Thursday, 31 August 2017

Day: 254 13/10/02 Ravenglass to Bootle

Weather:  Fine but cloudy.

Distance:  8 km (5.0 miles)    Total Distance:   3270 miles

I was up in the Lake District on  a friend's stage weekend.   The day before I had climbed my first mountain in the Lake District, Bowfell – said to be about the tenth highest in the Lakes. It had been a great walk. We ascended in the rain and low cloud but when we were on the top it cleared and we got good views all round and on the long decent into the Langdale valley.  We stayed in a cottage in Elderdale immediately behind the Britannia Inn where we had enjoyed a couple of evenings.

I was determined to make the most of the weekend and not feeling up to another mountain walk I was heading for the coast along with a friend who I was giving a lift back to Coventry.

It was a fair drive to Ravenglass from the cottage was there was no good road and even thought the main road through Conniston was a main road it was twisty.  We had also got up pretty late so it was gone noon when we parked up and headed off. 

The big question of the day was would we get over the estuary somehow or would we need to make the long detour inland up to Muncastry Castle.  The first part of the walk was along an overgrown path so we dropped down onto the sands, explored one possible way over the estuary to find we had been deceived by an optical illusion and that the river was hidden down in the sand gully and impassable.  When we got to the river crossing itself there was indeed a ford but one that was about 100 yards wide and muddy,  OK for 4 Wheel drives but not for ramblers afraid of getting their feet wet.  

So the only other option was over the railway viaduct.  I knew that the passenger train service was on strike for the weekend so we risked it as there was a sort of rickety wooden path alongside the tracks.  The former felt like it would give way at any moment whilst the latter was well secured on sturdy wooded beams.  A large sigh of relief was let out when we got to the other side without dropping into the river below or being mown down by a train carrying radioactive waste to Sellafield.

The next obstacle to confront us was the army firing range and ‘experimental station’ immediately over the bridge.  The red flags were not flying and there was a footpath signed to a nature reserve but there was no indication of whether this was a ‘no through path’ as it were leading back northwards back in the direction we had just come from but on this side of the river or a nice circular path leading all around the firing range.   I feared it was the former and that we would end up exactly where we started from some hours hence so we decided to stick to the road. Well I did actually; my friend is a very easy going chap and happy to go along with the flow!   

It was a long straight and very quiet road past a virtually deserted army base – all off training for the threatened war against Iraq at a guess.  My companion said it reminded him of Day of the Triffids and I could see why.  Once we got the beach it was time for a rest, a biscuit.   Then we took to the beach for a couple of miles till we got to a convenient place to stop and headed inland up to Bootle as soon as we worked out where we were on the map.  

We were about 45 mins early for a bus so tried out hand at hitching but without an luck.  My friend probably guessed right when he said it was probably more difficult to hitch with two.  The good thing was that he bus was exactly on time and we were back at the car in no time.  The journey home however still took some 4.5 hours and it was pouring with rain for the last hour – we did well to get a nice day out of it. 

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