Tuesday’s very long and tiring walk (21 km and 30000 steps, the majority of which seemed to be taking us gradually higher) started off in a pleasant wooded area near Harestanes. An animal theme began quickly as a beautiful horse startled us from our focus on the path by neighing from the adjoining field. As we looked over he seemed to be looking at us and saying good morning. Of course, by the time we had our cameras out he had given up on us, but I thought it a good reminder to look about and enjoy our surroundings a little more even though we needed to be purposeful about the distance to be covered with an attempt to make our 4 p.m. pick up for the evening’s B&B.
We saw lots of sheep and the highlight perhaps was another deer, who looked at us from the pathway ahead for a moment before leaping away through the forest. The sound of him bounding and twigs breaking was quite lovely.
However, our funniest moments, looking back, involved crossing a farmer’s field of very large cows and their very young calves.
We entered the field having crossed a small stream and gone through a small gate. The field seemed quite large and sloped with several cows, which all seemed off in the distance. We followed the St. Cuthbert’s Way signposts and soon realized that we were being directed, not around the edge of the field as had been happening in fields of crops, but rather across the centre. ‘Hmm,’ I said to Chrisy, ‘the path seems to be taking us straight through where the cows are crossing with their calves right now. ‘ We thought it best to let them pass. Although Chrisy was sharing stories from her earliest childhood on a farm and suggesting the cows would be used to walkers through their field, I was reminded of warnings in our book about how protective mother cows can be of their young in the spring, although usually quite placid.
There seemed to be a lull in the cow traffic so we decided we would walk up to the protective screen of gorse bushes, although we would then have cows either side of us, and suss out the situation and make our next decicion. At this point a large, dare I say enormous?, black mother cow turned back, stared at us for a few moments and then started making her way back down towards us. ‘Oh, Nelly, we don’t want your babies’ one of us said and we scampered back down the hill a way.
Having noticed that the next sign for our walk seemed to be having us zig zag back and up, we thought it wisest to skip the zig part and just head up, which thankfully had us skirting the edge of the field and just past a farm house. Chrisy was telling me a cute childhood cow story at this point as we realized there were more large cows the other side of the house. The story stopped mid sentence and it was pointed out to me that the cow closest, quite close in fact, was not only large but also had a horn. Only one horn . . . . On the side of its head of course. It wasn’t a unicorn. Chrisy stayed back as I ventured up to the corner and had to report that the signs indicated we did have to go that way but once around the corner we would be going through a gate and a couple of strings of barbed wire would separate our path from the cows. We scuttled quickly one after the other and then all of a sudden the barbed wires seemed to bring on all kinds of confidence in Chrisy who proceeded to slow down to take pictures of said cow.
We were oddly pleased with ourselves, but a long slow climb was ahead of us.
The scenery was lovely, and for much of the second half of the day we could see the Cheviot Hills. These comprise much of the walk for us on days four and five, our book informing us that day four will be the hardest, due to very steep sections, and that day five will have us staying in a B&B in the wildest section of the walk. So on we trudged, with only brief pauses now and again to catch our breath or refuel. We have learned that we don’t end up feeling hungry, but rather perhaps just experiencing a drop in energy.
We had never before experienced such relief at the site of a cafe before: we had made it in time for our pick up to our B&B. As we spotted the old church which had been converted into a small cafe we were greated by the friendliest and most excited of border collies. He ran out to say hello with wiggles and whimpers and then rushed back into the cafe to tell his owner he had customers. Peppermint and licquorice tea with a border collie and elderly man originally from Australia was a nice end to the walk for day three.