May 30, 2013
Having finished the Cumbria Way, we had scheduled a free day in Carlisle. So after breakfast we got directions to the nearest service laundry—there was only one left in the whole city—and headed over there with our dirty clothing. It was not that far away, over on Wigton Road, so we had to pass by the McVities biscuit factory on the way there.
Our host David told us that the plant had been sold, but the buyers couldn’t close it as they had originally planned. That was because the Carr’s Table Water biscuits are manufactured there. The buyers tried to replicate the biscuits elsewhere, but they couldn’t. Was it the table water? Or the brick oven? Or both, or something else? They couldn’t tell, so they had to keep the factory open. Today they were making chocolate biscuits, as we could tell by the delicious smell as we walked by.
The service laundry lady said she would wash, dry, and fold our clothes for £10, so we said yes and went off to do our sight-seeing. First stop was Carlisle Castle. Half of the castle is still actively used by the military, but the other, older, half is preserved as a museum. Since Carlisle was far from London and close to Scotland, there was a lot of raiding back and forth in the old days. And so a lot of the castle’s history is based on that. The rooms in the oldest part of the castle were cold stone boxes with huge fireplaces, and you could see that you needed a large fire to heat those rooms. Another part of the museum was about the Jacobite Rebellion and the bitter fighting and reprisals which took place in and around Carlisle. And finally there was a building devoted to the history of the regiments based in Carlisle, which was crammed full of interesting stuff but with too many cases of medals.
Our laundry would not be ready until after 1 pm, so we wandered around Carlisle doing some souvenir shopping. We were looking for something like place mats with pictures of the Lake District on them. But none were to be found; in fact Carlisle doesn’t have any souvenir shops whatsoever, at least not that we could find. We asked at the Tourist Information where the actual end of the Cumbria Way was supposed to be and the answer was: There isn’t a specific end point. Sometimes people end at the castle, sometimes at the market cross.
We collected our laundry and headed back to the B&B with it. After eating a small lunch we went back to the town centre to visit the cathedral. It is a lovely building with a stunning vaulted ceiling painted blue with gold stars. We had been there last year, but at that time half of it had been blocked off. So it was nice to visit again and look around the whole building.
We had decided to eat at Alexandros, the Greek restaurant, again. It was the closest restaurant to our B&B, but the food was also very good. Today was mid-week, so they had specials on the menu. Besides our main dishes we shared a starter and a dessert. As we were leaving the owner spoke with us briefly, and he seemed to remember our party of 6 from when we visited a year ago!