Day 8

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Origin:        Kendal environs, Cumbria
Destination:   Lockerbie
Waypoints:     Penrith, Carlisle, Gretna Green
Lunch:         Gregg's in Penrith
Accommodation: Bishopcleugh Guest House
Cake:          The Penny Farthing, Carlisle
Dinner:        take-away delivery
Google Maps
Distance:      81.5mi
Ascent:        2733ft by Google

This day starts somewhere in Cumbria—where depends on what you did for the previous day. If you're taking day 7 via Lancaster, you might well have avoided Sedbergh and be starting this day in the Oxenholme or Kendal areas as we did. Although we took the A685 Appleby Road, then out via Roundthwaite (just avoiding Tebay). in hindsight it'd worth considering taking the A6 up to Shap. Although it's a major road, this part of it is particularly quiet since it is duplicated by the M6. If you're starting in Kendal, that makes total sense (diversion 1, 3). If for any strange reason you're starting in Meal Bank, you can also do this (diversion 2, 3) If you're starting in Sedbergh, heading directly towards Roundthwaite is the sane option, since it's reachable from there by quiet roads (but you'll have to map that yourself).

Either way, you're in for a bit of an uphill slog to start the day. The A-roads are smooth and steady, making them more manageable, If you go via Roundthwaite, that's where you'll turn off the main road, so be prepared for a tough climb on a tiny road... although the views are nice. The tiny road then takes some contortions to emerge in between the two carriageways of the M6, which is a bit of a novelty, and the West Coast Main Line railway is running by as well.

After joining the A6 just south of Shap, we were interested in taking the next left to head along the Rosgill reservoir access road. In the end we decided against it because we weren't sure we'd get through. The Ordnance Survey map shows it as a permissive bridleway, but there was some ambiguous signage, so we decided not to take our chances (but I've shown this as diversion 4).

Instead we went through Shap village then left, out towards Shap Abbey and beyond to Bampton, Helton, Askham and down to Penrith by Yanwath and the B5320. I guess we must have taken the giant Kemplay Bank roundabout on the south side of Penrith... I barely remember this, but there is a cycle bypass of the usual poor quality (I don't think we took it).

From Penrith town centre, we head west towards the station but then take a right at the mini-roundabout and then left at the not-so-mini roundabout, over the bridge and out on the B5288. Once over the M6, we take the first right onto the unclassified roads towards Carlisle. At Laithes we turn right to correct our course towards Carlisle. This route was great cycling—quiet but direct, not hilly and mostly very smooth. (So of course it's not part of the National Cycle Network.)

To get into Carlisle, there is a backroads way from Durdar Road through a housing estate and over a cycle bridge thing. Or you could just stay on the main road (Currock Road and James Street), to be honest. I planned a wacky route into the back of Carlisle to avoid the major roads, but actually, we got lost a bit and then diverted for cake; the major roads in town weren't that bad anyhow. It was raining quite hard and we were glad to stop for scones at The Penny Farthing (which was actually closing, but stayed open just for us!).

To get out of town, we have the A7 roundabout to contend with; actually it could be worse. After that, we take a left through some backroads. I've a feeling Google wanted us to take some stairs at this point, but if you keep on the road, the worst to negotiate is a little cut-through between some houses. Then it's out to Etterby and Kingmoor for the run up to the Solway Firth and the Scottish border. Crossing the Firth was very windy, oddly atmospheric but perhaps a little underwhelming if I'm honest. It's noisy because of the parallel M6, with which the minor road shares a bridge.

Along this stretch we caught up another bunch of long-distance cycling Young People who were mostly (but not all) going to Skye, if I remember. The actual border is a little way beyond the Solway Firth, at the crossing of the river Sark. We overtook them, but then were ourselves caught up during the border photo opportunity... also an opportunity for a brief chat and mutual photoing.

From here it's past the delights of Gretna Gateway Outlet Village, under the A75 sliproads and right-left under the A74(M) onto the incredibly boring B7076 which takes you all the way to Lockerbie. At least, it was for us. This is a really miserable road—featureless, of poor surface, blighted by appallingly poorly surfaced roadside “cycle lanes” that practically disappear into the vegetation in many places. Unsurprisingly, it's also the Sustrans route. By the time we arrived in Lockerbie, we felt thoroughly bludgeoned. If I could change only one thing about the route we actually took for the whole trip, it'd be to avoid this section. So I have instead shown a route that sticks on more rural roads and heads through the centre of Annan. I haven't done it, but it looks lovely on Street View. I've put the original as a backup, though (diversion 5). The Annan route is 3.3mi extra (81.8mi versus 78.5mi), but a few feet less climbing (2726ft versus 2831ft).

We got to Lockerbie and had had quite enough for one day. Although we took some advice from a nice man about which hotel bar we could possibly dine in, in the end we went for take-away delivered to the doorstep of our (not-so-central) B&B.

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Content updated at Thu 19 Mar 15:45:00 GMT 2020.
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