Day 39

Penrith to Carlisle – 20.4 miles (619.7 total)

When I was planning LEJOG one of the days that caused me a lot of concern was this one. No matter what configuration I experimented with there seemed no easy way to shorten what was going to be a long complicated day’s walk. Changing my planned 2-day break in Carlisle to a trip home only added to the anxiety, because, now I had the pressure of having to reach the station by a certain time so that I could catch my train home.

As luck would have it, I did come up with a sort of shortcut mid-walk… something I had vowed not to try again after my Wigan experience. More of that later.

The temperature yesterday hit 20°C and today was forecast to be even hotter at 21°C. In the event it reached 22°C with virtually no breeze. I had a good breakfast at my B&B and set off just before 9am.

Looking back at Penrith in the glorious sunshine

Carlisle lies due north of Penrith. All the connecting infrastructure, the M6 motorway, the A6 main road and the West Coast Main railway line keep each other company between the 2 towns. My planned route, based on the Millers Way, weaved in and out, crossing and re-crossing all of them.

Part horse – part zebra?

After crossing the M6 once, after Fowlerslike Cottage, my attempt to cross back, further on, at Cross House, hit a problem. The obvious link between a road on 2 sides of the motorway had no connection. So, early in my day, I had to retrace my steps and negotiate a roundabout crossing of the M6. I soon caught up with my route which was mostly road.

Halfway there…

My third crossing of the M6 was at Plumpton Station Bridge. I was scheduled to cross the motorway for the fourth time, heading for Plumptonfoot, about a mile further on. This is the point where I decided enough was enough. I realised that, if I stayed on my current minor road, it would probably take me all the way to Carlisle with no meandering – plus deliver me a saving in distance.

Straight road ahead…
… and behind
Low sign to High Hesket

This new plan now took me through Calthwaite on a very straight road. In fact, the road was so straight, I am convinced it would originally have been a Roman Road. I later walked through Burthwaite, eventually entering Carlisle, in brilliant sunshine, via Upperby. Yes, the walking was a bit monotonous. Yes, my feet felt worse for the hard pounding. But I made great time and reached Carlisle well ahead of schedule – so early, in fact, that I had a 3 hour wait for my train!

Some pictures defy description!
My first sight of Scotland in the distance. You’ll have to look really hard!

Reaching Carlisle provided me with Kerchings 7, 8 & 9: Cumbria Way, Eden Valley Way and Hadrian’s Wall Path. I also passed the 600 mile mark not long after Penrith.

Carlisle Station

At 20.4 miles, I reckon I saved a couple of miles over my planned route. Now I have a 2 day break to look forward to and the chance to freshen up all my clothes and toiletries. I am also looking forward to seeing Elizabeth and some of my children for the first time in nearly 6 weeks. My walk restarts on Wednesday, when I return to Carlisle with my son, Peter, to walk Day 40 together, across the border between England and Scotland, to Gretna. Peter is the master-organiser of this blog.