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Byrness to Jedburgh

Mark leaving the Pennine Way at Dere Street
Finally leaving the Pennine Way at Dere Street, much to my relief

It's fitting that on Independence Day I should leave the shackles of the Pennine Way behind, after what feels like months of following the bloody thing (it's actually been just under three weeks). I got up early this morning and struggled up the steep valley that's home to Byrness – or, to be more accurate, home to a pub, a filling-station-cum-café, a hostel, some houses and a church – and after trudging through the marsh on the top of the southern Cheviot Hills, I finally reached the signpost where the Pennine Way heads off in a northeasterly direction and Dere Street, an old Roman road, heads northwest. I went northwest, safe in the knowledge that I'll never bother to darken the Pennine Way's doorstep again.

Dere Street

A view of the Cheviots from Dere Street
A view of the Cheviots from Dere Street

The sun glowed in a beautiful morning sky as I left Byrness this morning, but by the time I reached Chew Green, home to an old Roman camp that's now nothing but ridges and bumps, the sky had clouded over and I stopped to put the waterproof cover on my backpack in preparation for the rain that I thought was coming. But as soon as I stepped into Scotland the clouds evaporated and the most glorious summer's day appeared; it was like something out of a cheesy Biblical movie and it made my descent into Scotland even more symbolic. My spirits lifted as I stepped down from the Cheviots into the gentle rolling hills of the Borders region; I haven't felt like this for ages.