315: Carlisle

OS Explorer map 315, Carlisle: Brampton, Longtown & Gretna Green – I have visited this map area before starting this blog, but do not own the map. Visited again for this post 22nd July 2018. (This is the thirteenth of fourteen posts concerning my July 2018 trip to Harris and Galloway with my Cambridge friends.)

After two and a half weeks with my friends in Scotland – nearly two weeks in the holiday cottage on Harris, a day on the Uists, and four days in Galloway – it was time to go home again. Erithacus had already departed, when I took her to Glasgow the day before so she could get a flight to Italy and meet her parents there.

After finishing packing up, we managed to get away from the caravan park that we’d been staying in fairly early. Our first destination was Carlisle, where we’d be going to Cheremy’s grandmother’s house, to eat lunch there, which Cheremy had arranged since she’d enjoy meeting us; it took us about two hours to drive there, which passed without incident. The visit was a pleasant experience; she gave us tea and was generally hospitable as grandmothers tend to be, we also did the best thing to do at friends’ grandparents houses and looked at amusing baby pictures of Cheremy as we listened to the two of them catch each other up on family gossip.

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Cheremy farewells us outside his grandmother’s house

We then left Cheremy there; his plan for the next few days was to stay with his family in Settle, so he was planning to get the train there from Carlisle – on the wonderfully exciting Settle-Carlisle Line, which I’d love to take some day!

The rest of us continued driving southwards for another hour or so, before stopping to drop off Vesper with family near Carlisle.

Two and a half weeks earlier

Now, as I mentioned in a footnote to my Slamannan post, this visit actually wasn’t the first time I’ve been to Carlisle since I started this blog. That’s because, two and a half weeks earlier, when we’d been driving up to Scotland at the start of this trip, we stopped to do some food shopping at a branch of Tesco in Carlisle, a little way off the motorway.

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At Carlisle’s branch of Tesco

Nothing particularly interesting happened there, and when I was planning out these blog posts, alas, I managed to forget about that visit and so didn’t post about it in the right place. So here I am redressing that!

Previous visits

I’ve been to Carlisle once before, in summer 2016, on the mostly-walking trip I did with my Cambridge friends across Scotland which we called the Holy Island Trek, since we started on Lindisfarne and ended on Iona. Millicent, Vesper and I visited Carlisle on our way back home at the very end of that trip.

We’d been taking the way home from Iona slowly, having driven on the first day to Cumbernauld near Glasgow, stopping off in Fort William. The next day we did a bit of sightseeing, going to look at the Antonine Wall, Dumbarton, the collection of medieval stone carving at Govan Old Church in Glasgow itself, and the Ruthwell Cross, before stopping for the night at a campsite in Cumbria, which is in this map area.

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An obstacle in the road as we approached our campsite

The campsite was rather hard to find, being unsignposted and at the end of a farm track through a field occupied by such chilled-out sheep that Vesper had to get out of the car to shoo one out of the road to let us pass. It turned out then that the campsite in question consisted of the farmhouse’s front lawn, which was a little odd as an experience, but we had a pleasant enough stay. The lady in charge was surprised when we declined her offers of dinner or beer; apparently most of her guests are hiking the Hadrian’s Wall path.

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At the campsite

That evening we went to the pub in the village after we’d made dinner, as had been our habit on that trip since tents aren’t the most pleasant of places to hang around in for hours every evening, and on the way back listened to the Last Night of the Proms on the car radio.

The next day we’d be driving all the way home, but wanted to do some sightseeing first. We first went to Birdoswald fort on Hadrian’s wall, but, that being in the Hexham map, I wrote about it in that post. After that, though, we went into Carlisle itself to go to the Cathedral.

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Carlisle Cathedral (and Millicent’s head)

Rather than tell you about it in detail myself, I will delegate that task to the Annal, the collaborative diary we kept on that trip (and on this year’s Scotland trip too!):

Upon arriving in the city, we soon discovered its cathedral, but had failed to consider that the day of the week (Sunday) would make it full of churchgoers. As a result we opted to purchase and eat an M&S lunch before entering the cathedral.

After eating on a rather cold bench, we did eventually manage to get in.

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Carlisle Cathedral’s magnificent ceiling!

What treats lay within! The treasury was home to an exhibition detailing the history of the side from Roman Britain to the present day and displayed a significant number of not-too-shabby ASNaC-y objects, in addition to an astonishingly coplete Roman glass vase, and some colourful later medieval bosses. The exhibition’s collection of impressive wooden carvings taken from rood screens was augmented by further exotic-looking carvings within the main body of the cathedral.

A collection of strip-cartoon-like paintings told us the stories of St Anthony and our dear St Cuthbert, and the southern aisle held a display of Roman, medieval and early modern coins, including a magnificent example of a penny of a crowned Æthelstan!

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The St Cuthbert storyboard

When exiting the church begrudgingly, our parking ticket almost having expired, we observed a runestone carved by a certain “Tolfink” set into the wall.

After that, we left to drive homewards, and slept that night in our own beds! We did make one other stop, in Sandbach to look at their Anglo-Saxon crosses, but I’ll post about that whenever I go back there!


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