Trip to the starting point: St. Bees

Today was all about getting to St. Bees - that included 4 trains and a bit of walking.  We got up a little before 9, had another starchy breakfast (not many vegan options at the hotel continental buffet - will be better when we are on the trail).  And then we made the 10-15 minute walk back to the train station.  It was a beautiful day!  As illogical as it is, I thought that I'd like it to rain today, so as not to waste one of the sunny days on a train day.

We took a one hour train ride at 11 am train from Stratford to Smethwick.  With delays we barely made the next train to Sandwell and Dudley.  We got off just in time to catch another train to Carlisle.  This was the longest leg - a 2.5 hour trip on Virgin trains - really nice train in which we had our own booth.  Our luck ran out going to Carlisle.  We only had 15 minutes between trains, but our train was running 30 minutes behind schedule, so we missed the train for our final leg of the trip.  We had a 75 minute layover before the next train.  Ended up not being such a bad thing - Carlisle is a beautiful small city that is very pedestrian friendly.  Thought we were well out of the way of typical American restaurants, but no.  Found two Subways and a Starbucks within a half-mile of the station.  We played it safe and went to Starbucks since we needed wifi and some coffee.

While the train for the final leg to St. Bees was the least plush, it offered the most scenic views, as the train moved along the coast toward our final destination.  We're all getting very excited to start - and used some of our train time to go over details for the days ahead.

Our train got into St. Bees by 5:45 and it was just a short walk to our lodging for the night: Stone House Farm.  It's a beautiful cottage in town.  We have a separate building with a double bed for us old folks, a single for Olivia, and a cot for Jonah.  We dropped off our bags and headed out for dinner.  Only 3 places to eat in town, and not a single Starbucks or Subway in sight.  We ate at Lulu's, which served us veggie fajitas with tofu!  So nice that veggie options abound!  

We went for a short walk to the local school (over 400 years old), the neighboring church and through a few pastures.  Now we're back at our place writing journals and getting ready to go to bed early - breakfast is at 7:30 before we start our first day of hiking!


Lara's observation of the day: The English countryside got me so excited for our hike.  It reminds me of Harry Potter and the stories of James Herriot, who lived not far from where we will be hiking!

Olivia's observation of the day: Pros of being on trains for 6+ hours: card games with Jonah and lots of time to read my book (Legend).  Cons of being on trains for 6+ hours: everything else!

Jonah's observation of the day:  Taking a walk amongst the sheep was brilliant!