Picture of Ken and Linda with their tandem

Title: End to End by Tandem. Ken & Linda Hardy

 Day 9: September 18 th , Penrith to Dumfries

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An excellent breakfast this morning. Just before we were ready to leave our hostess kindly phoned ahead to arrange a B&B for us in Dumfries. She knew a place where they'd stayed several times and could recommend.

The weather was looking a little better this morning. We set off north, still on the A6, happy in the knowledge that we were approaching the Scottish border and should cross it sometime today. Again, the road was fairly quiet with most of the traffic being on the M6 instead, which we could often see across the fields. Our road was undulating but quite easy cycling and this was to be the pattern for most of the day. We kept seeing heavy rain storms blowing across from the west but we always seemed to be in between them as they passed. We were thankful for this since some of them were obviously very heavy, judging by the amount of water they'd left on the road. The views were nice as well with the hills of the Lake District to the south and the Scottish border hills to the north.

The A6 took us right into the middle of Carlisle and then the A7 out the other side. Carlisle is an impressive town with great red stone walls and castle - a place we could have stopped and explored if we weren't wanting to press on northwards. After a few miles we joined the A74 heading for Gretna. However, as we approached Gretna, rather than staying on what was going to turn into a very busy dual carriageway, we turned off onto a minor road leading us round to Gretna Green. It was on this road that we crossed the Border, at midday, stopping to take pictures to prove it.

Gretna Green was busy! It was full of tourists but it was pleasant to be able to relax and sit in the warm sunshine and eat our lunch, knowing that, at last we were over the border - a major hurdle crossed. It was here that one significantly overweight woman, while talking to us about our trip described us both as "skinny"! Sent another e-mail from here but it seems that it never arrived. No idea why.

After lunch we set off again on the quiet B721 which runs roughly parallel to the A75. This was a lovely run on easy gradients in pleasant weather with lovely scenery around us. It was as we joined this road that we spotted another two cyclists. When we caught up with them we realised that they were the two who had left Lands End at the same time as us. How and why we'd caught them up we never found out but since they were aiming to finish a day or two before us they must have been falling behind their schedule. We kept "leapfrogging" with them along this road until just outside Dumfries but after that we never saw them again. Whether they ever got to John o' Groats we don't know.

We arrived in Dumfries in lovely warm sunshine and thought about continuing over towards Sanquhar for the night but we were both feeling tired and ready for a rest and, since we'd more or less covered our daily minimum mileage and it was such a lovely evening we decided to stay in Dumfries and have a leisurely evening stroll around the town and by the river.

 While we were outside the Tourist Information Centre, 3 ladies came up and showed an interest in the tandem, asking us about what we were doing. It turned out that they were also Tandem Club members and were having a holiday in the area, planning to do some cycling themselves. It was they who suggested that we write up our experiences of our trip and send them in to the Tandem Club magazine.

After our stroll around we went to look for somewhere to eat but by now all the shops had closed and Dumfries seemed to have shut down for the night. This was not long after 6pm! We found very few places open to get a meal but in the end found a hotel near the station which had a nice restaurant in a basement where we enjoyed an excellent meal.

Day 9 - Mileage: Day 59; Cumulative 557