“Down South”

Our Features Editor, Alex, gets out and about on his bike!

Last weekend I was exploring the hills of the Southern Uplands, which over in the eastern corner are one and the same as the Cheviots – the nearest hills for Northumbrians and Newcastle folk. They’ve got a completely different look to the Highlands, like someone’s thrown a grass carpet over a box of eggs.

Funnily enough, for somewhere once so controversial and fiercely disputed over, it’s actually even quieter than the Highlands. I didn’t see a soul, except one kind lady who came out of a farmhouse and asked me if I knew where I was and where I was supposed to be going. Yes, I did, but I made a very apologetic face when I had a crack at pronouncing it. She pointed me in the right direction.

For two hours that was the last person I saw. Even the sheep were elsewhere, just a few birds whistling around and a long climb ahead to the top of the Pennine Way. The views from the top were lovely, and it was the first day for a long time that it was warm enough to sit down and enjoy it!

From here I went off for an afternoon at Jedburgh, and on to an evening at a pub in Bonchester Bridge. Some days everywhere just looks great, and this rare spell of blue weather after such a long winter was such a treat. I was totally enchanted everywhere I went, even if the retreating winter had left some cavernous potholes to dodge! Made the country roads quite exciting…

After all that fresh air I was asleep on my face before 10pm, and up feeling fresh the next morning with a big sheet crease dent across my cheek. There was only me and another couple staying at the pub, so in the morning there were just two tables laid out downstairs, right beside each other in the large restaurant. Fearing it might be a bit awkward if we were both there at the same time (I’m not at my best for the first two hours of the day), it was actually quite nice to chat. I’d spent the previous day alone, and whilst it’s lovely to be in the hills solo for a bit, it had started to get a bit lonely. We talked touring the Borders, and shared a mutual appreciation for Tebay services.

Down to Newcastleton for a cycle, I met up with Niall, a friend who’d been cycling in Selkirk the day before. We followed the road up and over the moorland to Langholm, which was a bit worrying as it got narrower and narrower after the “Not Suitable For HGV” sign, and Niall was trucking around in a vintage campervan that was bouncing around all over the place.

Langholm was a gorgeous place well worth a stop and within a stone’s throw of Gretna Green. It’s on the A7 – which is definitely the best road for getting to Edinburgh, winding through more grassy hummocks on the way back home. It’s definitely the road less travelled, but often the extra time it takes to see these charming nooks of the country is worth it.


Did you miss Alex’s previous blog post? Catch up here. 


Alex Corlett

Alex is the "Friend's" Features Editor, working with the talented Features Team to bring you everything from cryptic crosswords to financial advice, knitting patterns to international travel and inspirational real life stories. Always on the hunt for a new feature idea, Alex also enjoys cycling and loves a good tea room.