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YHA Day 10: YHA Keswick to camping outside Dumfries
    24/06/2013 09:15

Day 10: YHA Keswick to camping outside Dumfries

After both the landscape and emotional ups and downs of yesterday, I was enthusiastic to start a new day in this most beautiful of British locations - the Lake District. My enthusiasm was slightly dashed when on entering the YHA Keswick’s breakfast hall, I heard the raising voices of Gareth and Tom having a mild tiff about absolutely nothing. It's funny the emotional effects of cycling 500 miles and the associated aches, pains and knackeredness that come with it.

Day 10 Route: YHA Keswick to camping outside Dumfries
Mileage: 76 miles

Like true men, Gareth and Tom resolved their non-disagreement outside over a game of tiddlywinks. It was a draw. Phew.

I have rarely beheld a more mind-blowingly alluring day to pedal off into. The muggy mist of yesterday lifted and the definition of the surrounding mountains were drawn sharp and green against the full blue sky. It was glorious.

On leaving the Lakes, it was flatter lands to Carlisle. We were swiftly brought back down to earth when, on the same day we had been gliding through the valleys of the lakes, we found ourselves sandwiched on an A-road between the M6 motorway and a humongous landfill site.

A defining moment of any LEJOG is crossing the Scottish border, and today was that day. The 'We've cycled to bloody Scotland, ha ha!' high-five occurred coming into the town of Gretna, famed for its closeness to the border of England and use as a marriage location for young couples lacking the all-important parental consent in past centuries.

We were just about to hop back in the saddle when a very well-travelled looking chap rocked up on his fully laden tourer. The simple question 'Where are you off to then?' was responded to so casually I thought I'd misheard: 'Australia.' Chris, from Milton Keynes, had already travelled the world by bike for two years, and was just off on his second adventure - a year and a half through Europe, Central Asia, China, South-East Asia and down through the Indonesian islands to Australia. Good luck was wished all round and off we sped with almost comically differing destinations.

Back on the road, Tom suddenly pulled over and started tinkering with his rack - the bolts were all loose. It turns out the roughs and bumps of the past few days had wriggled my bolts equally loose and one of Gareth's was missing entirely. A bike shop was needed and route altering was required to enable us to pop into Dumfries in the morning before we headed deep into the Highlands where bike shops become a bit of a rarity.

On arrival in Dumfries, we picked up BBQ bits and bobs and headed off into Mabie Forest for a night of wild camping. We spotted a stunning spot - freshly cut grass, not too many of the infamous Scottish midges and a proper sweeping valley sunset. On asking the local farmer, he enthusiastically directed us to that exact field. Tent up, BBQ lit, beer open '*tush*', sleep.

By Harry Hosteller

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