Day 8: Great Strickland to Moffat (72 miles)

Liz and I enjoyed our sleep in a yurt while Chris and support driver three Kev had the more traditional bedroom option. Cav, Bradley Wiggins and some of the Sky team stayed there in 2012 and we’ve all been wondering whether we’ve had their beds.

We actually managed to set off a bit before our scheduled 8.30am departure and not long afterwards were waved through Clifton by our Shap shepherd and shepherdess Ed and Vicky.

Cycling through Penrith Liz was disappointed to find that the toffee shop, along with all the other shops, were closed. On the plus side, not long afterwards there was both a field of alpacas and a donkey.

We made speedy progress and happily zoomed past a road sign informing us of a 17% downhill followed by a 17% climb. This was despite Liz’s assurance on day one there would be no uphill steeper than 10% (Liz is now trying to claim she said 11.5%).

The next sign advised HGV drivers to engage their crawler gear, which Liz and I did too while Chris cycled on ahead so we couldn’t hear him shouting encouragement to himself. ‘Come on chum!’

We descended another hill past signs to Cumdivock to arrive at Dalston, our morning stop, some 40 minutes early. 

We were in a positive mood. Liz declared the 25 mile section her best yet. And Chris announced he liked long distance bike rides without a trace of sarcasm.

By now, talk had turned to haggis and Irn Bru which could mean only one thing, we were approaching Scotland. Our route to Gretna was 20 miles along a nice quiet road alongside the M6. 

We received a warm welcome to Scotland. And we’ve taken the car beep as we had our pictures taken to be friendly. 

The signpost on the other aid of the road was a nice touch too:


Just five minutes later and Liz had already ordered a giant bowl of haggis, neeps and tatties:

We continued on our quiet road next to the motorway. We even cycled past a red squirrel. But we were soon to discover that not everything in Scotland is bonnie. The road surface was incredibly bumpy (i.e. uncomfortable).

Liz probably said something resembling Ecclefchan while we cycled up out of this Scottish village. She was soon to be found peering at her upside down bike on the pavement muttering something about the front derailleur.


She was able to continue but we will have to make a detour to a bike shop tomorrow. 

Our afternoon stop was in Lockerbie and we refuelled on some Milka (thanks Jan!). It was there that support driver three, the intrepid Kev, shared his first impressions  of Scotland (he’s never visited before): ‘It’s just like a continuation of England really.’

From there it was 16 miles to Moffat. We were feeling tired and the miles seemed to pass by slowly. At the 71 mile mark Liz said it was a good thing we only had one mile to go as she definitely wouldn’t make two.

But she didn’t fool us. We arrived to find the toffee shop near our b&b was open. Chris and I had barely unclipped from our bikes as Liz rushed in to the shop.

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