Sometimes it works out that the best trips are the unplanned ones. The ones where each twist and turn of the road can reveal a new surprise or adventure.
One trip I planned to go to the Lake District turned out to be something a little more that a hop across the Pennines.
I had set of really early, around 5am, as I wanted to catch the sun coming up over some of the hills and lakes. So I made it to the eastern fells of the Lakes in good time as there was only me and the occasionally lorry on the road. Deciding I would try and drive on roads I had not use before, I ended up at Castlerigg Stone Circle, near Keswick, which was built 4,500 years ago by a prehistoric farming community.
Having finished there, people were now arriving at the site, I decided to try going over the Whinlatter Pass.
Stopping half way up the pass, I stopped in a lay-by to take a photograph of the valley below with Bassenthwaite Lake in the middle ground.
Having spent a few hours in the Lake District I decided to head back to base and this meant returning to the A66 to pickup the trans-pennine route east. However when I got to the roundabout with the M6, I got forced into the wrong lane, avoiding a collision with an Audi. (Why is it always Audi or BMWs who think they own the road?) This then forced me to leave the A66 and head north on the M6. “I’ll turn back at the next junction I thought.”
Well I was enjoying the scenery as I was driving, so the next junction came and went. I knew I could cut east on the A69 further north. The A69 junction came and before I knew it I had left that and Carlisle behind.
The next thing I knew I was in Scotland seeing signs for the famous Gretna Green where people used to runaway to in order to get married.
With half a tank full of fuel, and still having plenty of daylight due to the very early start, I thought “Oh well. I’m in Scotland. I might as well have a look around while I’m here.”
Minutes later I saw a sign for Lockerbie. It is a place I had meant to visit for years, but every-time I found myself passing I was under time pressure to get to Glasgow. So I pulled off the A74(M), the M6 is renamed at the Scottish border as the A74(M), and decided to take a look around the town. Typical of many Scottish towns of its size, the name Lockerbie became known worldwide for very dark reasons as the wreckage from the bombed Pan Am 103 fell on the town, killing all aboard and 11 people on the ground.
It seemed only fitting to pay a visit to the memorial garden dedicated to those who lost their lives in the disaster.
It is a beautiful, calm, tranquil place. A place where you can sit and think without interruption. A fitting place to remember the 270 souls who lost their lives on 21 December 1988.
Realising that time was now getting on, I decided to head south back to England. Following the rule of using roads I had not driven before, I headed cross-country where my next stop would be Annan.
The A75 took me east out of Annan, heading back towards Gretna Green and the M6 and within an hour or two I was back home.
Had the idiot in the Audi not forced me to change lanes I would never have crossed the border. Funny how these trips work out.