Thursday, 20 August 2015

Day2 - Co. Durham to Melrose

Date: Sunday 16th August 2015
Route: Toft Hill, Co Durham to Melrose (via Durham, Hadrian’s Wall, Jedburgh, Hawick and Selkirk)
Miles today: 113
Total Mileage: 357

Minty and Dave

The sun came out to play today, and we spent a few hours in the company of Dave & Judith in the city of Durham. 

The town square in Market Place has a statue of a soldier on a horse, and we learned that the sculptor did not get paid for his artwork, so he removed the horse’s tongue! 
The Horse and soldier

The Beeb seeks Sanctuary
Durham Cathedral

We took a trip to the Cathedral where we saw a replica of the original door knocker anyone who wanted sanctuary could grab hold of….. they could have sanctuary for only 37 days though (strange number?).

Hogwarts Corridor

What we did not know until today was that the interior of the Cathedral grounds was used to film some scenes for the Harry Potter film series and those who love the films as much as Minty does will no doubt recognise the corridor and courtyard below. 

The minute Minty was in this corridor it was instantly recognisable.
Hogwarts courtyard

Unfortunately Durham Castle was closed to the public today so we could not see inside. Instead, we wandered down along the river. 

The four of us, with the Cathedral and Castle in the background
One side of the bridge, the river was really tranquil and calm........
Tranquil and calm......
The other side had a bit of a white (?) rapid going on

You decide....

Not sure if the sun shining and the brown colour constitutes “dry weather” and  “discoloured” but no-one seemed to bat an eye along the river!

Normal or discoloured?

Lunch in the Slug and Lettuce went down very well, before we headed back to pack up the car and start the second leg of our “tour”.

Taking the A68 all the way, our journey north towards Melrose, took us past fields of sheep and cows, sprawling fields of heather and jaw dropping scenery through Northumberland. Oh, and a bit of a roller coaster ride as we drive along winding roads with blind summits!!

Seeing signs for Hadrian’s Wall indicating it was a mere 2 miles away, we headed off piste…… the signs disappeared and we never found it!  Mind you, there were a lot of walls in the area so unless there was a big arrow pointing to it, I doubt we would have differentiated Hadrian’s from Farmer Joe’s!!! Next time maybe.

Did you know that this is last cafe in England.....
The last cafe in England dontcha know?
Leaving England

A viewing point on the Border gave us the chance to stop and take some snaps as we crossed from England to Bonnie Scotland… all to the tune of “Donald Where’s Yer Troosers” blaring from a people carrier that was filled to overflowing with a very enthusiastic family who were doing highland jigs around the place”
What it says......

We were now in The Borders where men are men and sheep are scared!!!

Instead of heading straight for our hotel, we took a detour to take in some of the Borders towns. 

These sleepy villages comprise mainly of a main street, a clock tower and a central square and all are steeped in history and have some wonderful historic buildings. 

Jedburgh Abbey

First up was Jedburgh.  

Jedburgh Abbey, standing at the top of the hill in the town, founded in 1138, is a shell now, but still looks quite amazing.
Jedburgh Abbey
Flowers leading to the War Memorial

Alongside the Abbey is the War Memorial, with the names of the fallen soldiers from the world war (not sure if WW1/WW2 or both) etched into the stone and a garden of gloriously coloured flowers leading up to it.

Hawick Clock Tower
Next up was Hawick (pronounced “Hoick” for the uneducated amongst us!). Central to the main street is an unusually designed clock tower and has the Butcher and the Fishmonger next door to one another - a reminder of when everyone did their shopping on the High Street.  
Hawick Fishmonger and Butcher, side by side
The local supplier of windows, Jim’ll Fix It has unfortunately gone out of business, but we are sure the local (and seemingly ONLY) estate agent Jim Hay will fix it all!!! 

No longer in business

The Beeb remembered a music shop and sure enough, there it was just at the end of the main street, still sporting the sign, "Music & Records", that has probably been hanging there since its inception!

The Music Shop

Sir Walter Scott

Selkirk was the last Borders town we wandered through. Here, we found that Sir Walter Scott was the Sheriff of this town from 1803 to 1832. As it was late Sunday, the courthouse was closed so we could not see his office. 

There was a rather newly painted statue just out front to commemorate him. On the way to the hotel, we passed his home, Abbotsford, a rather grand looking residence set in  acres of land. We don’t think the local bus route between Abbotsford and Selkirk was up and running in the first half of the 1800’s so his commute was probably a pain!

Arriving at our hotel for the night, The Waverley Castle Hotel, we were impressed with the grandeur. 

Our Hotel
However, you could be mistaken in believing it was mid-December, not mid- August for the heat that was pumping out of the radiators! The only dinner on offer was a 3 course affair (and very reasonably priced at £14.95 all in, we might add), but as we had already eaten a big meal at lunch, we went into the main part of Melrose and had smaller pub dinner in The Kings Arms which was reasonably priced and the food was OK. It served Peroni so The Beeb was happy. The Broccolli soup was so thick, the spoon could stand up unaided!
Broccolli Soup

Melrose Abbey

Melrose Abbey
Melrose is very much in the vein of the other Borders towns, and you can walk around it in minutes!. Behind the town are two large hills and are a stunning backdrop.  

We did take a look at Melrose Abbey, another medieval building which is now also just a shell, but this one can boast having the mummified heart of Robert The Bruce buried there. 

The heavy gravestones in the grounds around the abbey are fallen, broken and the only reminder of people from a time long gone by.
Melrose Abbey Gravestones

Back at the hotel, and into the bar for a nightcap. At this point we realised the hotel is a haven for Shearings Coach holidays, so by 11pm, everyone was tucked up in bed! Just us, in the hotel lobby (the only place you can get wifi) painfully trying to write this blog and upload pictures....... obviously the Shearings OAP holiday crowd have no demand for wifi, hence the abysmal service of it in this hotel!!!!

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