A Border Crossing

The other day I went for a drive down to the Berwickshire coast and walked the path near Burnmouth down to the border with England. I find our erratic border with our neighbours endlessly fascinating. If you look at any map of the two countries, it’s a crazy Etch A Sketch of a frontier that traverses coasts, numerous imposing hills, divides rivers (the Sark, Esk, Tweed, Liddel Water and Kershope Burn) and in the case of my wee adventure, cuts across two national railway lines.

It’s where England ends and Scotland begins or vice-versa if you’re from south of it. What draws me in are the subtle yet intriguing dialect changes that occur within a mile of either side. How being on one side of it or the other determines what kind of examinations you will sit at school, the names of the emergency services that will attend incidents and how far you will need to travel to hospital. It’s strange to think that this shoogly, invisible yet visible dividing line decides all of this.

Whilst we’re on the subject of the border country, a book that I would strongly recommend is The Debatable Land by Graham Robb. This concerns the Liddesdale area of the borders over towards the west and how it used to be a territory independent of both Scotland and England. It really is fascinating stuff and beautifully told using the author’s own personal experience of moving to the area. Anyway, to wrap it all up, do have yourself a wee Borders adventure sometime. Well worth it and just check out those views …

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