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Thread: Border Reiving - a paddle to England

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    Cool Border Reiving - a paddle to England

    Border Reiving


    A paddle to England







    My reiving days are long over (gave it up in the late 16th C, when my knees started to act up), but I'd fancied doing this paddle for a while. Starting somewhere on the south east coast of Scotland, then paddling across the border and ending up at Berwick upon Tweed in England. Conditions seemed right (I emphasise the word 'seemed') the other week so we thought we'd give it a go. The plan was to drive down to Burnmouth (on the Scottish side), drop off the boats there, then drive on to Berwick, park the car and catch a bus back up to Burnmouth to commence our paddle. So far, so straightforward.

    So off we went.

    Crossing the land border.





    Welcome to England.





    And on to Berwick.

    Berwick upon Tweed is the northernmost town in England, though it used to be in Scotland. It's a couple of miles south of the border these days, at the mouth of the River Tweed.

    Berwick Harbour by L.S. Lowry, who often visited the town between the mid 1930's and the 1970's.





    After leaving the car, we set off through the town to find the bus stop.

    Entering through the town walls.








    The Berwick bears.





    Going out the other side of the town walls.





    I can't resist making people pose for pictures in these daft signs.





    OK, here's the bus stop. Will they take Scottish bus passes?




    Yes they did. (But only on condition we left the country!)


    So here we are at the first and last pub in Scotland. But there's no time to go in, as we have a major paddle to do. (And besides, they're closed.)





    So we walk down the cliff to Burmouth harbour.





    Scotland's first harbour, and once a hotbed of smuggling.








    Tide was out though.





    And there was a launching fee!




    As I was contemplating this sign, a man wandered up and introduced himself as the harbour master. He asked if we intended to launch in the harbour or from the beach. If the former he'd be happy to collect our fee. I chose the beach, thereby saving 20 for our tea and scones fund. And I promised not to do any digging. The harbour master nodded sagely and went on his way.

    This of course meant we had to lug the boats over the grass, across the pebbly beach and then over some very slippery, seaweedy rocks outside the harbour wall, just to reach the water. (There's no such thing as a free launch.) But it was worth it to save the money. And anyway, he was still watching us.






    Launching





    Passing the harbour mouth.





    Partan Hall, a suburb of Burnmouth.





    And so out to the open sea.





    So far, so calm.





    "New horizons will appear, oh I'm going Southbound dear." Phil Lynott.





    The first of many reefs we had to swing out to sea to avoid. A group of seals lived on this one, and came off to greet Jenny. Didn't bother coming to see me though.





    Stack.





    Swell picking up.





    The last (ruined) cottage in Scotland.





    Strange sky.





    The border was somewhere around here. I had a map, but it was difficult to pinpoint it exactly, there were no indications on the shore and nobody had painted or chalked any big signs on the rocks. (Which is the sort of thing I would have done, so it's probably just as well I stayed in my boat)






    Heading into English waters.





    I think.





    Possibly.





    Hmmm. Seem to be heading for Denmark here.





    There's the London to Edinburgh railway line above.





    Must be there now?





    Yeah, I reckon.





    Here's Jenny coming up.





    Now a strange thing happened as we crossing the watery border. The swell increased and the seas got rougher. Maybe it was trying to tell us something.











    Coming into Marshall Meadows Bay, a vast semi-circular amphitheatre, just inside England, for a brief respite from the waves.





    There's a tunnel up to the caravan park here, which normally I would have liked to go up, but we felt strangely uneasy about landing here and preferred to push on.





    South side of the bay.





    Heading back out into the swell.








    Here we came into a bay called Needles Eye. You can see why.








    There were some great caves just there too.





    It would have been great to have threaded the needle through the natural arch and to have explored some of the caves, but the swell was just too big and the waves too confused there that day.

    The sea conditions were very strange. The winds were light, swinging from offshore to southerly. But there was no shelter in the bays and the waves were big and chaotic. There had been very strong winds over the North Sea in the preceding few days though, and I reckon that the strong swell coming in from the east was the aftermath from then. Possibly with a bit of wind over tide thrown in for good measure. At any rate it was getting a bit wearing to paddle in.


    Heading out of that bay, we had to swing out again to avoid reefs and breaking waves at the next headland.





    We were getting a bit tired, but fortunately there was a sandy beach round the next corner where we could land and take a breather. So we did.





    It was good to get off the water for a bit, stretch our legs and relax.


    But it was sad to find this dead seal pup on the beach, just near where we landed. Not a good omen.





    Dead crab someone put in my boat.





    OK, after some chocolate and a drink (I passed on the crab), we relaunched again.





    Or tried to!


    Jenny pumping water out of her boat after her first attempt to launch.





    She managed to get out on her second attempt. Then it was my turn.





    I took me about five goes to launch through the surf (maybe more, I lost count!). The surf didn't look that massive, but it was powerful, and each time I'd just got afloat the surf would break right over my bow, filling me with water. So I'd have to spin back on to the beach, drag the swamped boat ashore, tip it out and start all over again. This was quite tiring. Eventually, I got past the breakers only a quarter full of water, so I was able to paddle out to sea a bit, then use the pump to get rid of most of the unwanted ballast.

    We weren't too far from Berwick by now, we had seen the sea wall and the lighthouse in the distance. But first we had another headland and some big reefs with powerful breaking waves to get past. Approaching them, it didn't look (or feel!) like a good idea to push on through. And we were both pretty tired, so we decided to call it a day at that point and head back to shore.





    Landing at this strange sort of bus shelter structure cut into the rocks, all we had to do was drag the boats up the cliff via a long stairway and we'd be fine.








    So that's what we did. It was a slog, but it was nice to be on dry land again. We left the boats at the caravan park on the top of the cliff, and proceeded to walk the last mile or so to Berwick.





    Looking down on the reefs and breakers we'd come ashore to avoid. I think we made the right decision!








    Trudging back.





    Berwick pier ahead.





    Back at the car, dry clothes and food awaited. Wrung out, dried and changed, and something approaching human again, we drove back to Berwick Holiday Park to retrieve the boats. Actually it was a bit of a maze of caravans and little streets in there and it took us a while to find the right bit of cliff top. But we did and were soon on our way.






    Back on the border, by land again.





    The diner's going nowhere, but it was closed.





    Home again.








    So that was it. We didn't make it into the mouth of the Tweed, as I had hoped, but we made it across the border. And did quite well I think, given the conditions. Getting hard work though for someone of my age, so I decided I am going to hang up my muckboots and retire. From now on, I told Jenny, I am going buy a nice beige tracksuit, wear velcro shoes, play golf occasionally, spend my days complaining about things, and only look at the sea through the windows of my static caravan. Sounds good to me!

    Then again, maybe I won't.


    Thanks for reading these stories.

    Gordon
    Last edited by Crow; 16th-July-2017 at 08:13 AM.

    "I stepped up on the platform. The man gave me the news. He said - you must be joking, son, where did you get those shoes?"

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    Thanks, Crow. Fascinating as always. Well done both, especially for knowing when to stop - a skill some people don't have.
    Not in Oxford any more...

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    Quote Originally Posted by maryinoxford View Post
    Well done both, especially for knowing when to stop - a skill some people don't have.
    A sentiment I agree with, mainly it comes with age but there are still some silly old "B's" who lack that inbuilt commonsense.
    "Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men"
    Grp Cpt Sir Douglas Bader CBE,DSO,DFC,FRAeS.

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    Excellent. Interesting to see this bit of coast from below, which I've glimpsed at 100mph from the train a few times. I think you made the right call, sea looked a bit iffy.


    Berwick is an excellent place, full of history, thanks to changing hands between Scots and English many times. Tucked away off Bridge Street is a superb Micropub, the Curfew, with a perfect selection of ales, but space only for about 20 people. https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/...9!4d-2.0045509


    "There's no such thing as a free launch" - you must have been tempted to use this as the blog title!
    Covering as many malmiles as possible before being distracted by the pub!

    Paddle Points - where to paddle

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    As a fellow Scot it is nice to see a border incursion into southern territory. Pity you had no space on your galleys for plunder. Anyway, Heres tae ye!


    Calefactio orbis? Culus meus!!

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    Please don't hang up the muck boots just yet. We need blogs and adventures like this.
    Big Al.

    Only when the last tree has died
    and the last river been poisoned
    and the last fish been caught
    will we realise we cannot eat money.
    ~Cree Indian Proverb

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    Yes very enjoyable adventure and wise to call a halt........for the day not your paddling career .....we hope
    All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

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    I meant to post a map.

    This one will do for now...











    My favourite bit is the Debatable Land.

    "I stepped up on the platform. The man gave me the news. He said - you must be joking, son, where did you get those shoes?"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Crow View Post
    I meant to post a map.

    This one will do for now...











    My favourite bit is the Debatable Land.
    I like that!
    Covering as many malmiles as possible before being distracted by the pub!

    Paddle Points - where to paddle

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    OK, here's the map of our route:


    "I stepped up on the platform. The man gave me the news. He said - you must be joking, son, where did you get those shoes?"

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    Another super blog Crow. I have to say that I admire how much you get out paddling and in how many different corners of the world too.

    i also have to admit to being descended from border reavers myself. A rlative of mine has traced our family back as far as a chap called Robert Burnett.......he was hanged for sheep stealing.

    Now I'm a magistrate......I must be compensating.

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    Quote Originally Posted by maryinoxford View Post
    Thanks, Crow. Fascinating as always. Well done both, especially for knowing when to stop - a skill some people don't have.
    Thank you, Mary.

    Looking at the map above, I was surprised to see how far we actually went and how close to Berwick we were when we decided to stop. Given how close it was, I might have been tempted to push on, but to get round the reefs would have meant going even further out to sea which would reduce the safety margin still further and so on.

    So I'm glad we did what we did.

    "I stepped up on the platform. The man gave me the news. He said - you must be joking, son, where did you get those shoes?"

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    Quote Originally Posted by cloudman View Post
    A sentiment I agree with, mainly it comes with age but there are still some silly old "B's" who lack that inbuilt commonsense.
    I guess natural selection applies. Though there are exceptions, as you say.

    "I stepped up on the platform. The man gave me the news. He said - you must be joking, son, where did you get those shoes?"

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    Another fabulous blog Mr Crow.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mal Grey View Post
    Excellent. Interesting to see this bit of coast from below, which I've glimpsed at 100mph from the train a few times. I think you made the right call, sea looked a bit iffy.


    Berwick is an excellent place, full of history, thanks to changing hands between Scots and English many times. Tucked away off Bridge Street is a superb Micropub, the Curfew, with a perfect selection of ales, but space only for about 20 people. https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/...9!4d-2.0045509


    "There's no such thing as a free launch" - you must have been tempted to use this as the blog title!

    Cheers, Mal.

    Must try that pub next time.

    Could have been, but I wanted the border reiving in.

    "I stepped up on the platform. The man gave me the news. He said - you must be joking, son, where did you get those shoes?"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rimfire View Post
    As a fellow Scot it is nice to see a border incursion into southern territory. Pity you had no space on your galleys for plunder. Anyway, Heres tae ye!


    Calefactio orbis? Culus meus!!

    Aye, cheers for that.

    At least we came oot alive and in one piece, so can't complain.

    "I stepped up on the platform. The man gave me the news. He said - you must be joking, son, where did you get those shoes?"

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    Quote Originally Posted by Big Al. View Post
    Please don't hang up the muck boots just yet. We need blogs and adventures like this.
    Quote Originally Posted by mayobren View Post
    Yes very enjoyable adventure and wise to call a halt........for the day not your paddling career .....we hope

    Thanks, guys.

    I haven't retired quite yet ...

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    Quote Originally Posted by rbm109 View Post
    Another super blog Crow. I have to say that I admire how much you get out paddling and in how many different corners of the world too.

    i also have to admit to being descended from border reavers myself. A rlative of mine has traced our family back as far as a chap called Robert Burnett.......he was hanged for sheep stealing.

    Now I'm a magistrate......I must be compensating.

    Well, you know what they say - might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb!

    A magistrate, you say. Well I hope I don't come up before you in a professional capacity.

    Paddling would be a different matter though. Thanks for the kind remarks.

    "I stepped up on the platform. The man gave me the news. He said - you must be joking, son, where did you get those shoes?"

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