Turn Right At Liverpool And Keep Walking – Day 80 Abbeytown To Bowness On Solway – 4 October 2018

This is going to be my longest day to date, both in terms of miles covered and hours spend. Setting off at 04:40, I’m not scheduled to get back until 22:45, and that’s if all goes swimmingly, so not a lot of slack there then.

And of course TPE play a blinder, they are 20 minutes late into Carlisle, as I planned a leisurely 30 minutes to find the bus station for the connection to Abbeytown, I do give thanks that I worked this stage out meticulously and I find the bus station within 5 minutes. I am the only passenger to catch the 400 towards Silloth, and for the entire 18 miles of the journey it’s only me and the driver on a standard single decker (apart from a lady who travels for one stop in Wigton.) The bus was busy last week, so I guess this is only the outward journey to get people back into Carlisle from the outlying region.

Abbeytown is just as I left it, but as I expected the Abbey is quite spectacular

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It dates back to 1150, and was once bigger than Carlisle Cathedral, after the dissolution it fell into disrepair and has contracted in size, now acting as the Parish Church.

Today’s walk is all along roads, there is only a small stretch of the coastal path, and as I had seen reports that it was very muddy I decided to follow the road instead. The roads however are deserted, and I only see a car every quarter hour or so, infact the tractors seem to be a preferred mode of transport here.

For the purpose of completeness, this was my one sighting of the coastal path when it was not part of the road (which it is for most of this stretch) under the old  Silloth branch of the railway – closed by Beeching after more than a century of service.

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Despite the dearth of traffic, they are building a road, which given the lack of traffic is a total mystery to me.

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The first place I pass is Newton Arlosh, which is a long strip of a village, notably mainly for the wildly varying architecture, which seems to be the result of one person at a time moving into the village at long intervals. The church is nice though

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Its unusual shape is because it was built as a fortified church for protection against the Scots. We are in border country here, the next village Kirkbride betrays Scottish origins. The village itself dates back to Roman times and the Stanegate a road linking forts guarding important river crossings across the Northern frontier of the Roman empire, it predates Hadrians by several decades.

On my way to Kirkbride I disturb a field full of ducks

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I manage the 6 miles to Kirkbride in two hours, which is very good going, it is very flat around here and the wind is behind me. It has a well weathered Cumbrian roadsign

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I’d been getting glimpses of the estuary during the walk here, but taking the left turn it reveals itself, crossed by a narrow bridge

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The bridge over the Wampool is only wide enough for one car, and despite seeing little traffic to this point, and hereonafter, half a dozen cars suddenly appear and make it difficult to cross the river. There isn’t a footpath over, more a kerb and I’m squeezed, It’s almost as if they were waiting for a pedestrian to hassle.

I could have cheated at this point and taken a right to Bowness, and did consider it as the day had worried me for distance and reliability of the bus back , but I bravely trekked to the left and onwards to Anthorn, the road keeping inland, whilst farmer’s fields hug the shoreline, but all of a sudden at Anthorn it becomes all seasidey. The change is immediate, one minute I am wandering down a country lane , then all at once Wordsworthdaffodillike the estuary is in full and majestic view.

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Anthorn’s other claim to fame (shoreline apart) is the NATO listening station

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The road winds around this on the shore side, which means that I walked alongside it for two and a half miles, it became very dispiriting as the eye was always drawn to the centre, and it seemed like I never was going to get past it. Finally though I arrived at Cardurnock, a small hamlet, Hadrian’s wall once extended through here and there are traces of mile fortlets (Cardurnock comes from the Gaelic for fort at the pebbly place – another Scottish trace.)

The road becomes even more desolate at this point as I walk along the Solway Firth. It is even gated at one point, and cattle seem to roam freely on the road munching grass (some residents have put up electric fences alongside their houses to discourage them )

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A little later a bus passes down this road.

I am now nearing Bowness and the rain has been threatening for a while, fortunately it does not evolve into a full blown shower, but it does work on keeping me uncomfortable, yet not enough so to warrant putting a coat on. You can now see the houses in Scotland across the water. And the pools on the waterside show why I have kept to the road. I did struggle across landscape like this at the beginning of Morecambe Bay between Bolton Le Sands and Silverdale.

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The pier you can see in the picture once carried a railway between Scotland and England, it collapsed in Ice Flows in the particularly cold winter of 1881, however it was still passable by foot until 1921, and was regularly used by Scots escaping dry Sundays.

Finally after 16 miles and 5 hours of solid walking I arrive in Bowness on Solway, it is a tightly knit hamlet but there is surprisingly little evidence of shops. The only pub the Kings Head, is comfortable , although undergoing renovation.  But I make use of its facilities to have a pot of Earl Grey tea and indulge in some superfast wifi.

The main attraction of Bowness is it is the start (or finish, depending on direction of travel) of Hadrian’s Wall, so I will leave you with a few pictures of me around the Wall (or nothing, given that little has survived the plunder of the last two millennia.) Walking the wall is my first project for next year. I think I can do most of it by day trip as I have to date, however, I am trying to see if a couple of friends will attempt it in one go.

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Oh and the start of the wall proper

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My worries about the reliablity of the bus are misplaced and it arrives outside the pub bang on time (you have to be waiting for it, as it takes no prisoners on its round trip) and as soon as it has dropped off its contingent of Carlisle workers (four) I am once more the sole passenger  as it races madly down the narrow lanes back to town. Again it’s TPE who test my connections as the train back to Manchester arrives back 20 minutes late , leaving me just 5 minutes to make my connection, but I arrive home at the scheduled time

I managed 16 miles today and got to the edge of Roman Britain. It is a personal milestone as I have now walked the entire North West Coast of England. Next target on this journey is Wallsend in Newcastle, project for 2019 that.

Copyright 2018 Allan P Russell

Author: allanprussell

Big houses in the Heatons and others that take my interest.

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