kelso north parish church.



As I approached the cobbled streets in the town centre is was nice to see they had put out bunting for my arrival. Inset in the photo is a boat outside the river Tweed salmon fishing museum which had me hooked.

St. Andrews church is located directly opposite the impressive remains of Kelso Abbey which was founded in the 12th century and was one of Scotland’s largest religious houses. Today, like many other properties of interest in the area it is managed by Historic Environment Scotland. They have just announced that over 20 staffed sites have now reopened.


Check out their web site for further information.











Standing on the bridge that looks over the tweed, Floors castle is visible in the distance. It was built 300 years ago in 1721 for the first Duke of Roxburghe. I went there pre-covid and it is well worth a visit. It was also used as a film location for the 1980’s movie, Greystoke : The Legend of Tarzan.


A short detour to the famous junction pool where the large river Teviot joins the Tweed. This world famous fishing pool is described as the ‘holy grail’ for salmon fishing. The deep pool enables salmon to rest here before continuing their journey upstream. Apart from its depth you will need deep pockets at certain times such as October the prices are eye watering and a case of open wallet surgery.




Kelso is also famous for its racecourse located on the edge of the town which was not on my route. Kelso has an amateur operatic society, so it’s possible to have a ‘day at the races and a night at the opera.’

 

River Border!


As I left Kelso on the B 6350 on the south bank of the Tweed I passed through the village of Sprouston and the junction for Redden farmstead which is close to the border between Scotland and England. From the road, two signs welcome people to their respective countries.





Standing in Scotland looking east at the bridge over Carham Burn which is the border between the two countries.







Standing on the bridge looking down at the border Burn.








I lifted my bike over the gate just before the bridge and after a couple of hundred feet there is a border marker post slightly to right of Carham Burn. There is a bend here in the river with two large inverted pools.






Looking to my left (West) this is the last point where both banks of the river are in Scotland.







Looking ahead (North) is a solitary tree which is actually shown on OS maps which marks the point where the border drops into the river. It reminded me of Sycamore gap on Hadrian's Wall.


With my left foot in Scotland and my right in England facing the river I phoned my partner.


“Hi, it’s me. Ask me where I am?”

“Ok, where are you?”

“I am in England and Scotland.”

“Don’t be ridiculous you’re always telling me you can’t be in two places at once!”

The line went dead, she has got a good sense of humour bless her so assumed it was a poor mobile signal.


My experiment is not as ridiculous as she suggested as Physicists refer to it as ‘Quantum Superposition’ whereby any chunk (me) of matter can occupy two places at once.


The border follows the approximate route of Carham burn south and meanders all the way to the west coast. To the east for the next 17 miles the river Tweed will now form a natural border for the two countries. There is a phenomenal amount of border history and on the 25th September 1237 the border between England and Scotland was agreed. The border more or less stands to this day, with the obvious exception of Berwick-upon-Tweed, retaken for the final time by the English in 1482. The tug of war between England and Scotland has seen the border town change sides 13 times so not sure if it will change again before I complete my journey.

 

The first village in England is that of Carham. In 1018 the Battle of Carham was fought which resulted in a Scottish victory. An even older battle was fought between the Danes and English in the year 833.

According to wiki it is the place in England with the highest proportion of Scottish born people at 33%.





Exiting the village is the prominent building of Carham Hall which was reported earlier in the year that it faced demolition and more recent articles have confirmed that the Victorian Society have saved it from demolition.






Continuing east is the next village of Wark. (Did you Wark here, no I cycled!)


 

Goal!


A short distance east is the small riverside meadow of about one hectare which is known as Ba Green and is actually Scottish land enclosed on the English side of the river. Legend has it that Scottish men from Coldstream would play mob football which is a medieval version of the game whereby as many participants as possible were allowed. The opposing team was Wark in England. Because Coldstream had the larger population they always won so the land became a permanent part of Scotland.


Now what I know about football you could write on a postage stamp and apparently there was a recent Euro football competition. As a believer in democracy, voters should ultimately choose, but in the short term perhaps Ms Sturgeon and Boris could have a penalty shoot out at Ba Green to decide if there will be another independence vote? Because of the aforementioned populous at Carham I think I can guess who most of the supporters would cheer.




The blue line is the approximate border marking Scottish soil on the English side of the Tweed.






Inset right is a white border marker. To the left is Ba Green Scotland and to the right is England.






I am proud of my heritage and as my grandmother or ‘seanmhair’ was born in Scotland making me a ¼ Scottish that probably explains why I spend 25% of my time there!

 

Cycling along the road there are certain points where it follows the river course extremely close and the river can just be seen through the hedges here.




I now approached Cornhill on Tweed crossing the bridge over Duddo Burn that feeds into the river.





The St. Helen’s church here has a very familiar Reverend!








A beacon fire frame behind the church.





 

I now cycled on the A 698 towards the Scottish town of Coldstream. There is lots of history in town including the Coldstream guards. When conditions permit large numbers of horse riders take part in the iconic Flodden ride out which sees the village green at Norham invaded. It’s all rather civilised and the local WI usually assists with refreshments. I cannot find a definitive article whether there will be a ride out this August. Below is their FB link for further info (you don’t need to be a member to view it)




Mid bridge there is another opportunity for a Quantum Superposition experiment, but I am not responsible for any responses you may get!


The bridge placard states that in 1763 it cost £6000 to erect which is about £1.2 million in todays money. Not bad considering it recently cost £900k to renovate Berwick's Old Bridge.


Heading back to Cornhill there was a footpath sign on my left and this will be the start of the walking section for the next part of my journey.


 

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Part 5 - Now available - click,


 
 


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