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Ulverston to St Bees: 85.05 Miles.

5th - 9th May 2021: 5 days.

Introduction

Introduction

Two weeks after finishing the Fleetwood to Ulverston section of my walk we were booked into Low Hall Farm CL for the final section from Ulverston to St Bees. The intervening period had been eventful to say the least!

We arrived home from Silverdale to find that our neighbours had constructed a huge room in the loft at the back of their house. I checked with the council and they confirmed that it was not included in the plans for which they had gained planning permission and which we approved. It looked hideous and if it were permitted, would remove the privacy of the back garden that attracted us to our home 27 years ago and persuaded us to remain when we considered options pre-lockdown. I submitted an objection and we got an estate agent in to value our home.

We also met up with our two sons, the elder of which turned 30. A wonderful time was had by all and we almost forgot about our inconsiderate neighbours for a while.

The Monday before we set off was one of the worst weather days that I can remember - certainly for may. It was freezing cold and blowing a gale.

The Journey

The Journey

Tuesday dawned a little milder and we managed to pack, hitch up the caravan and travel up the M6 without getting wet. We drove along the A590, recognising places we had crossed it on the preceeding section of the walk.

Low Hall Farm was a beautiful spot, set on the hillside looking down across Kirkby-in-Furness, to the Duddon Estuary. The weather wasn't brilliant but that didn't detract from the panorama. We had a quick lunch then drove to the 'nearest' supermarket, which Google assured us was at Millom. The 3.9 mile 'crow' distance was nearer 10 by car and hardly worth it for the limited selection at Millom Tescos. We drove back via Broughton-in-Furness and some beautiful country lanes.

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The view from Low Hall Farm site

I got asked by our caravan site neighbours if I could fix their broken drawer, which I tried to do. They were a delightful couple called Geoff and Joyce. I returned to our 'van for a meal and then watched the final episode of 'Line of Duty' on 'catch-up' before reading and an early night.

Day 73

5th May 2021 – Ulverston to Barrow-in-Furness: 17.61 miles

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Slept well and woke, relieved to find it cold but reasonably bright, so decided to aim for the 07:47 train from Barrow to Ulverston. We let the hoards of school kids out of the station then set off, retracing our steps through the suburbs, getting amazing views of the snow covered (yes, it is May) Lake District Fells.

We made for the A5087, followed it for a short stretch, then took a left towards a new housing estate and then along a straight streach of road, elevated above the marsh. This led to an old factory chimney, a lovely house and the foreshore of the Leven. Kym spied a deer and her fawn in the field to the right.

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The view took in the Lake District Fells, the pub beside the railway viaduct, the Holker Estate and the Cark Peninsula, then Morecambe Bay and the snow capped Yorkshire Dales beyond. A chap left his bike by the bench on which we sat and went for a quick stroll down to the water. We chatted for a moment when he returned: he loved the area and came to this spot every day.

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The Leven Estuary at Conishead

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Looking back to the Bay Horse, Canal Foot with snow covered fells

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There were several options by way of paths but we chose the one that led along the rocks and shingle closest to the water. This took us by the Conishead Priory Buddhist Centre where we saw their stables but not the hall itself. A little further down the shoreline we caught our first glimpse today of Heysham Power Station: a constant presence for many days walking now. We then came to a series of small dwellings: some very weatehrbeaten, that had wonderful views across the bay, which was almost entirely sandy as the tide was out.

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Heysham Power Station from Aldingham. 10 miles as the crow flies but 170 miles of walking!

We walked variously on rocks, shingle and damp and, the latter afording the quicker progress. At Baycliff we passed a woman with 6 dogs and then two beautiful dwellings built in interesting styles and again with great views.

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Rounding Maskel Point we saw the church at Aldingham and as we got closer, a superb white house right on the front and the old hall.

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Aldingham Old hall

We kept to the beach for as long as we could. It was littered with sea shells and the odd large jellyfish. Dogs and their owners were the only other animal life. When we reached the steep sea wall at Roosebeck we left the beach and walked along the road. This proved fortuitous as we stopped to chat to a local woman who gave us advice for lunch. e bade her farewell and strode out with purpose for the Concle Inn at Rampside, eschewing the other pub en route despite it being open and serving food. We arrived at the Concle having past 'The Needle' on the beach at Rampside. The Concle was well and truly shut, so we followed the dead straight causeway out to Roa Island. The small settlement at the end of the causeway was scruffy but genuine and we soon found 'Bosun's cafe', which certainly fitted that description.

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View east from Roa Island causeway

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Piel Island from Roa Island

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Blackpool Tower and @The Big One' roller coaster from Roa Island. 18 miles as the crow flies but 198 miles of walking!

The food was also special and really perked us up. The wind was cold but we perched against a wall and it wasn't too bad. Washing the food down with a coffee and a tea we saved the cakes we had ordered, putting them in my pack for later. We then had a brief excursion round the island before walking back along the windswept causeway. Kym suggested taking the public footpath across Roosecote Sands, which cut a little distance although the going was rough. 

We left the sands after passing a dog walking couple and headed up a gorse strewn bank to the fields above the shorline. A small concrete road led us past a gas refinery and a power station. Kym stopped to remove a stone from her shoe that had been bothering her for about 8 miles!

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Roosecote Sands approaching Barrow-in-Furness

The refinery and power station were enormous and looked strange with the backdrop of snow covered hills. We altered my planned route, taking a sharp left turn to follow the Cumbria Cycle Way to a large resrvoir where a few chaps were fishing in the choppy waters. A couple of old WWII pill boxes evidenced the former strategic importance of Barrow-in-Furness.

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Rampside gas terminal with fells beyond

We left the reservoir by way of a litter strewn rough road that led under the railway and to the A5087. Turning left onto it and then right along a broad house lined road, we eventually came to Furness Academy, where we crossed the road to wander through the beautiful municipal park. A climb up several stone steps brought us to the war memorial and from there it was an easy descent,past a memorial to a Barrow born VC holder, to the road off which the station lay. We reached the car and were grateful to throw off our packs.

The day was still young so we drove over to Walney Island and to the nature reserve at its western end. It was about to shut, so we had a quick look round before driving back to a view point to eat our cakes and enjoy the view.

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Roa Island from Walney Island

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Barrow shipyards from Walney Island

Back to the 'van and a great shower before writing my journal and eating a meal. A good days' walking!

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Evening sun from the caravan at Low Hall Farm, Kirkby-in-Furness

6th May 2021 – Barrow-in-Furness to Foxfield: 15.43 miles

Day 74
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Sun rising over the fells behind the caravan

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...and the view to the west at sunrise

Slept very well after an early night and woke around 05:15. Decided to aim for the 07:20 train from Foxfield back to Barrow so had a quick light breakfast and jumped in the car. The frozen windscreen made getting out of the farm tricky. I hope we didn't wake our neighbours!

We reached Foxfield but couldn't find anywhere to park for the station so doubled back and left the car on a grass verge on a lane a few hundred yards away. We walked down to the station, bought tickets and boarded the two carriage train that arrived on time.

Alighting at Barrow, Kym re-tied her show laces then we set off around 07:50. The first mile was through Victorian terraced housing: pleasant enough but litter strewn. This gave onto more modern houses. We walked past a small lake before joining the busy A590 at Ormsgill for a noisy stretch.

We found the footpath sign  and followed the path across the railway and past a well positioned old farm called Sowerby Lodge that was again marred by huge amounts of rubbish. This led us to the shore line where we continued our trek northwards. The views across to Walney, Lousy Point and the fells beyond were stunning: we just had to avoid the view to the right of the eyesore factories. We passed pill boxes, one of which had toppled over due to coastal erosion.

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Scarth Bight with fells beyond

We picked up a narrow rough roadand followed it around Scarth Bight to the interesting collection of shacks that formed the community of Lousy Point. Many had wind generators that whirled furiously in the strengthening breeze. Some shacks were old and decrepit but many looked to be well maintained. We paused to admire 'Terry's Bench' sending a photo to Pete and Pauline.

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Shack in a boat - Lousy Point

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Lousy Point and Terry's Bench

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Leaving the settlement behind, we passed through the dunes to arrive at the beautiful fine sandy beach that swept north in a broad crescent. It could have been the Carribean were it not for the bitter cold. We had the beach to ourselves save for the occasional dog walker. Again, it was littered with shells and the odd dead jellyfish.

The wind din't really abate much as we rounded the north west corner of the Sandscale Haws and made for Askham-in-Furness which we could see in the distance. The ominous dark skies to the north finally caught up with us and we donned waterproofs as the rain began to fall lightly. We picked our way around the bay until we reached Askham pier, where we asked a dog walker if we might find a coffee shop nearby. "There's nothing round here" he said, but then suggested we try a cake shop on the main street that sold 'cartons of drink'. We pressed on.

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Duddon Sands

The shoreline continued to deliver stunning views across the receding waters to Millom and the hills beyond. Going was hard as we had to pick our way either over grass hummocks through which the water drained out, or over rocky areas. We opted then for the recently drained sand which offered quicker progress, but then stalled as we tried to cross a small river that was still deep in places.

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The Duddon Estuary from Dunnerholme

We aimed for Dunnerholme, a rocky promontary that stuck out into the estuary. It was gorse covered and as we climbed over it a golf course was revealed on the other side. The weather might have put the golfers off for we had the course to ourselves. We folowed the footpath signs as far as the railway line then saw that the path along the high water mark was clearly waymarked with white tipped posts, so we took that route.

The going continued to be tricky but we plodded on. As we approached Kirkby-in-Furness we stopped to speak to a chap who had moved here from Preston 40 years ago. He clearly loved the peace and quiet. He though we might get a coffee at the cafe by Kirkby station. We said goodbye and crossed the railway line to follow the road through some modest, but interesting, houses and to Pam's cafe...where a notice advised that it would open on 17th May!

Walking along the road past the cafe we took the footpath back towards the railway line and over a river, which was crossed by walking between two large pipes. This brought us to a boggy field and then the slightly underwhelming Angerton Hall, which we left via its drive.

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Unusual river crossing at Kirkby

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Mudflats looking back to Kirkby

We followed the lane to Moss Houses but I misread the map and we had to double back to take the lane up Waltham Hill and beside Duddon Mosses Nature Reserve. Here we took a footpath to the right and passed through part of the reserve, admiring the bluebells and cowslips.

The path gave onto a lane which we followed back to the car. It started raining again as we got back so we jumped in and made for the caravan. It was only just after 14:00 but we hadn't stopped all day so we relaxed with a nice hot lunch, glass of wine, coffee and cake. I fell asleep and was awoken by my phone ringing. As I answered the spam call I knocked over Kym's full glass of red wine, managing to soak and stain everything in its path. Aaagh!!

7th May 2021 – Foxfield to Silecroft: 20.40 miles

Day 75

Slept well and was relieved to see that the car windscreen wasn't iced. We drove to Silecroft, a very scenic route and after a quick scout around, parked at The Miner's Pub. The owner was waiting for a delivery and told us that if one asked politely he would always allow use of his car park for the station.

The train arrived on time and whisked us back to Foxfield in less than 20 minutes. We set off from the station back towards where we had finished yesterday, taking the Cumbria Way up above the village and past tome houses with good views.

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The Cumbria Way above Foxfield

The lane brought us to Coal Gate and some decent properties. We followed the path to the left, signposted Eccle Riggs. A chap was working on it on a digger and it looked more like he was building a small road than a footpath. It took us across to the magnificent hall and adjacent golf course, both of which were breathtaking.

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Eccle Riggs Country Club & Golf Course

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After walking across the golf course we came to Eccle Riggs hamlet which contained a number of superb houses, many with great views of the fells. The lane took us down to Broughton-in-Furness where we chatted to a chap who was laying paving by the town tennis club. We walked through town looking for a coffee shop but the only one we saw was shut so, after an uphill strecth the wrong way, we walked back to town and past two nice looking pubs and a butcher to take the steep road out to the (closed) pub at the crossroads. From there we descended on the A595, taking a footpath through fields on the left to avoid the traffic.

The path took us to the banks of the River Duddon, which was crystal clear. We walked a short distance upstream to the old Duddon Bridge and crossed it, dodging the one way traffic.

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Duddon Bridge

Shortly after crossing we took a minor road to the right and came upon Duddon Ironworks: a very impressive group of stone buildings that had been the start of the local iron industry in the 1700s. We exchanged hellos with a lady in one of the attractive nearby properties before following the path uphill.

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Duddon Ironworks

I tried to follow it on the OS App but the path had been moved due to tree felling so, after a quick stop to eat some nuts, we climbed a dry stone wall and crossed a stunning bluebell wood to reach the well trodden path. This took us down to the A-road, along which we walked before taking a minor road signposted 'Lady Hall'.

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Stanley Wood

Going was easy on the road but we had to dodge a couple of speeding cyclists. We arrived at lady hall, which was a small hamlet, and were directed down to the pathby a lady with an unusual accent. The path took us to the railway crossing. We saw the Duddon railway viaduct just up the line and Foxfield station, which we had left some 3 hours earlier, no more than half a mile away.

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Duddon Railway Bridge

The path ran along a levee where we stopped for a rest and some snacks. The levee was exposed and so very windy, but gave great views across the estuary, back to the mountains and of Millom to the south. Going was good and we followed the embankment to a dirst road which took us to Green Road Station. Here we followed another long straight dirt track that crossed back over the railway. We opted for this route rather than the levee as a farmer was spreading white chemicals on his field and the wind was blowing them towards the estuary.

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Embankment by the Duddon Estuary

We followed the track for some distance, the spire of Millom church getting ever closer. When the levee veered back towards the railway line we re-crossed and continued our walk by the estuary mud flats and salt grass fields where sheep and lambs grazed.

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Lane by Millom Marsh - Millom church spire in distance

Another brief stop on a bench then we did the final mile or so to Millom. Kym asked about food but the nearest cafes were in town so we ploughed on along an old railway line to Duddon Nature Reserve. This was the site of the old ironworks and was very interesting. Spoil heaps, old railway yards, buildings and a large wharf were gradually being won back by nature. The views continued to be stunning. A couple of new build houses looked very out of place but had amazing views.

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View north up the Duddon Estuary

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New build on the old Millom ironworks site

We followed the path to the beach - a huge deserted affair along which we walked: first on shingle, then sand and then along the dunes. The beach ended at Hodbarrow Point where we climbed the rise to see the ruined windmill. We descended to the huge sea wall and stopped at a bench to take in the view. A pleasant young chap was interested in our walk and spent some time advising us on how to get from Haverigg to Silecroft.

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Iron ore in the sands, Hodbarrow Mains

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We walked to the old lighthouse with its interesting information board and to the public birdhide that looked out over the lagoon and its mass of nesting birds.

From there we followed the path around the lagoon until we got to the 'holiday village' where Kym suggested we try the popular 'Ski Bar'. I asked the waitress if food was still being served before we sat at a table in the sun. After 15 minutes we hadn't been served so we left and made for Haverigg.

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Port Haverigg

Haverigg was a very interesting looking small place straddling a river. The pub was shut so we wandered on through the place and out to the sand dunes. The map suggested that we could follow a trail through the dunes but a 'Private' sign suggested otherwise, so we made for the beach and started to walk parallel to it on the dunes. We marvelled at the sight of a chap doing yoga with the aid of a structure made of driftwood.

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Entering the dunes at Haverigg Point

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A terrific yoga studio

I noticed a path down on the flat so we switched to it. It was initially easier but became harder as we hit the shingle. The Isle of Man was clearly visible out in the west in the clear sky. The beach turned slightly northwards and we saw the next couple of miles layed out before us. This stretch was not only very hard going but also, despite the amazing views, quite monotonous.

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Isle of Man from Haverigg Point

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Flotsam as art, Haverigg Point

We trudged on, aiming for a white house which we knew to be where we should leave the beach. The house seemed not to be getting any closer but eventually we reached it. It turned out to be a private house so we had to walk a little further before taking asome wooden steps up to a static caravan park. We walked between the serried ranks of green vans before hitting the road back to Silecroft. It was quite a distance but finally we spied the level crossing and reached the car.

We took off our packs and made for the secluded, pleasant, back garden of the pub where we had a pint, crisps and nuts and a chat with the owner before driving back to our caravan.

8th May 2021 – Silecroft to Drigg: 18.21 miles

Day 76

We were awoken at 05:30 by the sound of heavy rain on the caravan roof: we both ignored it. I got up to put the kettle on and drew back the curtains to reveal a grey rain lashed vista and hear a howling wind. I went back to bed. Kym eventually asked what the time was. "6.30" I replied. "So we're too late for the earlier train?" she said, "Yep" I replied, rather hoping that she would suggest postponing today, but no such luck. We got up, had breakfast and opened the caravan door, which nearly blew off its hinges as I was hit by a blast of rainy cold air.

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We had decided to shorten today's leg, aiming for Ravenglass rather than Drigg, as I had suddenly noticed that the river bridges were for trains, not pedestrians. The drive to Ravenglass was tricky in the driving rain. We were running a little late as we pulled into the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway car park. I asked a lady taxi driver if there was a free car park for the 'real' railway but she didn't know. I tried to download a parking app as we didn't have £4 in change, but I had no phone signal so after a quick dash back to the car for my gloves (thank God!) we bought tickets to Silecroft and jumped on the train that arrived on time at 08:51. I managed to pay the car park fee just as we stopped at Silecroft.

Taking shelter in the lean-to waiting area we finalised our attire before heading out into the lashing rain and freezing wind. It was truly horrendous weather: so bad that I was unable to take my camera out. I only managed three photos all morning, taking those with my phone when I had to use it to determine where the unmarked footpaths went.

We decided not to follow the shoreline as I had planned, but instead took a path across fields and over the railway line to Sledbank. Here we crossed over the A595  and took an elevated path that ran parallel to the busy road. We startled a goose that was nesting in the bracken and she quacked loudly 'till we passed.

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Looking back to Black Combe from Bootle area

The path rejoined the road just before Whitbeck where we crossed over, walked through a lay-by and then took a left trun to folow a minor road back across the railway towards Gutterby. The farmer saw, but ignored, us as we walked between his farm buildings. He was probably ashamed of the dreadful state of the paths, fences, gates and non-existent stiles that we encountered for the next part of the walk (but more likely didn't give a damn).

The weather was dreadful, which made it doubly frustrating not to be able to find the route and to have to negotiate rights of way that were obstructed by barbed wire. At one point we traversed a field and collected a flock of about 100 sheep and lambs who thought we were about to feed them. They showed no fear and were literally stepping on my heels at one point.

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Hungry sheep near Bootle

The grim terrain was matched by the awful weather. We trudged along muddy, litter strewn tracks until we arrived at Annaside and a farm where the way was again obstruicted by string stretched across the track. Beyond the farm was a small bridge, before which was a sign that said 'Private Bridge - no vehicles or pedestrians past this point'. We tried to find an alternative way to cross the River Annas but couldn't, so walked across the bridge of sleepers.

The lane ran past a couple of grey, untidy looking farms before crossing under the railway line. We followed it for a dreary mile or so to reach Bootle Station. The station was some distance from Bootle itself. On entering the village Kym spotted 'Bank House' on the front of which imposing stone building was carved 'Lancashire Bank' - long since closed but strangely located in this tiny place.

The station for this small village had a peculiarly large covered waiting area, which we eagerly entered to gain some shelter from the wind and rain. It was bliss to be able to sit down and rest our feet: so much so that we ate our lunch of ham and cheese rolls early - it was only just 12:00. 

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Lunch stop in Bootle station waiting room

 We aired our wet things and once rested and fed, wrapped up against the elements and headed off along the road towards the coast. Several stalwarts had driven out to the parking area above the beach and we eyed them enviously in their warm dry cars.

The road passed a large house and some MOD equipment before coming to the southern boundary of the Eskmeals Firearms Range. We walked alongside the twin fences that guarded the folorn looking facility for a mile and a half. It was quite a relied when we were able to take a right turn along a small lane that ran back under the railway and past the impressive looking Eskmeals House.

The footpath we wanted headed left immediately before Stockbridge Farm. We entered a field containing black cattle - a little twitchy as their calves were about. I had to check the OS app on my phone for the umpteenth time today to see where the footpath went, which necessitated us doubling back to follow it over a small river.

After a fairly muddy stretch we arrived at Newbiggin. A number of touring caravans occupied one of the farmer's fields. The track ran on between hedgerows that gave some relief from the wind. The rain had stopped and we had good views up the valley.

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Newbiggin Farm

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Dark clouds up the Esk Valley

We spotted the River Esk as we neared the scruffy hamlet of Hall Waberthwaite. Here we stopped to stow some gear and saw a lad preoccupied under his headphones and a chap taking a delivery from an Asda truck whoe driver had managed to reverse up a very narrow track.

We passed the van and followed the track through a gate and to a section where we were warned to check the tide timetable. Somebody had helpfully pinned a copy of the 2019 tide times to the notice. Although the stream running through the field was full, we managed to keep dry and crossed it on a decent footbridge to pass through Rougholme Farm.

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Boardwalk at Hall Waberthwaite

The boardwalk ended at a stile and another warning about high tides and impassibility: again with an out of date tide timetable. We stopped for a snack and to admire the views of the river and of several birds on the marsh below. We picked out a route to the road bridge half a mile or so away and set off, dodging the water channels. We had good views of Muncaster Castle across the river.

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Muncaster Castle from the Esk Valley

A short distance down the farm drive we took a footpath on the left that led through a wood. The ground was very boggy so we made use of a boardwalk. It was in a fairly bad state of repair with many planks having disintegrated: still, it kept our feet dry.

We had to walk on the A595 to cross the river. There was no footpath on the bridge and the traffic was fierce: particularly one idiot in his BMW who was doing about 60 in a 40 mph zone.

We stopped at Muncaster castle Lodge and I hatched a plan to extend our walk to Drigg so as not to have to do extra mileage tomorrow. This depended on there being a reasonable route, which my OS app showed me there was and on us being able to catch a train back from Drigg to Ravenglass. I couldn't get a signal to check this. Kym did and Google suggested that there were two trains just before 17:00. We went for it.

After a long and dangerous trudge up the A-road we took a track off to the right and then a path through a beautiful wood, resplendent with rhodedendrons and banks of bluebells. We took the path down to Muncaster Mill and crossed the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway line just as a steam loco pulled several carriages of punters past.

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Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway at Muncaster Mill

The next couple of miles were hard and we had to press ourselves against the hedge as cars sped past us. We were relived to reach Carleton Hall where the main road went right and we went left to follow a path across fields and down to the beautiful pack horse bridge by which we crossed the River Irt.

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Holme Bridge over the River Irt

From there it was a muddy track up to the road that led into Drigg. It was rather longer than we had hoped but we eventually turned left onto the lane that took us to the station.

It was with no little irony that we observed a welcoming little coffee shop in the old station buildings after seeing nothing all day. Our train was due so, with a nervous wait until the technology started working, we confirmed that it was on time and bought our tickets.

The signal box operator descended his steps to manually close the crossing gates a few minutes before our train arrived. We had barely sat down before we trundled over the viaduct and into Ravenglass Station where we alighted and made for our warm, dry car and a relaxing drive back to the caravan.

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Manual level crossing at Drigg station

And so ended the penultimate day of my 'Ramble'. Tomorrow should take us from Drigg, along the coast (somehow) and deliver us to St Bees where it all began back in 2005. Must get a good night's sleep!

9th May 2021 – Drigg to St Bees: 13.41 miles

Day 77

We slept well but were wakened by the light through the skylight at 05:30. It was a good sign - the day was clearer than yesterday. We had decided to take the first train to Drigg and as that didn't leave Askham until 10:00 had a relatively relaxed start to the day.

We left ourselves plenty of time to drive to Askham Station, park the car and buy the sunday paper then wait for the train, chatting to a family en route to Ravenglass.

The train arrived on time - such a brilliant service around here - and we stared out of the window at all the places we had walked over the previous four days. Drigg was a request stop so we stood in the aisle to alert the conductor to our intention to get off.

After sorting ourselves out on the platform we set off along the lane to the coast. This took us past a nuclear waste storage facility behind high fences, on which were posted many warning notices. 

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Nuclear waste storage facility by Drigg station

We stopped at the end of the facility to talk to an elderly chap who had four small Dexter cattle. He told us the story of three of them suckling each other in a ring! He also said the nearby beach was used in the horse running sequence of the 'Countryfile' opening credits. He then explained that the impressive black cattle being fed in an adjacent field were Galloways.

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Galloway cattle fence art

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New signs for the England Coast Path with the Lake District Fells behind

As we hit the beach we read the information board explaining its WWII role. Turning right into the dunes we looked out for the craters left by sheep unfortunate enough to have stepped on old mines.

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A hut well worth protecting?

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Just some of the huge amount of litter on the beach south of Seascale

The walk through the dunes was quite easy going and made for a refreshing change. We soon got to Whitriggs Scar where we climbed some steps and turned left down the street to Seascale.

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Whitriggs Scar with St Bees' Head in the far distance

The small town looked like something from the '50s. It had a completely unspoilt charm. We popped into Mawson's Cafe and bought hot drinks and bacon barms, which we ate at a table in the adjoining park. We then bought terrific home made ice creams and consumed them on a bench a little further along the park.

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Refreshments from Mawsons at Bailey Ground Hotel

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After a toilet stop (all the settlements round here have clean, free and open public toilets) we walked past the town cannon and a memorial to the Cumbria shootings. We then walked up to the path that ran alongside the railway line. Signs warned of adders on the path but we saw none: too cold no doubt.

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Memorial to West Cumbria shootings, Seascal

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Different warning signs

The path took detours from its original direction on account of coastal erosion and building works at the Sellafield nuclear site. We negotiated the new route easily and before long found ourselves back out on the low cliffs looking across open fields to the site.

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Sellafield nuclear power station

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The very last map change for the old waterproof map case: St Bees' Head in view

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The excellent and scenic Northern Rail service runs by the River Ehen

After a short climb we descended to a disused railway line that formed a footpath to Bechermet. We ignored that and instead passed over the River Ehen and then beneath the railway line to rejoin the dunes. These gave way to a scruffy path that was littered with rubbish brought in on the tide: the amount was truly staggering.

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Personalised flotsam, just as it appeared on the beach path!

We stopped for our sandwich at a small cairn with an inscription in memory of a lady. The couple on the beach explained that she used to visit the nearby caravan site and loved this spot before she was killed in a motorcycle accident.

We pressed on beneath the static van site to yet another row of beachside shacks.These were a little scruffier than others we had seen and some seemed almost derelict. 

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Beach shacks at Braystones - handy for the train!

We left the beach after the shacks and ascended the cliffs before descending past a herd of friesian cattle to the lane to Nethertown. I felt quite faint after the climb and had to lie down, worried that I might fall at the final hurdle!

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One last rest before Nethertown

We followed the new 'England Coastal Path' signs and were left very confused by two sets of two signs that seemed to contradict each other. We were following my mapped route so disregarded these and entered Nethertown: the usual mixture of attractive older style properties and awful new build and mobile homes.

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Clear as mud!

From Nethertown we followed a lane for a couple of miles, seeing our first signs to St Bees and then catching glimpses of St Bees Head and eventually the beach. We kept donning and removing our over trousers as the rain came and went.

The path took us from the road and down to the railway line under which we crossed via a tunnel. It then headed back up a steep and heavily eroded cliff beside St Bees golf course. From the top we looked down at the rather disappointing vista of St Bees seafront and the walk's conclusion.

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The end is in sight

We descended the hill, walked through a car park and across the grass beside the sea wall until we reached the monument marking the start of the C2C where I had started the adventure 16 years ago. Kym took a photo as I ceremoniously touched the stone, then several others trying to recreate the one I had from my original departure.

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Joining up the circular walk after 1230 miles

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A great walking team!

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13th April 2005

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9th May 2021

We checked train times and saw that one left in 30 minutes, so I ran down to dip my boots in the water then we walked swiftly through the rather grotty town back to St Bees Station. I took some more photos before we boarded the 17:33 back to Askham and our car. We spent the journey WhatsApping friends and family who responded with congratulations.

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Arriving...13th April 2005

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Departing... 9th May 2021

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We drove from Askham to Dalton where we got an outside table at the Brown Cow Inn for a celebratory pint and a steak pie (me) and Cumberland sausage (Kym).

It was then back to the caravan for a great hot shower and to write up the final day of my big walk....or is it?

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Drawing the final line on the map

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Afterward

Afterward

As with our previous caravan based sections of the walk we had built in a rest day at the end of the walking. We had intended to drive to Ravenglass, which looked interesting but which we hadn't really seen on the walk. We stopped off at Broughton-in-Furness to buy bread and cakes from the excellent little bakery shop. As we returned to the car the heavens opened so we abandonned our plans and drove back to spend a relaxing morning reading the paper.

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The weather brightened a little so we drove the scenic route over the hill to Ulverston and then headed out to Conishead Priory Buddhist Centre where we had a quick snack. The centre offered a free 15 minute meditation session in the spectacular gold temple building and we took advantage of this. I managed to fall asleep three times but woke myself up before I started to snore.

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Conishead Priory Buddhist Centre

We wandered through the centre's woods to the foreshore along which we had walked on day 1 of this section. It was lovely to sit and gaze out at the route we had covered. Returning to the car we drove to Ulverston, parked up and had a look around what seemed to be an up and coming town. We stopped for a pint at a roadside pub table and chatted to the pleasant barmaid about 'opening up'.

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Ulverston, the Hoad Monument and one of it's famous sons

From there it was back to the car for another lovely drive back over the hill, stopping to take photos of the Duddon Estuary laid out below us.

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Kirkby-in-Furness from Bank House Moor

We relaxed in the caravan, ate and read before bed. The next morning we visited Tracy, the site owner, to thank her for a lovely stay. We then did a short (2 mile) walk to get the paper and visit properly, for the first time, the small village of Kirkby-in-Furness. We wandered along the banks of the Duddon in a more relaxed way than we had a few days previously. Then it was back to the 'van for lunch and to pack before an easy drive back home: job done!

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A last look at the Duddon Estuary from Sandside, Kirkby-in-Furness

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