Walking ‘down’ from Innerleithen on our way to our pre-booked B&B we arrived at the intersection at Mountbenger. It is funny, but intersections have always fascinated me. I think it is the same sort of attraction that abandoned train stations and railway tracks have for some people. It might have something to do with leaving, arriving, distances and a sense of timelessness.
We’d only arrived in Scotland two days prior and, as my walking partner had some issues with his knees, it was quite essential to find the right route (not too much up and down) and, if needed, having the option of public transport. Starting out from Peebles we followed the south bank of the Tweed, had a short coffee stop at Cardrona and ‘did’ the tour of Traquair House before finally arriving at Innerleithen and our hotel.
The next morning early we set off for Mountbenger and the Yarrow.
Well fortified after a hearty full Scottish breakfast we were ‘ready’ for the new day.
There was no rush. We were simply going to enjoy every step along the way.
Leisurely walking longer distances is such a wonderful experience. Looking back now from 4 weeks ‘in the future’ I still recall every moment of this utterly relaxing trip. We felt very much "Zen".
My partner definitely had a spring to his step (no issue there!) and the farther south we got, the prettier the surrounding landscape. There was hardly any traffic and overhead we had a friendly sun in a nearly cloudless sky.
The gently undulating B709 follows the New Ball Burn for most of the way and when we got to Mountbenger and the A708 (Moffat – Selkirk) in the early afternoon, we were more than ready for coffee and a bite to eat.
The Gordon Arms, an old coaching Inn (now rebranded as the Gordon Arms Restaurant With Rooms), sits in a wonderful ‘strategic’ position on the aforementioned intersection.
As we entered we were most graciously welcomed by Oxana Jones who clearly was not put off by two somewhat weary hillwalkers (pathwalkers would be more appropriate in our case) and their gear.
Over coffee and pie we had an interesting chat with Oxana, who, with her husband award-winning chef Bryn, owns this fine looking establishment. The Gordon Arms near St Mary's Loch had in its heyday been a regular haunt of the local literati, including Sir Walter Scott and James Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd. Others known to have visited are Robert Burns and even, in 1814, William Wordsworth.
Oxana and Bryn Jones are certainly not newcomers in the hospitality business. Previously they owned a very successful dining pub in Kirtlington, Oxfordshire and had been looking for a new challenge: "A place that would be situated in a beautiful location with beautiful views and beautiful people". It looks like they found it!
We took the time to browse the menu and, it must be said, it looked extremely enticing. Such a shame we had to move on, but next time around I’ll make sure to visit and stay a bit longer to sample the bounty offered in this great Inn.