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It's the sandstone that seals my love affair with the Borders.I encounter it everywhere, in civic buildings, Georgian town houses and most gracefully in the many honey-coloured bridges that arch over valleys and rivers."To say the area has a turbulent history is something of an understatement," says Davy Ladd, a local guide who joins me for a walk along the Tweed at Coldstream."The area has very rich farmland, you have people, sheep, cattle and horses – everything you need to create majestic wealth. It was lawless." The Borders became known as the "debateable lands" – contested in perpetuity, with its benighted, beleaguered inhabitants unscrupulously switching allegiance, depending on whoever held the upper hand.
Here I came to the first of a production line of glorious Borders' stately homes, Paxton House.
Close to Paxton House is the exquisite Union Bridge, which has to be one of the world's most gorgeous border crossings; it's a miniature suspension bridge – for once not of sandstone – but built with wrought iron, that links the Borders to Northumberland.
I briefly walk uphill into England to the Chain Bridge honey farm and buy a jar of intensely sweet Tweedside honey.
Near Eyemouth and St Abbs, the east coast main line, A1 and coastal path converge, giving one another glancing blows as they thread their way above a fracturing coastline of sandstone headlands, seabirds and sea stacks.
I begin my journey on the east coast, at Eyemouth and wander among a handful of weather-creased fishing communities huddled beneath cliffs coloured claret with sandstone.