Thursday, 18 February 2010

The Archdeacon Addresses An Anxious Nation.

Day 15: Peebles to Selkirk.

Distance: 18.7 miles (267.4 total).

Duration: 7 hrs 35 mins.

Lowest Temp: 0ºc.

Weather: Have given up trying to find new ways of saying ‘perfect for walking’.

Highest Alt: 1748 ft.

‘I now know that one of the most significant things in being priested is that you get to give the notices at the end of mass’ said The Pilgrim after his ordination. This was said in that distinctive period in the church’s history when Pilgrim was a Curate and I was his Vicar. You need to know that the notices were not used primarily to convey information about the events of the coming week but more specifically for Vicar and Curate to abuse one another. Given this history you will not be surprised at the appalling treatment that I have received so far in this Blog however you might be a touch surprised that The Pilgrim has allowed me loose on it!

Another couple I know also walked to Lindisfarne however not from Iona but from Bristol where they happened to be priests. They realised that along the way they met people who they later they realised were angels – i.e. people who almost miraculously brought help at time of extreme need. I would like to say that I have also met an angel in the form of the blessed Roy who, as you will know from the Blog, has the very distinctive experience of being The Pilgrim’s father. Never mind what he has done for The Pilgrim he has enabled me to get this far. When the range of necessary and important equipment that I had wisely brought proved to be too heavy a burden and frankly too much a source of merriment for The Pilgrim, he travelled 70 odd miles to relieve me of: my tent; sleeping bag; sleeping bag liner; cooker; pots and pans; kitchen sink; and dog basket. I feel privileged to have my walking style compared to his, which has if nothing else panache and I am now being given wonderful hospitality by Roy and his wife Anji.

Today’s walk, which even The Pilgrim admitted was the best walking day so far, was from Peebles to Selkirk. The thermometer read –3 and the car journey from Selkirk back to Peebles (we stayed with Roy and Angie last night) was initially through thick fog, however as has been proven several time the weather forecast was largely inaccurate and the sky cleared and temperature rose (a bit). An easy walk for 7 miles down the Tweed led to the impressive Traquair House – a sign proclaimed it the oldest inhabited house in Scotland in which 27 Kings have stayed. The Pilgrim also told me that the gates have remained shut since the last Stuart was on the throne and will only open when the next one ascends – he said this with a wistful look in his eye, which I think might be something to do with personal ambition!

We then launched out on a stunning section of the Southern Upland Way, which took us up to the highest point on the whole pilgrimage – some 1,760 feet. It is The Pilgrim’s tradition to sing Praise to the Holiest in the Height every time he reaches a high point over 1,000ft. We actually did this twice (only the first verse as neither of us can remember any more) as there was some dispute about the which point was the highest, however we did sing it to two different tunes. When going up hills (which I love) I am prone to focusing totally on getting to the summit and therefore so often miss what is around me on the way. I loved every moment of today and realised that getting to the summit was of little significance compared with the scenery that I was walking through and actually also the very special and cherished conversation I was having with my friend. We hardly abused one another all day!

While I am writing this he is in the bath with a G and T, which frankly is not in the spirit of Aiden as far as I can see.

Tomorrow is a rest day. He’s off with the help of the blessed Roy to stand up to his waist in the North Sea at Coldingham, with some vain hope that an otter or two might come to his aid. I’m doing a far more sensible thing and going to play 18 holes at Peebles with my old friend David Sceats, the Episcopal priest in Selkirk.


  1. Definately getting slower!

  2. Thank you for your post Paul. Please make sure that Roy gets a picture of Stuart standing up to his "waste" in the North sea, although I'm just wondering how he's going to know which waste is his because I believe there's rather a lot of it out there!! I definitely agree that the golf sounds more civilised.


  3. I think that exhaustion has taken its toll. I meant his girth and not to make a comment on the state of the North Sea!

    The Archd

  4. The AD's account of today reminds me of one of my favorite poems, Ithaca by C.P. Cavafy: When you set out on your journey to Ithaca, pray that the road is long, full of adventure, full of knowledge. The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops, the angry Posidon - do not fear them: you will never find such as these on your path, if your thoughts remain lofty, if a fine emotion touches your spirit and your body. The Lestrygonians and the Cyclops, the fierce Poseidon you will never encounter, if you do not carry them within your soul, if your soul does not set them up before you.

    Pray that the road is long. That the summer mornings are many, when, with such pleasure, with such joy you will enter ports seen for the first time; stop at Phoenician markets, and purchase fine merchandise, mother-of-pearl and coral, amber, and ebony and sensual perfumes as you can; visit many Egyptian cities, to learn and learn from scholars.

    Always keep Ithaca on your mind. To arrive there is your ultimate goal. But do not hurry the voyage at all. It is better to let it last for many years; and to anchor at the island when you are old, rich with all you have gained on the way, not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches.

    Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage. Without her you would have never set out on the road. She has nothing more to give you. And if you find her poor, Ithaca has not deceived you. Wise as you have become, with so much experience, you must already have understood what these Ithacas mean.

    Continue on in peace and joy,


  5. I know I'm not meant to be posting questions until tomorrow, but I have the joy of going to Leicester tomorrow on a 7.30 train so won't have a chance to post then. My questions:

    How come you have had endless days of beautiful weather and stunning scenery, and when I joined you I got rain, Glasgow and a litter strewn Clyde?


  6. What on earth are you wearing on your head? I hope you remove it if anyone is around.