Day 10… Sunday, 1st June, 2008
Abington to Carlisle
We’re getting into a nice wee routine now. After breakfast, I pack our stuff and then have a wee rest while Gus does his warm-up, we pack the car together and that’s us ready for off.
Today, after driving back down from Wanlockhead to Abington for Gus to start where he left off yesterday, we took the B7076 which runs alongside the A74(M) over the Beattock Summit.
The severity of the nearby railway line’s climb to the summit is referenced in W. H. Auden’s poem Night Mail, written in 1936.
Then on through Lockerbie, the location of the infamous Lockerbie bombing, the bombing of a Pan Am transatlantic flight from London’s Heathrow Airport to New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport on Wednesday, 21 December 1988. A Boeing 747–121, named Clipper Maid of the Seas, was destroyed by an explosive device killing all 243 passengers and 16 crew members.Large sections of the plane crashed into Lockerbie, killing an additional 11 people on the ground.
Lockerbie apparently has existed since at least the days of Viking influence in this part of Scotland in the period around AD 900. The name means Lockard’s Farm in Old Norse. The presence of the remains of a Roman camp a mile to the west of the town suggests its origins may be even earlier. Lockerbie first entered recorded history, as Lokardebi, in 1306.
Our mood was sombre as we travelled through this little town and on through Ecclefechan, which, although being only a tiny village, has a tart named after it!
Recipe for Ecclefechan Tart
Makes 8 servings
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 4 teaspoons chilled whipping cream
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon (packed) grated lemon peel
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 cups dark raisins
- 1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
- 1 3/4 cups chilled whipping cream
- Toasted walnuts
Blend flour, sugar, and salt in processor 5 seconds. Add butter. Using on/off turns, process until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add cream. Using on/off turns, process until dough comes together in moist clumps. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap and chill at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 12-inch round. Transfer dough to 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Cut overhang to 1/2 inch and fold in, forming double-thick sides. Refrigerate crust 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line crust with foil; fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake until sides are set and slightly brown, about 30 minutes. Remove foil and beans. Continue to bake until pale golden brown, pressing with back of fork and piercing if crust bubbles, about 10 minutes. Cool crust in pan on rack 30 minutes.
Blend butter and sugar in bowl. Whisk in eggs 1 at a time, then lemon juice, lemon peel, and cinnamon. Stir in raisins and 1 cup chopped nuts.
Pour filling into crust. Bake tart until filling is deep brown and set in center, covering crust edges with foil if browning too quickly, about 30 minutes. Cool tart. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature.)
Beat cream in medium bowl until peaks form. Push up pan bottom, releasing tart. Cut tart into wedges; arrange on plates. Spoon cream alongside and garnish with toasted nuts.
And so to Gretna… which means different things to different people…
To Lord Hardwicke, in the English Parliament in 1754, Gretna represented defeat. All through 1753, he had addressed the Houses of Parliament, proclaiming the necessity to make ‘irregular’ marriages illegal and to bring marriage under the regulation of the church.
The result of this was the 1754 Marriage Act – the wedding ceremony now had to take place in Church and couples had to be 21 years of age to marry without the consent of their parents.
However, Scotland refused to adopt the Act creating a loophole for youngsters determined to marry.
In Scotland, a couple over the age of 16 had only to declare their intentions to be husband and wife in the presence of two witnesses, and their word was law. Hardwicke’s plans were thwarted.
He watched helplessly as the romantic revolution spread through the youth of 18th century England as many young couples, determined to be married, fled to Gretna Green, the first village in Scotland and conveniently situated on the main route from London into Scotland.
With Gretna Green perfectly placed to take advantage of the differences in the two countries’ marriage laws and with an angry father-of-the-bride usually in hot pursuit, the runaway couple could not waste time. Therefore as soon as they reached Scottish soil in Gretna Green, they would find a place of security where they could marry at haste! The first building they came upon was the Blacksmiths Shop, which very quickly became synonymous as a hot bed of scandal and intrigue with many daughters from respectable families choosing to flee here to “marry a scoundrel”. The ‘Anvil Priests’ would perform the ceremony for “a wee dram or a few guineas” depending on your status and financial standing.
Over the years, the Famous Blacksmiths Shop became Gretna Green’s best-known marriage venue, and the word ‘Blacksmith’ has become synonymous with Gretna Green weddings.
Today as you pass through the narrow walls and low ceiling of the Famous Blacksmiths Shop you can just imagine hearing the voices of the frantic couple as they make their dramatic dash over the border claiming, “It must be tonight!
To understand the reason for Gretna Green’s fame, the story should begin as early as the 12th Century. At that time getting married involved very little ceremony. A man would simply go to a woman’s house, claim her as his own, take her home, and they were then husband and wife.
It was in 1563 that the Church eventually tried to inject a little religion and decorum into the marriage process by declaring that to be legal a marriage had to be undertaken by a priest and have the consent of the Church. However Civil law still recognised its own, simpler, form of wedding. In a civil “handfasting” ceremony, by “fasting” or joining hands before witnesses and declaring their wish to marry, a couple became man and wife. This type of ceremony remained quite independent of the Church.
Scots and English Law Lords debated the issue for 186 years before the Scots relented and outlawed ‘handfasting’ ceremonies but this was a legally binding marriage ceremony until 1940.
Even to this day you can marry in Scotland once you reach the age of 16 while in England and Wales you require parental consent until the age of 18.
I am indebted to www.gretnagreen.com for most of this information.
All very interesting. But for me, it’s not the sound of hammer on anvil that draws me; not the romance of the Blacksmiths Shop, though I have been in it before and soaked in its atmosphere. No, this trip, Gretna represents the lure of Mammon rather than the arrows of Eros, and I wander round the Outlet Centre till Gus catches up with me.
And nearby, for Gus…
…it’s the joy of knowing he has cycled the length of Scotland and the joy of crossing the border. He reckons this may be the only photograph of someone going from Scotland to England, since he sees no reason why anyone would want to leave Bonnie Scotland!
Then we continued down the A74 to Carlisle.
Historically part of Cumberland, the early history of Carlisle is marked by its status as a Roman settlement, established to serve the forts on Hadrian’s Wall. During the Middle Ages, because of its proximity to the Kingdom of Scotland, Carlisle became an important military stronghold; Carlisle Castle, still relatively intact, was built in 1092 by William Rufus, and once served as a prison for Mary, Queen of Scots. What is known of the ancient history of Carlisle is derived mainly from archaeological evidence and the works of the Roman historian Gaius Tacitus.
The earliest recorded inhabitants were the Carvetii tribe of Brythonic Celts who made up the main population of ancient Cumbria and North Lancashire. According to early historians John of Fordun and Boethius, Carlisle existed before the arrival of the Romans in Britain and was one of the strongest British towns at the time. The settlement was named Luguvalion or Luguwaljon, meaning ‘strength of the god Lugus’. It was Latinised to Luguvalium and later still was derived to Caer-luel (Caer meaning fort in Brythonic).
By the year 73 CE (AD) the Roman conquest of Britain had reached the River Eden and a fort was built that winter at a strategic point overlooking the confluence of the River Caldew with the Eden, where Carlisle Castle stands today.
But, no castle for us. It was off to the Premier Inn (twin beds, bikes stay free), where we had to dry out after a rather wet day.
Engerland! (It’s all downhill from here!)
Abington to Carlisle… 61 miles
John O’Groats to Carlisle… 433 miles
Day 11… Monday, 2nd June, 2008
Carlisle to Kendal
We left Carlisle on the A6, climbing, climbing, climbing until, most dispiriting, we came to Low Hesket, carrying with it the sickening certainty that there had to be a High Hesket.
Low Hesket is a village in the English county of Cumbria, located 8½ miles south of Carlisle. The A6 is a former Roman road, and a milestone from that era has been discovered there inscribed
IMP C FL VAL CONSTANTINO P F INV AVG
that expands to Imperator Caesar Flavius Valerius Constantinus Pius Felix Invictus Augustus dating it from the time of emperor Constantine I who ruled from 307 to 337.
The village of High Hesket was also on the A6 road until it was by-passed, so we didn’t actually go through it.
Still on the A6, Penrith was next… which we have both expunged from our memory.
Still more climbing. Though it doesn’t show in the photos, you have to believe us, there were hills… lots of them!
Eventually we came over Shap Fell…with its fascinating old monument (on right!)
The taking of this photograph was the nearest Gus and I came to falling out this trip, and perhaps one day, when I know you better, I’ll relate the story to you. Suffice it to say, it involved a search for a public toilet, thirty miles extra driving and a speeding ticket!
This monument commemorates the men involved in the building of this road going over the very steep Shap Fell, the summit being 1036 feet.
Then down some hair-raising (for some of us) steep descents to Kendal
For many years Kendal was one of the most important wool towns in the country, even more important than West Yorkshire. The town was also a stopping off point for cattle drives from Scotland as well as a very important market. It is still a market town today.
It is also the home of the delicious minty confectionery that carries its name all over the world: Kendal Mint Cake, a glucose-based confectionery flavoured with peppermint, popular among climbers and mountaineers, as a source of energy.
Kendal Mint Cake has been used on many expeditions around the world:
- Edmund Hillary and his team carried Romney’s Kendal Mint Cake with them on the first successful ascent of Mount Everest in 1953. The packaging currently includes the following: “’We sat on the snow and looked at the country far below us … we nibbled Kendal Mint Cake.’ A member of the successful Everest expedition wrote – ‘It was easily the most popular item on our high altitude ration – our only criticism was that we did not have enough of it.’”
- Mint Cake was provided to the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914–1917, which was led by Sir Ernest Shackleton.
- Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman included mint cake in their supplies for their 2004 motorcycle trip around the world in Long Way Round.
But we decided against lodging in Kendal. Well! If they are really going to penalise me for unintentionally travelling two miles over their speed limit, then, tough, they’re not getting my custom! I’ll buy my Kendal Mint Cake somewhere else, thank you very much!
Instead, we booked in to the nearby Premier Inn at KillingtonLake, with this lovely view of the actual lake from our room window.
We had a rest day here at KillingtonLake and I was able to do a bit of writing and catch up on my WiFi duties, including searching on Google for the above Wikipedia information about Kendal Mint Cake…which, if you are not familiar with, you really ought to try obtaining some, especially if you have a ‘sweet tooth’.
Carlisle to Kendal… 48 miles
John O’Groats to Kendal… 481 miles
Day 12… Wednesday 4th June, 2008
Kendal to Eccleston
We enjoyed one last look from the window out over KillingtonLake, where the yachts added to the picture nicely, before driving back to Kendal where Gus finished cycling yesterday.
From Kendal we went on the A65 and the A6070 to Carnforth, where in 1945, Carnforth railway station was used as a set for the David Lean film Brief Encounter, starring Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard.
We then went through Lancaster, the settlement that gives Lancashire its name. Lancaster has several unique ties to the British monarchy; the House of Lancaster was a branch of the English royal family, whilst the Duchy of Lancaster holds large estates on behalf of Elizabeth II, who herself is also the Duke of Lancaster.
Another eleven miles took us through Garstang on the A6, and another ten miles to Preston, catching glimpses of the Lancaster Canal on the way.
We then had a fairly horrendous negotiation of the Preston traffic, still on the A6 to Euxton and then across B roads…a much prettier part of the journey and a pleasant change from city centres…to Eccleston, an old village mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, the book ordered by William the Conqueror to detail all settlements and farms in England for the purpose of tax collection.
The B&B was a little difficult to find and the road was lovely but somewhat hilly, making it a hard end to a long day.
Fortunately the B&B was very nice and worth the finding.
Kendal to Eccleston… 61 miles
John O’Groats to Eccleston… 542 miles