A BORDER Reiver descendant and former press secretary of Gretna Football Club has written a book on the walks of Northumberland.
Now living in Carlisle, Jon Tait decided to conduct a few raids of his own in the Border country two years ago to create his first book, Northumberland: 40 Coast and Country Walks.
Jon said: “When Sally, my wife, went back to work full-time as a nurse a year after having our son Jack, I took over the childcare responsibility and doing the walks was something I did on weekends and days when Sally was off.
“We had some great family days out doing it and I also enlisted my good friend and walking pal Glenn Thompson from Rothbury to do a few with me.”
Originally from Rothbury, Jon is a direct descendant of Will Tait of Cherrytrees, Yetholm, who was his 12 x great grandfather, and Jon’s walks have seen him stride out in the footsteps of his forebear.
Jon said: “Will spent four years locked up in York and Berwick from 1598 with other men from Teviotdale, and the notorious Liddesdale reiver Sim Armstrong of Whitehaugh, who was part of the gang that broke Kinmont Willie Armstrong from Carlisle Castle.
“When 12 prisoners attempted a daring escape from York Castle, it was Sim and Will who were first to leap from the walls.”
He has spent six months doing the family tree for Jack: “He’s got Tait and Scott blood from me and Robson and Davison blood from his mam, so he’s a real Borderer. I’ve gone back to around 1600 for most lines, 1530 for the Robsons.”
He said: “I’m very proud to have a lineage back to Will and I’d have loved to have heard their old reiving tales – they must have had some great stories to tell.”
Jon studied journalism at Carlisle and was in the year above the BBC’s Helen Skelton.
Jon worked for Gretna Football Club during its promotion to Scotland’s premier league and subsequent fall with financial difficulties. The club is now in the East of Scotland league with other Borders clubs.
Jon, now press officer for the Northern Football Alliance in the North East, said: “Gretna was a real rollercoaster time and it wasn’t until it was over that I really got a chance to look back and reflect. I met some great people in the game and the media.”
He also works part time as a postman.
Northumberland: 40 Coast and Country Walks is published by award-winning Scottish publishers Pocket Mountains and features a mix of easy to moderate family-friendly strolls along beaches, more challenging hill walks, routes along Hadrian’s Wall and walks in and around Berwick, Alnwick, Rothbury, Hexham and Morpeth.
“My favourite walk in the book is Yeavering Bell (near Wooler). On the top you can not only scan all around to see the whole Cheviots range and the North Sea in the distance, but it also felt like home with Yetholm just over the back,” said Jon.
He is now working on a book about walks around Carlisle, which will include a few around Newcastleton, where his mother’s family, the Scotts, hail from.
“Everyone can enjoy the walks in the book and it’s a perfect way to spend a holiday at home this summer with money still being tight for the majority of people,” said Jon.
The 96-page book contains photography and maps, alongside route texts and history, and is available from Waterstones and Cotswold outdoor stores or online at www.amazon.com or direct from the publisher www.pocketmountains.com for £6.99 including postage and packing.