April 10, 2011 – Carlisle to Bowness-on-Solway – 18½ (!) miles
All the walking in my city shoes has left me with a huge blister on my right heel, and Becky has slept poorly. We’re both fighting what could become a day-long bad mood, which I know can only be curtailed with one thing: techno dance music courtesy of BBC Radio 1. It works, and our spirits are much higher as we hit the trail.
The path takes us along the River Eden through most of Carlisle. Passing close to downtown, we see an under-construction scale model of the Hadrian’s Wall Path in stone, and Carlisle Castle in the distance. The ups and downs along the river bank remind us of the crags, but in all honesty are about half as high.
As we pass from city to country yet again, we enter a bridge construction site that is eerily abandoned. Becky is sure we are about to be set upon by a horde of zombies.
Fortunately for them, the zombies stay in hiding. I’ve done my homework.
Once out of Carlisle, it’s back to endless pastures and small rural villages.
The village of Beaumont (bee-mont) is distractingly beautiful.
…so distracting, in fact, that we miss our acorn, and take a wrong turn out of the village!
By the time we realize our mistake, we are so far along the road that turning around would be longer than continuing on. You can see our detour on the map above; all in all, it added two miles to an already exhaustingly long day. We finally reach Burgh-by-Sands (that’s “bruff” if you’re following along), find the pub (and its restrooms) open, and stop for lunch near the statue of Edward I.
Once out of the village, we enter the marshy tidal zone. We stop to chat with another group of Path walkers, who are going the other way, and are nearing the end of their first day, but the tide tables and warning signs cause us to cut our visit short, and we only stop for photos twice.
Leaving the flood plain, we pass by the surreal scene of a finely-manicured mobile home park.
Our feet are hurting, and our bodies are screaming at us to stop, but we know that we are close. We crunch our crisps on foot, and continue on.
Exhausted but determined, we trudge through the village of Bowness-on-Solway.
While there is no Phil to welcome us, the gazebo at the end of the trail is still a welcome sight. We have finished!
We stop for a moment to enjoy our triumph, then find our lodgings in the Old Rectory. After a glorious cup of tea, we’re off to the warm embrace of the Kings Arms, unofficial celebrating place for Wall walkers either starting or ending their journey. We are among the first to sign the log book for 2011, but the proprietor lends us the 2010 book for some fascinating reading.
Our total mileage, according to all these maps, is 100½ miles over 9 days.