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Footloose Librarians' Coast to
Day 1: St. Bee’s to Ennerdale Bridge
Before the start:
Arrived Manchester Airport about 7:40 am. Made it through immigration with little delay and through customs with none, and caught an early train to St. Bee’s (via Lancaster) with 5 minutes to spare. The train was on time, one change at Barrow in Furness, and made it to St. Bee’s at “half twelve”. Found our lodging, Abbey Farm, about 200 yards from the train station. It was too smooth a trip. We found out why, when we tried to find an ATM (“cash point”). We had raced through every stop on the trip where changing money would have been easy, and made it to St. Bee’s, the start of the C2C trail, with 30 pounds, a ready supply of US dollars, and our plastic friends the ATM Cards. Do not believe the guide books that tell you the ATM machines are plentiful on the trail. They ARE NOT. Plus, US ATM cards may not work in every British machine. The one in St. Bee’s (slogan, “You’ve come to the back of Beyond”) was broken. Steve, our generous host, drove us into Whitehaven and patiently waited while we visited four banks two travel agencies, and a post office trying to conduct the necessary transactions. We will both be grateful to him for a long time.
That done, we found a good meal in St. Bee's at the Queen's Hotel, and turned in early to try to overcome jet lag.
A great English breakfast this morning, and off to the beach!
Day 1 walking:
Picked up a stone from a rocky beach, headed north to walk several miles around the cliffs of St. Bee's Head, westernmost point of England except of course for most of Cornwall. A misty day with low clouds and occasional rain, but good walking for novices, next to breathtaking sheer cliffs fronting the Irish Sea. So we walked around the headland and headed east for the first time, through Sandwith and Moor Row, to Cleator, with only a small detour though an open field, the WRONG open field, and a few blocks the wrong way leaving Cleator.
Across a small river, with local anglers trying without apparent success to capture some of the salmon running up the rushing stream.
And then up Dent Hill. Dent is the first good hard pull on the walk (James pipes in: "DAMN" hard pull!). The path is essentially straight up, VERY straight UP, about 1250 feet, at first through trees, and then continuing above tree line along a stone wall, to the cairn at the top. Views back toward the coast from above the trees were breathtaking you can see the whole path you have walked since leaving the coast. As we cleared the summit, the mist closed in and we were denied the hoped for views of the Lake District ahead.
The way down is more trying than the way up. Not as straight perhaps, but overall steeper with each step jolting tired joints and muscles.
Out path took us along a small brook called Nannycatch Beck, which we crossed and re-crossed several times as we made our way up the narrow valley toward the road and Ennerdale Bridge.
Our firsts night's stop was at Low Cock How Farm about a mile short of town, where we found welcome. The showers were hot, the company good, and we had a wonderful evening meal. Two couples we met at Abbey Farm the day before are also staying here. We are: a young couple from Holland, a retired couple from western Australia (south of Perth), and we two Texans. Dinner was companionable.
A good days' walk. Some sore muscles, a
questionable knee, and a longer more testing trek tomorrow.
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