Longformacus to Cockburnspath, 30Km
Ho, Ho, Ho said the taxi driver. It’s Long-form-acres and Co-burns-path, he emphasised when he collected me from the B&B in Lauder to return me to the trail, this morning. He was also taking my bag to the hotel in Durban. “Are you sure you don’t want to come with your bag?”, he asked. “This is your last chance”. Of course not, why would I skip the final stage of the Southern Upland Way?
I wish I’d stayed in the taxi. It was not the best of days. The taxi had just departed when my telephone rang. It was the B&B saying I’d left my flask of coffee behind. I suppose the call was better than the utter disappointment of discovering the loss after two hours struggling through driving rain. I then had a close encounter with a young bull who took a dislike to my waterproof jacket and charged at me twice.
The landscape was quite dull and the last few kilometers were confined inside a spruce plantation, which is a horrible place to be. Everything is dead, like some sci-fi B movie. I had to cross the A1 which was a blur of speeding cars and then the main East Coast railway, but on a bridge. Finally, the SUW emerged into the sunshine and there in front of me was beautiful Pease Bay on the east coast and my first sight of the sea since I left Portpatrick several years ago. And it was truly awful (see photo above). I looked up the coast to the power station on the next headland and the cement works on the one after that.
There was no welcome sign in Cockburnspath. Nothing to mark the end of the coast to coast walk. Perhaps they were too embarrassed. I bought a Magnum ice cream in the Community shop and waited for the taxi to take me to Durban.
But it wasn’t all bad. The weather was fine again and I passed St Bathan’s Abbey at 11.00 to discover the finest bakery cafe I’ve ever seen. An excellent cappuccino and Danish pastry cheered me up. I wish I could have bought a loaf of their bread and a slice of every cake on offer.
I have a rest day tomorrow and will visit the John Muir museum to prepare myself for the John Muir Way, starting on Monday.