Day 17: St Boswells to Jedburgh.
Distance: 12.9 miles (298.1 total).
Duration: 5 hrs 10 mins.
Lowest Temp: -1ºc.
Weather: Hazy shade of Winter.
Highest Alt: 567 ft.
Archdeacon Watch: ‘It’s me age,’ he keeps telling me.
(Sorry for another late post – we actually finished around 2.30 today... but then found a pub showing the Wigan-Spurs game. Get in there Super Pav!).
We are walking among Borderers.
Today we finally turned our back on the River Tweed, which has been our companion for much of our way since we left Biggar, and headed south towards the River Teviot and Jedburgh. These final miles of our pilgrimage take us along St Cuthbert’s Way, much of which follows the old Roman Road of Dere Street.
We are in border country, nearer to England than to Edinburgh, and for many centuries this has been contested country. We’re walking through land that marked a long fought border of the Roman Empire. Its been a line of conflict between England and Scotland, and this morning we passed Ancrum Moor where a Scottish army was victorious in 1545.
The Celtic Saints we have been following were border people. Columba’s monastery on Iona was more or less on the border between the kingdoms of the Picts and Dál Riata. They often chose to put their monasteries on islands, border places between land, sea and sky. There are many stories of Celtic monks setting sail for ‘desert places’ beyond the known borders of their world.
When we think of borders, our first thought is of lines of separation, of that which keeps different peoples or places apart. But of course borders can also be thought of as places where different worlds touch. St Columba and his successors sought to live in the border places where our world touches and is touched by that which we call the heavenly. They sought to see that which is beyond our world, in the things that are within it.
And they knew that borders are places of struggle and sometimes conflict. To try to live a life of faith is to live as a borderer. To live as a borderer is to live with struggle.
And lastly, I’ve had a question come in which, although too late for our formal Question Time on Friday, I’m willing to answer because I think it’s an important one. A certain Garrett asks, ‘If your pilgrimage was a film, which film would best describe it? AND, who would you chose to play the starring role?’ The answer is, (not quite answering his question but my own), ‘If they made a film of this pilgrimage, I think I would best be played by Rob Lowe, and The Archdeacon by Ken Davitian’.
PS I ought to say that if you’re ever staying in St Boswells, check yourself in to The Old Manse. We were wonderfully looked after there, in spite of the fact that they weren’t actually expecting us until March 20th. And not only did Claire take our horrible muddy gaiters in to dry, but she washed them too! We felt slightly guilty each time we sloshed through another puddle on today’s leg.