On this morning the record for early rising was beaten; before 4 a.m. we were on our way for Carlisle, where we intended having breakfast.
When we left our hotel it was quite dark. At a junction of roads a friendly policeman directed us and saved us from going the wrong way. The morning was clear, but the sun was a little too bright early on to suit me: I thought it foretold a wet day, and so it did.
Our breakfast at Carlisle (18 miles) was enjoyed very much, after which we set out for Scotland, where we arrived, eight miles further on.
The border was crossed at 11.40 a.m. The old lady at the toll bar (the first house in Scotland) signed our book. This is the house famous for so many marriages of run-away couples having been solemn1sed here.
A strong wind was now blowing directly in our faces which made walking and cycling difficult. On one occasion a sudden gust of wind blew my friend over. The Solway Firth, on our right, looked very rough, and the village of Gretna Green wore a deserted look as we passed through.
Already the houses began to have a Scotch appearance; the brogue had also altered considerably. We had scarcely left Gretna Green behind when the rain commenced. Five miles from Ecclefechan my friend left me to order the mid-day meal.
At the Bush Hotel, Ecclefechan (36 ¼ miles), we stayed for dinner. A plain stone slab, on a very plain house opposite, informed us that— "In this house Thomas Carlyle was born." Why he left Ecclefechan for Chelsea passes ray comprehension I must admit. I wonder how many times he yearned for the country life. He may have been thinking of his home when he wrote that immortal part of “Sartor Resartus" commencing "Two men I honor and no third."
After dinner and a shave, the latter being a luxury I had not indulged in that week, so intent had I been upon the walk, we started for Beattock at 3.30 p.m.
At St. Mungo we called on some friends but could only afford a few minutes delay.
By the time we reached Locherbie (14 ½ miles before Beattock) the rain was pouring down and the out-look was grim. Hereabouts the country wears a rather bleak appearance; especially did it today in the rain. We were having a second edition of yesterday's experience; but on this occasion it did not affect me nearly so much.
I consoled my cyclist by telling him that we would be all right once Glasgow was reached; kind friends would be ready to help us there. With about six or seven miles to go, he left me to arrange accommodation for the night.
I gave him instructions where to apply first, and if that failed, he was to do his best; in any case he was to leave his bicycle alight outside the place we were to stay at. With that he left me alone, with the bleak, bare country for company. It was not enjoyable, but I told myself of the feeling of satisfaction which would be mine once it was finished.
My cyclist kept up his spirits well, considering. Personally, I felt rather tired when he left n1e. Thoughts of home and the dear ones there eager for my success relieved the monotony somewhat.
It was now quite dark. I had no means of judging the distance, as I had not a watch, so I kept going forward at a good pace—the only thing to do under the circumstances.
When the village was entered I kept a sharp look-out for the bicycle light and was soon rewarded by seeing its welcome gleam.
In another minute I was safely inside a cheerful room, with a good fire to comfort me.
My friend was arrayed in a dry borrowed suit of fearful and wonderful cut and color.
While he was attending me in the bath, he told how he had been to the door several times and called my name, so anxious had he been about me.
A large plate of toast (a favorite delicacy of mine) and some cheese and salad repaired my flagging energies. While we were enjoying this meal, my cyclist friend enquired what time I intended leaving on the morrow- and whether I should make an early start if the rain continued. I told him to let to-morrow take care of itself; it would be bad enough if we had to climb the Beattock Mountain under unfavorable conditions when it came, without thinking of it now. At present, rest for the night was our chief concern. With these thoughts, and many others, we retired as quicky as possible. If my friend had any fears about the weather they were groundless, as we shall see presently.