Route plan for the day’s cycling:
Sunny weather continued as I began to make progress southwards towards England. Getting out of Edinburgh was a little tricky and at one point there were so many potholes one after the other that my front bag bounced off its bracket and along the road! After a few curious looks I fortunately had no trouble rescuing it and nothing was broken.
Once into the countryside, I climbed up a long hill into the Moorfoot Hills of the Southern Uplands. From there the cycling was very picturesque, reminding me of the Yorkshire Dales, with expansive hills and valleys. At Innerleithen, a small town popular with walkers, I stopped for an ice cream. Further south the scenery was similar – all remote and sparsely populated.
I came across a cyclist part way in, who I joined for five or ten miles. He had cycled from Melrose and was aiming to go 30 miles – after 30 miles he would turn round and go back (to make it a sixty mile return trip). We found a very scenic spot to have a picnic lunch before going our separate ways.
The road south led through Eskdalemuir and past an intriguing landmark – Kagyu Samye Ling, a Buddhist monastery and training centre situated curiously in a remote spot alongside the River Esk- but I did not stop to explore it. Once I reached Langholm, it was straight down the busy main A7 towards Carlisle. Crossing the English border brought a tremendous sense of achievement – I felt like I was nearly home (although I still had another 250+ miles to go).
South of Carlisle a steep road took me to the border of the Lake District in Cumbria, which was my aim for the day and after having cycled over 100 miles I started looking for a place to stop. At Hesket Newmarket, I noticed a pub and shortly afterwards spotted a campsite sign. I pitched in the campsite which was very reasonably priced and very welcoming. I then showered and went to the pub for a fine meal of scampi and chips and started talking to some locals – they seemed very impressed with my exploits and one suggested I would make a fine leader in the armed forces! I enjoyed three pints of freshly brewed ale, “Old Doris” being my favourite. Even Prince Charles has drunk beer there during a visit in support of the “community spirit” of locals who set up a co-operative fund to stop it from being sold.
After an excellent evening I retired to the tent for my first night on English soil in eighteen days!