Die Deutsche Version findet ihr HIER (zusammen mit Teil 1, ich habe daraus zwei Teile gemacht, weil ich den alten Text zu lang fand).
Part 2 – London-Leeds-Barnard Castle-Glasgow
6 July 1973
We take the train from London via Doncaster to Leeds. Remember, we have the Interrail tickets! Leeds isn’t particularly pretty, an industrial city, but it’s not far to Scotland from there. We get out and meander through the crowd with our scary backpacks (also here). We are following some signpost, in the wrong direction of course!
At a bus station I ask a man about the A66. He doesn’t know. Just ask in the office. Fine, I’ll ask in the office. „I have no idea, just ask the busguard, he should know.“ I ask the busguard (and disturb him directing the buses). Unfortunately he doesn’t know the streets, I should tell him a place. School English fails here. He uses the word „place“ and not „town“. I do not understand what he means.
We walk on for now. Oh, bliss, we’re spotting a traffic cop! We ask him about the A66 and tell him we want to go to Glasgow. ”Glasgow? I’m from there! “ He smiles at us with his two teeth that are left to him. Unfortunately, we don’t understand much of what he says, because he really is from Glasgow [A side stab to the Glaswegian dialect, which is indeed not very easy to understand]. But we learn from him that we are going south. Of course we have to go north. Well. We turn around. „When we pass the bus station again, they’ll laugh themselves dead!“ says Susi. Soon we are back where we started and continue walking in the opposite direction. Oh, wonder, two traffic cops again, and women! They know the way so well that we can’t remember everything, but somehow we come to a motorway. Just bad luck that it leads to London.
We ask a group of construction workers. A lively discussion immediately develops between the four. A fifth gets out of the car. „You have to go back,“ says one. Another points in the opposite direction. “Go down there. The big road leads to the A1 to the north.“ „Better let them take the A65 to York, they are not allowed to hitchhike on the motorway,“ advises a third. We take a look at the map (yes, we have a map, just not city maps …) and see that York is completely out of the way. We want to go to Glasgow after all. The men argue for a while. One of us suggests that we sleep here on the lawn. It must be said that in the meantime it has started to rain, and quite heavily. We start moving again. Our goal still is the A1 to Scotland.
We pass a bus station again. (No, not the same one from before!) We eat first. After all, two and a half hours have passed since we got off the train! We drink tea in a cafeteria. I forget to stir at the bar (I add sugar to the tea and milk, yes!). Fortunately, I usually have a teaspoon in my jacket pocket. So I take it, stir my tea, lick the spoon and put it back in my pocket. An older man across the table laughs his head off. I smile at him and take the opportunity to ask for directions again. He looks thoughtfully at the intersection: “Yes, if only I knew. I always take the bus! „
In our desperation we finally choose the road that does not lead to York. There is the A65 and the A67. The A66 is nowhere to be seen. The street we’re walking on now definitely looks like it is leading out of town. We ask again at a gas station. “Go on here. Between a pub and a cinema, go up to the right and you will come to the A1! ” So we are already on the right track, very reassuring. After about one and a half kilometers we come to the pub and cinema. The hill we have to go up leaves me speechless. One man says: ”The A1? That is still a long way, over one and a half kilometers! “ I am slowly coming to terms with having to spend the night in a bus shelter. What an uplifting feeling, when, however, we see a green signpost in the distance that reads ’A1, The North’! Relieved, we sit down on a bench to first eat something. (***)
I have a whole egg in my mouth when a truck stops. We haven’t even had our thumbs out yet. Susi jumps up as if stung by a tarantula and leaves me with the egg box and an open bottle. I also jump up, lose the lid from the bottle, bend down to pick it up, straighten up and ’zack’, the cookware that I have attached to the back of the backpack in a very ingenious way slams on my head. I run after Susi, screaming, with a bottle and an egg box in my arms: “Put my cookware down again! Put my … etc. “ [I could not do it myself, because I had both hands full, so while I was running, the cookware kept hammering on my head.
The driver is very considerate. He packs our backpacks under a tarpaulin so that they don’t get wet. We climb in, via the front wheel, due to the lack of a foot board. We talk to the driver and he shows us a picture of his girlfriend. He apparently wants to reassure us about his intentions. I think that’s really nice. After a few, not too many kilometers, he drops us off again. He tries to stop a trustworthy truck for us, but he is out of luck.
So we put ourselves back in position. Not long after that a car stops with a very nice young man in it. He wants to go to Edinburgh. Shortly before Scotch Corner (a large roundabout), however, I get the glorious idea of saying that we have to be in a youth hostel by 6 p.m. „In which?“ – „In any one!“ At Scotch Corner we look at the map. The closest youth hostel is at Barnard Castle, 5 miles from here. Our driver, this angel, drives us right to the front door. Relieved, we rush in, carefully close the door, take a close look at a shelf with dirty shoes on and walk past it. A slim, black-haired man in his late twenties rushes towards us and almost faints. “Would you please take off your shoes, would you? There is a shelf behind the door. And would you please close the door! Only Germans come so stomp, stomp in somewhere! “ Well, that starts well. I turn around. Indeed, the door is wide open. It takes a while before I can close it properly. It has such a strange knob that you have to hold in a certain position until it ’clicks’, otherwise you can start over.
Wet, but satisfied, we go to the kitchen after we have put down our luggage and settled down. The Warden runs back and forth and makes jokes; we can’t stop laughing. He only meant that about the Germans as a joke, at least he says so. His favorite saying is „Just a joke, you know!“ A gas flame is completely smeared, all hell breaks loose! „That was a nice, clean kitchen before these two ladies came in here!“ And later: “Do you want to go to Scotland? A terrible country with terrible people. Here, this young man, Peter, comes from there! “ We ask him if we can order milk. „How many gallons?“ Susi and I look at each other uncertainly. How much is that in liters? „One liter,“ we try. ”A litter? Yes, it’s terrible how people throw their filth around, ” we get as answer. This went on all evening.
At 10:00 p.m. Alan the Warden invites us to a whiskey. We have a very serious conversation about our problems, present and future, and especially the difficulty of being a Warden. Alan owns a whole zoo: two very nice dogs, a cat, goldfish and a bird.
The weather is now really lousy. Alan says, “Everyone complains about the rain. I don’t understand that at all. First these poor cyclists and now you. What do you have against rain? “ We learn that a bad storm hit Leeds two hours ago! We had been so lucky!
7th July 1973
The next morning the weather is kind to us. Barnard Castle is a very nice little town and saying goodbye is not easy. Alan gives us cake as a snack for the road. I’ll take another picture of him, then we’ll move on. The backpack starts hurting pretty quickly. The castle catches our eye. We pull out the cameras. Then we drag ourselves up a hill. From there we overlook the situation: A nice, small road, downhill, uphill, like in Denmark on the fjords. There is not much traffic here, however, and so we bravely step onto the sea of hills to walk the eight kilometers to the main road. On the way, however, we keep sticking out our thumbs hopefully and lo and behold, a car full of workers stops. They grin at us with their gaps between their teeth, and we feel a little queasy. We get on anyway. “You have to sit in the hold. It’s not very convenient. “ – „Oh, that doesn’t matter at all!“ (After all, we save an eight kilometers‘ walk …) Susi sits down on a paint bucket and I on two small cartons with plaster that are stacked on top of each other and turn out to be rather wobbly.
The four workers come from Newcastle (say: Nookassel, with the emphasis on the second syllable). There they have their own race, their own language, and everything is best in Nookassel, even the whiskey. They also tell us that Glasgow is pretty ruff and that we are sure to have our throats cut there. They drop us off in Brough (’Bruff’ in Noocastlerish). They show us a propeller from an airplane that crashed in World War II. I think it was a Russian. [I tried to check this, but can’t find anything. I will have to go there again and see if there is a plaque there. In retrospect, it seems a little unlikely that it was a Russian plane. What was it doing over England?]
From there a young man takes us to Penrith. He wants to go fishing in the Lake District. In his opinion, the Lake District is the most beautiful landscape in the world. He tries to persuade us to go there with him. „My trailer is there.“ Since we’re not very enthusiastic, he says, „There are a lot of hostels in the Lake District.“ Despite all that, we want to go to Scotland.
A truck stops next to us in Penrith. The driver said several times “I’m going to Friess”. Finally I look at the map, where is Friess? Then a light dawns on me: Dumfries! The driver is Scot (hence the pronunciation [nearly mute „Dum“ and heavy stress on „Fries“]) and lives there. He looks rather unkempt with a week old stubble, but is very nice, if monosyllabic. He’s probably been on the road for a long time.
An elderly Englishman picks us up in Dumfries. „I don’t usually pick anyone up, but you don’t look dangerous,“ he says. He is incredibly nice and takes us to the door of the youth hostel in Glasgow after an extensive sightseeing tour. „I don’t want you to get lost in the city at night!“
George is in the process of learning German and gives us his address to exchange letters. [With George, as he was called, I had regular mail contact and I also visited him often. He lived on the east coast, near Durham. He got well over 90 years old.] The weather is unique in contrast to the day before. Bright sun, deep blue sky. Still, we don’t really feel like looking at the city. On the one hand we are, of course, prejudiced after all the warnings about how dangerous it is in Glasgow, on the other hand we both seem to have a brooding day.
We go to a trustworthy looking Italian restaurant to eat. It’s very expensive, but at least it doesn’t taste good. [Not a translation error, but irony!!!] Only the tea is fabulous. My half chicken is so unruly that I soon lose my appetite and throw the cutlery in the ring. My plate looks like a battlefield. I admire Susi, who masterfully conquers her half.
(To be continued, Part 3: Glasgow – Rowardennon (Loch Lomond)-Loch Ard-Aberfoyle-Brig o’Turk)
[I was trying to reconstruct, where we walked in Leeds, but I find it impossible. The numbers of the roads have changed, and I don’t think that we really walked up to one of the motorways. We must have walked to roads leading to the motorways (M1 to London respectively A1 to Scotland). We walked a lot that day, but not 7.5 miles to the A1, no way (but then again, when I read the following parts, we did indeed walk a lot). The first map shows where the main bus station is now, and to the east the A1, and a bit further south the connection to the M1 to London. The second map shows where I think we waited for our first lift.