Through the Borders..

Posted by on 10, Sep 2023 in 2023 - Cathedrals, Europe, Tilly the Tandem, UK, Western Europe

Through the Borders..
Carlisle Cathedral
Lockerbie Lambs
The road ahead….
Bleeding brakes….!
Top of that hill, lesson learnt…don’t cycle over hills with wind farms on the top !
lunch in the rain .. again!
Castle on the hill…

By the time we arrived in Carlisle it was a lovely sunny day. Cool and breezy but still very nice.  The Cathedral had a fabulous star ceiling which was very unusual and we ticked off Cathedral number 30 and, with the weather remaining nice continued on to cross the border into Scotland and Gretna Green for the night!

Gretna is famous for weddings and despite it being a Sunday evening we rolled up at our hotel – the oldest registry place in Gretna – with a wedding in full progress and whilst Linda checked in I made faces at the window to the bored kids in the reception hall who found it highly amusing and by the time Linda returned I think I’d Pied Pipered all the kids at the wedding reception to the window.

We left for our room before the adults started noticing all the tongues sticking out, and crazy faces their Sunday best dressed off spring we’re pulling at the window, though this is Scotland so they were probably 3 parts to the wind by then anyway and wouldn’t have noticed the kids by now we’re all in a frenzy of gestures to the Pied Piper below !

As we’ve previously mentioned, we’ve had a few rear brake issues this trip. We have a cable actuated hydraulic brake and it’s been a bit spongy, which is a sign of air in the system.

We’d had it looked at in Manchester and the guy had changed the brake cable which definitely improved it, but by the time we reached Moffat it was very spongy again.

We stopped at a bike shop and the SNP flag waving mechanic had a look at it, bleeding it and changing the pads.  Again, this improved it and new pads often take a bit of use to bed in. But by the time we reached the summit of our hill out of Moffat at 300m, the rear brake was almost completely ineffective.  By then the nice day we had woken to had turned into a bitterly cold, windy, grey day.

We sat on a concrete block at the side of the road for lunch just before the squawls arrived. It was horrible and the kind of weather you expected the mountain rescue to turn up and give you a lecture for cycling in shorts and sandals!

We started down the hill, with no help from the rear brake, using our front brake only. This is also hydraulic and has incredible stopping power on its own.  I tend to alternate the brakes on hills and hardly ever use both together so the braking was fine, and for some of the descent we actually had to pedal as the wind was so strong.

Scottish summer eh!

As we came below the tree line again the sun came out the rain vanished and we sat outside a Starbucks, which we normally avoid, but it was the only place we had seen anywhere selling coffee –  and promptly ordered a hot coffee which Linda, even though desperate for a caffeine fix, described as expensive, luke warm gnats piss and threw it away. Mine was like hot milk, but as I love hot milk I was happy!.

We (the royal we obviously ) then discovered  that we had slightly messed up our route and what we had thought was about 60km turned out to be 83km so by the time we arrived at a Toby Carvery where we were staying.. again normally avoided, but nowhere else available in that area, it was dusk, wet cold and obviously there were Scots out in shorts and T shirts promenading around the adjoining lake determined to enjoy summer whatever it took.  Hats off to them but we were frozen, tired and a little bit fed up!

Toby Carvery – not the place for veggies. Our hand prepared melt in the middle Brie pie looked like someone had scraped up a pile of oats, nuts and flour stuffed some cheese in the middle, squashed it like a snowball, then thrown it at the floor and baked it. But we were starving and there was no option so ate it smootherd in tomato ketchup with Yorkies which were actually excellent, . a fitting end to the day and perhaps a place to avoid for us veggies!  Our room though was excellent and we slept like logs.

The ride the following morning into Glasgow thankfully was lovely and we rolled up at the centre having followed various off road paths, a lovely track along the river Clyde and through manicured parks.

Our first stop was another bike shop who hadn’t got time to do a proper job on the brake, but did say that the Moffat guy had tightened the brake cable so much it cut off the fluid so slowly died. They fixed this in seconds and we had a pretty decent brake back. If only we’d known that trick at the top of the hill yesterday!

Then it was onto the cathedral in the early afternoon and found it was locked up and closed…so we made our way to our Premier Inn for a early check in, large drink or two and supper.

We didn’t cycle back to the cathedral  the next day as it was our rest day, so took a cab. We got our stamp and a personal tour as the Cathedral is now sadly locked up to prevent crime and thefts.  Our rest day was actually pretty nice weather with only the occasional rain (we’ve obviously lowered our definition of nice day quite a bit this year) and we ended up quite liking Glasgow, which was a huge change from our last visit, where we cycled in through some awfully run down areas and torrential rain, which always makes things seem worse.

Our rest day over we followed the old railway line toward Ardrossan in a mixture of gorgeous sunshine and dreary rain before cutting over the hills for our planned rendezvous with e-Matilda and our friends Colin and Di for a guided tour of the tiny island of Cumbrae where they very romanticly held their civil partnership on the beach last year.  

As speed merchants they’ll be no doubt be gearing up for a race around the island and we’ll no doubt be opting out for a ice cream instead…


  1. Speed merchants ?!! ????

  2. When I saw the title “ The Borders” , I immediately thought, but they haven’t got there yet ! Forgetting we hadn’t read about the progression up the west coast ???? Good read as usual.

  3. Ardrossan Asda is the highlight of Ardrossan. Its like an oasis, did you visit?

    • No, in the end we changed plans and dint go to Ardrossan

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