Day 19 – Lockerbie to Gretna Green to Carlisle

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Before I start my entry today I have to address a comment/question from captainmarkdexter. Somehow I deleted the comment thinking I was was trashing my reply because I pushed the send button mid sentence. Anyway, the question was how I was route planning. I have read so many personal blogs of those that have successfully walked either the JOGLE or the LEJOG and made notes on those roads which are safest for walkers, i.e. those with a shoulder to walk on, or from this site: http://www.sustrans.org.uk/ncn/map/route/route-1, as the marked roads usually have cycle lane space. Looking ahead I think my biggest concern now is the road from Gretna Green to Carlisle, as it is reputed to be very difficult due to no shoulder…so not looking forward to that at all. 

Today I woke up early and caught the bus into Dumfries for a quick whirwind tour of the town and was remarkably impressed by the architecture and history. It was only a short deviation as I needed to get back to Lockerbie where I left off and get on the road for Gretna Green by noon at the very latest. Depending on the state of my feet I may have to take another half day off.

I called into Boots pharmacy today as I have a nasty rash extending from around my ankles up my calves. I had to give the pharmacist a little peek and she said it is definitely fungal caused by excess sweat. Got a big can of Daktarin spray and a few heel cushions to ease the pressure. It’s pretty rank down there at the moment so taking it easy and giving my lallies an airing for awhile might be for the best. 

Thankfully a defined cycle lane provided a good walking experience to Gretna Green from Lockerbie (well done Scotland on your national bike paths) but my ankle was still in pain and swollen, so I wrapped it with a special velcro bandage I brought in case I suffered a sprain. I also took 2 strong ibuprofen to null the soreness in both my left ankle and the soles of my feet. The rain was spitting most of the way and there was barely any traffic until I neared Gretna Green about 6pm. 

I had every intention of staying the night in GG, but there was ‘no room at the Inn’, if you get my meaning. My MET app forecasted heavier rain for the evening, and in my present mood I couldn’t fathom trying to set up my tent for a damp night in a random field, so I ducked into a big pub on the edge of what appeared to be an outlet village (loads of stores screaming 75% off everything – which satisfied my curiosity why everyone seemed so smartly dressed, despite it being a Sunday). After a few pints of Guinness I realised it was just short of 10 miles to Carlisle. Even though I felt mentally in the doldrums from road walking I needed to do a final push so I logged on to Hotels.com and booked a room at the Landmark Hotel in Carlisle. The promise of a comfy bed was the only thing that was going to get me there. 

As I expected the road out to Carlisle was just grim. I journeyed a mere hour and a half outside of Gretna Green when the heaven’s opened up and I had to take refuge in what looked like a roadside storage shed, or a purpose built wooden bus shelter with no seats. So I sat there and watched the rain for over an hour with my cheese and onion pasty and 3 Snickers bars…to stave off depression, of course. 

Needless to say my feet felt like lead bricks again and I didn’t manage to get into Carlisle until gone 11pm. I started to realise my feet were worse off than I thought when I could barely climb the stairs to my hotel room – elevator on the blink. But, and this is s big BUT, all was made well again when I discovered I had a bathtub!!!! …..blissssss

Dumfries on a sunny Scottish morning.

The last house in Scotland. Of course , on the other side of the sign it says ‘the first’.

The river Sark which forms part of the boundry between Scotland and England

I’m pretty terrible at selfies, especially when I’m trying to fit a whole bloody sign into the frame next to my big head. 

A sign I had been dreaming about. For some reason I expected it to be much grander, like the ‘Welcome to Scotland’ sign was.