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