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Sunday, 22 January 2017

Cumbria Coastal Path in sections (4)

Saturday 21st January '17

I guessed this was going to be a good one and it didn't disappoint - a walk of contrasts with nonstop interest.

The train conductor obligingly advised me that it was cheaper to buy a return to and from Kirkby-in-Furness, my walk's finishing station, rather than buying singles from Arnside to Roose, and Kirkby to Arnside. At just over £8 with my Railcard I reckon that was a bargain.

I had to retrace my steps for thirty minutes to get back on the CCP. The sun had  just arrived and there was golden light over Barrow harbour from my high point.

Back at sea level, abandoned industrial wasteland with pylons, cheap red brickwork daubed with graffiti, and the bleak scatter of urban rail-side rubbish provided interest, especially in the morning glow. I don't mind a bit of that sort of thing, particularly when I know it is only going to be a small part of the day's itinerary.

Barrow must have been a fine town with its wide, straight streets and an abundance of elaborate Victorian and Edwardian architecture, but it has been trashed with the insertion of the worst kind of cheap and utilitarian modern mediocrity.

A long walk out of Barrow on the A 590 north was perhaps the low point. After that the rest of the route was nearly all on beaches with firm going and vast expanses of sand, distant sea, and huge blue skies - all shear pleasure. Halfway on this traverse of the eastern shore of the Duddon estuary I could see Lowsy Point marked on the map indicating a group of buildings in the middle of nowhere - intriguing? One of the delights of walking is to come across points of interest unexpectedly without having been told about them beforehand so that they become your discoveries, and so it was with Lowsy Point.

An unmade track led to this outpost:  a sort of shanty town of wooden huts, some homebuilt, and nearly all ramshackle with old cars, Calor gas bottles, mini windmills, derelict boats and general seediness. But, having said that, there was something attractive and mysterious about this community of weekend retreats, and I wondered if there was a common factor of eccentricity amongst the owners.

At Askam in Furness I found benches outside the unoccupied lifeboat station and settled down for munchies and coffee. Preparing to leave I found that a buckle on my rucksack had found its way through a slat in the bench. How stupid - I must have spent ten minutes extracting it making my lunch stop longer than planned with unfortunate consequences later.

As I approached the station at Kirkby-in-Furness the 14:59 train was pulling out. Without exaggeration I was only five minutes walk from the platform - that damned rucksack buckle.

I had anyway assumed that I would never be in time for that train, but it was peeving to have missed it by such a small margin. The next train was at 17:36.

I finished off the last of my coffee sat in the open-air shelter getting colder and colder and then, having stiffened up and approaching the point of hypothermia tottered off to the pub which by then had opened. I had a walk up and down the village, now in the dark, worrying about getting home - the 17:36 stopped at Kirkby "by request only" and I realised that if it didn't stop I could be stranded. I felt like a madman stood on the platform waving at the oncoming train. but all was well. A brilliant day except for the last two and half hours.


My camera became inadvertently switched to something called: "Creative Control, Impressive Art"

Morning sun over Barrow harbour

 Follow the pylons, ice puddles and urban sprawl approaching Barrow

Barrow town hall clock reflects the low morning sun

One of the many worthy buildings in Barrow - the old fire station - 1911

This overgrown circular, spiralling inwards wall I found alongside the A 590. The wall continues as a descending spiral inside the outer circle, but is difficult to see because of the vegetation - anybody any ideas?

Solar panels

Shoreline walking and distant Black Coombe

WW2 machine gun post. It has tumbled from above and now standing on its side - The Leaning Tower of Furness?

It says "Dateline" on the side - a forlorn hope now

Lowsy Point

Back across to Barrow (well endowed with pylons) from Lowsy Point

More of Lowsy Point shanty town

Askam in Furness across the Duddon estuary

Click to enlarge.
The blue route is from the station back to my last finishing point on the CCP


AlanR said...

I agree with your thoughts about Barrow. Lousy point is an interesting place with a long history. In modern times the Black Watch trained here and commandeered the huts. Some work was done to try and mislead German bombers into thinking it was Barrow docks. It's now a nature reserve.
I feel for your missing the train it's not an exciting place to dwell after dark.

afootinthehills said...

Your inadvertent camera setting has produced good photographs in my opinion Conrad. Is AlanR's spelling - 'Lousy' Point more appropriate than Lowsy Point, or am I being unfair to the place?

Anonymous said...

Yes your pictures showed definite Controlled Creative Art which was quite Impressive.
I took a day's worth last week on the 'dusk' setting - all looked strange.
I can't imagine your mood having to wait so long for that train. Maybe you need a Uber account.

Sir Hugh said...

Alan R. - you certainly know your stuff about the Furness area. The logistics of these trips are getting stretched. I am catching the same morning train, but distance is further, arrival later and train time back earlier so time to re-group on the next one.

afoot - yes, I was quite pleased with the photos in a secret sort of way. For me Lowsy Point had a certain charm and I would never have opted for referring to it as lousy.
bowland climber - As I said above I was s bit pleased, but to use the word "controlled" would be a joke - I had no input other than carelessness. As for my mood I would quote Terry Wogan - "I am rarely free from pain, but I don't talk about it".

Roderick Robinson said...

As Hamish and the man with the umbrella you love so much start to fade, a new figure comes into focus: John Betjeman (North of a Line Drawn Between One of the Suburbs of Kings Lynn and a Tiny Caravan Park on the Cardigan Bay Coastline, Named but Unpronounceable.)

Time to publish your collection of tractor photos, each with a caption done in the alexandrine format.

Ruth Livingstone said...

Looks like a perfect day! I liked Lowsy point too. It reminded me of Dungeness - makeshift and ramshackle, with an anarchic charm. A commentator on my blog said it's known locally as the Black Huts, because the shacks twere originally coavered in black tar to waterproof them. Bad luck about missing the train.

Sir Hugh said...

RR - I know about John B. I researched "alexandrine" almost inducing a headache with its complexities, but I am still struggling for the overall interpretation of your comment and despite my efforts must remain as a humble ignoramus. I recently used the word esoteric and now it springs to mind again.


Ruth - Many of the huts are still black, and others with peeling paint. I've just re-read your own account. Looks like I was lucky with the tides.

Roderick Robinson said...

It is my tragedy to be misunderstood. Words like "researched" and "overall interpretation" emphasise you've gone down the wrong path. But then I reflected: you allowed the train, in effect, to take you down the wrong path, safe in the conviction that you could correct the path's wrongness. Extrapolated I assume this means you see the universe as correctable (or is it correctible?) That perhaps life itself is also amenable. If you could be born again, returned again to scruffy Gordon Terrace (Which I often re-visit courtesy of Google Earth; the platform at the top of the outdoor steps, from which I used to jump into the mini-garden, is still there. Immutable it seems.) which path would you definitely avoid?

Sir Hugh said...

RR - I am still baffled, but in answer to your final question, I do not have a "...Road Not Taken" that I regret. There may be minor ones if I think about it, but nothing that nags or represents a millstone. On the whole I prefer to look forwards.

AlanR said...

Sorry. My Lowsy point was changed by you know who into Lousy point. I'm not sure which I prefer.