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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.

Sixteen Pet Friendly Places Visited With Our Dog.

As my other half and I are ‘owned’ by a bouncy black labrador, our days out and holidays are often planned round walks and pet friendly places. With this in mind, here are a few of Hugo’s ( and our) favourite haunts, over the last 3 years.

Allan Bank , Grasmere, Cumbria. There are not many National Trust properties that allow dogs inside. A charming exception, a short walk from Grasmere, is a former home of poet William Wordsworth. Not every room is decorated however, so this Georgian Manor  has a relaxed carefree vibe.  The grounds are worth an explore too and include a woodland walk and gardens. Sadly there is no cafe on site at present, though you are welcome to make yourself a brew. Open this year from the 10th February. You can read about our visit here.

St Annes Beach Huts, St Annes, Lancashire.  What better base for a day at the seaside than a beautiful beach hut! We spent a memorable day with Hugo in St Annes a couple of summers ago…. and we do need to repeat the experience. The huts are fully equipped with a fridge, microwave and radio. The sands in front of them are dog-friendly all year round. stannesbeachhuts.co.uk

Another Place, Crosby Beach, Merseyside.  An atmospheric and thought-provoking art installation. 100 iron figures grace Crosby Beach, all identical , all modelled on their creator Antony Gormley, all stand staring out to sea. A stunning spectacle and a great place for a bracing beach walk. Pay and display parking but there is also free parking at nearby Crosby leisure centre.

Allan Bank, Grasmere.

Castle Kennedy Gardens, Dumfries & Galloway.  If you find yourself in Scotland’s much underrated Dumfries & Galloway , these 75 acre gardens surround two lochs and the ruins of a 14th century castle.  Great for exploring, you can stay on the estate too, as we did here. πŸ™‚

 

Conishead Priory, Ulverston, Cumbria.  Although this Gothic Priory is now a Buddhist Retreat , the grounds, gift shop and cafe are all open to the public. We have visited maybe three times now with Hugo, for lovely woodland walks that lead down to the beach. A January trip saw the woods abundant with snowdrops. Look out for the Buddhist temple and a giant golden buddha!  Parking is free and you can eat with your dog in a comfy lounge,  next to the cafe.

A UFO ? ………..or Haslingden Halo.

East Lancashire Panopticans.  Have you heard of  The Singing Ringing Tree, The Atom or The Haslingden Halo? All three of these unusual structures are found locally in East Lancashire, and can be incorporated into interesting walks. For more information check out midpenninearts.org.uk 

Formby Point Red Squirrel Reserve, Formby, Merseyside.  Formby has a great dog-friendly beach with sand dunes and coastal pine forests which are  home to Lancashire’s only native red squirrel population. πŸ™‚ The Squirrel Walk is a must if you wish to see these cute tufty creatures. Parking at The National Trust Car park. Dogs on leads in the reserve. You can read about my visit   Sea Air ~ Squirrels and Naked Men on the Sefton Coast.   .

Ingleborough Show Cave, Clapham, Yorkshire.  We had no intention of touring this grand Victorian Show Cave but having stumbled upon it whilst walking along Clapham Nature Trail, we found that dogs are admitted. πŸ™‚ The tunnels are well lit, though low in places. The tours are interesting and the shop at the entrance sells snacks and souvenirs.  Find out more here  .

Inside Ingleborough Show Cave.

Ingleton Falls Trail, Ingleton, Yorkshire Dales. This 7km walk from Ingleton village is Β£6 per adult, including car parking. The trail takes in several stunning waterfalls and there are a couple of refreshment kiosks along the route. Walking boots are best worn and dogs may need  to be on lead in some areas. www.ingletonwaterfallstrailco.uk

Janet’s Foss & Malham Cove,  Yorkshire Dales.  The Yorkshire Dales is renowned for its beautiful waterfalls and Janet’s Foss is no exception. There is a stunning woodland walk from Malham village ( start at the Smithy) leading to the falls ( home to a fairy) and Gordale Scar. Another walk from the village takes you to the impressive Malham Cove , with its unusual limestone rock formations.  I blogged about Malham here  .


Hugo and friend at Janet’s Foss.

Lake District Boat Trips, Cumbria. Did you know that four-legged friends are welcome on the pleasure boats that cruise four lakes in the Lake District?  Hugo has taken trips with us on Windermere,  Ullswater , and Coniston. I am sure Derwent Water will be on our itinerary for 2018. πŸ™‚

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http://www.windermere-lakecruises.co.uk/

 

Lowther Castle & Gardens, Penrith, Cumbria.  The imposing ruins and gardens within gardens of this nineteenth century castle are a joy to explore. Lots of events all year round and an amazing castle themed adventure playground for the kids. Dogs are also welcome in the cafe and the gift shop. lowthercastle.org

Morecambe Bay Cross Bay Walk, Arnside, Cumbria.  In 2016  we walked across the shifting sands of Morecambe Bay between Arnside and Grange-Over-Sands. As you can see walking actually means wading…partly. And some swimming for Hugo!   Bay walks are organized group walks and should not be attempted otherwise. You can read about our attempt here.

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Doggy Paddle.

Pendle Sculpture Trail, Barley, Lancashire.  The natural world and the Pendle Witches have inspired this informative ( and stunning ) trail through woodland near Barley. Park at the village car park ( pay via an Honesty Box) and walk for one mile, passing a reservoir, to Aitken Wood.  I blogged about a pre Hugo visit  here.

Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway, Ravenglass, Cumbria.  Traveling 7 miles through gorgeous Lake District Countryside on a miniature steam train is something you can happily do, in the company of a four-legged friend. πŸ™‚  There are hop on and off stops with many opportunities for lovely lakeland walks.Parking and Refreshments available at Ravenglass and Boot. ravenglass-railway.co.uk

Temple Seal Trips, Morston, Norfolk.  Dogs are welcome on these popular boat trips, where you can see seals basking on Blakeney point. Colonies of Grey and Common Seals as well as rare arctic terns. Definitely a must do. The red and white boats even have a part canine crew! We loved our experience and here’s my blog    to prove it. πŸ™‚

I can only apologise that most of our days out have been in the North of England. But maybe that will be an incentive to holiday here with your hound. πŸ™‚ If you have any recommendations for dog-friendly places to visit ( anywhere) please comment below.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ulverston and Conishead Priory.

The John Barrow Monument.
The John Barrow Monument.

We recently stopped in a cottage by the sea , not far from the market town of Ulverston in Cumbria. You can read about our week away Here.:) Anyway as we were staying so close we paid Ulverston a couple of visits. The town is famous mostly for its association with the comedy duo ‘Laurel and Hardy’, Stan Laurel was born in Ulverston. There are reminders of these unique Hollywood stars everywhere you look. I saw a florist called ‘Floral and Hardy’ and we came across their statues outside the Town Hall. There is even a Laurel and Hardy Museum situated in the Roxy Cinema but unfortunately it was closed on a chilly January week day afternoon.

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A noticeable landmark in Ulverston is the ‘John Barrow Monument’ on Hoad Hill which commands impressive views over to Morecambe bay . Also known as the ‘ Lighthouse with no Light’ due to its lighthouse like design, it was erected in honor of ‘ Sir John Barrow’ , a local writer and explorer whose life is commemorated on colourful painted murals in the town. We had a walk up to the monument. As you can probably guess I was lagging behind and hyperventilating on the way up, such are my terrible fitness levels! Don’t worry though it really wasn’t all that far….and worth the climb. πŸ™‚

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If you fancy going somewhere a little different Conishead Priory just outside the town, on the way to Bardsea , is well worth a visit. The gothic Victorian mansion stands on the site of an ancient priory built in the 12th century. The original building was seized by the crown in the 1500s and all but destroyed. The estate passed through the gentry until the present structure was built in the 19th century by some rich landowners who then got into debt. It was sold and had a caring history as a hydro hotel, a military hospital and a residence for ill miners. It is now home to the Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre.

Conishead Priory ~ from the back.
Conishead Priory ~ from the back.

A Buddhist Community lives at Conishead and volunteers are also welcome to stay and help out with the upkeep. There were lots of leaflets about courses and meditation retreats. Its not something that I have ever thought of doing, but I did love the welcoming atmosphere and the peaceful and beautiful grounds which are full of wildlife. There is also a lovely cafe and I have to say they do a mean raspberry and yogurt flapjack! Even better dogs are welcomed into the lounge area which has comfy sofas and a flagged floor. It certainly was nice to settle back with coffees after taking our labrador Hugo for a walk through the woodland to the beach. πŸ™‚ And look out for the temple in the grounds. You can’t miss it!

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The first snowdrops I have seen this year. Lots and lots in the grounds.
The first snowdrops I have seen this year. Lots and lots in the grounds.

Ornate ceiling tiles in the coffee lounge area.
Ornate ceiling tiles in the coffee lounge area.

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Squirrel in the grounds.
Squirrel in the grounds.

Ulverston and the surrounding area lies just outside the Lake District and even better, you are minutes from the sea. πŸ™‚

The beach at Baycliff.
The beach at Baycliff.

Have you visited anywhere new recently?