The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Day 30 - beyond Sebergham to Houghton

Wednesday 21 April
Distance: 11.5 miles (Tot: 513 miles)
Number of red squirrels seen: 1
Number of fence-thwarted killer dogs: 2

Oh what a fine night we had last night! Rose Castle Farm shot right in to our top 3 favourite B&Bs in the UK. Aside from the glorious, deep, hot bath and the roaring fire, our stay featured the use of comfy chairs in a sitting room (which was where the fire was), an extraordinarily comfortable bed, fluffy dressing gowns, a massive and very tasty breakfast and some absolutely lovely friendly hosts, all in a fantastic building, sympathetically furnished with proper good and chunky farmhouse furniture. It's up there with Warren's Farm in Yeoford, Devon as one of those B&Bs that I wouldn't just recommend, but would go out of my way to return to.

Well rested and fully fuelled with breakfasts, we set out this morning under clear skies for an easy amble into Carlisle.

It turned out that the short-cut to get us back on route was feasible, so we didn't have to go back around the houses to return to the river, and after some field tracks we arrived in a village.

Borrowing the words of Gandalf, I said "I have no memory of this place". Everything that had come before was familiar, but even though I knew we must have walked this way four years ago, for a mile or so none of it rang any bells. Maybe last time we missed the path and took the road around, which would have been a good option today, as after getting distracted by the killer labs (and even Mick agreed they were far less than friendly) we missed our turn. A slight variation to our intended route saw us to where we needed to be.

There's not an awful lot to say about the walk from Dalston into Carlisle. It's a riverside walk mainly on a surfaced cycle path. It was on that section that a chap on a bicycle asked if we had just walked the Cumbria Way, and was rather surprised by our answer. After gawping at more bank erosion, where the footpath apparently went straight into the river, to emerge further down the bank (a new path is rapidly being trodden around) we made our way through the outskirts of Carlisle. The cycle path has been extended by a few hundred yards towards the centre, and on that section were two men with clip boards. I suspected, on clocking them, that we were about to be subjected to a questionnaire, and I wasn't wrong. It was quite funny really; the questionnaire was for Sustrans, and the questions really weren't suited to our journey!

Our journey from one side of Carlisle to the other took us the best part of 3 hours. First there was the supermarket, then there was the need to find a canister of gas, then there was Wetherspoons. The bar-tender (barmaid isn't the word to use these days, is it?) told us where we could find a barber and quite a wait ensued there before our lengthy locks got shorn back down to half an inch (me) and a quarter of an inch (Mick).

It was then just a stroll out to Houghton to complete our short day. After the lengthy stop in Carlisle, it didn't feel like a short day - I've many a time noticed that a slow-but-short day feels almost as tiring as a long-but-fast one.

We're now pitched up for the night on a little campsite, which is all caravans apart from us, enjoying the early evening sunshine before a chilly night sets in.

Other news from today is that our Help for Heroes fundraising took a tremendous boost, firstly from an exceptionally generous donation from Helen and Stephen at Rose Castle Farm, and then from Green Acres campsite donating half of the pitch fee.
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