May 12, 2012
Today we woke to blue sky and sunshine, surely a good sign. So after we finished our breakfast, we headed off. According to the book we were supposed to follow the path along the River Eden as it meandered past Carlisle. However we decided to follow city streets to cut off the first loop of the river, to save some distance.
But first we stopped at Boots in the city centre, to get some arnica cream to hopefully soothe the bruise on the back of Rosemary’s heel. After that we headed west, past the McVitie’s biscuit factory and the Joiners Arms pub (“Where the Legend of the Blue Lugs started”). We turned right at the big hospital complex and behind the crematorium we found a path connecting to the Hadrian’s Wall path. For quite a distance we followed the River Eden, once again going through cow pastures, through kissing gates, and between hedgerows. Periodically we would walk through a small village, usually of only a dozen houses or so.
At the village of Beaumont we stopped and had some tea at the village green. We supported the local economy by buying a Snickers bar from the honesty box operated by “Drew age 6 7″ for 40p and then carried on. At Burgh by Sands we met Dave and Diane, who had taken the bus to Bowness in the morning and were walking back to Carlisle. As it turned out we much preferred our plan of walking to Bowness and staying there for the night.
The last section of the walk was mostly along the road and seemed to go on forever. There was a long dead-straight stretch through the salt marsh which we later measured to be 3.5 kilometres long. However there was a part near the end which went down back lanes and through fields. At one kissing gate here we met a group of four young walkers with tattoos and piercings who were taking a smoke break. We discussed the distance to Carlisle and other walks we had done, and they told us about climbing Scafell Pike in January in clear blue skies.
Finally we arrived at Shoregate House, our B&B, but we continued on a short distance to the official end of the path. There was a very pretty pavilion there overlooking the Solway Firth; nobody was around so we took each other’s pictures there. Back at Shoregate House we settled into our room, which had a lovely view over the Firth. When Christine and Neil arrived we discussed dinner plans. They had been told that the Greyhound Inn (back in Burgh by Sands) made the best fish and chips. Our hostess Theresa was dubious about that, having never heard about it, but since we had had fish and chips at the end of the Coast to Coast walk, we decided to have that here too.
So we hopped into Christine’s car, which had been parked outside Shoregate House for the last week, and headed back there. Our four young walkers had made it there. They had set up their tents outside and were having a drink or two in the bar. The fish and chips there turned out to be excellent in all ways, and we discussed where our next long-distance walk would be. Perhaps the Cotswold Way?
Back at the B&B we bumped into a couple of British birders who were just checking in. They told us about their plans to go out at high tide tomorrow morning (about 6 am) to look for skuas (jaegers for North American birders) flying into the Solway. Apparently Pomarine is common and Long-tailed is an occasional rarity. We caught up on our journal-writing and went to bed, not planning to be up before 6 am to join them.