Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Blogging Can Be Bad For You.

Day 18: Jedburgh to Town Yetholm.

Distance: 15.5 miles (313.6 total).

Duration: 6 hrs 2 mins.

Lowest Temp: 0ºc.

Weather: Foggy start, sunny conclusion, with the fleetest of snow flurries in between.

Highest Alt: 1207 ft.

Archdeacon Watch: With his walking sticks tapping incessantly behind me, it’s like being hunted by a psychopathic metronome.

(Sorry about the delay with this post. The Plough in Town Yetholm didn't have wi-fi access. However, that's about the only thing it doesn't have - it's a cracking pub and comes highly recommended.)

The morning began with a big hug from my brother-in-law, Young Tom, who had come up from London last night. His train had been somewhat delayed, and so he hadn’t actually arrived in Jedburgh until long after The Archdeacon and I were tucked up in bed (separately). Once the two of them had sorted out their packed lunch for the day (I just stick to two or three mini Mars bars and nothing else) we were off.

We walked to Morebattle through a persistent light fog which broke as we headed up into the hills. Either The Archdeacon is getting faster or I’m getting slower, but either way the distance between us is narrowing on the uphill sections; often he remains visible to the naked eye.

Young Tom is a keen photographer, and intrigued by our pattern of praying a couple of times during each leg, he asked if I’d mind him taking photos of us at prayer. I didn’t see any good reason to refuse at the time, but I’m now slightly worried that if students of religion in centuries to come think that the photos he took were indicative of any wider practices, then textbooks about Christianity in Britain in the twenty-first century might be slightly inaccurate; it wasn’t all about bearded blokes standing in fields, giggling hard because a couple of RAF Tornadoes were belting through the sky above as they were trying to recite a Psalm.

Around the ten mile mark I found myself getting slightly agitated because I hadn’t had any ‘great spiritual insight’ to post this evening. Instead of enjoying the beautiful scenery and the peace, I was scrabbling about the landscape and our walking together, looking for something, anything, to make ‘a point’ about. Then I remembered Loch Feochan: on the fourth day of my pilgrimage, as I headed south from Oban, I’d found myself busy doing exactly the same thing – instead of simply receiving with joy all that I was seeing, I was constantly trying to frame it for this blog, either in words or through the lens of my camera. Thankfully, as soon as I realised what I was doing I was able quite quickly to turn off my mental commentary and start simply taking the beauty around me for the beauty that it was, and not for what I could make of it.

Blogging can be bad for you. It can lead you to think that you always have to have something to say. Sometimes we don’t have to say anything.

Apparently tonight is my last night in Scotland. I’d thought the funny black line on my map was a train line, but Young Tom assures me that it’s the English border. So, seeing as it’s my last night in my heart’s home, I might just round off the night with a little whisky – it’s a special occasion.


  1. Glad to hear The Venerable One is managing to keep up with you.It's a little bit annoying having to wait on your walking chum all the time.
    Sorry to hear that you are leaving Scotland on your next leg.Never mind I am led to believe that it wont be too long before you're back.
    Good luck on the last few miles.

  2. Amazing photo Stu, my camera and I are getting rather jealous down here in dreary London. It has sat forlornly in my room for the past few weeks wishing the rain away, but I reminded it we'd been allowing you the good/photogenic weather instead, because you deserve it. The young Canon relented and said you could keep the cloud formations and blue skies as long as you promised to bring them back with you when you return.

    Thus, I will charge up the battery, wipe the UV filter down with a soft cloth, check none of the legs of my tripod has run off to join a travelling circus, and await your safe return.

    For the record, we (Canon and I) are also jealous of your lochs, bracken, heather, snow, rocks, sunsets, mountains and vistas. Also your equally photogenic Archdeacon (send some photos to the C of E 2011 calendar team, they'd love them). You may keep your silly hats though.

    Jealousy may be a sin, but an understandable one in the circumstances, I feel.

    P.S. Not enough foliage. Oh, and I have read it too, not just looked at the pics...