Departed: Holy Island
Distance: 72km (43km after corrections)
Weather: heavily overcast and icy with strong headwinds (The locals claim unseasonal – Yeah right!)
Highlight: Crossing the Scottish Border
“May the road rise up to meet you, may the wind be at your back” This was the blessing given to us by a Scottish lad who appeared to be the man in charge of the establishment we stayed… How wrong were those words!
Whilst the road to the mainland is dead flat at close to sea level we were rudely greeted with a ripping chilly headwind! The causeway between the Island and headland is over 5km which took us over an hour to complete! We had plenty of time grinding away in first gear to marvel at the procession of traffic Island bound to make the most of the next 6 hours before evacuating as the tide once again swallows the road. Whilst the Island carries both an Abbey and Castle to admire, many come for nature as the Island hosts a large variety of rare bird life. The outgoing lane was in places still submerged with the wind whipping spay at our feet and forcing us to the centre of the road hoping that the oncoming traffic wouldn’t drench us with spay.
The next 3hrs saw us question our sanity with continual headwinds seeing us locked in first gear for over 80% of the ride. Another puncture (where is Charles when you need him?) just to throw in an added challenge and we had completed just over 25km in 4hrs and were only a third into the ride when we reached the town of Berwick-Upon-Tweed. We estimated that it would be at least another 8hrs of battling it out against Mother Nature and it was now after 1pm. Concerned for the wellbeing of our donkeys and mental state of the handlers (not to mention our marriage). Plan B was hatched! (Obviously the original Burke & Wills weren’t as smart to have a plan B!)
Over some lunch and a couple of phone calls later we were loading the grateful Donkey’s and their handlers into a Maxi Cab to wipe out close to 30km of the day’s journey but still leave some dignity intact to ride the remaining 20km into Kelso without disappointing the welcoming committee!
We were now in Scotland and were gently reminded of this when presented with Scottish Pounds from a “hole in the wall”. We can also state that we’ve had the best meal since being abroad! (Maybe I’ve been welcomed home?)
Click here for More Photos!