Historic walk for a forgotten event

Sun, Sep 3rd 2023 at 2:00 am- Sat, Sep 30th 2023 - 12:00 am

Follow Megan's progress as she walks from Dunbar to Durham

Megan at the Finish


Hello everyone,


My apologies for the delay in the final day's update! It has taken me some time to begin recovery and processing the walk; more so emotionally and mentally than physically as thankfully my feet and legs improve with each passing day.


The last day took us from Newcastle to Durham. My fully recovered cousin, Alison, and I reunited at Newcastle Cathedral in the early hours of the morning. A welcome relief after our separation in Belford. We set off from there towards Durham, crossing the Tyne and passing through Gateshead.


One mental challenge of the walk was knowing the Scots walked about 90 miles on the 17th- century direct route - what is more or less today's A1. I sought to avoid the A1 as much as possible over the course of the walk, but to stay as close as possible to the Scot's route. However, this meant that my walk was mapped for well over 90 miles (about 122.5 miles were mapped at the start).  We knew mile 90 would call for a celebration but did not know at what point it would come.


Fittingly enough, mile 90 was when we reached the Angel of the North (see photo). You can't write it any better...


The sight of the Angel of the North at mile 90 was almost as good as the first sight of Durham Cathedral. What symbolizes home and comfort to me, but what would have symbolized the opposite to the Scots. 


Re-energized, I pressed on for the Cathedral with what became one of the slowest final few miles of the overall walk. However, taking those final steps up the Bailey to see the welcoming party at the North Door of the Cathedral left me speechless and overcome with emotion (see photo by Geoff Kitson). To see so many of you who have been instrumental in the planning, those who I met along the way, and those who have taken an interest in the history and honouring the Scots, truly left me speechless.


I'm still at a loss for words as I process the emotions from this walk. But the one emotion that has only grown is that of immense gratitude to the entire 'Dunbar to Durham' team, followers, and supporters.  I  cannot thank everyone enough - those who have supported since the start when the walk was only a dream, those who I met along the way, those who offered support during the journey (by either offering up their gardens for camping, provided supplies or food, or for even those who messaged and reached out offering emotional support), those who planned the welcome to those who were in attendance at  North Door (some coming as far away as from Dunbar - to which I am glad they took another mode of transport other than walking!), and most especially to my cousin Alison who flew out from the States to take part in this momentous adventure. Thank you to you all. This would not have been possible without you.


As I continue to rest and recover, I'll begin writing down my narrative with the plan for a book in a few years' time. We'll have to gather once more at the North Door to celebrate when it is ready.


The final numbers: 

Scots' walk - 90 miles

Megan's walk - 94.5 miles


With endless immense gratitude,



Megan's made it !

Megan Olshefski, a PhD researcher at Durham University's Department of Archaeology, will embark on a 120-mile walk retracing 

the path of nearly 4,000 Scottish prisoners of war, who were forced marched to Durham Cathedral after their capture at the Battle of Dunbar in 1650 by the army of Oliver Cromwell 

Megan will embark on the journey from 3 – 9 September 2023, on the anniversary of the battle to honour the thousands who perished during the march.

The weeklong march will start from the scene of the battle at Dunbar and end at Durham Cathedral, where they were imprisoned for up to 22 months. During this time many died and were buried under Palace Green in the grounds of the Cathedral 

Megan will repeat the week-long journey, where she will visit the same locations where the Scots were camped overnight and plans to capture the journey in all its horror, through a written record and video diary. Daily updates on Megan's progress will be available on the website and Facebook.

Upon arrival at the cathedral at 4.00pm on 9 September, Megan will be met by the Mayor of Durham 

The project has kindly been funded by: Durham Rotary Club's Norman Richardson Award, The Hatfield Trust, and Durham University's Department of Archaeology's Rosemary Cramp Fund. 

Stay up-to-date via Durham Rotary web site or via Megan Olshefski's Twitter @MeganOlshefski.

For further information contact leakemartin33@gmail.co

                                      MEGAN'S PROGRESS

Hello everyone,
I hope you are doing well and enjoying the sunshine. I've written up a brief update below for Day 0! Tomorrow, we walk! 
Day 0 - We have arrived in Dunbar! Members of the Dunbar Rotary group were very kind in meeting us at the station to give a lift to the camp site. Tomorrow morning, we shall walk part of the battlefield and attend a memorial service to mark the 373rd anniversary of the Battle. From there, we will view the Battle of Dunbar memorial stone with members of Dunbar Rotary where we will take the official first steps of the walk. We are eagerly counting down the hours. 
Till tomorrow!

Megan’s Progress Day 1

Hello everyone-


Day 1 is complete! After attending a service at Spott Church led by Minister Brian and a wreath laying ceremony by Dr. Arran Johnston at the unmarked grave of some of the Scots killed at the Battle of Dunbar, we were seen off at the Battle of Dunbar monument by members of Dunbar Rotary Club and Dunbar Historic Society. A huge "thank you" to all who welcomed us to Dunbar and made our time there truly memorable! 


We covered 16 miles and camped north of St Abbs, taking in the beauty of the coastline on the journey. It was not till the end of the day when we crested a hill that Dunbar disappeared from the distance. 


Photos included -

  • Spott Church with Dr Johnston in period appropriate attire following the wreath laying ceremony.
  •  The Coastal Trail from Dunbar
  • The last glimpse of Dunbar on the skyline. 

 Megan's Progress day 2

Hello all! 
Day 2 is complete! We set off from 5 miles north of St Abbs and made our way across if the stunning coastal landscape (with plenty of hills to boast!) to the small harbor village where I interviewed with BBC Scotland and BBC Scotland Radio (coming out Wednesday evening). 
We continued on to Eyemouth and then Burnmouth where we received a lovely surprise welcome from Dunbar Rotary President Ian and his wife Louise who were passing through returning to Dunbar from holiday.  (Thank you both for the lovely meeting and topping off our waters- along with introducing us to Scottish black bun! I’ll have to return to Scotland soon to find some more.) 
The end of the day saw us crossing the Scottish/English border (see photos) A bittersweet moment as I reflected on how such a moment for the Scots would have been the last time they set foot in Scotland.
Currently total mileage- 31.75.
As always, thank you everyone for all of your support! 
Until tomorrow,


Megan’s Progress Day 3


Hello everyone- 


Day 3 complete! Can’t believe it has been three days… Another sunny and warm day on the walk, but grateful it is not raining!


We crossed over the Tweed using the bridge at Berwick which the Scots would have walked (see photo) after their first overnight in the city (after being forced to march through the night from Dunbar); reminding ourselves along the way that it was in Berwick where some Scots who refused to walk any further were shot. 


We went on to Belford, the second stop for the Scots. We jumped on a bus for a couple of miles to avoid a section of the A1 and to gain some miles to ensure we would make it to camp by sundown, as this day was mapped as our longest day of over 22 miles. (Our current pace is around 2-2.5 miles an hour.) We agreed that as our route is mapped out for 122.3 miles (far more than the Scots 90 miles as their route is now under the A1 and we’ve needed to go through great lengths to avoid the A1 and busier roads) we have a few miles to spare for situations if needing public transport for health and safety. So long as we match their 90 to properly honor them! 


Upon reaching Belford we walked through town before heading to camp. And so another day closes.All in all, what has been most humbling is how kind and welcoming everyone has been along the way. I cannot thank everyone involved (known and unknown) enough.  

Until tomorrow-

Megan’s Progress Day 4


Hello everyone! 


Well, the end of Day 4 means we are past the halfway point! 


Today I walked Belford to Alnwick, a total of 12.2 miles walked (4 additional miles were taken on public bus as they included the A1). A quick break was taken halfway for a BBC Scotland Radio call to give a live update on the walk's progress. 


The final 2.5 miles were perhaps the most challenging as I walked down the final stretch to Alnwick Castle and faced the decision every time a car passed to either remain in the road  or jump into the thick growth of nettles lining the side of the road. Perhaps this the new approach to castle defenses? 


I was warmly welcomed at Alnwick Castle thanks to the kind permission of the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland and with the support and generous hospitality of numerous staff members. The Scots were housed within the walls of Alnwick Castle during their march south and so my tent is pitched upon the very grounds where they were held. This is the only location on my walk in which I can camp on the specific site, so everyone's support to make this happen has left me at a loss for words aside from wanting to express my immense gratitude. (See photos.)


Total miles walked: 55.3

Scot's' miles: 90

Here's to the forthcoming final days! 


Megan's Progress Day 5

Megan’s Progress Day 5


Hello all,


Making this a brief entry but what a day! Alnwick to Morpeth (with about 8 miles taken out on a bus at the recommendation of the Alnwick Castle security guards stating it was a “very dangerous stretch of road”).


Total of 15.71 miles today. Found a footpath had been obliterated by a construction site yet no maps had been updated… so a kind truck driver on site gave me a lift back to the main road to continue the walk to Morpeth.


I was met at the entry to Morpeth by members of Morpeth Rotary (President Julie, Laurie, and Mark) who kindly walked me through Morpeth and showed me the walled garden area where the Scot’s were imprisoned and famously ate the cabbages in the garden. We visited what’s left of Morpeth Castle- the gatehouse (see photo)- and then went down the street to my accommodation for the night- within the old castle walls. My endless thanks to those from Morpeth Rotary as well as my hosts within Morpeth! Thank you for making me feel so welcome after a very, very long day. 


Total miles - 71.01

Scots miles - 90


Next - Newcastle!


Megan's Progress Day 6

Megan’s Progress Day 6


Hello all,


Brief update for the day! 


Arrived in Newcastle after setting off from Morpeth walking a total of 15.4 miles bringing the grand total to 86.5! 


A very hot day on largely asphalt and pavements and expecting tomorrow to be similar. I’m hydrated with electrolyte tablets mixed into the water as well.


I ended the route today at St Nicholas/Newcastle Cathedral. Another point on the Scot’s’ journey (see photo).


(I would also like to thank, my very kind and hospitable host for the evening who has generously offered me a spot to camp in her garden!)


One final update for the day- some of you know that my cousin joined me on the walk. Well, unfortunately when we reached Belford, she fell ill. Her health was our priority, so she returned to Durham to recover at mine while I continued the walk from Belford solo. Well, I am thrilled to say she made a strong recovery and is returning to join the final day of the walk from Newcastle to Durham! 


Looking forward to seeing those of you who will be at Durham Cathedral. (Saturday, 4pm!) I’ll be the one crawling up the Bailey to Palace Green… 


Final day ahead!