The alarm went at 6 this morning. The legs are feeling ok although the knees are still a but I could do with a bit more sleep. I had 20 miles to make up as we had changed our overnight venue to get something more user friendly and had stopped short of our original destination. It was a bit of a relief to have a shorter day 6 as day 5 had been so traumatic. The price to pay was extra miles the following day.
We were staying at Dalston Hall, 4 miles south of Carlisle a great venue with a golf course The farmer who owned it had a huge 4’6″ brass cock which stood outside the clubhouse facing east in anticipation of the sunrise. He had a number of other hideous ornaments and seemed to pride himself in his exceptionally bad taste. I felt an immediate bonding with him.
I met a 65 year old Scotsman in the toilets (not pre-arranged) who was telling me how he always comes to this campsite and had never been abroad. That’s the 3rd person that has told me they’ve never been abroad. I’ve found out where our southern hedghogs have gone. They are on the roads up here. I saw 4 yesterday. Also, there are lots of red pay phone boxes in the villages. I’d wondered what happened to them.
I had to prepare myself for a 130 mile slog. By 8.30 I was on my way and by 8.5o I was back – to pick up my drinks bottles which I had so carefully prepared and then left in the fridge. I certainly didn’t need the extra mileage. I had originally planned a route that skirted the Pennines but as I was without my sat-nav and as I was knackered I decided to go through Carlisle and follow the A7, which turned out to be much quieter than I had anticipated. It was also a lot flatter than the route I had originally planned.
After an hour I’d gone 15 miles, just 115 to go. I had a nut bar a gel a drink and pee. Boy was I peeing. After 3hrs cycling I had averaged 16mph which fell to 15.3 20 mins later as my altimeter showed I had gone up 600ft. Yes I’m using the Garmin but not for directions – just for speed etc. By 1.00 I had done 2/3rds of the journey and I thought Lesley and my support team would have passed me by now. I sat down and had a sandwich and got lost in the beauty and my thoughts. Just the one flat hedgehog today. They make a rather crunchy filling. I understand Nigel Mansell is LEJO’Ging at the same time as me. So what.
I hit Edinburgh at about 5 o’clock with 6 hours cycling under my belt and an average speed of 15mph. I was delighted. Then I got lost. I spent the best part of an hour trying to find the Forth Bridge. How can you hide something like that? After my private viewing on Day 3 when I went under the Severn Bridge I was quite looking forward to the Forth Bridge. My average speed had fallen to under 14mph. I called Lesley and told her I was going to be late. I was getting down and was quite stressed and was knocking on doors for directions to the Forth Bridge. Anyway eventually I found it – it spans the Firth of Forth don’t you know.
I got to the campsite at about 8.30pm. Jake and Callum rode out to meet me. This is how I had pictured sites, it was buzzing, kids were playing and barbeques were burning. If you are ever at Kinross – go and stay at Gallowhill Farm, Kinross, Kinross-Shire KY13 0RD. The farmer that owns it is great and a real character. He’ll not stop chatting if you give him half a chance – a real pleasure.