A Small Walk With A Big Reward
The stories I write about long distance walking always seem to start with a tragedy. My aim is to do another long distance Scottish trail in 2018 not because I feel I need to but because something amazing has happened and I would like some time on my own to think about it or nothing has happened at all and I just fancy the challenge.
However, in June last year I found myself in the small English town of Berwick-upon-Tweed on a swelteringly hot day with one of my best friends, Ian. Sadly, my husband Paul and I had had to say goodbye to our gorgeous dog Holly a few days before and Paul was away working on my first weekend off without her. Determined not to sit around the house and feel sad I invited myself along on Ian’s already planned trip to walk for two days along the 28.5 miles way marked trail from Berwick-upon-Tweed north to the village of Cockburnspath.
I met Ian whilst studying for an MSc in Countryside Management. We couldn’t be more different if you wrote down our passions and interests. Ian is a football playing, video gaming, bird watcher (I say this with so much love) and I am… well… only one of those things very loosely. But we love walking, natural history and incredible inappropriate jokes. So, a few years after we first met we found ourselves on the other side of the border, hiking bags and boots and ready to go.
I am not sure what I was expecting and usually I research walks and places I’ll visit in-depth, however, tagging along on someone’s already planned trip, I didn’t think. Or research. I didn’t really think beyond the fact it was on the east coast of Scotland where I had never been, so I thought it would probably be relatively flat (I can’t believe how naive I was, especially considering I have walked parts of the South West and Pembrokeshire Coast Paths) and wouldn’t it be cool to hang out with Ian, talking about everything imaginable and looking at wildflowers and pretty views.
And the walk was EVERYTHING. Sorry for the all-encompassing vagueness of that statement but it just was. It was geology lessons, wildlife watching, coffee and cake, wild camping and laughter, sunsets and steep hills, loosing the path and finding our way. It was super steep ups and sideways -walking downs. It was landscape upon seascape, dramatic cliffs and fields of gold. It was wildflowers and butterflies, fishing villages and abandoned ruins. It was healing and painful in every way. It was best mates and wine, laughter, sweat and tears (mostly from me and mostly of joy).
I highly recommend the Berwickshire Coast Path. Whether its as an introduction to long distance walking, a training weekend, or your love of wildlife and geology or just to hang out with a mate, drink mini bottles of wine and sing incredibly cheesy songs with the help of your pots and pans, you will love it. We didn’t meet any other walkers who were hiking the whole trail, but rather lots of lovely dog walkers, day visitors and small business owners who were helpful, interested and very kind. What a wonderful walk, what a wonderful friend I have! (Everyone needs an Ian).
Getting there: Ian and I left my car at Cockburnspath and got the local and very regular bus to Berwick. From there it was a short walk to the start of the coastal path and a 28.5 mile walk back to the car.
Ian and I each took light weight walking tents, roll mats and summer sleeping bags. We wild camped behind an old wall high on the cliff. We left no trace apart from some slightly flattened grass a few meters off the path. For those wishing not to camp there is accommodation available in most of the villages along the path.
Good sturdy hiking boots
OS map (some of the way markers are no longer in situ and parts of the path are very over grown)
Camera: I used a mix of my Pentax Espio 120 (35mm Fuji film) and my iPhone 6.
More detailed information about the walk can be found on the Walk Highlands website or Scottish Government website.