2 October 2009--Gray morning, with a variable mist falling. Walk out to see St Ninian's Chapel before
leaving, just for some symmetrical resonance with the one seen in Shetland--the northernmost and southernmost St Ninian
sites in Scotland. The mist waits until I'm as far from shelter as possible before giving me its worst.
I leave Isle of Whithorn; decline to fuel on the Machars at £1.099, and for once have procrastination rewarded when I find a station in Newton Stewart selling for £1.019. Head for Dumfries, choosing to take the slower A712 to the north. The main road may be faster, but it's still two lanes, and there are all too often frustrating queues behind slower drivers (usually me). I take a wrong turn in New Galloway, heading south instead of east. No matter, really, except that I'm back on the main highway sooner than intended, and sure enough immediately get stuck in a queue behind a trailer doing 45mph. I'm not sure what the speed limit is on this road, but I usually do 60 or 65, and watch a succession of blurs blowing by me.
Drive into Dumfries, intending to stop and have a look around. It's the heart of Robert Burns country, and so far is a major gap in my travels around Scotland. The one time I tried to book a room here, everything was booked up with an AA convention, which apparently comes to town every October. The publicans must love that. Just now, traffic in town is surprisingly heavy, and I can't find a place to park. I wander around a bit in the car before deciding to move on.
Eastward I go, then south into England. Turn off near Penrith and head into the heart of the Lake District. The scenery is stunning, even in the lousy weather, dramatic mountains and valleys and lakes. Some miles short of Windermere, I turn off at a sign reading "Ambleside via The Struggle", and they're not kidding--narrow, twisting, grades of 13 to 20%. Pass through Ambleside, which is larger than I thought it would be, interesting-looking but rather commercial, and soon enough arrive in Coniston, which is considerably smaller (although it appears to support at least five pubs). My B&B is just outside town, a ten-minute walk. I still don't have wi-fi; nor can I find any at the Sun Hotel, where I have dinner and a few pints. There is an internet café in town, though. I'll stop in tomorrow and see how much spam I have waiting for me.