||DAY SIX: MONDAY, JUNE 2, 2008
Miles 6678, Crosby to Burgh-by-Sands
I made myself three cups of coffee at the Blue Bell Camping Barn, ate a granola bar and tried to get the place as spotless as I could. Having taken two showers, charged my iPod and cell phone, watched TV and drunk all that coffee, I felt guilty about paying Mark just the six pounds that he said I owed for the night. So I left a ten pound note on the kitchen counter and hit the road.
The walk from Crosby to the fairly large city of Carlisle was rather unremarkable. It does follow the river Eden at times, but winds mostly through flat rural suburbia. The only scenery of note is a random "folly tower" rising from a field, apparently built in the early 19th century by a man named George Head Head (that's not a typo).
I walked along a flowery golf course on the outskirts of Carlisle, then along the river Eden and underneath the town's scenic 19th century stone bridge. Having had nothing to eat since my morning granola bar, I headed into town. I was mapless and got lost several times in the twisting streets of Carlisle, population 70,000. I finally found the center of town and the King's Head pub, where I stopped for a lunch of chicken sandwich and chips.
Though I'd walked only a few miles so far this day, my feet were still incredibly sore from the sixteen mile day previous. I checked my guidebook and decided to stop for the night in Grinsdale, just three short miles up the path.
When I arrived at Grinsdale I was surprised to find nothing there. No pub, no store, no campground. As far as I could tell, the only place to spend money in Grinsdale is at their pay phone.
I encountered a couple of walkers who were coming from the opposite direction and asked if they knew of any campgrounds nearby. They did not, but encouraged me to carry on to Burgh-by-Sands, four or five miles further, because there's a pub there and likely "a place to put you up". The weather was perfect so I decided to ignore my aching feet and carry on.
The walk out of Grinsdale became more scenic. The suburbs disappeared and were replaced by pastureland, hilly river banks and many, many sheep. I stopped on a bench in the hilltop village of Beaumont and ate a Snickers bar while contemplating St. Mary's church, built in the 12th century using bricks from Hadrian's Wall.
I arrived in Burgh-by-Sands around 6:00pm and saw very little indication that there was "a place to put you up". It appeared to be a very pleasant village, but there were no B&Bs and no campground, just an old church, a statue of King Edward I and the Greyhound Inn pub. I read the pub's menu and was heartbroken to see that they served dinner every night except Monday. It was Monday.
The pub was open for drinks and I stepped inside to ask the bartender if there was any place to camp in town. "No," he said, "but you can pitch your tent on the back lawn if you'd like." I confirmed that Monday was indeed the cook's night off, but the bartender offered to make me a sandwich if I wished. I ordered a pint of John Smith's bitter and chatted a bit about my journey with the few local men hanging out at the pub. I was home!
It was a beautiful, sunny evening and I had the back lawn of the pub all to myself. I pitched my tent strategically atop a small hump in the yard, because rain was predicted to fall later that night.
I walked across the driveway and investigated the statue to King Edward I more closely. It had been erected in 2007, commemorating the 700th anniversary of Edward's death, which occurred here in little ol' Burgh-by-Sands. I ventured further up the road to St. Michael's Church, built in the 12th century using (that's right!) stones from Hadrian's Wall.
I returned to the pub where the after work crowd, some young football players and a few families were milling about, eating nothing. The bartender I'd spoken to earlier had left, but his replacement (a friendly woman named Helen) made me a simple yet filling chicken sandwich. I washed it down with another John Smith's, bid her a good night and slumbered peacefully behind the pub.