Sunday, 17 April 2011
Day 1 Bowness to Carlisle
As the likely lads from Huddersfield Polly finally dried out – bother figuratively and literally – after last year’s coast to coast and after a healthy period of separation, thoughts swiftly developed into the next challenge. Geordie boy turning reaching 60 seemed good reason enough to embark on a second coast to coast voyage from Bowness-on Solway to Wallsend, 85 miles of what is also known as Hadrian’s wall.
These experienced walkers, with learnings of bogs and dales plan to complete this one in six days but Duncan can only start on the second. So dutiful daughter has chauffeured Geordie boy to the start of his voyage and will accompany him on the first two days of walking. We started well with only one text to Duncan with an order of painkillers missing from the kit. Less success in finding the B&B with three trips down the 30 meter stretch of road through the village but we did manage to pick up a pebble for the likely lads to throw into the North Sea. Dad was tempted to present Duncan with a small bolder if it didn’t mean he would have to carry it around for 15 miles first.
The B&B was a charming Old Rectory which had been rebuilt three times
over its life time, run by a warm and welcoming owner Lynn or Liz (we
never quite sorted that out) and her equally friendly animals. We met
fellow guest Dean who had arrived from Sidney to work in London and
has 4 days to fill before his return flight home. It turns out Dean
has a taste for the black stuff and joins us for dinner and more
pre-match training/drinking. After sufficient carb-loading, bitter
sampling, shared tales of bucket lists, walks and a fascinating
insight into the world of merchant sea farers unions – it was time to
return back to the Old Rectory to turn in. Not before Dad had a full
record of Hadrian’s wall personal best times from the locals. Great
start and we’ve not even started.
After a good night sleep and a delicious breakfast we left the fantastic Old Rectory to embark on our 15 mile journey. The paths were helpfully marked out which averted any potential father/daugther map reading discrepancies. The first section along the sea was lovely once we had climbed onto the breakers to avoid the road. The route took us
across fields and along the river offering lovely views, helped by glorious sunshine. Plenty of Hadrian wall explorers walking the other way were greeted by my dad's words of encouragement 'not long now! Dad was particularly enjoying his 'spot it' Hardrian's Wall water birds leaflet - I am now au fait with the Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus) and his many airborne friends.
Eventually we reached Carlilse Castle where dad had an emergency 'gentelmen's moment' fortunately make it to the car park facilities (just). A bit of a struggle to find the B&B but eventually we found our way through Carlisle center where I was greeted with the words 'oi smify'. After a period of denial I soon realised that this was in fact my old work colleague from years gone by! B&B was clean and pleasant enough - we found the local boozer to sample a bit of local nightlife. Realising that was surmounted to Bon Jovi on the juke box we found a little Italian to relish something other than gamon and chips.
Early to bed for Jen and Geordi boy had to wait up for Yarkshire lad to arrive from his eye-opening experience on the train from York (via Newcastle)!