Sunny Walney Island awaits….

Well it certainly feels like spring has sprung! What a lovely day and reasonably warm, so off we went to the seaside – well you do don’t you?

The island is accessed by a relatively short road bridge from Barrow-in-Furness and is about 11 miles long and 1 mile at its widest. I was quite surprised to realise that the central part of the island is quite densely populated – Vickerstown initially built as a town for the workers of Vickers boat building in Barrow but either end of the island are extensive Nature Reserves with beaches running all along the west side and the east side more marshland.

Today we headed for the West Shore at Earnse Point (plenty of free parking) and headed towards the north end.

The beach is pebble backed with long stretches of sand interspersed with areas of stone (scars) – we soon left the houses behind and enjoyed a lovely walk along the deserted beach towards Black Combe the hill in the background back on the mainland.

Poppydog happy to chase seabirds, the occasional pebble and wallow around in the many pools left in the sands.

Oh we have missed this, it feels like a long while since we were able to amble along an empty beach, especially in the sunshine! For a change on the way back we pottered in and out of the low dunes of the Nature Reserve.

Two thoughts of the day:

The Lakes are beautiful but a long, deserted, sandy beach wins every time!

It feels wrong somehow that this tiny island is so heavily populated.

Claife Viewing Station to Wray Castle….

Another grey day, but a dry one, so off we went for a walk along the shores of Lake Windermere. We parked up at the NT car park (thank goodness for my NT membership otherwise it would have cost £7.50!!!) near Claife Viewing Station, just above the Ferry House on the Lakeside side of Windermere. A short walk up the hill to the Viewing Station – what a beauty!

The Viewing Station was built in the 1790’s during the ‘Picturesque’ period where a view should be framed and have various layers (depth, different heights and ideally trees and water!). The different coloured glass was to enable viewers to look at the view and see it during the different seasons, yellow for summer, green for spring, red for autumn and blue for winter.

What an interesting idea – though I personally prefer it au naturale!

To add to the drama, above one of the windows is a wind harmonica playing a rather mournful melody – magical!

Could have spent all day but onward we walked following the track through the woodland alongside the Lake.

At one point we missed a turning in the footpath and ended up following the lanes up the hillside and doing a bit of an unintended detour, but eventually we arrived at Wray Castle.

Built in 1840 as a rather fancy house with a significant claim to fame in that Beatrix Potter had a holiday here when she was 16, which apparently led to her passion for The Lakes, she subsequently bought a small farm nearby with the proceeds of her first book. Other wise they serve a nice cup of tea and make a mean chocolate brownie. Suitably revived, time was cracking on and the light beginning to fade, so we set a fair pace for our return walk – a long but enjoyable 10 mile round trip (would have been 8 without our detour).

Two thoughts of the day:

Until the late 1700’s the Lake District was considered to be an overgrown wilderness and certainly nowhere that anyone would want to visit – now visited by some 15.8 million a year! How things change?

I find these quirky little glimpses at our history so fascinating.

A grey trip down memory lane to Fell Foot…..

A thoroughly mizzog day today, grey and drizzly all day, neither cold nor warm just grey and damp! An effort free walk was required so we set off for Fell Foot a NT park at the southern end of lake Windermere. Home to many distant and somewhat vague childhood memories of happily pottering about on the lake with my brothers and cousins on various different craft – re-enacting our own versions of Swallows and Amazons.

I can’t remember how much freedom to roam we had, certainly not as much as the Walkers and Blacketts (characters in the much loved series of books, set in the late 20’s and early 30’s) but I do remember the feeling of excitement at being on the water, picnics by the waters edge and ice creams from the boathouse cafe – I also remember the sunshine!!

Today however there was no activity on the water, very few people wandering about and the boathouses are receiving a makeover so not accessible.

We walked about a bit in the drizzle, but actually the site is quite small (I remember it being much bigger but then I was much smaller!) and even doing a loop twice round barely took us an hour, even with some major excitement for Poppydog as she found an abandoned rugby ball!

On consulting Mr OS, the only other walks from here (as the Ferry to Lakeside doesn’t operate in the winter) are up two neighbouring fells, both of which had disappeared under a low mist so we’re not very appealing! Never mind we’ve had some fresh air and tomorrow is another day!

Two thoughts of the day:

I really wish I could remember more specifics of my childhood – I always remember our holidays being long adventures (we were lucky that mum and dad had the full school holidays off) in different places, meeting new lifelong friends to be forgotten shortly after the holidays had ended, sunshine – nearly always sunshine and being happy and carefree – not a bad way to remember them – I guess?

Little glimpses of our past bringing joyful memories of long forgotten times and places – how lovely to be able to revisit and relive so many?

A sunny walk to Roa Island….

Another beautiful day and almost warm in the sunshine! We pretty much set off were we left off yesterday, finding plenty of parking along the Coastal Road. Our first stop was a trip down onto the beach at Roosebeck Sands, taking the opportunity of an empty beach before the incoming tide swallows up all the sand.

As the tide is quickly coming in, we walked along the concrete promenade that runs all the way above the beach, to just shy of Rampside, where the promenade ends and you are forced to either take your chances on the marshland or walk a few hundred metres on the roadside. All the while enjoying views across the bay to Morecambe and Heysham. Rampside Sands had all but disappeared under the tide, though looked pretty with the low winter sun and contrasting wooden posts. Both beaches are scattered with shells and the sand is quite course and muddy in places.

The village itself is quite unremarkable and the road continues along a short causeway to Roa Island with it’s small collection of houses (no sign of any swanky glass new builds just a few rows of terraces) and a yard full of yachts.

The island is only tiny and soon we had reached the end of the road and Barrow’s New Lifeboat Station, with Piel Island in the distance.

We could have done with a cup of tea at this point but the one cafe was closed on Mondays! So we set off on our return journey and completed our 7.5 mile walk with a little play on the beach for Poppydog.

Two thoughts of the day:

There is something quite magical about visiting an island – I think so anyway.

I have to confess I am looking forward to visiting some ‘proper’ beaches soon. Morecambe Bay May have oodles of sand but much if it is unsafe to enjoy unless you are in the know – which I am not!

Bardsea and surprisingly a Buddhist Temple….

Another wet night but thankfully dry by the morning and in fact some lovely sunshine to keep us company this afternoon so we set off for Bardsea. We found plenty of parking on the coastal road, the tide was fairly well in though the nearest sandbanks still exposed as we looked out over Ulverston Sands across Morecambe Bay.

There was a path leading inland up the Ulverston Channel, along the shoreline, so off we went. At times the footpath was somewhat decrepit, though the shoreline was pebbly and quite easy walking.

It was a lovely peaceful walk, for a couple of miles, to the gentle lapping of the water and at the end a nice opportunity for a sit in the sun, whilst Poppydog had a paddle and chased stones.

Far reaching views over Levens Viaduct to the Lakes beyond – beautiful.

On the way back we popped into the woodland walk up to Conishead Priory for a look.

A beautiful old building, originally a 12th C. Augustinian Priory, since the 1970’s home to a Buddhist community with a fabulous new gold topped Temple in the grounds.

Missed the opportunity for a meditation session but we enjoyed the serenity of the Temple grounds in the sun.

As we returned to the car after our 5 mile walk, the low sun was still shining over the glistening wet sands as the tide Begins to recede again. Happy days.

Two thoughts of the day:

How peaceful is the sound of water lapping? Not crashing, roaring or grazing over shingle but gently lapping – of course they are all beautiful!

Just watching Martin Clunes ‘Island’s of America’ – now this is an America I would like to see.