Well, day one on the Cross Borders Drove Road was a tough one, and one of the most mentally exhausting days on the trial this year!
It’s not been exhausting in a bad way though… Eve has been off the scale energetic and excited!
She was running, jumping, skipping, singing, shouting, dancing, playing, throwing ice, breaking ice, looking at this, looking at that… she evened wanted to stop so she could do cartwheels! I drew the line at cartwheels as a broken arm in the middle of the moors, on a rocky trail, in freezing temperatures, would not be a good day out!
Within a few miles I was spent and Eve just didn’t stop! Whatever she was on today, I needed some!
We started early today as Sarah had to be at work for 9am. We were up at 5am, driving by 5.30 and at the start ready to begin walking around 7am just as it was starting to get light.
The start of the Cross Borders Drove Road isn’t very flattering. It’s simply a random car park, one you could easily miss at a small place called Little Vantage.
Luckily we knew we were heading as we walked this section last year on our JOGLE adventure. What I didn’t remember however was how wet it was underfoot.
In my defence we walked it last year in early spring when it wasn’t this cold. Today everything, except moving or large bodies of water, were all frozen solid. We simply walked over most of it, carefully!
After a very quick cuddle with Sarah, Sarah left us which I know she struggled with today as it was still dark and cold.
We then recorded a quick video (that’s on our website) and started walking towards West Linton over the Pentland Hills to our end point for the day.
We hadn’t eaten breakfast as we felt it was too early so the first job was to find a sheltered area to eat our breakfast; peanut butter flapjacks!
The Cross Borders Drove Road isn’t well walked, so there is a lack of waymarkers of any type, so great care and attention is needed when walking.
That is something that I failed to do at one point as we were distracted with playing eye spy and singing Aladdin songs.
What should have been a 8.5 mile day ended up being 12.1 miles, although I am sure our mistake wasn’t actually that far.
In true purist style, we turned around retraced our steps to keep on the official route according to OS maps and the few way markers that we could find.
The trail started by crossing some moorland with loads of old railway sleepers to help cross the worst of the bogs, many of which were still wet with flowing water.
It felt nice to be walking into the mist, watching it swirling around with only the wind and the occasional grouse making any noise.
The overwhelming thing I will take away from today, apart from Eve’s energy is how deafening the silence was! Being so cold and frozen, the silence was transformed what could be a very wild, baron and intimidating place into one of tranquil beauty. It felt a very special place to be.
The moors were only briefly interrupted with a small section of grass as we passed through a few livestock fields.
The views were absolutely wonderful and far reaching even in the mist. We met only one other walker all day and one dog walker who stopped to talk to us.
Our navigational error came as we passed Baddinsgill Reservoir and farm.
We followed the main road missing our left turn only realising when we checked the map quite some distance down the road.
Our heart briefly sank as we could feel rain starting, although it didn’t amount to anything. We turned around and walked back to where we went wrong.
Back at the junction we checked for a way marker but didn’t see any, so concluded better navigation was essential on this trail.
One other thing that I am blaming for our mistake was that last year we walked the road into West Linton, as opposed to taking the slightly higher route following the official Cross Borders Drove Road.
We found a sheltered area under some trees and had a break, eating a pancake I grabbed out the freezer this morning before leaving.
We continued on… it was getting very cold again!
We walked along a horse riding route covered in hoof prints giving wonderful views down into the glen below.
It was particularly odd seeing the glen below with the river winding though as last year we camped down there next to the river!
The route continued and we saw loads of cows all behind barbed wire fences. We felt good knowing we were not in the same field. That was until we closed a gate behind us to see a huge herd slowing following the trail behind us! We felt a very real sense of relief, knowing just minutes later we would have been on a collision course with the them!
Further on, and with tiredness, exhaustion and stiffness setting in, we passed a group of people looking like they were carrying out some sort of Pagan ritual!
I asked what was happening, and it was a community gathering in the community woodland as local volunteers had spent a long time planting the woodland!
We then passed loads of people walking towards the gathering.
When we arrived at the edge of West Linton the light had all but gone and the darkness was setting in fast.
We crossed the road, walking into the village to find the coop and get some food for dinner.
The coop in West Linton was small so we grabbed a meal deal and some snacks before heading to our Airbnb.
For some reason however, I had nose bleed outside the coop. It wasn’t bad but it concerned Eve!
Our accommodation for this evening is wonderful, warm and cosy… perfect! It feels so nice to be snuggled up next to Eve as I write this after such a hard day.
This evening we are going to get an early night ready for a harder day tomorrow as we aim to reach Peebles.
I hope you all have a great night and see you all tomorrow!