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My blog nick-name is SIR HUGH. I'm not from the aristocracy - my middle name is Hugh which relates to the list of 282 hills in Scotland compiled by Sir Hugh Munro in 1891. I climbed my last one (Sgurr Mor) on 28th June 2009


Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Following the coast (5)

Monday 10th February 2020 - Cockerham to Cockersands Abbey and back - 8miles (ish)

Daughter and son both sent me messages on Sunday saying "you are grounded" because of Storm Ciara. I don't like being grounded.

Without investigating too much I gave myself to understand that Storm Ciara was only officially nominated for Sunday.

On Monday I thought there's no harm in going to have a look so I was off walking from Cockerham at 11:15. After this little circular I will be on less familiar territory for a while and also with the advantage of using public transport so that I will be able to walk eight miles or so actually on the route.

The wind didn't seem strong in Cockerham but once out into open fields I was blown about all over as I splodged through waterlogged pasture. I was then barred by a huge lake of flood water and had to make a clandestine diversion through a farmyard. There were some people around but I had no encounter - I am always prepared to be humble and apologetic in such circumstances and I think I have a pretty good ability to calm most irrate landowners. I did meet my match a while ago when I was shouted down and told in expleteive terms to depart - I since removed the post but kept a copy- here is an extract:

The farm had a complex number of tracks and gates, and to be fair the right of way was well marked with yellow paint, but despite that I got off track by about twenty yards. There was a shout from a farm building. The guy came out and demanded aggressively where I had come from and where was I going. He was large powerful and threatening. He shouted telling me not to come on his property and then shouting again frenziedly, directed me through a gate onto the public footpath - I tried to communicate with him, but yet again he shouted out "And don't start telling me to calm down," and then he finished off screaming out "f*** off!"

Along a tarmac road there were about fifty swans in one of the fields. After a couple of kilometres tarmac gave way to unsurfaced track leading on a high exposed banking to Bank End Farm. A couple of times vehicles came past and I had to step down onto very steep banking, and with the howling wind 'twas all a bit perilous.

From the farm I followed the footpath edging onto the sea. Eventually that became a concrete path about two feet wide with the sea only abut a foot below - large waves were crashing and spray flying. Before I was totally drenched I aborted and followed the road to Cockersand Abbey. More squelchy field walking brought me back to tarmac. Here an approaching car stopped and I was grilled almost aggressively as to whether I had seen THE Bewick's Swans as though I ought to have known that such an exciting, supposed anomaly had recently been broadcast - I mumbled about seeing my aforementioned swans but I had no idea if they were Bewick's or Buicks. Consulting my bird book now back at home I still can't see what is the didffernce. I joined the A588 for an uncomfortable two and half kilometres dodging the traffic back to Cockerham.

Just out of Cockerham - it elicits the wonderful word "ramshackle"

One for my Relics - not sure what it is - any ideas Alan?

Out into the wild wind

That banking was a bit dodgy combined with the high wind when I had to step aside for a couple of vehicles

Almost a toy tractor - not rare I suppose but new to me

A bit further on the path was being lashed by breaking waves and driven spray - I retreated to the road

Are these Bewick's swans?

Cockersand Abbey - not a place to linger in the cold and windchill

Another unfamiliar tractor for me

Start/finish at Cockerham - clockwise


  1. Hi Conrad, Bravery award on its way going out in that weather although im enjoying your coast walks.
    Yes I can help you with your machines. This farmer likes his foreign vehicles. The old yellow thing is actually a towed scraper used in the construction of roads. Could be a Caterpillar or maybe a Letourneau, I can't be more specific, its not my forte.
    The green tractor is a Deutz Fahr 2wheel drive, DX85 from about 1982.
    The Renault as it says on the tin, is a 70-12 2 wheel drive. 1985 -1990.
    Not rare.

  2. AlanR - I thought the green one looked a bit ancient - looks as though the bodywork cladding was done in the garage of an amateur sheet metal worker.

  3. Named storms seem to be becoming excuses for timidity and other symptoms of the 'snowflake' age, but hasn't reduced the lack of preparedness and simple folly much in evidence every time (trainers on the Ben in mid-winter is old hat - stiletto heels on Broad Stand in ice and snow lives in my memory as one of the 'best' I've ever come across).
    Before they had names, I have the impression that people just got on with stormy weather and made the best of things - cancellations well in advance were more or less unheard of - in particular, trains were the last things to stop running and often provided a lifeline, running along flooded tracks to bring succour to the stranded, long after buses and planes had had to stop : now they seem to the the first to go: it surprises me that the design of the overhead lines and signalling systems cannot cope with what is, historically, really quite usual weather.
    Better long-range forecasting is welcome but is is making us less resilient (most of us - naturally I am delighted you 'strode out' . . . . and provided us with vicarious entertainment and tales of valour !).
    It does make one wonder whether we would stop fighting in 'the next war' when a namable storm came along - postponing D-Day by a day was 'a close run thing' as tides were critical - but not much else seems to have 'interfered'.

  4. The question is: in spite of the wind, splodginess, seaspray, car dodging on a precipitous bank, grilling by twitcher and A-road walk, was it vastly more enjoyable than being grounded?

    Even if not the most enjoyable outing in your coastal endeavours, I'll wager that with all those elements it will feature more highly in the 'memorable list' than it might otherwise have done.

  5. Re-the green tractor bodywork. Tractors were never painted to the high standard as cars today plus the salty air plays havoc with any agricultural and construction machinery. The bodywork isn't actually that bad and don't forget that the tooling costs of large sheet panels was huge which restricted the intricacies that we see on modern day machines.

  6. Hi Conrad, looking at the proportions of yellow and black on their bills, I think the swans might be Whoopers. Bewicks also have a yellow bill but usually with proportionately more black; they're also noticeably smaller than Whoopers and Mutes.

    I'd be delighted to see either Bewicks or Whoopers, simply for the variety; our sightings locally are almost exclusively mutes.

  7. gimmer - your conservatism-with-a-small- c shines through. In those days there were many more trains anyway and now we keep hearing about bringing some of them back. Lkie fashion it all goes in cycles.


    Gayle - of course it was enjoyable (perhaps afterwards.) Man against the elements, raw courage, to name but two good old cichés, and fortunately, to use another, I did not get a headline saying "he died doing what he loved."


    RR -
    I think would have been aerated most of the time but for my good quality clothing - the wind didn't permeate my body, but I reckon I was airborn once or twice.


    Alaan R - Thanks for that - it emphasises your knowledgeable background on the subject.


    Dave - Good to hear you would only be "delighted" in contrast to the almost maniacal disposition of the tweeter, or is it twitcher in the car.

  8. i thought you'd enjoy that - there is a weekly column in the Cumberland and Westmorland Herald called 'Nobbut laiking' which I was trying to mimic - he's actually quite enlightened but does 'hark back' somewhat !

  9. Conrad, the twitcher (or is it birder? I'm never sure) might have been told about the swans grouping up and thought they would be getting ready for their return migration - as it's about the right time of year - and thought that it was one last opportunity; hence the over-excitement. Both Bewicks and Whoopers are winter visitors, and although the Whoopers generally have a wider range, Lancashire is one of the places where either variety might turn up.

    I'm not, by any stretch, a serious birder, but like most leisure pursuits it does attract a fanatical fringe whose primary objective seems to be to take the fun out of it.

  10. gimmer - A certain amount of harking back is ok but wallowing in it full time is (my opinion only) unhealthy. This subject did get aired at some length here some time ago but without laborious research I'm not sure exactly where. It is always good to have something to look forward to - again my opinion only.


    Dave - I was having a bit of fun with the ornithological community. Of course a "birder" is a person who pursues the subject in a dignified manner. A "twitcher" is the kind of guy I met who will drive from Essex to Ardaneaskan (NG 831 352) through the night to get a one in thirty chance of seeing a recently spotted Lesser Brown Sparrow that has lost its way between China and Norway and is now more than likely in Greenland. If I were into the job seriously I would only be interested in the ones that want to make their home here.

  11. Notwithstanding the reducing populations of certain varieties, we still have a decent diversity in the UK; including some new species brought here by the warming climate and the return of others which had often been hunted to extinction at some point in the past. The return of the ospreys and white-tailed eagles are the headline stories, but marsh harriers are over-wintering now in some places, whereas it's not so long since they all migrated come late August or thereabouts. We are getting avocets now in good numbers; storks and egrets too. Just need more goshawks - that would give the grey squirrels something to ponder!

    If you're in the vicinity of any oakwoods from early April onwards, look out for pied flycatchers. They are an absolute delight.

  12. Dave - Despite my recent slightly gloomy Taking a Break post I do favour optimism - thanks