The first overnight stay of our ‘long walk’ was spent in Kirk Yetholm, a small, pleasant village just a mile from the border with England. The days are long in late May and early June and after we’d eaten we decided to take a stroll around the village.
The village is actually one of a pair of settlements divided by the River Bowmont, with Town Yetholm on the other side of the river
In the 7th century the area was part of the Kingdom of Northumbria, but became firmly anchored in Scotland in the 11th century. There are various theories about the origin of the name Yetholm but the most common explanation is that it’s derivedfrom the Old English language and probably means ‘Gatehouse Village’ due to it’s proximity to the border. Originally the centre of an agricultural community with some small scale textile production, according to the owner of the Border Inn, with whom we enjoyed a pleasant chat later in the evening while sitting outside with a drink, today the twin villages are dominated by retired people and holiday homes.
Kirk Yetholm is known as a ’gypsy village’ as it had a sizable community of gypsies who probably arrived in the area in the late seventeenth century. The local legend is that
during war with the French, at the siege of Namur, in 1695, a gypsy of the name of Young, saved the life of a British Officer, Captain David Bennet, who owned property in the Yetholm area. Accordingly, in gratitude for this deed, the Captain built cottages at Yetholm and leased them to the gypsies. (Scottish Gypsies website)
There’s a monument to the Gypsy community on the village green
During our chat with the owner of the Border Inn, he told us that the Gypsies weren’t allowed to enter the inn but had to purchase their beer through a window while standing outside. Prejudice against immigrants has deep roots, sadly. Today there isn’t a distinct Gypsy community as they have intermarried.
There were some very attractive houses in the village
Thatched cottages are unusual in Scotland, but there were a few in the twin villages. I think this one is a holiday cottage.
Walking down towards the river we reached the Kirk. The current building was constructed in 1836 in blue whinstone in a Scottish Baronial Gothic style. The site has probably been occupied by a parish Church for over 800 years.
Being the evening we couldn’t look inside, but had a quick wander around the churchyard
Carrying on down the hill we passed the War Memorial – a Northumbrian Cross. We stopped to look and as is always the case there were a large number of local people from such a small community slaughtered during the First World War.
By the monument there was a good view towards the hills we’d crossed that afternoon
We crossed the bridge and walked up towards Town Yetholm. Another pleasant village centred on a village green with a very wide main street and well kept houses.
Another thatched cottage
and a pub
We strolled back down the hill, cutting across the meadow past the little pack horse bridge
returning to the Border inn to enjoy a last drink sitting outside on a pleasant evening, before turning in for a restful night’s sleep to prepare for the next leg of our walk.