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day five

tenth march 1999

bailey mill -> burgh by sands

a peek out of the window revealed a day that was quiet and grey, but not raining. over to the recreation block for breakfast. mister was cooking this morning, and we were treated to an array of synthetic powdered produce (juice, eggs, i think the bacon may have been real & not recostituted pig, but i can't be 100% sure). it was all edible, so who am i to complain. the company was entertaining, as it had been the previous evening.
we packed & paid, and prepared to set off, which we were prevented from doing until the man of the manor had been fetched from his toils to bid us farewell. i can thoroughly recommend that bailey mill be placed on anybody's list of potential accomodation. it is unconventional, friendly, informal, and complete fun.

i think we were still shouting our goodbyes three miles from bailey, but we were afraid of startling the raf tornado pilots who were flying low enough to hear us, and we didn't want to cause an accident, so we stopped. the weather was as near to pleasant as i'd seen it, and the countryside was beautiful. highish rolling hills with deepish lush valleys, lots of woodland suddenly giving way to open upland grazing. i definitely felt that i was close to home.
we stopped at bewcastle to see the cross and the small but charming exhibition (did that sound patronising enough?). i love this cross, or what's left of it, and i stood before it for a while, just soaking up the atmosphere.

Picture © by gordon plumb

we followed undulating, leafy lanes, lined with tall hedges until we neared rockliffe, where the terrain became much flatter. we were now on the solway plain. we both felt in need of rest & sustinence, so we decided to stop at the pub. last time i was here was one christmas-time with my father some years hence, and i remember it being a rather splendid old-fashioned pub. in the meantime, it had contracted a severe case of refurbishmentitis, and had been transformed into a pretend old-fashioned pub. this disease is now at epidemic levels in britain. please don't misunderstand me; it wasn't unpleasant, it wasn't distasteful, but i wonder why people feel the need to take something which is old and quaint, and do it up to make it look old & quaint? it's akin to a pensioner having plastic surgery to give them wrinkles, and paying a stylist to dye their hair grey.

we resisted alcohol. i don't particularly enjoy drinking during the day, especially if i have 15 miles or so to cycle afterwards. instead we went for the healthy option: choccy cake & coffee, well everybody needs roughage. once lubricated & refuelled, we set off for carlisle. the route in took us past the martialling yard & the old raf depot. aaahhh, the scenic route. our approach to the centre of the metropolis also took us past my old school, the river eden, the cricket ground, and the dry ski slope. once in the city centre we posted cards, had the card stamped at the town hall, and procured a large bottle of gin as a peace offering to proffer to the reputedly hostile natives of boustead hill.
being locals, we didn't dally in carlisle, but for those who feel the need to sight-see, i can recommend a visit to the castle, the cathedral, and tullie house museum.

once cleared for take-off, we departed from the town, and decided to check out the official sustrans escapatory route, which follows the river towards the estury. the path was acceptable at first, but quickly became a little confused. we had to navigate some steps at one point. and it also became confusing when several tracks led off in various directions on an area of rough ground with no signs, markings, or hints. yet again sustrans were proving themselves incapable of producing quality cycle facilities in an urban area. could do better .
we managed to reach the familiar road leading to burgh by sands, and i immediately had a 'smell of the stable' experience, and headed off at an enthusiastic pace. once i'd burned some of this enthusiasm off, i stopped and waited for lou to catch up. she thought she'd maybe seen the last of me for a while, and may well have been disappointed to see me sitting by the roadside, though i like to think she was overcome with relief & joy.

Picture © by mike faulkner

burgh by sands is an old village, with a small fortified church built from hadrian's wall stones. here, edward the first lay in state after dying on the nearby saltmarsh, on his way to do battle with robert the bruce. a monument marks where he fell in 1307. we were greeted by parents, and spent an enjoyable evening recounting tales of adventure and aching knees. the food was the best of the trip so far, and the drink flowed.

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