Day 50: 12 May 2014; Carlisle to Annan

Day 50: 12 May 2014; Carlisle to Annan
Walk descriptor LEJOG2014 Day 50
Date Mon 12 May 2014 Start to end time 08h 06m
Start point Carlisle End point Annan
Miles today 22.70 Cu miles 936.93
Ft today 841 Cu ft 129,504
Route miles left 554.63 Route ft left 69,884
Today’s weather Showery with bright sunny intervals in morning. Heavy rain all afternoon. Light North Westerly wind. About 12C
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Today’s location
(the red cross in a circle shows where I am at the moment)
GPX based track of today’s walk
(click here to access to access downloadable file)

“Earlier on in my walk, when people asked where I was going, I would answer “to Scotland” and that was sufficient to create the impression of an impressively remote destination. Well after today, I could no longer use that description because after a walk of 920 miles I crossed the border and entered Scotland. So now I’ve walked the entire lengths of England and Wales and just have to do the same with Scotland.   I also realised that when I cycled from Land’s End to John O’Groats in 2005, the whole ride was 910 miles.   So if I’d walked the same route, I’d have finished by now!

It had rained most of the night and once again I was thankful that I’d stayed in a B&B and had had an opportunity to dry out. Carlisle was saturated when I set off, but it wasn’t actually raining and soon the sun came out. I’d planned a route to the border following footpaths shown on the map following the bank of the river Eden. But when I arrived at the start of the footpath, I discovered that it was overgrown and indistinct, and went through a field of wet grass full of cows. Given that it managed to combine almost all the features of lowland walking that I like least, I took the easy option and walked along the road instead.

Although this meant that I avoided the inevitable struggle along the riverbank, the road was busier than I’d hoped, but it did enable me to make rapid progress. I crossed the river Sark, which marks the border, at around noon, on a by-road alongside the M6. It certainly made for a noisy entrance, but I quickly left the motorway behind and had a look round Gretna, the first town in Scotland. I made a detour to Gretna Green, to look at the Smithy where young lovers in the past used to flee so they could get married without parental consent. I sat on a bench by the church to have my lunch and in the space of my brief lunch-break I counted six gigantic coaches taking visitors this high-spot on the tourist trail. I wondered where they all went, and concluded that there must be a pretty impressive industry lurking behind the tranquil church green, processing them all through an authentic Scottish experience.

I’d been unable to find any way of getting from Gretna to Annan without walking down the road. So even if I’d wanted to spend the afternoon with recalcitrant cows, I didn’t have the option. The road was a national cycleway, so I’d assumed it would be pretty quiet. It was OK – with little heavy traffic – but like the morning’s walk, it was busier than I’d have liked and it also started raining again. So all in all, it wasn’t a particularly enjoyable hike. In fact I think today is the first day on the LEJOG hike which has been entirely on tarmac, and my feet are feeling a bit sore as a result. From now on, for the next few days, I’m following the Annandale Way, which hopefully should be a little easier. Tomorrow’s destination – Lochmaben”

Today’s photos (click to enlarge)
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This pub sign in Carlisle seemed to say it all.. Slightly scary view of the west coast main rail line. As I was taking this, the alarms went off and the level crossing barriers started to close. I doubt whether a 38 lb backpack has ever been transported more rapidly.
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After 922 miles, I finally arrived in Scotland I’m not a great fan of museums to obscure things so I gave this one a miss. But I did wonder what on earth it was about
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I know many visitors to this website were disappointed not to have views of Sellafield from the top of Scafell Pike, so here is the now-decommissioned Chapelcross nuclear power station instead I sometimes wonder how much these clouds weigh..
Panorama over the Solway from Rockcliffe
The previous day’s blog follows below the blue line
Solid line blue