Hike Northbound through Britain with Daryl May
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|Days N25 - N33 North of England|
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English West Country
North of England
April 22, 2007
Time of departure: 8.15 am
Time of arrival: 3.30 pm
Place departed: Newton Reigny, Cumbria
Place arrived: Carlisle, Cumbria
Cum miles: 530.3
Percent complete: 57.2
Arkale Lodge, Carlisle **
Cost for bed and breakfast: £25 ($50)
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|Top of page: I got an old codger to take this photo of me. Above: View from the Sun Inn bedroom; and well-marked trails between Newport Reigny and Carlisle|
pudding showed up again on my breakfast plate this morning. As
best I can tell, it's made of pig blood and pieces of fat and gristle,
all mixed together with some cereal to bind it, and cooked until the
blood congeals and hardens it. Then it’s served fried in the
shape of a patty. Even by the standards of English fried
breakfasts, it stands out as unhealthy, and it's not all that tasty to
my palate either. I must remember to ask for breakfast without
it. A lot of people feel the same way.
I had had a run of great weather, but it had finally broken. Today it mainly drizzled, sometimes ceasing but at other times there was light rain. It wasn't pleasant, and the forecast called for worse.
My route was west of both the M6 and the A6, which I neither saw nor heard. After some initial turnings, I positioned myself on a pretty straight road and bike path heading north right to the outskirts of Carlisle. The signs and the obvious heading made it easy to navigate. Once on this straight road, it was easy to slip into a "hiker's trance", or in other words to get distracted from the hiking process by following an extraneous train of thought. In this way, a mile might pass without thinking of one's comfort, one's route, or the schedule or accommodation.
Early on, I passed the village of "Unthank", which surely needs a name change. Later, I researched the name. Perhaps Unthank may have more meaning if I explain that there are at least four villages called Unthank in Britain, and the one in Lanarkshire is where novelist Alasdair Gray set one of his novels. All clear? Well, hardly. Alasdair Gray's novel "Lanark" describes a dystopian society, and dystopia is a 19th-century word for a concept opposite to utopia. The concept is quite well-known in literature, and is better explained here. It's perhaps a bit of a reach to conclude that the village of Unthank is so-named as the opposite of "Thank", especially since the name predates the novel. A less satisfying explanation is that the village name comes from old English "unthances", which means "without leave" and thus the village may have been started by squatters.
After passing a phalanx of radio broadcast towers, I stopped for a drink halfway at the Crown Inn, where the locals asked where I'd started. "Land's End," I replied. Then, while they were digesting that info and getting ready to respond, I thought a modest clarification was called for. "But not today," I added.
After the Crown, I came across a couple of lambs stuck in a wire fence. They had somehow gotten through the fence, and then were unable to get back to the field, with their front legs and head on the right side of the fence and their back legs and tails facing me on the road. This was a view of them that I undoubtedly didn’t deserve as I tried to help them, but a hedge between the lambs and me, as well as a drainage gully (wet since it was raining), made it impossible to reach them. The fence wire was not barbed, and the lambs didn't seem in distress, being comforted by their mother nearby. I left, hoping the farmer would spot them soon, which shouldn't be hard with Mom on guard away from the rest of the flock.
Arriving on the outskirts of Carlisle, I found my phone didn't work, which led me to have to head east to the A6 so as to pass by enough B&Bs to find one with vacancies. Not far from Carlisle's center, I found Arkale Lodge, which is a large B&B catering to workers temporarily in town. My room was small, but had all I needed.
It's dangerous to generalize, but B&Bs seem preferable to pubs. A B&B makes its living from accommodation, and hopes for good reviews and repeat business. Pubs make their living at the bar, and run their accommodation business for extra revenue with minimal standards or expectation of repeat business. They're more often smoky and dirty than B&Bs, and are usually more expensive.
On the other side of the ledger, your central heating at a B&B is probably on for about three hours in the evening, and a couple of hours in the morning - if you're lucky. Pubs run their heating for longer in the evening as they need to keep their bar patrons warm while they remain open. Also, B&B owners run the gamut from wonderful to downright intrusive. Pub innkeepers leave you alone. Then, too, the pub has dinner and drinks on the premises, rare with B&Bs.
So what's a guest house? It seems to be a fancy name for a B&B, though it may also be larger. A lodge is a name given to most any accommodation establishment other than a pub.
Hotels and motels are more expensive than B&Bs or pubs, but heating is usually there when you want it, and your room will generally have a telephone. They often have an in-house or adjacent restaurant. Sometimes a pub calls itself a hotel but falls short of customary hotel standards.
As I said, it's dangerous to generalize. The worst places I've stayed so far were a slummy B&B in Bristol, and a ratty pub in Gloucester. Slummy and ratty can be interchanged here, but overall it might be better to use slummy and ratty for each of these places and be done. As an Anglophile, I enjoy word choices as much as the British.
It's also dangerous to generalize about your host or hostess, but generally B&B hosts try harder. There's something special about a host who commiserates about your long walk and suggests a nice soak in a bath (if there is one). I hadn't met more than a couple of hosts who had been unfriendly. Once, when I was dog-tired and other places were full, I encountered one whose price reflected my predicament. I accepted the room, but – as I already related – I had inscribed in my little red book for hikers: "When you encounter a gouging host and other places are full, accept the room graciously". This translated to the poetic vernacular, "Pay the bitch or sleep in a ditch".
My phone worked with text-messages, proving that it was connecting OK. My guess was that the loudspeaker didn't work. In fact, I verified that the tones were now inaudible also, however I set them. I decided I’d just have to get a new phone. I used a payphone to message Jennifer that I was OK, and asked her to tell others who called me not to worry if they couldn't reach me.
The Scottish border was just ahead, a blazing milestone for any end-to-end walker.
|Day N32 © 2007 and 2008 Daryl May Day N34|