April 10, 2011 – Irthington to Carlisle – 8½ miles
After sharing our breakfast table with a lovely Dutch couple on their way to Scotland, we set off under a cloudy sky. The tiny bit of sprinkling doesn’t worry us; we’re certain that ours will be the first Hadrian traversal ever to be completed without bad weather.
We (I) took a short stop to befriend some locals. They were unimpressed.
Among the novelties to be seen on today’s trek: a fence made not of stone, but of old tires and baling wire.
Smells like country.
We stop at the Stag Inn (colloquially known to Wall walkers as the Stagger Inn), for a couple of half-pints of the local finest, which is fine indeed.
After a chat with the new owners, who graciously let us sit down for a while before they opened, a glance out the window reveals that our plans for a rainless journey have been dashed. We stow the cameras in the backpack (there’s nothing to shoot today anyways), and put on our trusty rain/wind gear.
Not ten minutes later, we cross paths with more Hadrian hikers headed the other way. This lot are the clear winners of the best-dressed award for this part of the journey.
It doesn’t look like the rain will let up for us to stop and eat, so we pull out our sandwiches and enjoy the saddest picnic ever while crossing a 6-lane freeway.
The weather clears as we reach Rickerby, a town which appears to be made entirely out of a single mansion complex and an open field with a folly tower which was built by a man named George Head Head. I’m not kidding, click the links.
At the far end of Rickerby Park is the footbridge into Carlisle. The transition from pastoral to urban is abrupt.
We reached our lodging, only to find that it’s only 1pm! We had rushed through to spend some time walking around Carlisle, but hadn’t expected it to go this fast. The lady of the house graciously checks us in early, and we take tea and awful TV in our room.
Since we have so much time, we decide to bust out our city clothes for a walk about town (though we apparently forgot to bring a camera). We walk to the bank, back to the room, back to the bank (with my passport this time), and duck into the Howard Arms for beer and eavesdropped local conversation. We spy a frozen food store across the street, and wander its aisles as though through a dream. It’s like a Schwann store.
We continue our walk, through a pedestrian mall that, when open, must be quite a happening place. We find our targeted supper destination, the Sportsman Inn, and order up a plate of roasted meats, and a plate of fried things, and a dozen dipping sauces. The table is full, and soon so are we.
My city shoes are giving me serious trouble, and I limp slowly back to the room, with Becky patiently keeping pace. We keep our routine of writing in our journal for a bit before sleep; our longest and final day lies ahead.