And so began probably the toughest stretch up past the Lakes and into Cumbria to Carlisle and then across Hadrians Wall through Northumberland and ending up in the North East to start the long hike South.
I left Carnforth to head to the first stop which was Kendal, 15 miles away. The terrain got gradually sparser as I headed North up the Scotland Road or the A6 as its normally called. It was a fairly non-descript journey until I hit Milnthorpe and then the scenery to my left started to become more and more beautiful as I entered the Lakes area. I was meeting a chap called John who was putting me up in the Lakes once I had reached Kendal, he lived near Windermere at a place called Bowness which is a tourist town full of Hotels and shops for those holidaying in the area. He picked me up from a pub I found that was open, even at 4pm all of the bars in town weren’t open yet which was very odd, he took me back to his amazing house and I washed and changed. We met some’of his mates in a bar in town and he treated me to some dinner, the long walk had given me a ravenous appetite and the Carbonara I ordered went down in a matter of minutes. Adding to that was 2 1/2 pints of Guinness and I was done for the day, at 9pm on a Friday night, this walking lark certainly ruins the party animal in you.
We left Bowness very early the following morning and it was a dream of a morning, we stoppped by the Lake in Windemere in order to take some photos, it was so clear and still and gave me a good start to the day and set me up for what was going to be a difficult climb up to my stop that evening in Shap.
It had snowed just a couple of days before up on the mountains and hills of the Lake District and I was worried that once I had reached the heights of the Shap pass it would be very icy, not the kind of thing you need when you are carrying a vrey heavy pack up inclines. Luckily most of the ice had turned into slush apart from a few patches here and there and with the weather being kind to me it was a really lovely walk, the views of the mountain peaks covered with snow was a real treat. I stayed in a lovely pub called the Greyhound which was being paid for by a very kind friend of Johns, called Paul, who was also standing me a night in a place at Penrith.
I was hoping once I reached Shap it would be all downhill the next day but I was wrong, there was one section of the road that dipped down toward a river crossing and then rose again, it was a painful struggle to get back up again because it was a steep winding climb the like of which I hadn’t encountered since Devon. It was a lovely day again though so the option of stopping regularly to admire the views and catch a breather was taken quite a lot!
I dragged myself into Penrith that evening and checked into my digs for the evening with a ravenous appetite, I looked around the town of Penrith and found, down some dingy alleyway, a fantastic chippy so, even though it was a Sunday night, I had a slap up Fish and Chip dinner. Carlisle was the next stop and that was half way in this particulalry difficult section of the Walk, before I left Penrith I had a look around the Castle whivh was the one time home of Richard, Duke of Gloucester who later became Richard III. Of course the bones of Richard III have just recently been identified and found in Leicester, even despite the constant threat of raids, I’m sure Richard would have preferred to have been found in Cumbria.
Penrith to Carlisle was thankfully a far flatter and straighter journey and when I finally reached he most northerly city on my Walk I was quite disappointed that the welvome sign was so small, not sure what I was expecting really, something along the lines of the Welcome to Las Vegas sign would have been nice, but no it was a tiny sign saying “Carlisle”, I had my picture taken by it anyway.
I don’t know if you remember but several years ago Carlisle United was flooded and the ground was several feet under water, when I visited the following day the subject of weather came up and they showed me the pictures from that day, it was amazing to see a football ground full with water, happily they have installed flood defenses along the river that flooded so it shouldnt happen again. They are looking to move nonetheless and I dont blame them. I have actually visited Brunton Park before, 3 years ago when Pompey were still in the Premiership, we played Carlisle in the League Cup and I caught a train from London around 3pm that was due in 5 mins after kick off, which was a small price to pay for a cheaper fare and no need for a day off work. Sadly the train was held up just outsode Wigan North due to someone threatening to jump off a bridge, one drunken Scotsman was getting mmore upset the longer we didnt move and fell out with his wife when he exclaimed “Let the bastard jump so we can get home!”. We were delayed by around 45 mins so once I arrived at Carlisle I dashed to the ground in a taxi and arrived just as the referee blew for the end of the first half. Quite a few mates were getting the overnight train home at around 1.30am, so I had made a 14 hour round trip to spend less than 5 hours in the town.
This time I spent more time looking around the town following my visit to the club, after all it had taken me 3 1/2 months to get there, and I also took the train to Gretna Green to look around the famous eloping town for an hour, who knew it was all down to an Anvil?
My next update will be just after Christmas so I would like to wish all my followers and blog readers a very Merry Christmas, personally I shall be in Ripon hopefully enjoying the company of any of the locals of the White Horse who will talk to me.
Have a cool Yule!