Tuesday, 23 March 2004


Gretna → Carlisle

[Leaving Scotland]

Distance: 11.6 miles
Ascent: 102 metres
Duration: 3 hours 28 minutes

South from the border
« Not walked | Beaumont »

I love Scotland. Last time I was north of the border was May 2000. And now I'm back, briefly. While my car enjoyed a day basking under the Scottish sun, I headed south, crossing the border within minutes.

This isn't the first time I've popped north for the day. The last time was in the late 80s, when our family took advantage of an insane railway ticket offer. The girls spent the day in Edinburgh, but us boys stayed on the train to Dundee so we could cross the Forth and Tay bridges. (Ah, those days...)

The first two miles of the walk were treacherous and tiresome: pacing down the hard-shoulder on the strip of road that links the Scottish M74 with the English M6. Within the next few years this stretch of road will be converted to motorway at which point it'll not be possible to walk along it, necessitating a long inland detour to the next nearest bridge across the River Esk.


The Cumbria Coastal Way is a long-distance path that roughly follows the coastline for a hundred and fifty miles south from Metalbridge on the A74 to Morecambe Bay. For the rest of the day I followed this path to the point where I could cross the River Eden.

The Coastal Way itself crosses the Eden in Carlisle itself. It's possible to cross a mile further downstream though, where there's a gap in the fence restricting access to a disused railway bridge. I crossed and got the train back to Gretna.

I smiled and shook my head as I entered the cavernous railway station. Between the ages of fourteen and sixteen, trains were everything to me and far-flung places held curious attraction. Carlisle was one such place, and gathered at the end of platform three a cluster of trainspotters showed that for some it still holds its magic.

For a place I'd spent very little time at, I have a number of vivid memories of here. Strange how these things come flooding back when you least expect them.

(Oh, and yes: this is the walk I was looking forward to.)

Posted by pab at 18:35