The Pennine Way

Walked in August - September 2007

Day 14 – Friday 7th September

Kirk Yetholm – Berwick Upon Tweed


Somewhere beyond the sea,
Somewhere, waiting for me,
My lover stands on golden sands
And watches the ships that go sailing

Beyond the Sea – Bobby Darin

We woke late by our normal Pennine Way standards, and took our time getting ready so that we could leave the hostel at about nine o’ clock and saunter over to the bus stop with our gear to wait for the nine-twenty train to Kelso. It was another glorious day, and warm already despite the relatively early hour. As we waited for the bus with a few other passengers, we wondered if we would be able to get back home a day early, since our return tickets were dated for the following day. If we could change them by paying a nominal charge, it would save us having to spend the night in Berwick and would give us the whole weekend at home before returning to work.

The bus arrived on time and it looked brand new, all shining paintwork and flashing lights. We boarded and took two seats, giving our bags a seat each too and relaxed to watch the scenery go by. The bus turned around by the town green and went back the way it had come, giving us our last glimpse of the Pennine Way as it wound down the hill to the town. We couldn’t help but feel a premature nostalgia and sadness for what we were leaving behind. A multitude of memories came instantly flooding back to us. The places we’d visited, the sights we’d seen, the campsites we’d stayed at and the people we had met. So many fond memories some only days old, but already locked away for safekeeping along with all our other fondest memories. It felt odd to be on public transport again, for someone else to be carrying us. As we gazed through the window, everything seemed to be moving fast, too fast, and it felt wrong. Anything more than a walking pace now felt unnatural, and we were almost mesmerised by the speed, barely registering much more than the blur of moving hedges and trees as the bus made its seven mile journey to Kelso.

When the bus entered the town we saw several nice shops that we wanted to visit as well as a tourist information centre and bank, but when Darryl asked the bus driver about the times of buses going to Berwick, he was told that the next one would be leaving in a couple of minutes, so we had a mad and quite painful dash down the street and around the corner to find our next bus idling and waiting to move off. We climbed on board and paid our fares, grateful at least that we were doing well with our timetable so far. After a slightly longer journey this time, we arrived in Berwick Upon Tweed and were treated to a glorious view of the sea. Once off the bus we hot-footed it (as much as two people with heavy packs on their backs can) to the train station to see if we could wrangle an early trip home. While I waited, Darryl enquired at the ticket office, and I was startled to say the least when he gave me the incredible news that the price of altering our tickets and travelling home a day early would be eighty pounds each. Considering it wasn’t essential that we get home immediately, we decided to wait until the next day, and spend a nice relaxing day in Berwick. This meant finding a campsite, and as we walked down the road to the shops, we looked at a local map and found a couple of potential sites, one of which had a good view of the sea.

We stopped at a supermarket to get a drink each, then continued on down the road where we wandered briefly into a Woolworths, then into a Greggs to get something for lunch. As I waited outside for Darryl, eating my sandwich which was a type of bread roll with an odd sounding name that I can’t remember, I actually started getting quite excited about spending the day by the sea, especially after all those days of walking and camping in fields and the back of beyond.

It was a fair old trek to the caravan site we had chosen, but we were glad to find that it was a very nice place with a small but adequate area of grass for tents. It seemed to be built into a slope with two or three tiers of ground for caravans and motor homes, predominantly used by retired couples. We paid for our pitches and set up our tents by the wall that ran around the edge of the site. Beyond this was a short grass slope that led down to the road, and beyond that, a couple of small streets then the beach.

Camping in Berwick
Camping in Berwick

Once the tents were up, we stashed our gear inside and ambled down the road to the beach which was practically deserted on this glorious afternoon. We found a nice spot in the soft sand and sprawled out, relaxing and enjoying the long-sought-after opportunity to be lazy. It was very warm, and Darryl decided to test the water out, but came back after only a brief dip to report that swimming conditions were less than favourable.

I got up at one point to have a look further down the beach and find somewhere to buy ice creams. There was a small amusement arcade which I visited briefly, before finding an ice cream van and buying two cones. As I walked back towards Darryl, I could see that the ice cream was melting at an alarming rate, and I had a feeling that by the time I got back I would have two empty cones and two very sticky hands. Luckily the ice creams more-or-less held out and a tragedy was averted. We spent a couple of leisurely hours on the sand before walking casually back up to the caravan site and deciding what to do for dinner.

There wasn’t a great deal of food at the campsite, just basic groceries and confectionery, so we decided to go to the Co-op we’d passed on the way down to the site from the town. I don’t think either of us fancied fish and chips, so something we could cook in the mess tin would be enough. We walked up the road, wondering why we were still using our poor, worn-out feet when we could be perpendicular and unmoving, seeing quite a lot of people out enjoying the late afternoon sun, and turned into the supermarket car park. We bought some bread, egg, beans, malt loaf and biscuits, then headed straight back to the caravan site, looking forward to an easy night before travelling back the next day. We cooked up the eggs, scrambling them in the mess tin, then cooked the beans, mopping them up with some bread. Simple, satisfying camp food, and as simple as it was, it was still more appealing than yet more chips. I took the mess tin and the plastic knife and fork etc to the washing area where there were sinks to wash plates and cutlery. While I was there a retired chap and his wife asked me if I’d been walking and I told them that Darryl and I had just done the Pennine Way. They were quite impressed, and as we talked I began to get the strange feeling that I wasn’t talking to two complete strangers but to people I already knew. They reminded me of my parents, and the way they spoke to me was very friendly, familiar and easy. Like the hostel in Byrness, this encounter seemed to bring me back to normality, being a moment that reminded me of everyday life. Not that I really needed to be eased back into society, I’d only been gone two weeks, but it did feel like a very long time, and these reminders seemed to help, to get my mind back on track. I said goodbye to the couple, and wandered back to the tents.

Darryl and I read for a while in our tents before getting another early night. A family arrived and made a bit of noise in their tent next to us, and a nearby fun fair started up, with one of the rides annoyingly playing Queen’s We Will Rock You every five minutes, driving me mad, but otherwise we slept well. 

Mission accomplished
Mission accomplished

 

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