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Day 6

Addenda: Since writing yesterday's entry, I have since learned that Lyndon hit the deck yesterday around Lancaster, and carried on to finish the stage. True pluck. He even says he 'enjoyed' Shap. I can also officially report that Simon and Dave comprehensively won the colouring-in contest, both on time and quality.

Day dawned grey and wet in Carlisle on this the sixth day of our tour. It must go down as one of the luckiest days of weather on record. Even up to yesterday the forecast showed that we were going to get deluged today, and especially hard hit between 3 and 6pm, which gives no-one any time to dry out. But overnight the depression had moved further East than expected, and as a result we were instead going to get dry weather and even, wait for it, sunshine. Yes, that yellow orb in the sky was due to make a reappearance. News of this hadn't really reached the guys on the ground, since everyone was still preparing for the worst.

To compensate for this, the news with the hire van was pretty bad. Still under warranty the engineer came out and pronounced that it would need a new filter. This would take some days, so in the meantime we have a replacement van, Peter is driving the minibus, and we will pick up the repaired van on our return. Well, that's the plan. In the meantime we headed out of Carlisle and straight for Gretna. The roads were arrow-straight and flat, and the border we had been waiting for for so long was in sight. As if to prove this, just a couple of miles after the border was the distinct sound of bagpipes. It's also noticeable that suddenly, everyone has a strong Scots accent. It's a real line on the map.

At Gretna Green, right by the famous Blacksmiths, began our new best friend, the B7076. Otherwise known as NCN74 this conveyor belt of a road simply transports you forwards. Which is just as well because there is nothing to break the monotony for 35 miles. After a well-earned stop in a Trucker's Café in Crawford, we were back to our monotony. Nevertheless it is a remarkable valley, a natural highway, which now carries every form of traffic, and I assume it always has.

Arriving in Larkhall there's very little else to say about the rest of the day, except one thing: traffic lights! Too many of the blooming things. Apart from a leg-busting effort up a short street about as steep as Constitution Hill, getting across Glasgow was just another item to be knocked off the list. I'm sure we could have seen a few more sights in the centre en route, but after six days in the saddle, just to get across it was reward enough. Tomorrow Fort William, and only 3 days to go.

Mileage 106 - Time in saddle 7 hours 21 minutes - Average speed 14.4 mph

The van receives its diagnosis Give us a sign. Yeah, that one will do. Our best friend. Real wind power. They should hire Andrew Thomas.

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