Yesterday, we cycled to Scotland! Not quite as impressive as it sounds as it is just a mere 20 miles from Hallbankgate to Harelaw Hill which was our final destination to the home - and B&B of Mick and Diana. Theirs is an eco B&B and a lot of hard work has gone into the construction and renovation of their beautiful cottage. Just across the field from the cottage is a Mongolian yurt where you can stay in warmth and comfort enjoying a truly unique experience.
The ride over there was one of the best bike rides ever. My husband would dispute this as he thinks that when you travel through the Debatable Lands or Reiver Country you go through a "portal" and are at risk of ending up in a different century or worse still disappearing completely. I think he may have been reading too many Stephen King novels but certainly there is an atmosphere and it is easy to get lost as road signs either do not exist or point to the village of Roadhead which never seems to appear. Diana waited anxiously for our arrival as she knew we had come by way of the Bermuda Triangle as she called it and she didn't rate our chances very highly of getting through. What she didn't know was that we had spent quite some time lying in a field in the sunshine eating lemon curd sandwiches.
Our route took us from the Old School House in Hallbankgate on a wonderful downward swoop past Naworth Castle and Lanercost Priory reminding us that we were on a remarkable historical journey. We reached the lovely little village of Kirkcambeck where we had a choice: should we stay on the "main road" (average number of cars passing 2-3 every hour) or strike off into the maze of quiet, meandering lanes where we risked at least getting lost and at worse coming face to face with the ghosts of Nebless Crem Croser, Jock Pott the Bastard or Ill Droned Geordie ? We bravely decided on the latter and were once again reminded of the areas bloody and violent past when we saw place names like Gallowberry , Cumcrook and Black House. We never did meet a ghost but instead saw the most beautiful views of the Pennines, the Northern Fells of the Lake District and the Solway Firth glistening in the sunshine. We kept glancing back over our shoulders to see Cold Fell knowing that our house was still in sight and waiting to welcome us back after this dangerous and unknown journey into Reiver country.
The route is undulating, some might say hilly but the final downhill to cross the Liddel Water into Scotland saw us whooping with delight and punching the air with relief at having survived this perilous trip.
This is just one way of getting to Harelaw Hill and there are a myriad of routes that could be followed taking in parts of Hadrian's Wall and towns such as Newcastleton , Langholm and Longtown or the lovely little village of Bewcastle with its thirteenth century church and ancient cross with runic inscriptions. The cycling is delightful, on quiet and well surfaced roads and despite its past the area is friendly and welcoming to all those who want to come and share in its beauty and adventure.