Hitchhikers Guide to the M6

Lake District Travel Blog

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Packed and signposted for hitching

The sun was shining again in the morning and as the weather was feeling so benign I decided to break camp and make my way to Patterdale before heading home.  This required a short walk down the road, and I soon stumbled upon the White Lion, stopping there for a very enjoyable and surprisingly lively breakfast as there were quite a few people staying in the accommodation.

Flushed with the recent success of my earlier hitching attempt I had decided to to try this method to get home and this meant returning back up the road to Glenridding.  I needed to make a little sign to show drivers where I was heading to so after salvaging some card from a refuse bin, loaning a marker pen and scrounging some clear plastic from an outdoor supplies shop, I was able to manufacture a respectable advertisement of myself, it read;

“Good guy going to MANCHESTER seeks people to chat to along the way”

 It was unlikely that anybody actually driving at a normal speed would be able to read anything but MANCHESTER, however it seems a little less bland than just stating my destination.  Hitching is probably a lost art in this country, I rarely see anybody when I drive up and down the motorways anymore, when once there were plenty.  It seemed however to provide a little more of an adventure than merely catching a train home, and I still had the best part of the day to get there.

I knew that initially it was unlikely that I would get many offers for a lift on the road which ran alongside Ullswater, as most drivers would be day trippers or middle class ‘locals’ that would not want to risk spoiling the interiors of their expensive SUVs.  This was to turn out to be the case as I walked for several miles with only one person stopping to inform me they could not give me a lift as they were going the other way!  I am not sure why they felt the necessity to stop and inform me of this, but at least they stopped.  I did hope that I had some success on this road though, it would be a long walk to the A66 otherwise, but at least the rain which kept threatening was holding off!

I did however eventually get ‘picked up’ by an off duty doctor, who was just returning from some mountain biking.  I guess it seemed unlikely that I would cause any serious deterioration in the cleanliness of the interior of his car, especially as I was showered and wearing clean change of clothes.  He worked out of a surgery in Patterdale, and the other morning he had treated two old ladies from Alabama that were attempting the Coast to Coast!  They had even mentioned me helping them with directions and in crossing the stream.  It turns out that ‘Frail’ was seventy eight years young and was attempting a fairly rugged long distance footpath; how cool is that?  He also worked with the Mountain Rescue Team, and we enjoyed an interesting journey and chat until he dropped me off at a trucker’s cafe near Penrith and the M6.

I quickly decided to move to the slip road for the M6 as there was probably a better chance of a passing car stopping, and had only been waiting a little while when I was offered another lift.  This gentleman was a farmer who also sold logs for home fires, as an extra revenue stream and was on his way to drop off some logs in Kendal.  He was quite the traveller himself, having visited places as far afield as Alaska and New Zealand.  This time I was dropped off at my suggestion, at a Motorway Services as I felt that this would give me the best chance of a swift pick-up.

There did not seem to be too many vehicles passing through the services and I was beginning to think I had made a mistake, when a lorry driver offered me a lift.  He was quite a character, seventy three years old and supposedly semi-retired, but his schedule seemed far from part-time to me.  It seemed as if he was on the road for two or three weeks at a time, and had not been home for the best part of a month.  He had been a medic in the Army, but had been driving throughout Europe for the past forty years!  He was heading across to France where he was dropping off, and also incidentally lived, but was planning his enforced stop at Stoke-on-Trent.  As it would be problematic for him to drop me off at the M60, I jumped out at Charnock Richard services.  This also seemed like it would provide me with a bit of waiting time, however I was again pleasantly surprised as within half an hour I was again sitting in a car heading towards my final destination.

This time though the journey was relatively short, I needed to off load at the junction of the M58, as he informed me that is the way he was now heading.  This left me on a roundabout that is still officially classed as a motorway, and I immediately noticed signs stating that pedestrians were prohibited.  I was a little concerned that my next ride would be in a police vehicle.  Much to my relief a car stopped within a few minutes and Rob, the generous provider of my latest lift was going all the way to Manchester; bonus!  Rob was a software engineer and was commuting to work along the M6 corridor.  He lived in Salford Quays and I am extremely indebted to him as he went out of his way to drop me almost at the front door of my friend’s house, where I would be staying.

My hitchhiking expedition has proven to be quite successful.  Apart from the initial expected difficulties on the first leg of my journey, as soon as I was on the M6 I had never had to wait more than thirty minutes to be offered a lift.  I had met a few interesting people along the way, arrived home in less than six hours and only one cup of coffee!  I am encouraged by this success, and will probably try it again under the right circumstances.  A fitting end to this part of the adventure, I do however have every intention of returning, I have already booked the train journey and will be keeping my fingers crossed for some tarn swimming weather conditions!

I would just like to thank the kind and interesting people that took the time to stop and offer me a lift in their vehicle, it is greatly appreciated.

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Packed and signposted for hitching
Packed and signposted for hitching
Lake District
photo by: toniiixx