Saturday, May 18, 2013

Day 1 - St Bees to Ennerdale Bridge

I had hoped to use the Every Trail program to link the photos to the map of where I walked. For some reason of other, it doesn't want to work yet so you will get a bunch of photos as usual.

The map part is here.

Your intrepid hero ready to set off in the same shirt I used last year for the Grand Canyon. Through the swing set you can see the headland I was due to walk around.

The local Post Office and shop for St Bees. I thought I would get some more English money since some of the B and Bs only take caash, They have an ATM but it only recognizes cards from UK banks.

Station Road that leads from the station to the beach.

A contented sheep. They do have a lot of them here.

Houses near the beach.

From a distance the coloring suggested an Airedale but the owner said it was a mut with some Rotweiler in the mix. It is a rescue dog so we had a discussion about the great things that the rescue organizations do.

The tide was well out so I found a pool to take the obligatory photo of my booties in the water. I also picked up a stone to be transported the whole way.

The headland I was due to climb. 

The famous sign that gives some of the history of the walk and marks the beginning. 

A whole pile of holiday trailers right beside the beach. They are not the most beautiful things but I bet the kids who get to stay right beside the beach love them.

It's really quite a pretty bay with the tide out.

The climb up to the headland.

One of the numerous gates / stiles to prevent the nearby sheep getting loose.

The nuclear fuel reprocessing plant at Sellafield in the distance.

In a short time, you are quite high up. St Bees is in the distance.

It is quite a spectacular walk. It would have been better the afternoon before when there was less haze but I am not complaining. At least it wasn't raining.

Many of the fields had sheep and lambs having a good time.

A couple of Norwegians doing the walk. They were wearing special ribbons to denote Norway's National Day on May 17. All the walkers I have met on the trip so far have been very friendly.

If I can get a map of the route posted, there is a small inlet form the sea that you have to walk around.

Somebody thinking of taking a swim. Brave man.

Some local walkers recommended that I stop at a lookout to see the Guillemots perched on the side of the cliff.

Since it is a headland, it gets a lighthouse, It's not this low, there is a tower visible from another angle.

Some other building perched on the side of the cliff.

Turning the corner, the town of Whitehaven comes into view.

The older gentleman with the shopping bags turned out to be about 80 and had a sense of humour. He said he had heard that shopping prices were good in Robin Hoods Bay.

Old stone seat.

Just after this quarry, you turn right to head inland. There are signs saying the quarry is still in use but I didn't see any activity.

Whitehaven in the distance.

The path inland. I started to walk with a couple from Bethesda, MD. Everybody is very friendly and we all help each other out with directions.

Sometimes it is not much of a path.

You sometimes pass though farms because of the old 'public right of way' laws.

More sheep.

We actually took a wrong turning and came across what I presume a Shetland Ponies or equivalent.

However when I saw the train line in this position I suspected we had missed a turn. I checked the GPS program on my smart phone and found we were on the wrong path. We had to go back about two hundred yards. I use a free app called Ever View and some prior coast to coaster had loaded the path and made it available. It has been very useful and I have not needed to use the paper materials that I have as backup in case the phone fails.

We headed under the train line through this tunnel.

It is really pretty through here but we wondered what the wall was for. It looked like it might have been a dam at one stage.

The Bethesda couple going over a stile. Soon after they stopped for lunch but I continued on.

A cricket oval. In the background you can see Dent Hill. The official route goes over the hill. The Bethesda people wisely chose to take another route that followed roads to Ennerdale Bridge so that they did not have to climb the hill.

The cricket oval is near Cleator. The locals honored Wainwright by naming a small street on the path after him. Wainwright himself did not like Cleator all that much.

I needed more English money to pay for some B and Bs that only take cash. I asked this gentleman if he knew where the nearest bank with an ATM was and he kindly volunteered to drive me up there and back. I got the money successfully and we had a good conversation. I seem to remember his name was Tony.

Sometimes the path is very pleasant.

Sometimes it is not so pleasant.

I caught up with a group from Wyoming as we started to climb Dent Hill. It is quite an exhausting climb and it was one of those where I stop often to rest.

On and on and on.

Finally you reach the top where there is a cairn of stones and a great view to the north.

It's not actually the high point which is a little distance away.

The path can be quite boggy at times and somebody had put down a layer of stones to make the path easier to use.

The view on the other side of the hill. A local from near St Bees had caught up with us as we climbed the hill. He was in training for doing the coast to coast in July and he practiced by doing this section. He warned us that the descent on the other side was going to be steep.

Sellafield in the distance. The local said that over 10,000 people work there.

An unusual gate you were supposed to climb over. The local knew that there was a hole in the fence a few yards to the left so I used the hole. 

Some of the women climbed over the gate just for fun.

And so we headed to the steep descent.

It was really steep and made my toes hurt, even though I zig-zagged back and forth. Later in the evening was talking to the owner of the B and B and he said lots of people are injured going down the slope and some even have to be evacuated by helicopter. For those doing the walk in the opposite direction, it is an extremely tough climb.

We eventually reached the bottom. It was only about four miles to go.

Spring had not sprung in this valley.

The horse was rubbing its head against the sign, presumably to relieve an itch.

Finally, we got a view of Ennerdale lake which I walk beside tomorrow. The forecast calls for rain and the guide book and the B and B owner say that the traditional track on the south side of the lake becomes a river of water and that the track on the north side is much preferable. We will see what the weather brings.

Finally we reached the Fox and Hounds at Ennerdale Bridge. My GPS said that I had done 19 miles but that included the detour to the bank. I reckon it was about 15 miles which is quite a hike for the first day. I set off at 9:30 am and arrived at 5:30 pm.

We were greeted by a couple of locals who recommended the Ennerdale Darkish. Apparently it was brewed locally in a barn and it was delicious. Of course, even a Bud would have been good.

I had a good long chat with them and they were very intrigued by the house exchanges.

The local showing the colour of the beer.

Dinner was a spicy Cumberland sausage that the locals recommended. With the blood pudding and the fired egg, it looked like breakfast.

The pub itself is a community effort and was really friendly and inviting. The B and B owner was part of the team that helped get it going and also for making more accommodation in the area. In summer there are so many people doing the walk that more accommodation was needed. I am staying at Ghyll Farm a mile or so out of the village. When I finished my dinner, the girl behind the counter called Ghyll Farm so that they could come down and pick me up.

The group I was walking with were hoping that their luggage had turned up. Their plane out of Denver was delayed and so they missed their flight across the Atlantic. They were re-routed though Heathrow to Manchester but missed the last train to St Bees. They hired a taxi to drive the six of them to St Bees from Manchester. the cost was 330 pounds. Unfortunately their luggage had still not arrived and some of them did not have any wet gear with them. They will be wearing big garbage bags.

The village is a lovely place and I would happily come back to go to that pub again.

Ghyll Farm is very good. They erected a building with some modern rooms for guests. I may add some photos tomorrow.

I actually feel pretty good except for the toes.


  1. I'm enjoying your walk! Looking forward to more posts.

  2. This is a fabulous walk. I feel I'm walking along with you. Great photos. And descriptive comments. Keep on walking!

  3. Now St Bees is son my to do list for this summer... you sure advance well. I would be half dead after a walk like you did today... Great photographs again. The lake D istrict awaits you... with magnificent views!

  4. Hi Ray, I am a scrapbooking friend of Marianne's. I love your description and pictures of the first day of your walk and look forward to traveling with you across the country. Stay safe and enjoy! Judy G

  5. Wow Ray, what an amazing first day! I am another of Marianne's online scrapping buddies. Really enjoyed your photo journal. Look forward to each of your entries.


  6. Thank you for sharing this link, Ray. So interesting to see photos of the same walk (or the coastal part anyway).