Today I am looking back at our weekend away with friends in Ravenglass & Eskdale. It was during the school holidays in August that we stayed in the same lovely cottage that we have booked for previous get togethers. It has become a bit of a tradition of ours to stop in Ravenglass on the Cumbrian Coast. We always seem to find new things to see and do.
As we had set off a little earlier than the others, we decided to take our dog Hugo for a walk on nearby Silecroft Beach. With the Cumbrian Fells ( particularly Black Combe) as it’s backdrop, this sandy stretch of coastline is perfect for exercising four-legged friends. And dogs are not the only ones. You have a very good chance of seeing the Cumbrian Heavy Horses out for a canter here too.
Once settled into our seafront cottage in the estuary village of Ravenglass everyone made for the beach again. And our evening was spent under rugs on the cottage balcony playing games and watching the sun 🌞 set over the bay.
No visit to Ravenglass is complete without a trip on La’al Ratty! Meaning ‘ Little Railway ‘ in Old Cumbrian dialect, this is the affectionate nick name given to The Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway 🚂 , a Narrow Steam Gorge Railway that takes visitors on a seven mile journey into the stunning Eskdale countryside.
We were spoiled for choice when it came to walking routes in Eskdale. Many people opt to walk up into the fells. There’s Roman ruins at Hardknott and plenty of wild swimming in the rugged becks and waterfall pools. Speaking of waterfalls, we went in search of Stanley Ghyll and the recently constructed iron viewing platform above it.
Bootle Beach was our destination on Sunday. More swimming for the kids ( they were braver than us!) and a bit of beach combing. We saw two huskies from Horse & Husky being exercised. This beach is great for finding wierd and wonderful pebbles and other flotsam and jetsam.
We had a wonderful time as usual, in this scenic corner of Cumbria.
I have recently found out that 2021 has been named Cumbria’sYear 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 .
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.
Back in January a group of friends booked a holiday cottage on the Cumbrian coast. Little did we know then what a strange turn of events would unfold in 2020. A global pandemic would envelop the world, like something out of a Sci Fi film. We were definitely thankful that we had arranged our mini break for August in Ravenglass….and happily for us , it could still go ahead. Fortunately this little corner of the Lake District is relatively quiet and social distancing was easy. We also had amazing weather, which always helps. 😎
Sunshine & Sunsets. So it was that 6 adults, 2 children and 2 dogs spent a happy 3 nights in lovely Ravenglass. Friday was enjoyed mostly on the beach in front of the cottage and admiring an incredible sunset from the balcony. One friend brought a Water Bottle Rocket 🚀 whose launches into the sky gave us endless entertainment on the sand.
A Ratty Trip , Walk To Eel Tarn & Wild Swimming. You can’t visit Ravenglass in the Summer without a ride on The Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway. Affectionately known as La’al Ratty, this narrow steam gauge railway takes passengers into the seriously scenic Eskdale Valley. We booked return tickets to Dalegarth Station near Boot, from where there are plentiful beautiful riverside and fell walks. Face coverings were advised though not enforced on the platform and inside covered carriages.
Our plan was to walk to a remote tarn for some wild swimming. However as stunning as the hike was, Eel Tarn itself wasn’t really suitable for water pursuits. Surrounded by boggy marsh, only Hugo the Labrador managed to spring in there for a cooling off doggy paddle. However the kids had discovered a promising looking waterfall pool in Whillan Beck , which we managed to visit later.
Saturday was a really hot day so the cool clear water in the beck was just perfect for swimming in. We had it all to ourselves too. As we left a local family arrived, the father had been coming to the waterfall for 40 years. To us it was an accidental ( and totally wonderful) discovery.
Eskmeals Nature Reserve. Having visited Ravenglass several times now, I hadn’t actually realised that the dunes I had seen on the other side of the estuary are part of Eskmeals Nature Reserve . We decided to visit here on Sunday for a walk. The dunes are home to rare natterjack toads ( we didn’t see any though) and many species of wildflower. There is parking by the viaduct at nearby Waberthwaite. Look out for a yellow flag. If it is flying the adjoining MOD land is in use.
A Few More Images From Ravenglass.
As we were leaving Ravenglass on Monday morning a man was setting up his sea plane for a 40 minute journey to a lochside cafe near Dumfries for a coffee. Can’t be bad!
Have you ever visited any places mentioned in this post?
If your looking for miles of dog friendly coastline then you’ve hit the jackpot in Cumbria. Because most people head for the lakes and fells, the beaches are almost always quiet, few having any dog restrictions at all.
We recently spent four nights in the coastal village of Ravenglass, and visited a couple of other seaside resorts whilst we were there. All three are served by the Cumbrian Coastal Railwayline.
Ravenglass. A tiny harbor village, Ravenglass has an ancient history. The Roman settlement of Glannoventa stood here and was an important naval base. The remains of a Roman bathhouse lie on the outskirts.
The beach is a mixture of sand, shingle and mud. There are lots of well signposted walks along the coast or up into the fells. Our dog Hugo enjoyed running here and his favourite nearby hill walk from Ravenglass was a mornings yomp up Muncaster Fell.
Hugo was made a fuss of in all three of the pubs in Ravenglass. We ate out at The Ratty Arms & The Pennington Hotel. Both were very good. 🐶
St Bees. Twenty minutes north of Ravenglass, St Bees is actually named after an Irish medieval Saint, St Bega . Bega ( a beautiful & devout princess) fled across the Irish Sea by boat, having been promised in marriage to a Viking Prince. She had other ideas, preferring to live in religious solitude on the English mainland.
I’m not sure if St Bega liked dogs ( there is a statue of her and her rowing boat in the village center) but the beach she landed on is a great place for a bracing walk. We took Hugo to the sands at Seacote Park, where there is a caravan park, lifeboat station and beach cafe. I don’t think dogs are allowed inside the cafe but as it was a nice day we had icecream on a bench outside and Hugo was brought water & dog treats.
St Bees is the start of the Wainwright Coast to Coast walk and the cliff top ( safely fenced off ~ Phew!) is also ideal for walkies. Look out for all sorts of seabirds. The cliffs at St Bees head are an RSPB bird reserve.
Arnside. A pretty estuary resort, Arnside resides in the Arnside & Silverdale Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It is from here that I took part in The Morecambe Bay Cross Bay walk with Wil and Hugo, three years ago. This iconic organized hike across the shifting sands of Morecambe Bay must not be attempted without an official guide.
On our latest visit Hugo had a good run on the beach but there are also plenty of coastal and inland walks to do in the area including Arnside Knott and along the shoreline to Silverdale. Do make sure you listen out for the sirens that are sounded to warn of the incoming Arnside Tidal Bore, a high tidal wave that happens once a month in Arnside’s estuary.
The village has a couple of dog friendly pubs and cafes. We chose to sit outside with the best ever fish & chips from Arnside Chippy. We also visited a very cute little jazz cafe opposite Arnside’s Railway station. Moochin About is a teeny tiny espresso bar with the cutest decor and vinyl jazz records playing on a record player. Sad to say no doggies allowed inside, purely because it is so small. There are two benches outside though, water bowls and the lovely owner brought out biscuits for Hugo and a collie customer. 🐕
If you have a dog, what beaches do you like to visit with them?
Whilst camping in nearby Silverdale , we visited one of my favourite Seaside towns, the charming resort of Grange-Over-Sands. Grange is situated on the southern tip of the Cartmel peninsula and looks out over Morecambe Bay. Salt Marsh meadows reach out towards the sea and mountains rise majestically on the horizon. The town itself was built in 1894 and retains an Edwardian feel. It’s a quiet less touristy area of the Lake District, yet is only 7 miles from Windermere. Here are a few things I spotted on our visit. 🙂
Stripey Geese. Grange has some attractive Ornamental Gardens that feature a large pond , where quite an array of water birds from all over the world reside. My favourites are these Bar Headed Geese with their striking black and white markings. They are apparently one of the world’s highest flying birds , their winter migration from Central Asia to South Asia being one of the most arduous routes ever. But I think these handsome guys just enjoy hanging out in lovely Grange-Over-Sands.
Look! A Lido! The town has a Lido. Unfortunately it seems to have been abandoned . 😦 Obviously I couldn’t really get any great photographs without breaking and entering, so I just had to peer through the wire fence. The lido was built in the 1930s and has amazing views over the bay. Wouldn’t it be great if it could be restored to it’s former glory! Here’s an article I found with some better pictures. 12 Abandoned Lidos. I have ‘swimming in a Lido’ on my Bucket List . Maybe this could be the one.:)
Promenade Colours. Grange-over-sands pretty prom is charmingly colourful,due to its glorious promenade gardens. There’s nothing quite as lovely as eyeing beautiful blooms on one side of you and sea views on the other,as you amble along the Promenade. I especially liked the stunning pink flowers of the ‘Valerian’ a coastal garden escape,with a name straight from a ‘Game of Thrones episode’.;)
Wildlife House. We spotted this very elaborate home for wildlife just across from the train station in Grange. It seems to provide shelter for just about every insect and bug going and at the bottom there is even a room for a hedgehog. Not sure who was in residence. I liked the wooden butterfly. 🙂
Giant Plastic Windmills. I love love love colourful plastic windmills. So I was delighted in a jumping up and down kind of way, when I spied these beauties outside ‘the Curiosity Shop’ on the Main Street. Of course I had to buy one.I’ve planted the polka dot blue windmill in my garden.So much easier to look after than flowers.;)
Tea Tree. The Hazelmere cafe,shop & bakery on Yewbarrow Terrace is definitely worth a visit, if only to purchase some delicious homemade bread or maybe a tea related gift, of which there is an abundant selection. I loved this Tree of tea! I bought an elegant tea strainer and some rosebud tea from here for my June Foodie Penpal. Foodie Penpals has officially stopped now but if any readers ever fancy doing a food parcel swap, let me know. 🙂
Grange-over-sands , I’m sure has plenty more surprises up its genteel Edwardian sleeve. Why not visit next time you are on the Cumbrian coast….
It was over a year ago when we booked a little holiday cottage on the Cumbria coast. Driftwood Cottage near Bardsea was booked up twelve months in advance ( its that popular) so patience had to be practised.At last January 2015 arrived. Yay! It was very much worth the wait. We chose Driftwood because it is right on the beach, has a toasty wood burner, five minutes walk to the pub, its dog friendly ( welcoming 3 well behaved hounds) and its done out in a fresh nautical style. The views over Morecambe bay are spectacular from the large picture windows in the lounge area. Pink sunrises and windy walks on the beach are mandatory. 🙂
Inside the cottage is so cozy. We made the most of having a wood burner and there was even a telescope to admire the scenery and the wildlife. We really liked the coffee table in the lounge which was made from an industrial cable drum.
Everyday we walked on the beach with Hugo. Happily we were blessed with pretty good weather for January and some days the sky was reflected in the sand. 🙂
The bay was always busy with wading birds and we even saw a couple of shelducks. If anyone knows what the birds below are, please let me know.
The beach held other surprises too……
The cottage is only five minutes walk from the village of Baycliff which has two pubs, a farm shop and a childrens play area. We actually only went to one of the pubs, ‘The Farmers Arms’ which is dog friendly ( the owners made a real fuss of Hugo), has a small selection of real ales and serves delicious food. Its best to book if you want to eat there though. Weekends and Wednesdays( Fish and Chips Night) especially.
I will post about a couple of places we visited whilst staying at the cottage soon. Being out of season though, a lot of the attractions below are not yet open. But you may find them useful in later months. We were also a little limited by Hugos car sickness. Not much fun traveling with a puking puppy! So we tended to stay quite local. Not that we minded, as Driftwood Cottage and the surrounding area are quite beautiful.Wouldn’t you agree? X
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