It was a dark and stormy night. No, really, it was. Nice and dark because we were well away from major sources of light pollution. And it was stormy. It rained. It was still raining when we got up early for breakfast. Nevertheless, we were determined to have a nice day out.
We drove north to St Bees. The rain stopped, hooray. It started again, oh no. We parked by the beach and had a short walk along the beach to clear the air. We had had coffee in the seafront café, along with a scone, and that was very pleasant. But in the toilet, I was horrified, shocked and almost gagged at the sight of something I’d not seen for decades. A flystrip. A sticky strip of paper along with several corpses of long-dead flies. Such a contrast with the stark beauty of the beach.
St Bees is the start (or the end, depending which way you go) of the Coast to Coast walk, something that has been on our bucket lists for a long, long time.
We did witness one young man set off on his bike, and (I’m guessing) his Dad with the support vehicle. Today wasn’t perhaps the best day to set off. There’s a a lot of water in them there clouds.
But the main reason we came to St Bees was to visit the very old priory, now the parish church of St Bees.
Once we parked in the correct place (that’s another story) we easily found the elaborate front door.
As we explored the building, the organist kept us entertained. There’s a lot of history here. We stood at the site of the South Chancel that was the focus of an archaeology excavation in 1981.
Although the Monastic burials were expected, the discovery at a 14th century vault containing two bodies was not. One female skeleton lay beside the nearly perfectly preserved body of a man wrapped in a lead coffin.
Some of the gravestones in the cemetery had lost their battle with the elements. Even some Victorian epitaphs were very hard to decipher.
The sundial in the graveyard was a grave disappointment. No gnomon, no good, but there was no Sun anyway, so no problem.
The walk to the RSPB site on the coast was exciting. The local farmer had erected a sign saying ‘Authorised vehicles only’. So we had to park on his land and pay for the privilege. Don’t mind paying, but not so keen on the underhand way he goes about it. Then when we’d parked up, a woman came running out and told us to rotate the car 90° to make room for more vehicles. Ooh, sorry, we all missed the sign that wasn’t there…
The road was passable except for one huge puddle which we negotiated by utilising a well placed gate.
After passing by the lighthouse, we eventually came to the cliffs. Fortunately, there was a display depicting all the birds that we wouldn’t see on this occasion: fulmar, kittiwake, peregrine falcon, razorbill. We did see herring gulls, a cormorant and ravens. Sadly, puffins weren’t even mentioned!
On to Ravenglass for a ride on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway train.
Our compartment was at the back of the miniature train. We passed through some pretty countryside, and I wondered how the train kept upright on a mere 15-inch gauge railway track.
Yes, of course we waved at passengers on the train passing by in the opposite direction. And at people on bridges and in the fields.
I’m sorry I missed seeing the steam engine on the turntable at Eskdale as it turned round to take us back to Ravenglass. I always wanted a turntable when I had train sets but that boat sailed a long time ago.
Back in Ravenglass we went for a walk to the site of the old Roman Bath. Yes, I was surprised too. Who knew the Romans were in this part of the world?
We met a lady who used to live in the area and she was really enthusiastic about it. She told us tales of playing here as a child.
The tide was safely out (we hoped) so we walked back to town along the beach. The sea was remarkably calm, but that didn’t help me achieve any stone skimming PBs.
Pauline thought a gull was in distress when it kept jumping out of the water and being dragged back. But as we got closer, we realised it was just messing about, practising its take off and landing and its diving skills. Very entertaining and I’m so glad I didn’t have to hold Pauline’s coat if she’d been required dive in and rescue to poor old bird.
A hearty supper was taken at a local pub before we set off for Nether Wasdale for our final night away from home. It’s always an anti-climax when you’ve been away for a while, had a good time and you have to go back home, back to normal.
Another early breakfast was taken and by the time we left, we anticipated arriving home by about 12.30. Plenty of time to get ready for our 4 o’clock date. Rarely have we been more wrong. We thought this would be as bad as it gets:
Cows walking, running and stumbling across the road held us up for a couple of minutes. Never mind, we’ll soon be on the motorway.
It took over six hours to get home. There’d been an accident on the M6. Liesel, Leslie and I were on the M6. I sent a message to Pauline and Andrew who were behind us, saying it might be best to come off the M6 while they had the chance. Their diversion was slow as well. They took even longer to get home. In a first for me, I leapt out of the car while it was stationary on the motorway, ran up the embankment, climbed over a fence, missed jumping into the world’s largest cowpat by about three inches, relieved myself, jumped back over the fence and ran several hundred yards along the motorway to catch up because, of course, the traffic was now moving, at least for a while.
In Ambleside, I’d bought myself a new shirt, a very rare occurrence. I was glad to have time to change into this shirt for our family gathering at Gusto in Cheadle Hulme. When Pauline and Andrew arrived, there were ten of us altogether and we had a very nice, civilised meal, thank you very much.
At this point, you’re expecting to see photos of the ten of us, in various groups and subgroups. Other than some blurry photos of me with Helen, and Martha with Helen, I have none. We’ll just have to gather together on another occasion.
And so our mini post wedding weekend travels come to an end. A splendid time was had by all. Thanks to Liesel and Leslie; Pauline, Andrew and Rob; Helen; Martha and William; and Jenny and Liam, the new Mr and Mrs W, for a brilliant time. And thanks for the opportunity to present a controversial Oxford comma plus did you notice the controversial use of semi-colons where commas ought to be?
Back in Northenden and all is well with the world.