A wobbly Coast to Coast path - Rambling Pete's Way 2010

Day Thirteen: 29th June

Weather: Cloudy start, looking like rain, but glorious sunshine again

Route: Ennerdale Bridge to St.Bees - 16 miles with 2830ft of ascent


Today started really well as I had a packed lunch from the Fox and Hounds – a warm vegetarian pasty wrapped in a foil bag – I was tempted to eat it soon after breakfast, but just managed to resist the smell. This was the last day of my wobbly coast to coast journey and I still had a little ascent judging by a quick look at the map. Before the trip started I had printed out about 36 1:25k maps and laminated them – so I had 15 x A4 sized print outs. These proved to be a great success, waterproof, quite light, and crumpled up in my pocket when needed – although I must admit I had the entire route plumbed into my SatMap GPS and used that for most of the time. But the maps were consulted whenever I needed a diversion around lively cattle. My I-phone tuned in to the Isle of Man telecoms once or twice so I turned the roaming off just in case. Outside it was grey skies again and fairly low cloud on the higher peaks, it felt like rain again, but a glance towards the coast told me otherwise. I walked away from the pub up the road until I reached a left turn and took it – then it was a steady ascent up to Scarny Brow. The first few miles up to Kinniside Common were on the road – there is a path that runs parallel to it to keep walkers safe from the traffic, but today its sole purpose was to make everything soaking wet. It’s very narrow with bracken and long grass, just waiting to slap you, and wet your pants – the grass not you, so I chose to walk along the road to keep dry. I passed by the stone circle which was very impressive and the views up Ennerdale were obscured by cloud anyway. Once up on Kinniside Common the views open up a little, behind me Ennerdale was still cloaked in cloud but to the west and the coast the day promised sunshine.

still wet over Ennerdale, but it's behind me now

looking back to Ennerdale Bridge

but looking promising towards the coast

gradually leaving the weather behind me as I turn west soon

looking towards Uldale  - I can see the sea

There were lots of coast 2 coast walkers today, and as I was going against the flow I got to chat with a fair few. The first of many was on my way up the road, a couple were getting booted up and called out ‘Are you doing Grike or Lank Rigg’ – some of you may know that my hearing isn’t the greatest and I thought he said ‘Are you a crock, you Lanky bar steward’. I explained I was wobbling to the coast at St Bees, so they wished me luck. Most people were very cheery, some were very odd, some were lost, some had no chance of finishing, and there was also the Mr. Serious ‘I’m doing the coast to coast, coming through’groups - but the majority fell into the first category – grinning away as they went. Beyond Kinniside Common was a drop down a farm track towards the farm at NearThwaites, turning west towards the sea at last – I’m sure I could smell it on the air. I passed some noisy guard geese who lived in an ever diminishing pond. As I walked down through the field towards Nannycatch Gate, via a rather steep bank, surprisingly to me there didn’t appear to be a discernable path down. A herd of cattle had battered down the bracken somewhat, and I lent a hand by landing on my bum – nice red soil for my trousers. Down in the valley it was a pleasant walk beside the Kirk Beck and I spotted the first of many C2C walkers coming my way. They were followed by a chuckling local, flat cap and whippet. I said my hello to the two dishevelled walkers and stopped for a chat with the old guy. They’d told him they’d been caught in last night’s storm and everything they had was soaked. Their bags looked massive and they weren’t exactly what you would call ‘athletic build or age’. They were heading for Ennerdale to try and dry everything – tent, sleeping bags etc – I hope they made it. Then the farmer tried to persuade me to take a straight line for St.Bees – ‘nevermind that there hill’ – no concept of enjoyment of the countryside for him.

down the lane to Nearthwaites

down at Nannycatch Gate

making my way up through Uldale Plantation

out above the forest and the views open up

The next bit along was a walk up through a forest to gain the height of Dent Hill, and halfway up I wondered if the farmer was right. I had occasional glimpses out through the forest ride, and as I plodded upwards the smell of fresh, wet pine wafted through the air. As I came out above the treeline I saw another C2C walker zipping along a different path. But out and up on top of the hill produces a moment of exhilaration as the coast comes into view and you begin to realise that you will make the end– I must admit to letting out a rather loud ‘get in’. The views back to the Lakes were worth absorbing too and I gave myself a metaphorical pat on the back for my route through the high fells. From here it was mostly downhill to the coast with a few little rises here and there. As I walked down towards Cleator I began to meet a steady string of walkers out on their first day of adventure – and I guess they will get used to each others company over the coming week or two. My second encounter with a farmer today was at Black How, a very happy chappy and genuinely interested in my wobbly route. But after 5 minutes of farming woes I had to crack on and said my goodbyes. Through Cleator – not much to see here - I was surprised again by the size and facilities of the local cricket club -a big ground for a small town. Beyond the pitch the route took me up onto an old railway embankment, now a tarmac path designated as an alternative C2C route. I think the local council spent some millennium funds improving the way and it seems to be well used by the locals, but for me it was just an A to B part of the route with not much interest – apart from the odd bit of sculpture. But I passed a few C2C walkers, who gave me encouragement and congratulations – ‘I’ve not finished yet’  said I


the weather is moving East now and the views to the lakes are clear once more - Grike is the nearest hill

looking over to the north west fells - Grasmoor is the big one

the main C2C path comes up Dent Hill - or down if your going the normal way

a real moment of joy as I feel closer to the end

all downhill from Dent summit - almost - a great day to finish

looking back to Dent Hill beyond the farm at Black How

The track skirted around Moor Row and Scalegill, and as the track bent towards Whitehaven I left via a sandstone bridge, or rather down and under it. As I trotted across I was feeling a bit puckish, so I couldn’t wait any longer, sat down on a stile and attacked my veggie pasty – it was undoubtedly the best lunch of my whole journey – warm and spicy – delicious. Then it was back to field walking and more encounters with fellow walkers – A couple of ladies – ‘do you know where we are?’ – ‘Yes, in a field’ – ‘but which one’ – ‘do you see that Stanley Pond right next to where you are standing?’ – ‘Oh yes’….I hope they found someone to follow in the days to come. Next was a lady sitting down wearing a flesh coloured bra – a very disconcerting sight from 30yds, especially as she was rubbing suncream on her torso. Then a whole load of all sorts, some racing some plodding and a couple of old american ladies who were a bit tiddly – they’d just been in the pub in Sandwith. She looked like a ghost as well – must have had factor 85 suncream on. Out of Sandwith I took the Tarnflatt Hall road and cut away to the coast at an old sandstone quarry. They were busy in the quarry moving big stones around and generally tidying up. Ah to smell the sea again, plenty of ozone in the air and a cooling breeze blowing onshore. It’s always a special feeling when you hit the coastline and this one didn’t disappoint – big cliffs of sandstone, with Whitehaven to the north, and in the distance the Isle of Man, and Dumfries and Galloway.

the cricket ground at Cleator


the coast to coast markers on the old railway track

some interesting sculptures

my lunch spot down by the gate - the last ascent ahead

the lakes fading away, next stop is the Irish Sea  

Beyond the quarry the path pretty much stuck to the coast all the way to the end, with some impressive sandstone cliffs to look at, as well as a good view of the Isle of Man – I had to remember to turn my mobile data roaming off so I couldn’t get charged by the manx telecoms. As I rounded the headland, I rambled past St Bee’s lighthouse, and it’s not very big from where I stood – but then again it’s high on the headland so it doesn’t have to be. Shortly after the lighthouse I hopped over the fence via a stile and down to a viewing area to watch the seabirds on the cliffs. Two Essex boys told me about this morning and I was very happy they had. There’s a big colony of Razorbills there and I waited around for 10 minutes and more and was treated to some aerial acrobatics – it was a shame I didn’t have the zoom with me. It was very hypnotic watching the seabirds floating on the breeze and encouraging their youngsters to take to the air. There was a nick into the hillside at Fleswick where a small stream has cut down to the coast – an annoying little drop for tired legs.


the road from Sandwith towards Tarn Fleet Hall


a great feeling at last the coast - Whitehaven to the north

the sandstone quarry the path skirts around  

St Bees lighthouse


it was relaxing watching the razorbills for a while


a last dip down before walking up the last headland and the last hill

All of a sudden the end is nigh and Seascale comes into view down the coast, followed by a view down to St.Bees with the majestic Lake District peaks as a backdrop – a fitting end to my wobbly coast to coast. I had mixed feelings as I walked down the headland towards the beach – emotional, excited to complete ‘my walk’, enervated and tired all at the same time, but the legs will be glad of a rest for a while. I worked my way around a busy promenade, and down a ramp to the pebbly shore where I dipped my boots with a soft ‘hssst’ and the Irish Sea gave a gentle sigh. As I enjoyed an ice cream looking out to sea, I thought to myself…wouldn’t it be nice to just turn around and go back. It’s been brilliant and I hope you enjoyed it as well. Total of 222 miles and 40,370ft of ascent – not bad for an old fart!

Tired? – just a touch zzzzzzzz


the end of my wobbly coast to coast

aaggghh bliss - I feel like going back the other way now

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