The conversation in Brampton went something like this:
“What do you fancy eating this evening?”
“Oooh, no not curry when we have to walk. Maybe when we get home we can get a takeaway?”
Me: “I think we will have had enough of each other by then. What do you want to eat tonight?”
“I don’t know. Not curry. I can’t do curry before a long walk.”
Me: sighing. “The Indian restaurant is 200 metres along the road. The pub is further…..UPHILL!”
A boring exchange taken on face value, but testament to how far I had come on this journey, being able to reason my way through a conversation and get what I wanted. We went for a curry. It was quiet in the restaurant but it was Indian food and I was very happy.
In the morning, we were joined by persistent rain; the day was grey and it felt gloomy as we headed back to Newtown in the taxi. The taxi driver asked us where we wanted to stop; in the village where she had picked us up or at the beginning of the footpath into the fields? I wasn’t quick enough to say what I wanted and my friend opted for the footpath. And so we bypassed the little village with its village green and neat rows of houses and began our day.
Almost immediately on our walk today, a sign advised of a diversion. We considered this for a while, could see no one walking in either direction and decided to ignore it. Nothing bad happened and there was no real explanation why. We passed field after field, gave the cows a wide berth, actually walked on the wall at Bleatarn Farm – you can’t see it though as it buried deep underground. And finally stopped at Crosby on Eden where there is a campsite and refreshments. It was still raining but there is a little shelter here and time to chat with other walkers going in both directions. It was very sociable and we stayed longer with our coffee to chat on this fairly short section of only 9.6 miles.
Through Low Crosby, and along by the river, where sandmartins are flourishing, we made a stop in Rickerby Country Park, hiding beneath the trees, before wending our very early way along the river. The stamping station for your passport in Carlisle is The Sands Centre; a note at Birdoswald had informed us that it was closed for a refurb and we wouldn’t be able to stamp our passports there. They provided both Birdsowald and the Sands Centre stamp so we stamped them there. It felt like cheating. And with a pub across from The Sands Centre, we wondered why it couldn’t have been moved to there. Not wanting to compare, but the Camino is far better prepared with their stamps, with all the cafes having their own special version.
We took very few photos of the day’s walking, lack of Roman Wall and persistent rain not inspiring us to stand and stare (the link is nothing to do with the Romans, just a favourite lament of my sister when I am walking with her!) And we were back in Carlisle, only a few miles from where we had begun this journey. Territory which felt vaguely familiar but who was I now? Had I walked away from grief over these last few days?
Having got to the guest house early, I had plenty of time to consider just how far I had travelled.