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?
Hi it’s the end of another month ( 2019 is going crazy fast! ) , So I thought I would join in with Kate’s/Hawthorns Scavenger hunt. Her words for May are Seat, View, Starts with a P, Transport, Lunch & My own choice.
Seat. I am recently back from a few days in the seaside village of Ravenglass. Wil & I are lucky enough to have friends whose family have a holiday cottage right on the sea front. And we can rent it for mates rates. So happy days. 😎 Anyway there is a balcony where we spent most late afternoons admiring the sea views and pretending we were in the South of France. You could be fooled ~ apart from my knees are wrapped in a blanket. 🙂
View. The view from said balcony is fantastic, looking out over the estuary. The sunsets in Ravenglass are also to die for.
Starts With P. P is for Sea Pinks. These pretty in pink flowers cover the cliffs of St Bees head , a little further up the coast. Sea Pinks are also called Thrift. Pinks apparently do well in rock gardens and have appeared on the British threepence coin from 1937 to 1952.
Transport. The best way to get around in Ravenglass ? Well I can recommend the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway , a narrow gauge railway set in 7 miles of stunning scenery. My kind of transport.
Lunch. Here’s a recipe I found which was a hit with my other half. It could be lunch or tea.
200g Chick Peas, 200g Chorizo diced, 200g yellow cherry tomatoes halved, 2 tomatoes chopped, 1 red pepper cut in strips, 2 cloves garlic crushed, handful of frozen onions ( I use these because chopping onions always makes me cry) & a little olive oil.
Fry onion & garlic in a little olive oil for 5 minutes.
Add chunks of chorizo & fry for a couple of minutes on a high heat, before adding the pepper strips and lowering the heat again. Cook for 5 minutes then add the chick peas & tomatoes. Stir thoroughly and simmer for 15 minutes with the lid on the pan.
Serve with crusty bread.
My Own Choice. Our very own handsome Hugo conquered his third Wainwright last week, Crag Fell looks over Ennerdale Water. I did too….about 20 minutes later!
Head over to Kate’s blog to see more Scavenger hunters.
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?
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.
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. 🙂
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.
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. 🙂 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. 🙂 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 .
Ingleton Falls Trail, Ingleton, Yorkshire Dales. This 7km walk from Ingleton village is £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 .
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. 🙂
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.
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. 🙂 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. 🙂
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. 🙂 If you have any recommendations for dog-friendly places to visit ( anywhere) please comment below.