Category Archives: seaside

Great Cumbrae ~ Scotland’s most accessible Island. 🏝️

Did you know that there is an island off the West Coast of Scotland that is only a 10 minute ferry crossing from the mainland? Great Cumbrae is one of two islands known as The Cumbraes, they lie between the island of Bute and the seaside town of Largs in North Ayrshire. Little or Wee Cumbrae can be accessed from its larger cousin Great Cumbrae, but it is Great Cumbrae aka The Isle Of Cumbrae that I am visiting today.

Calmac Ferries run ferries every 15 minutes to the island from Largs. And tourists have been travelling over to the seaside resort of Millport on Great Cumbrae for decades. In fact some thirty odd years ago my Uncle Tommy and Auntie Joyce took my family over and we cycled around the Island. We have some happy memories of that time and I’ve always hoped to repeat the experience. So when my sister booked us a family holiday nearby, an island visit was definitely on our itinerary.

A Calmac Ferry docked at Largs.
All aboard for the 10 minute crossing.

The 10 minute crossing was quick and efficient. We went as foot passengers, but you can take your car along too. Many people travel with their bicycles and dogs are welcome on board. You don’t have to book, but you can if you like. Here’s the Calmac Website for guidance.

Once on the island there are buses waiting to transport travellers the 4 mile journey into Millport if they so desire. Most of Great Cumbraes inhabitants live in the pretty coastal town , which curves around an attractive bay.

Millport.

Millport has a couple of well stocked Bicycle Hire Shops on the main Street , so if your interested in riding around the island, you are spoilt for choice. As for the journey round?? Well it’s a 10 Mile mostly flat route that hugs the coastline. Perfect for a family outing!

Mapes of Millport Bicycle Hire.

Now, we always knew it was probably going to be difficult getting Mum on a bike. She’s In her seventies, with a dodgy knee, I don’t think we all quite thought the logistics through. Especially as Mum hasn’t actually ridden one in over 50 years. And looking back to our trips to Cumbrae, Mum never actually ventured out with us on a bike, even then. Ooops! As determined as poor Mum was to cycle out of Millport , it wasn’t to be. I ended up volunteering to look around the town with her, whilst the others pedalled away. Wil too had forgone the bike ride, to take our dog Hugo for a walk instead. That was my fault though, as I had suddenly jibbed out of putting H into a doggy daycare in Largs. Over-protective Dog Parenting issues…….

Garrison House.

Mum and I took a walk along the promenade and a rather grand looking piece of architecture struck our interest. The 18th Century Garrison House was built to house The Captain and officers of Revenue Ship ‘ The Royal George ‘ which was stationed at Millport, The Royal George played a part in catching smugglers that frequented the area. Today the impressive building contains a Doctor’s Surgery, Council Offices, Library, Cafe, Shop and Museum , it’s quite a hub for the community. Mum and I had a quick look in the Museum and around the pretty sunken garden.

Who knew Valentine cards could be so vicious ! Vinegar Valentines featured in the museum…
Part of the Lighthouse Exhibition.

Another building that we noticed in Millport was The Wedge. Though this abode on Stuart Street is definitely a blink and you’d miss it type of place ! The frontage of the skinny terrace is only 47 inches wide, which means that The Wedge has earned its place in The Guinness Book Of Records, as The World’s Narrowest House. Happily The Wedges shape does mean that the living space widens to 11 feet at the rear. I spied a Purple Bricks sign in the upstairs window and yes the petite property is currently for sale. Anyone fancy buying a Bijou Bolt hole ??

Wedged In…

Time for a brew? On a sunny Thursday morning at the end of August, we would have expected more of the towns shops and cafes to be open, but sadly quite a few were closed. I think perhaps because Scotland’s children returned to school after their summer holidays in mid August, it was no longer the height of the tourist season. The Dancing Midge Cafe ( love the name! ) seemed to be doing a roaring trade however.

The Dancing Midge.
Wil and Mum ( and Hugo) on the promenade.

After purchasing hot drinks to take away, Mum and I sat on the seafront watching the world go by. It wasn’t long before Wil and Hugo arrived back from their walk, joining us for a brew.

Opposite the Dancing Midge Cafe there is a jagged piece of rock called The Crocodile Rock. Astonishingly the brightly painted beast has been the subject of paintings and photos since 1913, when its creator Robert Brown adorned the landmark with its crocodilian features. 🐊

Crocodile Rock.
A watery stone jettie . Little Cumbrae in the distance.
The sea was full of jellyfish.
Mum on the pier.

The cyclists arrived back after a couple of hours. Seals and seabirds had been seen. Some legs were tired, some opted to pedal around the island again ! Wil and I would leave Hugo with the family and bicycle around Cumbrae with my nephew and my cousin who had joined us for the day. So after a take-out lunch from The Dancing Midge, four of us set off on our bike ride.

The cyclists returned.

The 10 Mile loop around Great Cumbrae has plenty of stopping off points to admire the beautiful views, across to the mainland and also toward the islands of Bute and Arran. We didn’t stop too many times though, as the hire bikes had to be back by a certain time. Unlike the others , I’m not the fastest on two wheels!

I think it took us about 2 hours to cycle around the island. There are various viewing points and things to see, some of these are incorporated into The Cumbrae Sensory Trail, we passed the green waymarkers on our way round. Another painted rock was spied. The Indian Rock spookily peers out from under trees on the West side of the island. It has been here since the 1920s and was reportedly first painted by a hermit called ‘ Fern Andy’. Nearby the rock is The Fintrybay Cafe, an ideal place to stop off for refreshments.

Sensory trail sign.
Can you see the Red Indian Rock?
A Grey Seal enjoying the sunshine.
Cycling selfie.
Incredible blue sea and the mountains of Arran in the distance.

I was so glad I had gotten to pedal around The Isle of Cumbrae once again, and especially so, on such a beautiful afternoon. My legs were pretty tired by the time we got back to Millport! The rest of the family had been rock pooling and playing crazy golf in our absence.

Crazy Golf.
The Isle of Cumbrae Distillery makes a selection of gins including Croc Roc Gin.
Another view from Millport.
My niece reunited some recently beached Moon Jellies, to the sea.
A fab sweet shop.

I have fallen in love with Great Cumbrae once again!

Have you ever been? Which of the Scottish islands is your favourite?

In The Summertime. β˜€οΈ

We are having some amazingly hot weather currently here in the UK. Too hot sometimes! With possible thunderstorms forecasted today though, it’s going to feel a little more refreshing for my upcoming holiday to Scotland. Whoo hoo !

Meanwhile I have been enjoying my days off with mostly early morning walks and meet ups with friends and family. After seeing a lovely Wildflower Meadow at Stonyhurst College on Facebook , I met my sister, niece and nephew for a walk nearby. After viewing the flowers and seeing lots of butterflies we headed for the river. Lots of splashing was done! Our walk included a little of The Tolkien Trail . The Lord Of The Rings author often stayed at Stonyhurst and the surrounding countryside inspired his writing.

A hot day is always better at the beach! Last Thursday St Anne’s summoned us and a happy few hours were spent lying on blankets on the sand and paddling in the sea. A wonderful cooling breeze was very welcome. I am really excited to be heading up to North Ayrshire in Scotland soon and spending lots more time on the coast. πŸ€—

Thanks to everyone who wished me a Happy 10 Years Blogversary recently! As promised the winner of my little giveaway is revealed. Judy from http://walmermeadows.co.uk it’s you. 😊 I will be in touch ! Judy blogs about her beautiful woodland in Kent and the wildlife that visits is nothing short of amazing. All thanks to Judy and her husband’s conservation and woodland management skills. Pop by for a read.

I may be a little quiet on the blogging front in the next two weeks as I intend to enjoy that sea air in Scotland before a lovely long weekend break at the van. X

Looking Back ~ Cannes Film Festival & The Monaco Grand Prix.

So the 75th Cannes Film Festival will soon be under way. All the glitz, the glamour, the Red Carpet, the film stars dressed in their finery…

This year Tom Cruise will take the centre stage with his eagerly anticipated new Top Gun Film. I am definitely up for watching it. πŸ™‚

62nd Festival De Cannes.

Well quite a few years ago I was actually in Canne on a festival day. So I thought I would try and reblog my post again. I already have once in 2014! Not sure that reblogging is a thing now though but WordPress has let me share it below.

Please excuse my original post for spelling mistakes and lay-out ~ WordPress is not for letting me Edit it! I will hide my embarrassment behind a film poster of Inglourious Basterds, a film contender for the year I attended, 2009. 😚

During the same holiday we were also in Monte Carlo whilst the Grand Prix was on. My claim to fame ( according to Wil and our friend Andy, I never even noticed ! ) was almost being run over by Lewis Hamilton on a scooter, whilst trying to take a photo!

Click on the link to see my post of the 62nd Canne Film Festival.

https://sunshineandcelandines.wordpress.com/2013/04/10/looking-back-cannes-film-festival-and-monaco-grand-prix/

Silverdale Saunter.

Back to the beach again! But this time it’s a saunter round Silverdale, a Lancashire village ( but only just ! ) on Morecambe Bay near the Cumbria Border. We visited here last Summer whilst staying in nearby Arnside. In fact we have camped in Silverdale before too, but these photos are just from an afternoon saunter in August. For one reason or other I didn’t take as many pictures as usual. Darn!

The Arnside and Silverdale AONB is a breathtakingly beautiful place. I follow a blogger from the area ~Β  Beating The Bounds regularly walks & cycles the meandering lanes and rocky limestone outcrops that make this little coastal corner so special.

But back to our visit. It was a warm but quite grey August day,  showers too I think. There was a summertime vibe in the village, pops of colour from yarn bombing and bunting.

Silverdales Millennium Clock in its vibrant yarn bombed jacket.
Yarn bombed!
Busy day at the Blossom Bird cafe. 🐦

Hugo seemed to know where we should take him ( he is after all  ‘ The Most Important’ ) and pulled us toward the shore. We walked along the sands a while,  finally coming to a little inlet behind woodland at Gibraltar Farm Campsite. We probably weren’t meant to cut through the site, but thought we could get away with looking either lost/ confused / campers. πŸ˜‰

Shoreside cottages.
Morecambe Bay.
Rocky cliffs.
Inlet.

We found ourselves at The Wolf House Gallery opposite Gibraltar Farm and stopped here for a takeaway lunch.

Honesty box eggs & jams ( and wellies πŸ™‚ ) at Gibraltar Farm.
Wolf House. The last Wolf in England was said to be hunted near here.
Outside the gallery.

After lunch we continued up a quiet lane to two local landmarks. Jenny Browns Point is a beautiful viewing point with wide reaching vistas over the bay. There is a lovely looking house here that is said to have been home to Jenny Brown herself. But who was she? It is said she may have been a nanny who tried to save her charges from the waves. Or more romantically, was she a lovelorn maiden waiting for her mate to return , feared lost at sea. No one knows for sure.

Cottage at Jenny Browns Point.
Lime Kiln at Jenny Browns Point.

Nearby is Jack Scout Nature Reserve , managed by the National Trust. We weaved our way through the gorse and other windswept shrubs to find a rather grand stone seat. If your ever around Silverdale be sure to sit on The Giants Chair and enjoy the views.

The Giants Chair.
View from Jack Scout.

Phew! Caught up at last on posts from our week on The Cumbrian ( and Lancashire) Coast in August of 2021.

Bye for now. 🐚

Lovely Lytham.

It’s been a couple of years since I visited the Fylde Coast, Bank Holiday Monday seemed the perfect day for a bracing beach walk. My was it cold! Luckily we wrapped up. The wind was determined and even whipped away our Parking Ticket ( probably into the North Sea! ) so another had to be purchased. Despite that, it was a pleasure to be in Lytham once again….

Lancashire’s Fylde Coast is home to Seaside resorts such as Blackpool and St Annes. Lytham is the one with the Windmill on the Green, looking out over the Ribble Estuary. Just in case you weren’t aware. The town has changed a little I think, even since my last visit two Winters ago. There are a wealth of new independent shops and cafes on the tree lined wide pavemented streets, away from the chilly seafront. A Summer trip is much overdue.

A Mussel Shell 🐚 Sculpture on the site of the old Mussel Tanks , near the RNLI Lifeboat Station.
Up until the 1940s freshly caught Shellfish were cleaned in the Mussel Tanks. The site has recently been preserved for history.
Adorably kitch Wreath.
Too cold for ice cream.
However , Chells on Clifton Street is a great place for lunch.
My Lunch.
On Clifton Street.
Newly opened Pie & Sausage Shop.
Old favourite ~ Tom Towers Tasty Cheese Shop.

The seafront at Lytham is actually an estuary front , with a 800 metre promenade that links the resort to its nearest neighbour St Anne’s. There are views over the River Ribble towards the twinkling lights of Southport and even to Wales. The marshes are home to thousands of migratory birds. I should have brought a pair of binoculars!

Shipwreck!
Looking towards the marshes.
A White Wagtail. A migratory species whose cousin is the more common Pied Wagtail.
Marshland.
A Kestrel finds a perch.
Lytham Green and Windmill.

Lytham Windmill is undoubtedly the town’s most iconic landmark. Built in 1805 it stands proud on the Green, looking out over the marshes. It was a flour mill but ceased trade in the 1920s. Today it houses a museum, though I have never ventured inside.

Lytham Windmill and old Lifeboat House.
Anchors. These were restored after being caught the nets of a Fishing Trawler called ‘ Biddy’ in the 1980s.
A boardwalk to the sea.
My purchase. Half price Christmas cards from the RNLI shop. I have put them away ‘ somewhere safe’ for this year.

Have you been to the coast this Winter?

A Wee Borders Break.

We were recently to be found just over the border in Scotland for a wee break and a complete change of scenery. Our home for two nights was a cute Victorian cottage at Reston called Coveyheugh Lodge. Set in a wooded valley between a railway line and the busy A1, it isn’t quite as peaceful as it looks! However we weren’t put off by the occasional noise, as this home away from home is a wonderful base for exploring the lovely East Scotland coastline.

Our home for 2 nights.
Toasty wood burner.
Patio Garden.
Morning walk.
Signage for nearby Mill.

Although we had originally planned a couple of walks in the local area, we hadn’t realised that poor Wil would still be recovering from sciatica. So what we did was some gentle pottering. Luckily there were fascinating places to visit, only a short drive away.

EYEMOUTH.

This small fishing town was once a smugglers paradise. It’s location just North of the border meant it was the nearest Scottish port to the Continent. Tea and Spirits were duly smuggled. A handsome Quayside house Gunsgreen House was apparently built on the proceeds and today houses a museum and smugglers trail.

Gunsgreen House.

Eyemouths natural harbour is a working fishing harbour and a river called ‘ Eye Water ‘ flows into it. πŸ™‚ Grey Seals can often be seen here, though I suspect this may have something to do with the seal feeding point at the water’s edge. Although it was lovely to see them, I do question whether wild seals should be fed in this way, incase they come to depend on the food. What do you think?

Grey Seal waiting for fish.
Grey Seal.
Eider Duck.

A tragic time in Eyemouths maritime history is brought to life in an evocative and moving sculpture on the sea front. Widows & Bairns by Jill Watson depicts the waiting wives and children of men whose fishing vessels were struck down in the fatal storm of 1881, killing 179. The frantic gestures of the fishermen’s families are heartbreaking to see , especially when many of the boats were destroyed so close to shore ; the sea was just too rough to contemplate rescue. The loss was Scotland’s worst ever fishing disaster.

Widows and Bairns is also known locally as ‘ Black Friday’
A very emotive piece.

Eyemouth has a really nice sandy beach ( not pictured 🀣 ) , a couple of pubs with seafaring names like The Contented Sole and we shared fish & chips on the quayside from Giacopazzi’s.

Eyemouth Beach.
Chippy Dinner.

COLDINGHAM BAY.

My pictures really don’t do Coldingham Bay justice. It’s the prettiest little sandy inlet, in-between Eyemouth and St Abbs. On our visit this sheltered beach was a balmy 16Β°c, not bad for the last Wednesday in October. As well as lots of golden sand, there are tidal rock pools and colourful beach huts. What a gem of a setting.

Colourful Beach Huts.
Rocky Shore.

The bay has a Beach cafe ( closed on our visit), toilets and car park. St Vedas Surf Shop was doing a roaring trade in paddle boarding , coffees & cake. I can imagine this place getting busy in the Summer.

ST ABBS.

Just North of Eyemouth is the picturesque fishing village of St Abbs. It’s dramatic backdrop of jagged purple cliffs gives the harbour side fishermens cottages a very scenic setting. So much so that St Abbs doubles as Thor’s home New Asgard in the Marvel movie Avengers : Endgame. I can’t say I’ve watched any of the recent Avengers films but I can see why the village was picked, it does have a Scandinavian look about it.


New Asgard sign.
St Abbs.
Ebbcarrs is famous for its fresh crab sandwiches.
The harbour.
Jetty.
Another jetty juts out onto the rocks.

And at this time of year St Abbs has its own Pumpkin Patch. πŸ™‚ Love it……

St Abbs Memorial.

Just outside of the St Abbs Visitor Centre there is another Jill Watson Memorial. St Abbs did not escape the tragic storms that took so many fishermens lives back in 1881.

St Abbs Head

The cliffs at St Abbs Head are home to various seabirds who make their home on the rugged ledges. And there’s a Grey Seal colony here too. We didn’t walk the cliff top paths of the Nature Reserve , definitely something to think about doing next time. What a wild and unspoilt headland.

I hope so!

The places we visited are joined by the Berwickshire Coastal Path .

Bye for Now. πŸŽƒ

A Canal Walk To The Sea.

So here’s a throwback post to August and our stay in Arnside on the Cumbrian Coast. A short train journey away is the characterful town of Ulverston, a place we have visited several times before. The towns cobbled streets and plethora of independent shops, cafes and pubs make it a great destination for generally mooching about. After a ‘ mooch about’ we would be heading along the World’s Shortest, Deepest and Widest Canal, for a walk to the Sea.

Ulverston.
Laurel and Hardy and friends.
Movie Theatre inside the Museum.

The morning we visited Ulverston it was exhibiting typical Lake District weather! To escape the rain we spent a good hour or so in the towns Laurel and Hardy Museum. Stan Laurel was born in Ulverston in 1890 and must surely be  it’s most famous resident. The museum has a good selection of the comedy duos memorabilia,  as well as a small cinema that plays Laurel & Hardy features on a loop. Our dog Hugo was made welcome and humoured us as we chuckled our way around. 😊

After a lovely lunch at the nearby Stan Laurel Inn we were suitably refreshed for a canal side walk. Ulverston Canal is a former Ship Canal which linked Ulverston to Morecambe Bay, one and a half miles away.  Completed in 1796 ,the waterway claimed to be the shortest , deepest, widest …… and straightest Canal in the World. Once upon a time passenger ships to Scotland and London embarked from here as well as cargos of local slate. But when the Railway arrived in Ulverston in the 1840s, the record breaking Canals fortunes were on the wane.  By the end of the Second World War Ulverston Canal was no longer in use.

The Hoad Monument.

Today the waterway offers a serene amble from Canal Head in the town to Canal Foot with its splendid views over Morecambe Bay.  A footpath on the less industrial side of the canal is a popular stroll. There’s even a pub at the end. An incentive indeed!

Flowering Rushes.
A Map of Ulverston Canal.
Canal Side Retreat looking out over a  million lily pads.

We saw lots of wildlife as we walked along. Plenty of waterside wildflowers and much of the surface was covered in Lily pads. Mute Swans, Comerants, Moor hens and Mallards swam and dived amongst them.

Old Man’s Beard aka Travellers Joy.
Swanning off.

Half way along Ulverston Canal is a Rolling Bridge, the only one of its kind left in England. Forgotten about  for many years  , it was a history enthusiast who discovered the significance of the bridge and it was given Grade ll status in 2012.

Rolling Bridge.
More Lily Pads.
Juvenile Swans.
112 Foot Sea Lock, the only lock on the canal.

Before long we were at Hammerside Point , Canal Foot. Here the former Ship Canal meets the Leven Estuary. What a splendidly unexpected place…

Out to Sea.
Leven Estuary.

For some reason I forgot to take a photo of The Bay Horse Hotel  from the outside ,so below is a distant one I found online. The former Coaching Inn enjoys stunning views over the Bay. Once upon a time it was from here that brave travellers would make the perilous journey by stage coach, over the sands to Lancaster. The arrival of the Railway probably saved a lot of lives!

Bayhorse Hotel with conservatory.
A White Horse, not a Bay Horse, in the pub.

After a drink in the pub we retraced our steps back to Ulverston.  On the way an unassuming wooden shed near the Lock Keepers Cottage peeked my interest, especially when I saw its ‘ Welcome Humans ‘ sign?

Lock Keepers Cottage.
Welcome Humans.
Inside the Shed.

Whilst looking it up online later, I discovered that the Shed is part of an interactive Art Installation Project called the Last Human Coro Shed . Perhaps not what you would expect to see where a canal meets the sea…..

Goodbye Morecambe Bay.

Thanks for joining me. 😊

Arnside Break.

Although I shared a very lazy story post when I got back from my holibobs on the coast, I do think  it would be a  shame if I didn’t blog a little bit about my stay in lovely Arnside.

Arnside is a village on the Kent estuary, where the river meets the sea, overlooking Morecambe Bay. A former fishing port, the resort is now a popular little holiday destination.

We stopped at Ye Olde Fighting Cocks which is situated on the sea front. Dating back to 1660 the pub is one of the oldest buildings in the village and a cock pit still exists under the restaurant floor. Today’s guests can enjoy simple pub food, a good selection of ales and gins and a warm welcome, canine visitors too.

All Arnsides seafront views take in the impressive 50 Span Viaduct , with regular trains making the crossing over the River Kent. The Railway Station is excellent with great services to Carlisle, Lancaster and Manchester. Oneday we took a train to nearby Ulverston , the coastal route is truly stunning and definitely worth doing. πŸ™‚

On a clear day the diminutive Arnside Pier must surely have the best vistas of any seaside pier. The Lake District fells are misted over in the above picture though.

I love the 2 Minute Beach Clean Stand on the sea front. Litter pickers and bags are provided and anyone can go and do their bit. I must admit the beach was noticeably rubbish free. πŸ™‚

There are some lovely local businesses in the village to mooch round. I loved them all ! I did treat myself to a few things including a cute fox pin from The Little Shop and a bottle of gorgeous smelling hand lotion from Homeleigh Vintage .

Make sure you wander up Pier Lane when shopping. There’s a fab sweet shop, a cupcake shop and a wonderful art gallery there, all almost hidden from view.

And we can also recommend the bijou but belting The Wayside Cafe near the railway station for coffee, cakes and delicious brunch options.

I do love a pub with a view. πŸ™‚ Arnsides other watering hole The Albion has possibly even better estuary views than Ye Olde Fighting Cocks. We certainly had a few beverages sat outside of an evening.

As new visitors to Arnside we got incredibly excited ( ok I got incredibly excited) on our first night when a sound rather like a wartime air raid siren suddenly filled the air. Having read that a warning siren precedes the arrival of the Arnside Tidal Bore, I immediately started scanning the horizon for an impressive wave rushing up the estuary. An hour later ourselves and a couple of other tourists were still sat watching ( and freezing our bits off, the wind had gotten up) whilst all the locals had disappeared inside. The Bore didn’t make an appearance !

It turns out that the Sirens tend to go off regularly anyway, but it is only in certain high tide conditions that a tidal bore occurs.

If you want to keep an eye out for the bore virtually The Arnside Chip Shop is home to the Pier Webcam and there are a couple of good videos to view on the website. Also I have to say , awesome fish & chips !! But be warned , this is a very popular chippy….

We fancied a fish & chips supper one evening and the queue didn’t seem very long. When I placed my order at the counter though, the apologetic server told me there would be a 1 Hour 20 minute wait! She then gave me this chunky ‘ vibrating device’ that counts down the time and starts vibrating even faster when your order is done. Cut to us sat outside The Albion with a siren booming across the bay and a constantly vibrating handbag. 🀣 Our supper was definitely worth the wait but as the wind had whipped up we took it back to the room and consumed with mugs of wine. 😊

There are some great beach walks from Arnside to Sandside or the pretty village of Silverdale. Or you can head up Arnside Knott for scenic views over the bay. Signposted from the village, the Knott is a small hill with big vistas and well worth the climb. Known for its varied wildlife especially wading birds and rare butterflies , the whole area is a nature lovers paradise. πŸ™‚

Dark Red Helleborine.

A myriad of footpaths Criss cross the Knott and surrounding countryside. A beautiful place indeed. 😊

Hopefully you have enjoyed my little tour of Arnside as much as we enjoyed our visit to this quirky and delightful seaside village. πŸ’•

2021 Is Cumbria’s Year Of The Coast. β›΅πŸŸπŸŒž

I have recently found out that 2021 has been named Cumbria’s Year Of The Coast ! Many people flock to the lovely Lake District , yet the  county also has over 100 miles of diverse coastline to explore. Known for its secluded beaches, coastal walks & wildlife and dramatic sunsets, Cumbria’s coastline is very much a hidden gem.

So I thought I would share some of my own moments by the sea as well as note down a few places I would like to visit next time I’m in the area. Happily my August Summer holiday will be split between two seaside settlements this year. We have our usual weekend away with friends booked in Ravenglass plus the four following nights further South of the county in Arnside. Happy days. πŸ™‚

Allonby.  A former fishing village, Allonby was also a popular Victorian sea bathing resort. It retains some interesting old buildings including the handsome Reading Rooms built by Alfred Waterhouse , who went on to design London’s Natural History Museum & Strangeways Prison.  Charles Dickens and fellow writer Wilkie Collins  stayed two nights at The Ship Hotel on their 1857 walking tour of Cumberland, after Collins badly sprained his ankle in the Lakeland fells.   Today the village is popular with painters who love the light and Solway sunsets.  The beach is a mixture of dunes, shingle & sand , perfect for walking the pooch.  A great place to indulge in Fish & Chips is the local chippy ‘The Cod Father’.  Where to stay ~ the former home of artist Percy Kelly is a beautifully renovated holiday cottage. Percy Kelly’s Cottage.

Scenes from Allonby.

Arnside.  The views over Morecambe Bay toward the Lake District are stunning from the charming seaside resort of Arnside. Pretty shops, tea rooms and pubs line the sea front. A Victorian promenade and small pier adorn the village and the beach is sandy but tidal, so visitors must beware of changing tides. Organized Cross Bay walks are a popular hiking route from Arnside to nearby Kent Bank.  Every few weeks a siren sounds in the village, warning of a natural phenomenon  called a tidal bore , a fast  incoming wave that sweeps across the estuary.  Where to Stay ~  enjoy scenic  views over the bay  from  Ye Olde Fighting Cocks  pub with rooms.

Arnside with the viaduct in the distance.
Morecambe Bay Cross Bay Walk.

Baycliff.  Our first holiday with  Hugo was in a beachside cottage at Baycliff, a small former fishing and farming community that looks over Morecambe Bay.  Baycliff  has a pretty village green and two pubs. A vast beach of shingle and sand offers ample opportunity for walks and bird watching , a two mile stroll east brings ice cream ( or coffee and cake ) rewards if you drop by  Bardsea’s Chill & Grill . Also nearby is Ulverstons Buddhists Temple for World Peace whose gardens, woodland trails, beach, cafe and gift shop are open to everyone. Where to stay ~  practically on the beach if you can at the nautically inspired Driftwood Cottage.

The beach at Baycliff.

St Bees.  Alfred Wainwright recommends that walkers dip their boots in the North Sea at St Bees , the starting point of his Coast To Coast Walking Route. 182 miles later and those aching feet can seek solace in the sea at Robins Hood Bay.  For me a wander along St Bees sandy beach or atop it’s red sandstone cliffs is quite enough.  RSPB St Bees Head is home to colonies of seabirds including  guillemot and razorbill. And the 11th century priory in the village dedicated to St Mary and St Bega features some colourful stained glass windows.   Where to Stay ~ Former Railway waiting room transformed into comfortable self catering accommodation. The Station House.

Sea Pinks and the Start  of the Coast To Coast walk.
St Bega Statue. Image ~ Contours.co.uk

Bowness-on-Solway.  Bowness is a small coastal village which was once the site of a sea facing Roman fort called Maia. Situated on the Western edge of Hadrian’s Wall ( no longer visible), the settlement is the start/finish of another long distance walking route, the Hadrian’s Wall Path. There are a couple of pubs , a cafe and  free range chickens were wandering along the village road when we visited last year. The Scottish coastline is clearly seen over the Solway Firth and nature lovers have The Solway Wetlands Centre and RSPB Campfield Marsh to explore. Where to stay ~  Glamp in luxury in a fully equipped wooden pod at Wallsend Guest House & Glamping.

RSPB Campfield Marsh.

Grange Over Sands. It was the railway that brought well heeled Victorians to Grange, turning it from a small fishing village to a genteel holiday resort. With its pretty gardens along the promenade and vast views over Morecambe Bay ,the town is a lovely place to visit. Over time the sands have shifted and it is salt marsh meadows that  now seperate Grange over Sands from the sea. There are a good selection of independent shops and businesses in town, a park with an ornamental duck pond and the Save Grange Lido group continues  its campaign for the restoration of the 1930s marshside art deco lido. Where to stay ~ relax in style whilst taking in the views. Bay Villa bed & Breakfast.

Grange Over Sands.
Morecambe Bay potted shrimps.
Grange Lido. Image ~ Air Pixels Media.

Haverigg. Situated at the mouth of the Duddon Estuary, Haveriggs golden sandy beaches have Blue Flag Status. The village has a recently opened Wake Board & Water Park , guaranteed fun for all ages! And RSPB Hodbarrow Lagoon is within walking distance. Look out for the 7 tonne sculpture ‘ Escape To Light’ by Josefina de Vasconcellos , situated by the Haverigg Inshore Rescue Station. Where To Stay ~ Family & dog friendly camping and glamping options at Harbour Lights Campsite .

Haverigg cottages.
Port Haverigg Aqua Park ~ photo from their Facebook page.

Maryport. A seaside resort with a rich maritime history and once the location of a Roman port, Maryport enjoys access to a vast sand & shingle beach and all the amenities of a typical coastal town. The Lake District Coast Aquarium is based here as well as the Senhouse Roman Museum on the promenade. Bob over to the village of Mawbray to stock up on local cheeses from The Cheese Shed. Where To Stay ~ Ann’s Hill Lodge & Cottage in nearby Bridekirk for a romantic getaway.

Senhouse Roman Museum. Photo ~ Senhouse Roman Museum. .
Miles of golden sands , Maryport. Photo ~ A Ball.

Ravenglass. The charming and sleepy estuary village of Ravenglass is the perfect place to chill with an ice cream ( if you can find the almost hidden Ice cream Hut ) on the rocky shore. Ravenglass is the only Cumbrian coastal settlement to be included in the Lake District National Park. Wast water, England’s deepest lake is 20 minutes drive away. Discover more of Lakeland by venturing on the The Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway whose steam trains take visitors on a seven mile journey through the spectacular Eskdale countryside. Travellers can hunt for waterfalls, secluded tarns and enjoy a pint at the Woolpack Inn, recently voted Cumbria’s best pub. Where to stay ~ the railway station in Ravenglass has sympathetically restored two Pullman Coaches into quirky self catering accommodation.

Ravenglass Estuary.
All aboard the Ratty Railway.
Seven go to Eskmeals Nature Reserve ( a short drive from Ravenglass). Photo ~ F Middleton.

Silecroft. Silecroft it seems, is all about the beach! When the tide is out a vast expanse of shingle and sand appears, making it popular with horse riders, dog walkers and kite flyers. Both Murthwaite Green trekking centre and Cumbrian Heavy Horses offer beach riding , the formers horses appear galloping along the sands in the opening credits of Country file. The slopes of Black Combe Fell offer a scenic backdrop to Silecrofts seascape and rare Natterjack toads breed in the area. The beach has free parking, toilets and a shoreside cafe and there is a pub and store in the village. Where to stay ~ admire Silecroft Sunsets from a beautiful beach side cabin with hot tub .

Cumbrian Heavy Horses. Photo ~ Cumbrian Heavy Horses.
Wren enjoying the views. Photo ~ B Hudson.

Silloth. With its wide tree lined streets and attractive town green, Silloth-on-Solway is a classic example of a Victorian seaside resort. Victorians would come here to enjoy the mild climate and invigorating sea air, visitors today can enjoy those too as well as a lively year long programme of events held on the green. The town benefits from a sandy stretch of beach with dunes , a terraced promenade and amusent arcades. Other attractions in Silloth include a Vintage Motorcycle Museum and the unique Big Fella Sculpture by artist Ray Lonsdale. Where to stay ~ the Greenview Guest House overlooks the bay and has an in-house bistro.

Silloth Scenes. Photos ~ A Garley.

Walney Island & Piel Island. At eleven miles long and one mile wide Walney Island is the eighth largest island in England. It is seperated from the industrial port town of Barrow in Furness by Jubilee Bridge. The North and Southern tips of the island are nature Reserves, South Walney Reserve is home to Cumbrias only Grey Seal colony. Kite Surfing is a popular passtime at Earnse Bay which has a large shallow sandy beach. Piel Island is a much smaller island with its own castle and pub. An ongoing island tradition dating back to the 18th century proclaims that each pub landlord becomes ‘ King Of Piel Island’. The Ship Inn has recently reopened and a ferry runs from Roa Island during the summer months. Where to stay ~ Wild camping is available on Piel Island. Or cosy up nextdoor to a lighthouse in The Hide on Walney.

Piel Castle from Walney Island. Image ~ South Walney Nature Reserve.
Seal pup on at South Walney. Image ~ Cumbria Wildlife trust.

Whitehaven. Whitehaven is a Georgian port town and has more than 250 listed buildings. It’s early fortune came from sea mining, coal transportation to Ireland and also the trading of rum, spices and slaves from Africa. This colourful and somewhat dubious history is recorded in The Beacon Museum and The Rum Story . There is an attractive harbour and beach in the town, from where it is possible to take a cliff top walk to St Bees. Where to stay ~ Fine dining & boutique rooms Georgian Townhouse Hotel .

Whitehaven harbour. Image ~ Sally’s cottages.

Hopefully my post has given you a taste of what the beautiful Cumbrian Coast has to offer…..

Thank you to my lovely photograph contributers.

Silloth Scenes ~ A Garley, Wren enjoying Silecroft Beach ~ B Hudson, Maryports Golden Sands ~ A Ball, Seven go to Eskmeals Nature Reserve ~ F Middleton, Ravenglass sunset ~ J Blackburn.