The mornings are becoming dark. Well at 03:45 when my alarm goes off it is dark. I catch the 05:00 bus to Manchester. It amazes me how busy this bus is, though Piccadilly is equally busy at 05:45, Greeted by a Bee outside Piccadilly
After recent months the trains are all running, and my journey is now uneventful, although the never ending tidal flows in Morecambe Bay and beyond are alway fascinating to watch from the train window.
At Ravenglass I have a choice, ford the Mite or take the footbridge
You guessed, I wimped out and walked across the bridge. I am looking to cross the Irt at a Ford marked on my map, so set off. It’s a dull and overcast day, but still warm. The waters are low, so I am looking forward to trying the Ford, after my success crossing the Esk. Ravenglass is not as inviting as a fortnight ago, when it was bathed in sun, and I was told the waters as warm as bathwater.
I pass through Saltcote and Carleton Hall Farm onto a track that leads to the Irt. Things look good, as three people two bike riders and a dog are coming the other way from the Ford, they must have crossed it.
The path starts muddy and gets muddier. It has rained after the drought but surely not this much? Still the rail viaduct and the river are ahead, I finally reach it, and having sunk in six inches of mud by this point, I decide it is a no go. I don’t know where those walkers came from, but they didn’t cross the river. Decide for yourself.
Undaunted I think I can walk up the river bank to the Packhorse bridge further upstream, but the gap between the banks and the fence of the adjoining field is far too steep and narrow. I try to cross the field, but that is a major mistake. The field is a swamp, populated with the occasional tuft of grass to keep me from sinking. The next 30 minutes involve me trying to negotiate a path around gullies, ponds and other obstacles until I finally give up and go back to the Farm. I think my google timeline shows how poorly I fared here. you can see the rivulets in the field. I assure you there were loads more.
Getting back on the road, I discover it is called Hadrians Cyclepath. Not that nutty, the path goes from Ravenglass, a major Roman Port, to Wallsend in Newcastle. that is my interim target so rather serendipitously I have alighted on the right road on the first day of this blog.
Finally I walk towards Holme Bridge, aka the Packhorse Bridge, The River Irt was once famous for freshwater mussels which yielded a very rare black pearl. However, these have been hunted to near extinction. The river, is fast flowing at the bridge, and I am glad to have a dry crossing, although my boots are still wet from my attempted ford approach.
The path then continues into Drigg, The Church has some very old gravestones dating back to the early 1800s each one praising a son or daughter of Cumbria. There is also one Commonwealth War Grave – Sapper Ivor Hunter , who died in 1947.
There are also a few other graves of military men, though the church is closed and nobody is about to enlighten me further so I plough on towards the coast. Drigg is also the site of a low level nuclear waste facility, which I skirt on my way back to the coast, it is also tragically a place where part of Derrick Bird’s shooting rampage occured back in 2010. There is a memorial to this at Seascale.
Finally I reach the coast again. One of the downers of coastal walking is being away from the coast, whether it be because of estuarys or inaccessible land, it does raise the spirits when you return to the objective of your walks.
The sea today is rough, and the low clouds form a mist which make the sight of Sellafield rising ahead of me even more sombre.
A number of gun emplacements litter the beach, to protect the shipyards at Barrow. During the second world war Drigg and surroundings was littered with camouflage decoys to draw gunfire away from Barrow. My mum was employed during the war at a factory which made these false airplanes and towns to protect the Newcastle shipyards by drawing fire away from the real thing.
Seascale is near, and in the distance I can just make out the headland of St Bees, behind me all is quiet.
Arriving in Seascale, I consume my traditional three banana lunch and drink some water whilst looking at the memorial to the victims of the Cumbrian shootings, then press on towards Seallafield. The path is good, and I make good progress along the top of the dunes, as the fencing of the nuclear plant are on my right and sea on my left. Crossing the River Calder (another bridge, the third large river in a day) I get closer to the fencing and the plant
Ten minutes away from the station, I spot a train arriving. not a chance I think, but by good grace Northern are delayed again, and I manage to arrive on the platform just as the train is going to leave.
Copyright Allan Russell 2018, unlesss otherwise stated.