I had the unfortunate event in the night of my sleeping mat having a slow puncture- the first in its 8 year life and had to blow it up several times. I must have been tired as I managed to get to sleep each time before it fully deflated and only woke when the hard ground became too cold. I can attest to the fact that it was just getting light and the first birds beginning to sing at 3.30am!
In spite of this it was a wrench to leave this lovely campsite but we have clocked it as a place to return to and move on we must. We climbed away from Ullswater and into the last remnants of hills of the Lake District.
This was a wilder area and almost completely devoid of people. I suspect that is because most walkers are attracted to the more dramatic scenery, but there were a few heading off to the Caldbeck Fells. The area had a feeling of remoteness about it which was more reminiscent of the Scottish highlands than the Lake District.
Although ups and downs it was not too steep and a very enjoyable ride. We stopped for nice coffee in Caldbeck in a converted Mill and after a final hill had a magnificent decent into Wigton – a long, long gentle downhill on straight roads (no need to apply brakes as we sped along at 60kph), no cars and no pot holes!
Even though we were 11 miles from our destination we had been told that Wigton was our nearest supermarket and as we were having a day off the next day we had to stock up on provisions. Our panniers were bulging and the bikes felt fairly rocky but we were now into the flat lands making our way up t the Solway Firth. As we had had all morning we had a strong tail wind and we were blown along to Port Carlisle at great speed in spite of being overladen!
We easily found our Airbnb – not difficult as Port Carlisle only has about 20 houses! Ours was a funny little 3 story terrace – each story being one room. Plenty for our purposes and it had a washing machine!
Later we strolled out and looked over to Scotland across the firth. It was slightly drizzly giving misty atmospheric views. Port Carlisle had a the potential to have grand previous history but it started and stopped before it got going. In the brief period of 50 years when the port was operating and before the estuary silted up, a canal was built from there to Carlisle 12 miles away. The plans were for it to become a thriving port, but it seems to stopped before it really got started. The canal was filled in and a railway line built in its place. At this point, if you wanted to travel from Newcastle to Liverpool, you took the train to Port Carlisle and the steamship from Port Carlisle to Liverpool. That method of travel only lasted until a rail line was built from Newcastle to Liverpool! Port Carlisle also became the jumping off point for many migrants seeking to make their fortune in America, but that trade ended in the late C19th when the big ships could not get up the estuary.
All that is left now is a grassy channel where the canal and then rail line had been and the last ghostly ruins of the stone dock. An evocative, interesting and wild place to spend our day off tomorrow.