Another early morning, I never thought that on retirement that I would regularly get up earlier than normal, but I am awake at 03:30 without any difficulty to catch the 05:00 192 into Manchester and the 06:25 train to Lancaster. It is pouring down and pitch black until we get to Manchester. A few weeks ago it had been bright and sunny as I waited for the bus, this time I shelter in the car until it arrives.
The train is delayed from Barrow this gives me a chance to have a look at the war memorial at the station which was damaged in the Barrow Blitz in World War II, it is pock marked quite badly. Barrow was of course until the mid 1980s and the Hindenberg flew low over Barrow in 1936 presumably on more of a reconnaisance than a tourist mission
(Hindenberg Copyright William Martin)
Northern Trains generally are behaving themselves these days and I arrive only 20 minutes late at Sellafield. The weather has gradually improved as I travelled North and Sellafield is bathed in a warm sun.
A quirk of the rivers here is they flow parallel to the coast rather than directly into it. This happens with the three rivers which join at Ravenglass, and the River Ehen here joins the Calder almost at its mouth. You can see the mouth of the Calder on day 72 above.
This has the disadvantage here that I cant get over the river to the coast but must walk alongside the somewhat disconcerting fencing of Sellafield until I can rejoin the Hadrians Wall Cyclepath (which itself has been diverted) There is an intention to reopen the path sometime in 2013, the sign says, so I don’t hang around incase something happens.
The sea is tantalisingly close, but I have to follow the busy main road in the hope of getting onto the path which shows on my map as a disused railway – The Whitehaven, Cleator and Egremont Railway, which managed to splutter along to the mid 1960s whilst Sellafield was built.
Although I refrain from taking any pictures on my walk along the fences, I attract the attention of the Atomic Energy Authority Police who question me on why I am around the centre. It’s understandable, a nutter has tried ineffectually to smash his car into the Houses of Parliament yesterday, so whilst I have my identity checked I am treated to random pub quiz questions by nice cop (ie how many lakes are there in the lake district – 1 of course) whilst not nasty cop, but “spot-on” cop (he says “spot on” every time I answer a question) checks my bona fides.
Eventually they are satisfied, and quietly wondering why they left it until I had turned off onto the footpath , I leave spot on and his mate, pub quiz to continue their day job. I am also reminded that Sellafield as an issue has sunk in the headlines, when I was younger there was much more controversy about nuclear power and pollution of the sea, today less so. I am not even sure that many people these days have heard of it.
It is a narrow country lane I follow to the pretty village of Braystones, and take a selfie and cross the river again
A little further on the Eher is in full spate with Sellafield in the background and seems a good place to fish
Finally I get back onto the coast. To get here I have to cross the now single track line at Braystones Station, which itself hangs periously close to the coast. On the beach side there is an almost shanty town of beach huts and houses stretching ahead on the pebbled beach. People live here and I am accosted by an old chap who thinks I have come to deliver his medicines. He then relates his life history. He originally hails from Denton in Manchester but moved here after he found his wife cheating on him whilst he worked nights. He also tells me of his nephew who plummetted off the cliffs near St Bees. After a half hour I have to make my excuses and leave, otherwise I would still be there.
The houses are in a desolate place , and whilst they look pretty in the bright August sunshine, I wouldn’t want to be in one on a wild winter storm.
The beach is heavy going here, it isn’t comfortable to walk on the pebbles, and at the cliffs at Nethertown I make the decision to go inland and walk along the top to St Bees. This is vindicated on my way back as the tide is right in, and there is nothing between the railway line and the crashing waves bar boulders acting as sea defences. The top, although another lane is much more pleasant to walk, and views of St Bees head make the final stretch a very pleasant one.
St Bees puts me in mind of a Cornish village as I descend into it. As well as being on the Hadrians Wall trek, Coastal Path, it is also the start of Wainwrights Coast to Coast walk. It is a pretty little village.
Even the station is pretty (and Cumbrian stations hit a high standard on this!)
I’ll leave St Bees with a shot of the priory, where Anthony De Lucy, otherwise known as St Bees Man, who died in 1368 was discovered in a lead lined coffin. I am going to try and visit that next time.
The journey home is enjoyable, the sea is wild as we cling to the single track line along the coast, at Ulverston the train is filled by celebrating A Level students drinking Tesco’s Pear Cider and bottles of Pink Gin on their way to celebrate results in Big City Lancaster. I like this train, it is a community train, people wave at us from the Grange Over Sands promenade. The tide is high and the waters of the Kent are lapping the shore at Arnside, having walked over Morecambe Bay a month ago, none of our path is visible as the sea has come right up to the promenade wall.
Copyright Allan Russell 2018 , except where indicated.