Weather: ☁️ then 🌤
So Far: 401.83 miles, 131:49 hours
Today proved to be my longest day, not finishing until after 6.30, and the furthest daily mileage so far which just tips me over 400 in total. I had considered a last bit of public transport but was pleased to persevere and stick to my own two feet the whole way; with the knowledge I’ve a rest day to follow.
In order to reduce the amount of road-marching, I came up with a route along the northern edge of the Solway Firth as far as Gretna. This meant I had my first views of England early in the day. C’mon England!
As I approached the Eastriggs MoD base the footpath petered out and I had some tough walking, finding my way along the water’s edge and in places hugging the security fencing. All rather sinister, Eastriggs (along with other properties around Gretna) has been used for more than a century for the manufacture and storage of munitions.
The base runs for miles. There was evidence of someone having come the same way in the last couple of days and that gave me the confidence to persevere, but I admit it was a relief to see farms and buildings west of Gretna at last coming into view.
Gretna however is a miserable place and I skirted around bleak estates to head direct to the bridge over the River Sark which forms the Scotland-England border at this point.
I had a surprisingly good lunch at the Old Toll Bar – ‘the first house in Scotland’ – which fortified me for my border crossing and used another Scottish note.
360 miles from John o’Groats? Not the way I came! 478 miles to Land’s End? Not the way I’m going!
My first dozen miles back in England didn’t really match my lifted spirits – a long, straight trudge along a road that runs directly beside the M6 – you’ll have unpleasant memories of this, I’m sure, Judith! In places it’s the closest you can come to walking along a motorway hard-shoulder.
Carlisle was buzzing – a Sunday evening on bank holiday weekend – with too much flesh on show in the sun as people spilled out of noisy pubs onto the streets. I was too old, sober, knackered and smelly to join them.
So I’ve left Scotland. I’m sorry I failed to walk the whole distance – I sadly skipped 50 or 60 miles – but I did enjoy the country enormously – the countryside is uplifting and the people, with the inevitable odd exception, super. My list of nice people include the Glaswegian lady at the Lanark bus stop who reassured me she’d forgiven the English for what they’d done to William Wallace (she didn’t say if she’d forgiven Mel Gibson), the stranger who stopped to give me a lift of 200 yards to the village pub when I was hobbling with blisters, the chatty chap on the train who kindly pretended he understood me in the same way I pretended to understand him, my B&B hosts especially the ones who have this blog address including Tony and Pat, Wendy and two Margarets, various people who have encouraged me or tried to make me laugh – “you’re going the wrong way!”, Irene and Jo from England who put up with Malcolm and me, our odours and our poor humour in the bunkhouses, the encouraging nurse at Wishaw A&E, Agnetha from Sweden, the excruciatingly bad karaoke singers in Annan who entertained Jos, Dave and me. I could go on….
And thanks to you for your support, wit and encouragement and … ahem, wisdom.