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Thursday, 16 March 2017

Cumbria Coastal Way - Bootle (Stn.) to Drigg

Wednesday 15th March, '17

I haven't worked out the logistics of the next section, but coordinating train times is becoming stretched. A new approach may be needed. Anyway, it was the 6:00 am train again, and a 7:35am walking start from  Bootle station.  It is becoming quite a long train journey now.

Once I had backtracked onto the CCW proper there was a narrow path, broken by erosion on the seaward side, and at a welcoming metal gate through the barbed wire fence I was tempted into a network of farmer's squelchy fields until I was able to get onto the beach for a stretch of reasonable shingle, then pristine firm sand to arrive at the road diversion round the MOD Eskmeals Firing Range. Here they have a magisterial mast come look-out post. I wondered about the effort of gaining the observation room at the top, which I supposed would be inhabited by officers, and of course, in consideration of the high and mighty a lift had been installed.

At Hall Wabberthwaite my gpx file of the route, dowloaded from the Long Distance Walkers Association, showed a ford crossing the River Esk, but research had told me that this was not viable, and a three mile detour is now specified.

From here the rest of this walk became one of the most long drawn out, squelchy mudfests I can ever remember. First of all the unsurfaced farm tracks were abundant with large puddles requiring a zig zag course and constant vigilance. I was then into cow trodden, marshland and mud fields with no sign of the footpath on the ground. I tried for a long time to keep feet dry, but in the end I gave it up as a bad job and just sploshed, gurgled and sucked my way through the mud and water. Fortunately I was not going in deeper than my ankles. Further on, after reverting to tracks, because my feet were soaked through, I had a feeling of liberation and just sploshed in a straight line thorough all the puddles.

Walking down the north side of the Esk on a good forest track with the river on the left and Muncaster Castle high up above, I fortunately met a lady with dogs and she told me the section further on round the shore to Ravenglass would be impassable due to exceptionally high, high-tide, and she pointed out the alternative inland track; but for that I could have been in a lot of trouble.

From Ravenglass the River Mite, a tributary of the Esk is crossed by a pedestrian way on the railway crossing, and then some road and a bit more footpath brought me to Drigg, and decision time.

My intention had been to walk to Seascale. I had missed the 13:42 train from Drigg by five minutes, but there was a direct train at 14:27 and there is a quaint coffee shop at the station, so a comfortable three-quarter hour wait would by pleasantly acceptable: plan A.

The alternative: Plan B, was to take another hour or so walking the remaining three miles to Seascale, but having arrived there I would have to wait for more than two hours to catch the 16:51 which wouldn't get me back to Arnside until 18:43. There was little hesitation in adopting Plan A.

The coffee shop was run by an elderly lady. I entered and found myself in a much cluttered gift shop, so crammed with an eclectic mix of stock that walking through to the coffee shop room at the back risked knocking things over. I asked for tea, but the lady said she only served coffee, so I settled for that, along with a man-sized wedge of date and treacle flapjack putting in serious doubt my ability to cope with a proper meal back at home.

Undaunted by the mud, even revelling in the abandon of heedlessly splashing along I thoroughly enjoyed this walk. There was much variation in scenery, and good weather - I walked in shorts for the first time this year, and had no need for gloves.


Shingle to start with - better sand further on.
The Look-out tower at Eskmeals  MOD visible left of centre on horizon

Perfect walking on firm sand - click to enlarge.


The look-out tower complete with lift

Reception at MOD Eskmeals. I heard several one-off almighty explosions at various times during the day making the whole ground shake even when several miles away


I managed to tip-toe through and keep my feet dry, but later on in the marshy fields I gave it up as a bad job

Tractor graveyard


My route crossed this marsh to arrive at the road - the faint sandy coloured line below the hills

Muncaster Castle

Walking down the north side of the Esk. It was here I met the lady who told me of high tides and ther alternative route to Ravenglass

Roman bath house - I was looking forward to the modern version back at home

Crossing the River Mite at Ravenglass

Looking back to Ravenglass


Ravenglass again

On the way to Drigg

The strictly COFFEE ONLY shop at Drigg station

Pink dashes - diversion from LDWA gpx file.
Blue dashes - high tide diversion to Ravenglass




20 comments:

Gayle said...

I don't own a pair of Wellington boots, but often (particularly on winter walks around home) find myself thinking they would be the most appropriate footwear. It sounds like this was one of those walks.

Ruth Livingstone said...

Luckily the ground wasn't as saturated when I walked up the Esk. Squelchy underfoot, but kept my socks dry. I remember finding the train times very inconvenient too, and choosing shorter distances than normal in order to avoid long waits at tiny stations. Think your decision to stop at Driigg was a good one.

Sir Hugh said...

Gayle - not a bad idea, but onceI had have accepted that my feet were wet through I was liberated and sploshed unconcernedly for the rest of the day.

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Ruth - It is amusing to find our roles reversed. At one time I was commenting on my previous experiences on your walks and now it is the other way round. I haven't had time to plan the next section, but it looks as though I'm going to have to find a different approach. Keep watching.

AlanR said...

Well done Conrad. I remember well the section from Ravenglass to Drigg with the wealth of bird life and flora. We did it on a dry summer day though. That coffee shop definitely used to sell tea but it was always cluttered with some interesting stuff and fine cakes. They also had a good selection of secondhand books and maps. The pub next door had some strange opening times though. Sheila's mum used to live just a couple of miles away so this coastline was a regular walk for us.

Sir Hugh said...

Alan R - Discovering time warps like that shop are just one of the ingredients that make this kind of walking enjoyable. This one reminded me of an old fashioned tea shop in Orton run by a majestic, matriarchal lady that had catered for cyclists for years, but it is now sadly closed.

gimmer said...

That mast surveying the Eskmeals range - presumably high enough to observe the fall of shot and shell - and your comments on the height and mightiness of possible users, reminds me of a paragraph in Churchill's The World Crisis describing a similar tower and viewing platform for the Supreme War Lord to observe the triumphant advance of the German Army over and beyond Verdun: didn't quite work out that way, I recall.
On the same subject, 'ils ne passeront pas' seems to be a good motto, suitably reversed, for your campaigns in the pluggingfest of west Cumbrian agriculture.
Curious how canal and coastal walking have so many similarities, geographical and 'technological' !

Sir Hugh said...

gimmer - modern warfare would be able to take out such a tower easily from hundreds of miles away with chilling precision.

Roderick Robinson said...

Drigg, Eskmeals, Wabberthwaite, Mite. Why is the Lake District host to so many inherently ugly names? You'll tell me (with a giggle) that they are quaint and individualistic and I will avert my gaze. It's as if the residents felt it necessary to counterbalance the beauty of the scenery. I wonder if Wordsworth and Coleridge went around with wax-stuffed ears. Just as well:

In Wabberthwaite did Jess Oakroyd,
A mean-spec'd shearing shed erect...


To discourage effete tourists from the south-east?

Sir Hugh said...

RR - I have no need or compunction for the defence of these names. I liken my attitude to the Lake District to my attitude to Apple, two things that many are starry eyed about, and will have nothing bad said, but they both have faults which I often mention.

Here are a few similar baddies from your domain:

Lugwardine, Clehonger, Moreton-on-Lugg, Weobley, Blacklands, Ullingswick

Roderick Robinson said...

I agree. But I would also say that Rossett Ghyll is a prettier name than Wabberthwaite. If you disagree this discussion must end here. If you agree we can proceed further.

gimmer said...

a proxy agreement - i can imagine where this one could go !

Sir Hugh said...

gimmer - are you offering to take over the discussion with RR subject to me allowing you to do so by proxy?
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RR - Wabberthwaite, albeit a tiny village, is famous for its Cumberland sausage which was marketed through Booths. I'm not sure if that is still in place, but they were good. The sausage came in a long coil and you bought it by length.

Roderick Robinson said...

I'll accept Gimmer as an utterly impartial, possibly prescient judge. However apart from telling me about sausages, which I knew several times over, I take it you disagree?

Sir Hugh said...

RR - It depends what you mean by "pretty." I think Wabberthwaite sounds quite jolly, whereas Rosset Ghyll, for me, sounds like, or brings to mind something more technical

Roderick Robinson said...

Can jolliness incorporate prettiness, can technicality incorporate prettiness? I'll abide by the definition for "pretty" given by any reputable dictionary, excluding the Oxford.

Sir Hugh said...

My Chambers, (11th edition - 2008) has about fifteen different meanings or synonyms for"pretty" so I'm not sure exactly what you are implying, but I guess the one that is close in this context is "delicately melodious". Neither of the two names would qualify for that in my opinion.

Roderick Robinson said...

A clever trick, that. Using the definition that was easily the furthest away from what I would have considered normal.

A warning about responding to questions with "It all depends on what you mean...", often used by those who are confused but, nevertheless, wary. Much used too by a philosopher (household name) who pundit-ed on the radio version of Brains Trust during the war. Mum and I were great fans of the TV version, shown on Sunday afternoons.

Alas, the philosopher was caught travelling on a train without a ticket and prosecuted. This "destroyed his hopes of a peerage and resulted in his dismissal from the BBC. The humiliation of this had a severe effect on (his) health, and he soon became bed-confined at his home in Hampstead. (He) renounced his agnosticism and returned to the Christianity of the Church of England."

Wow! As the French say, Quelle chute!

In checking this out I discovered his prosecution was indeed condign. He had boasted in print of regularly cheating the railways in this way.

Sir Hugh said...

RR - I think we've done that little skirmish to death.

I remember the radio/tv programmes you refer to, but not so much your man - mostly for Bronowski.

gimmer said...

Rossett Ghyll will always sound ugly to me : memory overrides euphony.
In the days before the M40, to drive from London to Cumbria, to avoid the hell of the M1 and early part of the M6, one could go via Oxford, Banbury, Warwick and then cross-country to somewhere like Brownhills or Coleshill so as to avoid Coventry - not bad if there were little traffic, and enlivened by the interesting collection of placenames temptingly signposted - not only of interest individually but also by their almost comical contiguity - I cannot mention them here as this is a family blog, but study the relevant map for a puerile chuckle. They were not exactly euphonious but very memorable.
There are rivers in both Cumbria and Oxfordshire which delight the senses with their names - and the same senses again when encountered 'in the flesh ' - we must excuse some nominal ugliness when such delights enrapture us -
Evenlode, Windrush, Lyvennet - what pleasures such names evoke: there must be many more which both soothe and elevate the soul - maybe we should have a competition to see who can conjure up the most evocative list - Scotland and Ireland must be included, as well as Wales - such sweet music on the waters - one can hear the angels singing . . .

Sir Hugh said...

gimmer - this has been done - just Google "strange British place names" - here is one example:
http://www.anglotopia.net/ultimate-list-of-funny-british-place-names/

I think some of the ones you allude to are mentioned here?