Welcomed by the dawn’s early light, my day started at the charming Wallsend Guest House and Glamping Pods.
The showering and drinks facilities were lovely.
Last night, I managed to grab a lovely meal (massive portion size!) at the King’s Arms pub in Bowness on Solway and head to the shore to watch the sun setting over the Solway Firth.
After a breakfast of my homemade flapjacks and a steaming cup of tea, I set off for the pavilion in Bowness-on-Solway, going past the King’s Arms.
The journey began at 8 am. With the sky a lovely blue, and a gentle breeze, I was off to a good start. Despite the long stretches of roadside walking and straight lines, forewarned by our Facebook group, the morning brought its joys. I spent an hour in the company of Lee, Lewis, and their dog Frank, from Swansea, sharing stories and pacing well. I suspect they’re well ahead now, as they are aiming to cover the path in just four days.
I took a much-needed break at Laal Bite, a spot I highly recommend for fellow hikers. The afternoon, however, came with its challenges. An earlier than anticipated arrival at the Greyhound pub in Burgh-by-Sands found it still closed, prompting me to push on without a proper rest. My short rest involved basking in the cool grass and eating a protein bar and some nuts. I made my way to Burgh by Sands’ village hall, where I enjoyed a nice vegetable quiche, courtesy of a suggestion from a lovely dog-walking couple.
As the day wore on, the heat weighed me down, and the way into Carlisle felt longer than expected. Yet, the sight of the picturesque Bitts Park and Sands Centre, where I had my passport stamped, an ice-cold water bottle, and a refreshing ice cream, marked the end of the first leg of the journey.
Arriving at my B&B, I learned breakfast wouldn’t be served until 8. However, they kindly provided yogurt and fruit for my early start. The rest of the evening involved some laundry in the sink(I know – classy! 🙂 ), a visit to the beautiful Carlisle Cathedral, and tending to a bug bite and a small blister.
Inside the cathedral, I crossed paths with Veronica, a friendly face from the trail. We had kept running into each other since the very start at Bowness.
Dinner was a lovely linguine a la verdure at the Italian restaurant Sannas, perfectly matched with a glass of crisp Sauvignon Blanc. It was happy hour so very affordable. Back in my room, the slow progress of charging my gadgets and the damp state of my freshly-washed clothes hinted at the real-life nuances of such a journey.
Thoughts about tomorrow’s long 28km trek bring a sense of anxiety. The forecast warns of heat, and perhaps thunderstorms, and I find myself questioning whether I’ll make it to the campsite. I also questioned my choice of taking my hiking boots over the trail running shoes.
Yet, lying here in my bed, despite the aches and pains (my hips are bruised), I find myself excited about what the new day will bring. It’s not just a physical challenge but a mental journey too. I know I can handle this physically; now it’s my mind that needs to take the leap.
As the lively Carlisle nightlife buzzes far away in the background, I’m already on the path that lies ahead, one foot in front of the other, ready for tomorrow’s adventure.