The trouble with bodies is that by the time they realise you are on holiday and don’t have to get up… you are not, and you do. So I was up long before dawn, as usual, scraping the ice from the windscreen and wandering down to the River Irt to watch the first light write a book of shadows on the water. The river is famous for its ‘gin-clear’ waters and as an Atlantic Salmon run. It flows into the Esk nearby… and the Esk was a name we would come across more than once at special places.
By eight I was sitting outside the mechanic’s workshop… our hostess had assured us that he would be there then. By half past I gave up and went back for breakfast in the sun room. We waited a little longer and wandered down to watch the mist wraiths dance on the river. It was a beautiful morning. but there was no sign of activity at the mechanic’s shop… so we had a decision to make; hang around and hope or press on and see if we could find a mechanic in one of the towns further north.
We decided on the latter and headed off towards Whitehaven, a small coastal town with some pretention to fame. It had been settled around the tenth century by the Irish-Norse Vikings. The area has many legends and stories that connect the land across the Irish sea to this. The town is the most complete example of a Georgian planned building project and the neat right-angled streets have been credited as being the inspiration behind the planning of New York City, as well as having links with George Washington’s family. We were to visit another place at the end of the trip with American ties… but we didn’t know that yet.
My companion’s family had roots in the area too and it would have been nice to explore the town a little. The trouble was, we weren’t exploring… just looking for a mechanic. Necessity had reared its intrusive head. Driving down by the harbour, we found a nice old gentleman with a fault reader.
The mechanic hummed and hahed a bit but, cancelling the warning light, gave us to understand we would probably be okay to head north, telling us that the Scottish roads were clear. He had driven them at three o’clock that morning. The car was running okay, even though the throttle pedal sensor had shown up faulty. Maybe it was just old… it might just be sticking… we could only wait and see.
So, north it was, sticking to the coast road which is the only way around the Western Lakes and heading in the general direction of Carlisle, where we wanted to stop for munchables. In spite of the mechanic’s reassurances, we were not planning on taking the motorways, so stocking the car with something to eat seemed a good idea… and breakfast had stuffed us to a point where we probably wouldn’t be stopping for lunch!
It seemed odd to think that the Windscale nuclear plant was situated at nearby Sellafield. I wondered at the politics of its location… minimal population? Yet we seemed far from the world of care and politics as we drove through the green landscape, heading northwards with a white horizon to the east and the Irish Sea to the west, through a landscape dreaming in winter peace where even the sheep were gilded by the morning sun.