Day 14: Biggar to Peebles.
Distance: 17.9 miles (248.7 total).
Duration: 6 hrs 40 mins.
Lowest Temp: 0ºc.
Highest Alt: 700 ft or thereabouts.
Archdeacon Watch: He took a little rest today, but is now full of beans and raring to go – and tomorrow he’s writing the post.
Dr Beeching is not what you would call a popular man in this part of the world. The Borders were particularly hard hit by the rail line cuts of the 1960s, and the loss of local lines is still keenly felt.
Most of my walk today was along one of those old rail lines. It was beautiful walking, on a clear cool day, with the Tweed as my companion for most of the way.
Walking the lost line stirred in my imagination thoughts of all those many people who would have passed this way by train: those for whom it was just the regular commute and those who took particularly special and memorable trips across this way. I’m not sure that Pilgrim’s Cairn has many readers this side of the border, but if there’s anybody out there with particular memories of travelling by rail the line that today I walked, I’d love to hear them.
In a sense, this pilgrimage is itself a kind of walking ‘a lost line’. Once there would have been significant traffic between Iona and Lindisfarne, as monks, bishops and princes made their way back and forth between the two, carrying news of battles lost and hearts won, news of great events and domestic gossip.
The walk from Biggar to Peebles evoked in me so many different senses of ‘paths lost’.
Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, that time when Christians seek to follow Christ into the wilderness places to struggle with temptation. Lots of us will be giving up chocolate, booze, fags or whatever else. Perhaps Lent is also about rediscovering ‘lost paths’, about finding again a true path which once upon a time we were walking, but which somehow has been lost to us; a time for finding our way again.
On Friday I have my second rest day. On my last rest day I encouraged all of you to go for a bit of a walk, this time I thought I’d let you rest, and instead give myself a job to do. Quite a few questions have been posted on this site over the past few weeks and I’m really sorry that I haven’t had the time to answer them – at the end of each day there’s only just time to re-hydrate, clean up, eat, go over the next day’s walk, (perhaps re-hydrate a little more), and then bed. So, as with the walking last weekend, I’ll put up a sort of ‘blank’ post on Friday morning, and if you want to post a question you can do it then, and I’ll try to answer as best I can around 5-ish.
See you tomorrow my friends, sleep well - I know I will.