Stumbling clumsily along a pebbled beach south of Dunbar yesterday morning I met an elderly gentleman who, in the course of asking about my health after such a long walk, introduced me to a Scottish word that I hadn't heard before -- hirple (it rhymes with 'purple'): "Ha'e ye not got a hirple?" he enquired. Wondering what on earth he was talking about, he explained that it means walking with a limp, and that hirple can be used either as a noun or a verb. I googled it later, and found that indeed the word does exist. Further research turned up a rather curious Scottish ballad, "The Legend of Stumpie Brae", which contains the word hirple. The relevant verse goes as follows:
Quo' she, 'Gude man, an' it's o'er the linn,
And it's up to the meadow ridge' -
'Aye' quo the Stumpie, hirplin in
And he gie'd the wife a slap on the chin,
'But I cam roun' by the bridge'.
I am not quite sure what any of this is about, but Stumpie's explanation/excuse "I cam roun' by the bridge" sounds quite a good one to me.
Looking at my map I find that I have completed my northerly wandering, and that over the next three days I must head west and south along the coast to reach Edinburgh. Not so very far to go now, which is just as well. The mechanics of rising early, packing, walking for five or six hours each day, finding the B&B, foraging for an evening meal and then waiting anxiously for the weather forecast after the evening news is starting to grind me down. Physically I seem to have managed OK, but mentally I am a bit hirpled.