Tweedmouth to Paxton – Section 12 | Day 5

Tweedmouth and return to Tweedmouth 12nm = 3hrs rowing, pretty riverine scenery, four spectacular bridges, river birds.
Launch: from the beach. Cafe, toilets.
Alternates for safety: river banks.

Dunbar’s annual Paxton row, normally organised by Paul Ingram, usually has 20+ skiffs taking part. There are many relevant factors: the Tweed is tidal and Paxton can only be reached and returned from during springs; rain on the days before may make the flow unnavigable; time for a picnic is tide-limited; there are shallows where you may need to “get oot an’ gie her a shove”.

To our delight, Alison of Eyemouth and Roberta of St. Abbs, were running along the beach to meet our trailers. “The gang are all here!” Some clubs are short-handed so Whitburn has again come and topped up the crews. Craster are here, Amble, Alnmouth too, plus Eskmuthe, North Berwick, Dunbar, St. Abbs, Eyemouth and a smattering of picnic boats. A warm welcome again, especially to those who can help.

De-guddling skiffs and trailers now are Bob, Duncan, George, Gaynor, Pam and Chris. Carry on, I’ll just check out the sailing club’s toilets.

Launch, I said, not lunch.
Tweedmouth, on the south bank of the River Tweed, is connected to Berwick on the north bank by two road bridges and a railway bridge. Berwick Rangers football club is in England, but they play in the Scottish Football League. There are many historic anomalies here due to Berwick’s border past. BTW: it’s NOT true that Berwick is still at war with Russia although the Russian ambassador has helpfully offered: “War can be arranged, if requested.”

Tweed is an Old Brythonic (Celtic) name meaning “border”, from the same ancient roots as twain, twixt, two, twa, and twin. “Sae noo ye ken.”

And we’re off.

Here, dinnae forget this
Dragons have right-of-way!
Is that a fine new skiff by the river?

Watch out North Berwick is overtaking us:

I love the wildness and freedom the coast and sea gives me. The smells, sights, wildlife. How lucky am I to live in such a beautiful place? A place I gladly share with family and friends, a place that gives wonderful memories. — Meg

The stop-off at Paxton is not just tea and sandwiches with your crew, but a real community feast with a buzz of chatter and laughter and many folk wandering through the mob trying to tempt us “athletes” into one more scotch egg, cake, pie, sandwich or, on occasion, a compete seafood platter from Whitburn’s Ailsa. Food of the Gods, ye skiffies.

Who is this fair maid offering fine food?
Anyone for Pimms?
Hail the King of Northumbria!

Amble CRC (we build boats, row boats, dress up, eat pies and cake and generally enjoy life) felt they had to say, with a moist eye; “Some of our fondest memories have been those made over the border in the company of our skiffie brothers and sisters and we were over the moon to be invited to join in RAS.”

Five clubs continue above Paxton to pass under the Union Bridge that spans the River Tweed between Horncliffe, Northumberland and Fishwick, Berwickshire. In so doing, this chain-bridge also spans the England-Scotland border. Opened in 1820, it was the longest wrought-iron suspension bridge in the world.

Union Bridge: “Oy, yon wee lassie’s spittin’ at us.”
Rivers are so much more sedate
No ‘ambling’ here.

The Borders is a land of literature and poetry:

Teach your children poetry; it opens the mind, lends grace to wisdom and makes the heroic virtues hereditary. — Walter Scott

Coquet Venture: “She’s steeped in history as the thwarts and foot-rests are from 100 year-old church pews from our town, inlays are from a school science bench and the wishook features part of the mantelpiece from Rob and Moira’s first home.” — Rob, Amble

Muckle Mou’d Meg — A Tweed tale by our storyteller-in-residence Jan Bee Brown

How do you start explaining the “Paxton Picnic” row ? Over a dozen skiffs heavily laden with picnic hampers, road crews, picnic class boats, sailboats, dogs, flags, fancy dress, fire breathing dragons, riverside crew swaps, we’ve seen it all. As for the row itself we’ve : battled flood tides under the bridges; rowed on glass calm waters; had “treacle one way – jet propulsion the other”; ran out of river in the shallows, got out and pushed; gone up with one crew and come back in a boat with a different club.

Quiz: how many oars on this skiff? Has Bob made too many on his production line?

Berwick bridge: Almost back
Girls celebrate arrival
On arrival back, our group effort to get everyone’s boats lifted proves time and again that ‘many hands do indeed light work make’. Three well-earned cheers for the organisers, fond farewells and Kenny makes a tedious (but brief) speech, thanking the SCRA, all the clubs that skillfully rowed the batons around Scotland, our East Lothian clubs and our Northumberland pals.

“The sand that knows you, in youth.
The sand that knows you, in age.
It is the same.
You are the same.
You are in the
here and now.
Bare feet
in warm sensuous sand
tell you this simple truth.”
— A.Turner-Cockroft

Dunbar will meet Annan at St. Mary’s Loch tomorrow for a ceremonial baton handover.

Today we’ve finished our sea and river adventures and hear from one of the world’s greatest adventurers, both physically and in writing:

Home is the sailor, home from sea, And the hunter, home from the hill. — Robert Louis Stevenson

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