Thursday 10 October 2013--I find myself this morning without enough cash to pay my B&B bill, so make a quick trip to Kelso for an ATM. I also
hobble into a pharmacy for blister plasters for my ravaged heels. Next year, they're going on first thing. Despite yesterday's minor misadventure,
I've very much enjoyed my stay in this underappreciated part of Scotland. I'll be back, I think, for more walking in the hills of the borderlands.
After taking care of business at the B&B, I drive the minor road north out of town, along the east bank of the Bowmont Water. As I have noted elsewhere, this is the one area where it is possible to drive north from Scotland into England, thanks to a meandering border. I follow the stream down a few miles, then loop back up the other side, crossing again into Scotland and then wandering across country westward. Cross the border once more at Kielder. My old map shows this as a very minor road, but it has obviously been greatly upgraded in the intervening years. Kielder Water, the UK's largest reservoir by volume, was created in the mid-1970s to support growing industrial demand for water. Heavy industry was dying at the same time, however, and many thought the project was a white elephant. But the reservoir has become an important resource for the northeast of England, and it and the surrounding forest (also man-made) have become a popular outdoor recreation area. Thus the upgraded road, and also such services as the Anglers Arms, where I stop for a pint. Occasionally, government appears to be really forward-thinking despite itself.
Pass through Bellingham and continue south, crossing the line of Hadrian's Wall. Toward the end of Elizabeth I's reign, the borderlands were so unruly that some thought was given to re-fortifying the wall. It seems to me that would have meant essentially ceding most of Northumberland to the Scots, which really couldn't have been a viable option. That it was considered at all shows how bad the situation was, I guess.
I've decided to stay in Corbridge this year, rather than Hexham. It's a much smaller town, but I'm drawn by the number of appealing pubs. The Tap & Spile in Hexham is tops in my book for a pint or three, but it does not serve food, and the other pub options around were starting to feel somewhat limited. (Don't ask why I am so averse to proper restaurants-- just the need for a good pint, I guess.) There are four good pubs just in the center of Corbridge, and two more close by, still within the village limits.
My B&B is a short walk outside town--things closer in are outside my normal price range. It's a nice old house, and the proprietors are nice old folk, but something about the place gives me the creeps. Can't explain it, just one of those feelings. Settle in and limp down to the Angel Inn for dinner and pints.