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. 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 .
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.
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.
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 .
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.
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.
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 .
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.