Into England for Nostalgia and Lake Hiking

On my walk out of Edinburgh I took a short walk up to the "peak" of Arthurs Seat to get one last look at the Scottish city. Now it was on to England.

I walked a ways out of the city to a road worth hitchhiking from. Rides came quick and easy, my third coming from a guy who'd designed the Capri Sun pouch, a drink I grew up on. I was honored; I thanked him as I hopped out near the center of New Castle left to ponder my situation.

I had no plan, this was normal, no set destination, no Couchsurfing hosts setup anywhere, no friends waiting on me. I'd spent idle time looking at the map, eyeballing distances and taking lightly imprinted mental notes of places I may want to go. I had a plane ticket out of Copenhagen to appease the visa enforcers of the world, but this was months away.

I meandered through Newcastle, sipping an overpriced pint at a tavern before scraping together an under-priced meal at the grocery. With darkness imminent I began hoofing it out of the city towards the west, instinctively putting myself in a better position to make camp for the night.

A little bodega of a bar caught my eye on route, the purchase of a stout earned me a free bowl of chili, after that and a single malt scotch I was back on foot with a little more buzz in my step.

A van rolled up alongside me, the driver was looking for directions. I ceased the opportunity and scored a ride out of it, just several kilometers up the road to what had looked like a good place to camp (I frequently use Google Maps to find places to camp). Unfortunately after I parted with the van driver and investigated the spot, that via satellite imagery had looked promising, I discovered it was walled in an inaccessible. The walk continued.

I dragged an uninspired thumb to my side as I walked, to my surprise someone actually yielded to it and I had another ride. The driver was as friendly as anyone, he took me to the next town where he not only showed me a good place to camp near the road, but tossed a five pound note my way for the next beer or meal.

I got some sleep, come morning I knew exactly where I wanted to go, at least for a quick minute.

When I was younger, maybe around 13 years old and shortly after my grandpa had passed, my grandma had taken myself, my brother and cousin on a trip through England for just over a week. We stayed in a different place every night, road tripping in between, and one of those places was called Langley Castle. It was a distinct memory from the trip since it was a freaking castle and we stayed in it, now being more of a hotel than castle.

In any event, I recognized it while I'd been scanning the map in the tavern in Newcastle and saw how close it was, so decided I'd try to stop by to see how my childhood memory of the place held up.

I hitched a ride from a climber heading that way, he took the short detour and dropped me off right in front of the castle. I took in the scene as some memories flooded in, I headed straight for the front desk where a woman was quietly sitting.

"Hi there!", I smiled, "so... I came here years ago when I was a kid with my grandma, she's since passed, but I remember we had gone up to the roof and I was hoping, maybe, if it's OK, I'd love to go up there just to see it again, maybe take a quick picture to send my brother and cousin. Is that maybe possible?"

She didn't seem impressed or keen, but she also couldn't find a nice way to say "no", so up we went.

Once up on the roof I remembered exactly what day I was there, July 4th. This day, as I was backpacking through, was July 2 (2015). I remembered it was July 4th because I remembered being up on the roof as a kid while my brother, just a couple years older, peed off the top while we sang the US national anthem. I'm sure they loved our act of desecration and celebration of our countries previous victory over there's. I didn't mention this to the woman now waiting for me to leave so she could continue her quiet sitting session at the desk in the dark room on ground level.

Onward, that out of the way, I walked the narrow forest road back towards the busy road, a Dutch woman scooped me up along the way saving me from a longer walk. Where she dropped me off I managed to get a ride to the next city, Carlisle.

I wandered around there, I even managed to get online and find a Couchsurfing host in town for the night. He picked me up some hours later after I'd explored the city a bit, we headed back to his house for a night of dinner, Belgian beers and lots of talk about camping, gear and travel.

He dropped me off at the road early the next day pointing towards the Lake District where he'd talked me into exploring. I hitched a couple rides and got to the touristy little town near one of the lakes where I walked around and got some food in my system before hiking.

I walked down some dirt paths and finally got to a proper trail where I began gaining a bit of altitude. I was quickly rewarded with a view of the lake below. I decided to just keep on walking into the hills, away from the people with their kids who'd come out for the day. Very quickly I was on my own, winding up and down the grassy terrain getting sweeping views of the landscape as I headed in some unknown direction.

After several hours of feeling unregrettably lost I came down a slope and to a little pub inside an inn. I swallowed down a few glasses of water before settling into a table with a pint. I decided to hitch towards the coast next; I thumbed a ride from a photographer who upon hearing that I liked good beer, dropped me off at a little pub along the way. I tried a beer called "American Invasion" which was actually pretty good.

I walked along the road as the sun was near setting, I easily hitched a ride from a few people heading to Whitehaven, which now became my destination as well. I wandered the town a bit, munching on Flake bars and seeing what there was to see, eventually finding a path near the road to walk down until I found a place to camp for the night.

It stormed all night and into the morning, but after sleeping in and waiting it out I was up and moving. There was more of the UK ahead of me, from the party scene in Manchester to travel magic in Liverpool to converted chapels and interesting people in Wales before breezing through London on route to France. Good times keep on rolling.

July 1, 2015 to July 4, 2015