Day 278: Cove to Marshall Meadows

Distance: 23.00 miles

Ascent: 5342 feet

Weather: Sunny

Accommodation: The Joicey’s House Etal (Kindly Offered)


It was another cold morning but the sky was blue and meant to be like that for most of the day. I got wrapped up and took the tent down before setting off. I descended down to Pease Bay which consists of one massive static caravan park, slightly to my surprise there was a coastal footpath sign here which wasn’t on my map. I had proposed to try and follow cliff directly but this path appeared to go slightly inland but I decided to follow it anyway.

The climb out of Pease Bay was an indicator of what was to come for the rest of the day, as there was a steep set of steps and then a steep slope up onto the higher ground. I can only describe the route the coast path took for this first part as a bit bizarre, it was clear and well signposted but seemed to constantly turn left, turn right, cut back on itself when it appeared a straighter route must be possible, it was never on the cliffs but also never too far from the coast and it was actually a nice section.

After Redheugh Farm the path steadily climbed up till it came close to the very quiet Dowlaw Road (more of a drive really) which surprisingly headed to Dowlaw Farm and then after passing a steep gulley finally joined up with the cliff edge. These cliffs were stunning, and it was clear I had underestimated the ascent today a bit as there had already had been some steep climbs and there were clearly some tough ones to come.

After descending to a small river there was a very steep climb up Westerside Dean, this was the steepest I have had for a long time since back on the West Coast. Once on top the views towards St Abb’s Head were great, and the walking was nice. Though there was one massive bull around here that was lying down only 2m or so from the gate which was a bit disconcerting but I sneaked by.

St Abb’s Head itself is obviously very popular with walkers and having seen no one on the first 9 miles until here, I probably saw about 40 people on the 1.5/2 mile stretch from St Abb’s Head down to St Abb’s. There is the quaintest little lightouse here which because it is already up high is just like the top of a standard lighthouse just balanced straight on the ground.

At St Abb’s I stopped for lunch and actually went in a newly opened café which appeared to be in a community building (not sure if it was a community café though). It was a great break, nice cafe and the people inside were really nice and they gave several donations.

The cliffs were not as high the other side of St Abb’s but there was still a lot of up and down, and after a few miles I reached Eyemouth. This had been my original finish point for today but due to a kind offer of accommodation I was going to extend to Berwick-upon-Tweed almost 9 miles further on. Eyemouth itself had a lovely harbour but slightly strangely (and I am not sure rightly) they have a van which sells fish for you to feed the seals (not open today), so there are seals literally swimming in the little harbour waiting to be fed.

From Eyemouth there were a few miles of cliff walking until the path dropped down a steep lane and to the lower part of Burnmouth. What goes down has to come up and immediately after the village the path very steeply climbed back up 70m to the top of the cliffs. From here the path followed the edge of the railway line, closely following the edge of the cliff and it was a beautiful stretch.

I was only about 4 miles from Berwick when suddenly I started to feel funny, I started profusely sweating even though I was in the shade and it had started to get cold, my stomach went funny and I felt a bit faint. I carried on for a bit but then just had to sit down. I was unsure exactly what to do, but literally 30s after sitting down a message came through from the lady who was kindly putting me up tonight saying she could pick me up North of Berwick at the border if I wanted as she was passing on the way back from Edinburgh. I think this was fate and I quickly said yes, I had only about ¾ of a mile to get to the place I could cross the railway and meet her at Marshall Meadows.

In this final stretch I crossed the border back into England. This bought to a close the Scotland leg, which was 2581 miles (over half the walk so far), took 140 days of which 120 were walking days, at an average of 21.5 miles per day. It has been absolutely incredible, with unbelievable kindness, stunning scenery and so many memorable moments. I will definitely be back. It was funny because the England Border Sign was very understated on the path but the Scotland Border Sign on the other side was a full on road sign which felt quite out of place.

By the time I got to the magnificent house of the Joicey’s who were kindly putting me up I felt absolutely fine, I am not sure what had come over me on that last stretch. They cooked me a wonderful dinner, with almost everything produced in their garden or on their land and I had a lovely chilled out evening.

Today was a much more scenic day than I expected, and with the good weather made for lovely walking. The brief ‘illness’ towards the end doesn’t seem to be an issue now but means I will have 3 miles more tomorrow than expected.

charles compton