We very gratefully accepted the offer of an extra day’s rest with our friends in the Lake District so Monday 18th, we rested … but Tamar couldn’t resist the chance to walk their 3 dogs. Tuesday 19th, we started to make our way to Carlisle. Crossing from the south to the north of the Lake District without going over many hills, limits your route choice, but we decided the road from Windermere, to Ambleside and then on to Keswick, was likely to offer us the easiest gradients and fewest climbs. We met a number of people really interested in the bike, both in Ambleside & in Keswick and then a short way north of Keswick, we found a nice campsite for the evening.
Wednesday 20th we rode around the south coast of the Solway Firth and watched the tide turn on a small tidal river – just while we sat at the side of the river having an afternoon snack, the river changed from flowing outward to sea, to flowing back inward at a significant rate and within about 15 minutes, the river level had risen at least 2-feet. We continued on through Carlisle city and spent the night in another campsite near the small town of Longtown.
Thursday 21st, Longtown, down the hill into Gretna and with it, into Scotland and spent the night in Kirkcudbright. Our bodies are still complaining about the unaccustomed repeated exercise, and so we’re just trying to take it easy each day, get to my folks house in N Ireland and then rest up for a number of days. We met an interesting chap in “The Commonwealth Village of Eastriggs” but apart from that, the day was all about riding easily and covering up with sun-cream as it was gloriously sunny and about 24 degrees!
Friday 22nd (Good Friday) we covered Kirkcudbright to Stranraer. Avoiding the main A75 meant a number of notable detours from time to time, but we got into Stranraer in good time to buy our ferry tickets for the first sailing the following morning, and then found a campsite – helped wonderfully by a very kind fellow cyclist who spotted us at the ferry booking office and was awe-struck by the bike.
Saturday 23rd, first ferry is at 9:30am so check-in at 8:30am and arrive in Belfast at 11:30am, unload very quickly and then my brother & his son very kindly rode into Belfast on their bikes and offered us a guided service from the Docks area, through to the recently developed “Waterfront” area and then onto the Lagan Canal towpath. Towpaths are great when you don’t want to encounter any hills !!! And the Lagan towpath had no silly gates either, but it did have one rather tight footbridge where we had to strip all the bags off the bike to get it across. My brother took a few photos of us and as you can see, we are quite a wide load. Followed the Lagan to the town of Lisburn and then made our way to my folks house where both my parents enjoyed a ride on the front of the bike, and then we rested … for the next 5 days !! So far, we’ve covered about 1150kms (about 720 miles) and our bodies are crying out for a rest. And we’ve only had rain for about half an hour !!!