145. Ravenglass to Millom

Today I’m going to be walking north – south, the reverse of my normal direction. The reason for this, is that I must get over the River Esk, near Ravenglass. I could walk the 3 and a bit miles inland to the first bridging point or be a bit naughty and nip across the railway viaduct. Instead I decide to ford the river, but to do so I need to cross at low tide, or a couple of hours either side of it. Low tide unfortunately, is at 6:21 in the morning, so not only do I need to start my walk at Ravenglass, but I need to get a train from Millom to Ravenglass, that will put me within the low-tide window.

I park in Millom and get the 6:20 train, its full of shift workers  making their way to Sellafield, further up the coast. Most of them are asleep, I can’t blame I’ve been on the go for some 3 hours already driving up here. It’s still dark as I arrive in Ravenglass, but I can see the faint glow of the daylight coming over the Fells. I make my way down the main road in Ravenglass and emerge on the shore. The tide is well out. I have about a 1.5km to walk to the Railway Viaduct over the River Esk, where I fill ford the river. But first, I need to make a minor detour on the way in order to visit the well-preserved Roman Bath House.

Roman bath House ruins – Ravenglass
Crossing point of the River Esk – heading for yellow flag
Not that deep – but freezing!
Looking back across the Esk

Although, the sun has not yet risen, it is still light enough to see where I am going. Unfortunately, my photos, of the Bath House are not good in the poor light. I approach the River Esk and have a 40 and a 5 metre wide channel to cross. I have arrived about 50 minutes after low tide and the river is not in spate. The height of low tide is 1.39 metre. I remove my walking boots and socks and change into a pair of plastic crocs. The water is absolutely freezing, but it barely comes up to my calves. The ground is firm and stony as I make it over both channels in about 3 minutes. The sting in the tail comes in the form of sticky gluey mud on the far bank which sucks my crocs off, requiring me to retrieve them from the mud and walk the last few yards barefoot. If I had been walking in the opposite direction, it would not have been so bad, because the water would have washed the mud away, as the bank I started from was gravel and sand. I cleaned the gooey mess with a towel I had also bought with me.

Jacob Sheep

I was now outside the Eskmeals Firing Range and a yellow flag was flying which meant the Eskmeals Dunes Nature Reserve was closed. The firing range was also off-limits as red flags were flying. So it was a case of keeping to the quiet road which took me back to the shoreline at the far end of the firing range. Towards the end of the firing range I passed a field with a small flock of very unusual sheep. Nearly all had four horns and were piebald(white with coloured spots), these were Jacob Sheep, a very old and rare breed.

Looking north with St Bees Head right and 3 land masses in the far distance in Scotland (although v.difficult to see)

I now had access to the beach and the view which greeted me was amazing. The sun was just about up, but it was the view north , which took my eye. I could see the buildings of Sellafield quite easily, but just to the left of St Bees Head I could see three raised land masses. (For a better view look at my main banner photo). This was my first sighting of Scotland from the English leg of my walk. I was unsure which of the hills in Dumfries and Galloway I was looking at but upon checking later I believe one of the hills was Cairnsmore of Fleet a hill of 711 metres, and some 55 miles away and which I had climbed in 2011. The other two hills could have possibly been Cairnharrow and Bengairn.

In the Hyton Marsh reserve

I now moved onto the shoreline where I remained for the majority of the walk. The tide was still out and I could easily pick my way along the beach, searching for a fine gravel and sand line which offered the best footing for walking. I entered the Hyton Marsh Reserve, which protected  the environment of the Natterjack Toad. On my right and restricting my access to the beach a small river channel had developed. The Reserve contained a large and impressive wooden bridge which now allowed me to get back to the beach.

Looking towards the Lake District Fells at Tarn Point
Looking back

My next section of coast led me in a straight line of some 5 miles, with nothing but boulder clay cliffs on my left, the sea on my right and the shingle beach heading in a straight line towards Barrow, which I could now make in the far distance. Near Silecroft, I met a lady who was walking in the opposite direction to me. We spoke and she said she was doing the Cumbrian Coastal Path, the signage was poor, yes very true! She said that she was late starting because the trains had stopped following a vehicle hitting one of the bridges further up the line! Hmm glad I started earlier after all!

Escape to Light sculpture at Haverigg

I passed the golf course, Wind farm and prison at Haverigg. After two hours of crunching on beach shingle I opted to walk through the dunes at Haverigg and began the slow turn east into the Duddon estuary. Eventually I entered the small village of Haverigg and was greeted by an impressive sculpture called Escape into Light by the sculptress Josefenia de Vasconcellos, at the time the world’s oldest living sculptor. This particular work she sculptured well into her 90’s. She died in Blackpool in 2005 aged 100 years.

Hodbarrow Nature Reserve and lagoon with Black Combe in the background

I leave Haverigg behind and begin the long circular walk around the Hodbarrow nature Reserve, a huge lagoon built on what was the Hodbarrow Iron Ore Mine and Millom Ironworks. The huge seawall provides a massive enclosure for the lagoon and utilises slag and clinker as part of the huge defences. I head across grassland and emerge again at the Duddon estuary, walking along its shore back into Millom.


Distance today =   20 miles
Total distance =    2400.5 miles



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