Sunday, 12 October 2008 A fair bit of mileage to do today. Leave Reeth up Arkengarthdale, past the Tan Hill Inn, down toward
Penrith. On the way down, get caught behind a herd of sheep being moved from one pasture to another. I don't mind; I love watching the
border collies work. No doubt the sheep farmers are anxious to go back to the old pasture with their little baggies and clean up after their
charges, as any responsible animal owner would.
Miss the exit ramp to the last-chance English petrol station on the motorway --£1.039/litre. Get off instead just before Gretna and find a station where I pay £1.069. Over the border in Scotland, I see £1.089--doubt I'll see that low again.
I cut through Dumfries on my way to Sweetheart Abbey [Undiscovered Scotland]. A short time ago, I received an email from the Ferintosh Guest House in Dumfries. The owner had seen this site, and he invited me to stay in Burns country (at reasonable rates, of course). Too late for this year, but it's high on the list; it's a part of Scotland, geographically and culturally, that I've neglected. The one other time I tried to book a room in Dumfries, there was none to be had--there was an AA convention in. I guess they come annually, in early October. I recall thinking that the pubs would be pretty quiet that week, but the proprietor of the Ferintosh tells me they do quite well. Go figure.
I have a nice chat with the lady manning the booth at Sweetheart--there's a joke in there, but we'll let it pass--and get my shots. After the small and featureless Easby and Egglestone, the warm red sandstone of this, the last Cistercian house built in Scotland, makes an appealing subject. Like all of Scotland's southern abbeys, it suffered during the wars with England, but not so badly as those in the Borders.
I intend to visit Sweetheart's mother house, Dundrennan, today, as well, but when I reach the turnoff, I decide to bypass it and go back tomorrow. It's getting late in the afternoon, and I feel really tired. Regret the decision as soon as I realize how far I still am from Isle of Whithorn--another 50 miles yet. It'll cost me in mileage and time tomorrow, and maybe the day after.
Get in at about 4:15, take an hour's nap, and eat dinner--pork loins with haggis. Very quiet in the Steampacket tonight. I really like it here, but it's a long way from anywhere. Well, Bladnoch's just up the road. Will see them tomorrow.