Monday, August 14, 2006

Carlisle to Burgh-on-Sands

Sunday 13th August [Hadrian 7]

The limited bus schedule west of Carlisle meant that the last stretch would definitely be spread over 2 days. Unless we started on the path at 7am, we wouldn't reach Bowness-on-Solway before the only bus back left at 2.18pm. So today's target was a very modest 6 miles to Burgh-by-Sands, the last bus stop before Bowness.

Picking up our trail on the River Eden in Carlisle, we followed the river for a good while until we re-entered cow country. I was becoming a bit bolder about passing through their pasture, but we still had 3 uncomfortable brushes with cattle.

The first such brush, at Grinsdale, was with some overly curious calves who would not be shooed, and there wasn't an easy/safe way to get around them with passing between calf and cow. As a result we were forced through 50m of a nettle and thorn party.

A few fields further along, we found 13 cattle huddled right up against the stile. I stood on the stile and shooed them away a little, but as soon as I went back for Bondi, they came back to investigate. I swear that if cows had cameras, they would take more pictures of Bondi than humans do.

I heaved a screaming, thrashing Bondi over the stile, and then quickly followed him and dragged ourselves under a line of barbed wire, running parallel to and about 3 feet from the main fence we had to follow. I strode through the thistle until it became too dense to manage. We wiggled back under the wire and continued along until I saw another bunch of cows and a bull with a scrotum like Santa Claus' sack just before his second-last delivery, hanging out before the exit stile. I just took a deep breath and dragged Bondi past them and nearly threw him over the stile.

At the next (and thankfully last awkward) stile, I started to grapple with him again and he really thrashed around wildly, ending up leaving a welt across my right cheek as tooth or claw caught me in their orbits. [Bondi is twitching his way through an eventful dream right now: I wonder if he's reliving these moments].

After that it was an uneventful walk into Beaumont and then Burgh-by-Sands, settling into a B&B cum walker's cafe, Rosemount Cottage, about 3 hours after we'd started the walk.

We hung around for 2 hours and caught the (only) bus back at around 2.45. Today being a Sunday, there was a Heritage Guide on the bus talking the handful of riders through the passing scenery. As we reached the outskirts of Carlise (only 10-15 minutes) he noted that the first recorded mention of a game of soccer comes from the diary of Queen Mary, when she was looking out from one of the towers of Carlisle Castle. Apparently one of the fields there is known as the Castle Soceries and that may be the derivation of the word "soccer". Just after that we passed a McVitie's biscuit factory, formerly Carr's Water Biscuits by Royal Appointment, or as the locals refer to them: "Prince Charles' crackers".

Nearing the bus station, he pointed out a cannon that Bonnie Prince Charlie had used to fire on a local Duke's fortications. The attack was repelled by the better-equipped Duke, and Charlie skipped on to Scotland disguised as a woman. I asked the guide if this was the famous "Flight of the Girls". You heard it here first folks....

The remainder of the afternoon, post shower and shave, was spent uneventfully at a local laundromat, where you can play "spot the working machine". An attendant dropped in, identified only by her roll of "Out of Order" tape.

Dinner again at Teza: the Indian flavours with their fresh salmon dishes are exceptional. The Houghton shiraz I chose melted into the cloves with the accompanying rice dish.
Finished reading Flann O'Brien's "The Third Policeman", his posthumously-published black-comic novel which is like Dostoyevsky (Crime and Punishment) crossed with G.K. Chesterton and Dr Seuss.

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