It must have rained again overnight as Skelton was glistening in the sunlight at 7a.m. With an 80+ mile trip today I needed the early start - complete with Isobel's cooked breakfast - wonderful. Both Isobel and her Collie came to see me off. If you have never heard of Skelton you will certainly have used what it 'produces' - the automatic time signal the drives so many clocks is transmitted from the huge masts there.
It was a great Sunday morning bash though forests and streams The track into Carlisle had intreging steel mazes to negotiate depending if you were on a bike, on foot, in a wheelchair. There was no provision for bikes with panniers so I resorted to up ending the bike and going through the wheel-chair kissing gate!Managed to negotiate myself though Carlisle and pick up Cycle Route 7 towards the Gretna and the border.
Then it happened! As I crossed the river I was hit by the full force of the NW wind - I had the next 60 miles travelling NW'. This was not fun!I paused at Gretna for the 'official' photo and then headed along the Solway (?) Firth, resistins the temptation to visit the 'Devil's Porrage' museum - a World War 1 munitions factory rather than oats with raw chillies! Wind meant speed was down from 12mph to under 8mph - for an 80 mile day this was disasterous.At this time I met up with Francis who was also travelling most of the way to Sanquar. He had a carbon-fibre touring bike with little luggage and offered to 'break-wind' in front of me. It was the best news I could have hoped for, I was soon bowling along at 12+ mph with Francis doing all the hard work into the wind and me sticking 12 inches off his back wheel.
At Thornhill I gratefully thanked Francis - I would have really struggled by myself. The 'map of Africa' on my CORD T-shirt is actually a ring of salt from my perspiration! From Thornhill to Newark Farm I followed the minor road past Drumlandrig Castle - I didn't have time to visit it's cycling museum!
The Nithsdale Valley was breathtaking in the afternoon sunshine and Frances at Newark Farm drove me into town for a meal at the restraunt - come - farmers supply store. Sanquar may be small but it has the world's oldest Post Office.A long but rewarding day. ..