Hike Southbound through Britain with Daryl May
Click for Northbound hike
DS32 England sign
DS32 Cattle nr the border
Days S28 - S32                                                                 Southern Scotland
Day S32 - Gretna to Carlisle 
Day S31                               Now in England                                  Day S33
  Southbound Home
    Start hiking here
Scottish Highlands
Central Scotland
    Southern Scotland
North of England
English Midlands
    English West Country

Northbound Home
Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Time of departure: 8.30 am
Time of arrival: 3.00 pm
Place departed: Gretna, Dumfries and Galloway
Place arrived: Carlisle, Cumbria

Miles: 14
Cum miles: 433.2
Percent complete: 44.6

Bed sign Abbey Court Guest House, Carlisle **
Cost for bed and breakfast: 25 ($50)
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DS32 Trail
The England-Scotland border appeared unexpectedly within a few minutes of leaving Gretna this morning. It seems that it follows the River Sark here, which is a tributary of the Esk, and not the Esk itself. I crossed the Esk in Longtown three miles later. My dog's leg to the east now complete, I swung south again towards Carlisle, following in parts a Roman road.

This remark about the Sark later prompted a note from Neil McKenzie, who quoted Robert Burns "Parcel O' Rogues":

"Now Sark rins o'er the Solway sands,
And Tweed rins to the ocean,
To mark whare England's province stands,
Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!"

Avoiding the A74 with my detour was a smart move. When I crossed over the A74 in Carlisle later, the familiar orange-and-white cones were everywhere. The A74 reconstruction is one of those multi-year highway projects probably because it's complicated; why else would these busy few miles be the last link in the motorway chain between Glasgow and England?

The weather was everything one could wish for except that it was cold. Spring was in the air but hardly spring-fever. There are daffodils about. Lambs are in the fields now. I saw a sheep take a tumble, and bounce off his woolly back straight on to his legs again. A herd of heifers came to the fence to greet me near Longtown. They were so attentive that it was impossible to pass by without making a brief speech, but I can't say that question-time was that stimulating.

I visited a post office in Carlisle, then had lunch in McDonalds, then had another lunch in a Wetherspoon pub (affordable grub), then bought some groceries for my country days ahead, before seeking and finding a B&B on the south side of town. It's in a slightly seedy area, but I won't have to slog out of Carlisle in the morning because I'm almost out of Carlisle already.

My ankle was fine today. It seems to be OK when (a) I've taken an anti-inflammatory the night before, and (b) I've taped it. I have to do both. I'm not sure what else I can do, except fewer miles - which is what I'll do if (a) and (b) stop working. But I don't like taking pills every day, and am hoping there'll be some muscle development to provide alternative load paths (engineer-speak). Plus, I've been avoiding the rocky paths that twist my ankle.

The border on the Sark came upon me so unexpectedly that I hadn't time to digest its meaning to me then. But, in the following miles, I shed a tear for good times ending, or auld lang syne. Traveling light, I took nothing physical from Scotland but a little Scottish flag, rolled up on its wooden post and dropped into the hollow interior of my hiking stick. But I took much that was spiritual.

Kindness flowed from people too numerous to mention, so numerous that it must surely be a part of the culture, or part of rural living, or both. It manifested itself in different ways which had one thing in common: people taking the time to make me feel welcome.

All the same, I stand by my conclusion that the Scots make their whisky from their brown bathwater. Pete is responsible for this, but I never did track him down.
Day S31                                      2007 and 2008 Daryl May                                     Day S33