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Thursday 5 October 2006--A cross-border raid today, to Carlisle in England. I skip breakfast to get off early. Itís a dreich and dreary morning, and the day will not improve much.

I pass by Carlisle at about 9:30 and drive out on the flats around Bowness-in-Solway, looking for traces of the western terminus of Hadrianís Wall. I am still jet-lagged and do not feel much like tromping through the mud in the rain, and so see only some bits of the vallum, or ditch, that ran alongside the wall. I suspect most of the wall itself has long ago been pilfered and built into nearby farms and villages. I am not alert enough to investigate this idea further.

Back in Carlisle, I park in a garage above The Lanes, a shopping-mallified section of old Carlisle, and have a look around. Itís pretty enough, but the weather and my mood leave me unimpressed with the cathedral. Itís of a lovely red stone, and actually must be quite something on a sunny day, like St Magnus in Orkney. The castle is also of sandstone, and both buildings must have been constructed in part with stone pilfered from the old city walls, which in turn had been built of stone from Hadrianís Wall.

My membership in Historic Scotland gains me free entry to the castle, courtesy of English Heritage, and I spend about an hour there. I learn about Carlisleís role in centuries of warfare and squabbling between Scotland and England.

After wandering around town for a little while longer, I head back north across the border. I intend to stop in Gretna Green, the town to which, for many years, young English couples eloped, the marriage laws in Scotland being more lenient at the time. There is still quite a marriage industry there, but a quick drive through gives me the impression that there isnít much interesting for me to see. Itís not unlike a Las Vegas wedding chapel, I guess, if considerably more tasteful and quaint. I do get a glimpse of neighboring Springfield.

I drive through Annan on the way back, and stop at Caerlaverock Castle, which has been on my list for a long time. Itís a peculiar and picturesque structure, triangular with a moat. I bemoan the lack of sun and take the best pictures I can. Maybe I should have held off on this trip until the weather cleared. Well, you never know what youíre going to get around here.

I have monkfish for dinner at the Steampacket. I havenít dared try monkfish since getting one the approximate consistency of a gumboot in Torshavn, in the Faroe Islands. This is miles better, but Iím still not crazy about it.

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Carlisle Cathedral


Carlisle Castle


Caerlaverock Castle


Interior, Caerlaverock

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