The meteorologists warned us last week of horrible cold wet windy weather to come, so we seized the opportunity to get out on Friday. Thank goodness we did. We had a truly golden day.
It was cold – look how wrapped up I am! The first time this winter that I’ve had all my winter woollies out and on.We decided to park our car on the English side of the Union Chain Bridge, walk over the bridge to Scotland, up along the Tweed to Paxton House, through the grounds and onto Paxton village where we could get lunch at the newly-refurbished Cross Inn. Then retrace our steps. Not a big walk at all – more of an amble really. The Union Chain Bridge is one of our very favourite places in the locality – (you can read my paean to this fine bridge here.)It sits across the magnificent river Tweed, and for much of its way separates the countries of England and Scotland.Somebody had put/left/forgotten a little clown vase near the centre of the bridge. An appeasement to the gods of the river?At the far side, we followed a path to the river bank just below these enormous suspension cables.Looking back up from the path at the enormous stone pillars supporting the suspension cables, you can’t help but be impressed.The walk along the river embankment was very muddy – it’s obviously a heavily-walked route. But no matter – so much to see, so much to enjoy. How clear the water is! Autumn leaves being carried along with the water. Perhaps we will meet these same leaves again when walking on our local beach at Spittal where the Tweed meets the sea?There were birds getting on with their own lives. We glimpsed a heron fishing through the trees.Our walk took us past small private and secretive doors …Then, in the distance, we caught our first glimpse of the rosy stone wall surrounding the Paxton estate …Not far to go now …Closer, the door was a magical invitation to a private world …Inside the estate, the walk was as golden as ever …There were fine trees – and a little teddy bear trail ….Looking up we were able to catch a glimpse of Paxton House through the trees. Paxton House was built in the 1760s to be a fine mansion looking out on the river Tweed – but alas, they have allowed the trees to grow so tall that there is almost no view of the Tweed from Paxton House any longer – such a pity.Before long we reached Paxton’s fish and boat houses.They run boat trips from here – something we’ve never done, but definitely plan to do one day.Now it was time to climb up from the banks of the river Tweed and through the Paxton estate …Past the children’s play area – it looked a most imaginatively designed place for children to enjoy!And a brief glimpse once more of Paxton House …Past their masonry treasures/leftovers/rejects sitting casually on the lawns …Past the apple trees so skilfully espaliered on the red brick wall of the walled garden …Over the Linn Burn … aaaah the tree colour!And on to the main Paxton entrance gates, guarded by some fine stone lions (and a modern touch: matching grey wheelie bins).Our walk to Paxton village only took twenty minutes or so further, but still more of interest to see. A stylish teal bench – in the middle of nowhere, should you need a rest. No, I don’t think it’s a bus stop.We met an engineer working outside the old telephone exchange to connect somebody up to broadband and had an engrossing conversation, though I must confess much of the technicalities of multi-coloured cables passed me by.Then we turned down a long slicket at the backs of peoples’ houses …Much more fun when you can see the fronts! These folk have got a rather nice mini- Paxton lion …And look at these fuchsia cushions outside on the teal bench! – but, oh dear, it’s going to rain!!All right for us luckily – we got to the pub, the Cross Inn, before any showers started.It’s been pleasantly refurbished and looked welcoming – and indeed was so, with tasty food, and perhaps more importantly for Stephen, tasty beer.Then we retraced out steps. I much prefer circular walks, but our return walk was so different that it didn’t matter that we were going over the same ground. The light was completely different – and spectacular – on return. No longer so gold and so friendly – more stark and much more exciting.
We approached Paxton House the proper way (as it were) on return. Back along the fine avenue of trees …Down the leafy banks to the river Tweed …At first, the Tweed glimpsed through the trees appeared with the gentleness of a John Nash painting …But then we veered downstream into the light …Mirrored perfection …Dark clouds overhead, rain threatening … but a reassuringly golden sign that we were on the way home …And some dappled green ambling …Before we had the Union Chain Bridge once more in our sights …Distinctly dark clouds hovering over the bridge now …The mighty stone supports of the suspension bridge …Back over the bridge to England …Where the bridge supports are cut into the soft local red rock. Back in England just before the rain!