ilanarama: my footies in my finnies (snorkeling)
[personal profile] ilanarama
Official start

So this is it! The beginning of our Coast-to-Coast* walk. (The asterisk is because this particular guided/group trip is the "Connoisseur's Coast to Coast", that is, a selection of the good bits and minimal boring (such as hiking along a roadway) bits, connected by bus. We actually ended up walking only about half the standard distance of 190 miles. We also had our luggage transported by bus, so that we only needed to carry daypacks, but that's quite common even for people doing the full walk.)

After walking in from town we met Bill and his wife Pat, two members of the local hiking club who Cathy, our trip leader, had arranged to hike with us. We dipped our boots in the Irish Sea, the traditional start of this walk, then got in line with the rest of the masses (I'd guess a hundred people began the Coast to Coast on this morning!) and headed up the gentle grade from the St. Bees beach to the top of the sandstone sea-cliffs. To our left were sea birds, wheeling over the water and then coming in to perch on cliff ledges; to our right were sheep. And all around us were wildflowers: sea-pink (thrift) and bluebells and gorse, red campion and sheep-sorrel, and what we call cow parsnip - 'cow parsley' here.

climbing out of St. Bees sea-pink (thrift)

gorse above Fleswick Bay wildflowers and sea cliff

Not long after attaining the cliff-top, the path heads downward again, to a cleft very close to sea level cut by a stream leading to a small indent in the coastline called Fleswick Bay. As Britt and I were full of energy, we begged Cathy to let us make the small diversion to the bay, and she detailed Bill to 'lead' us - not exactly a tough task, as the route was quite obvious, but we were happy to have his company as he told us about the area's smuggling and wrecking history. The bay was a perfect gem, and at this tidal level - fairly low - squiggles of bedrock sandstone were exposed, reminiscent of the eroded shapes in Utah canyon country.

Fleswick Bay beachlet Fleswick Bay beachlet and cliff

patterns in the sandstone St. Bees lighthouse

We returned to the main path and continued back up to the cliff. About halfway through the day's journey we came across the St. Bees Head lighthouse, which was built in 1866. While we stopped to look at it, an older couple happily passed us. (Our group of 16 people included quite a few rather slow walkers, and I didn't blame them for wanting to get by! In fact, pretty much all the walkers behind us passed us at some point. Britt and I - and a few others in our group - often became frustrated at the slow pace, and when we could we either walked out ahead, or chose alternate routes that allowed us to get in more miles.)

But perhaps fifteen minutes after starting again from the lighthouse, as the trail descended into a dip, we saw them again. The woman was sitting in the middle of the trail and the man was bending over her, holding a cell phone. "I've broken my ankle," she announced.

I felt really sorry for them - their planned two-week (or so) adventure had barely begun, and now it came to an abrupt halt. But I also could not keep from feeling a bit contemptuous. The trail was narrow and rocky, but not particularly steep, and the rocks formed decent steps. How, I thought to myself, could anyone marginally competent have injured herself on such a moderate bit of trail?

(Some of you will recognize this as Ominous Foreshadowing. Pride goeth, people. Pride goeth.)

We made our way around the couple and continued down the trail. As we reached the end of the coastal trail, where we'd have to turn inland on a narrow access road, an ambulance was just starting to unpack rescue gear. One of the crew asked how far down the victim was. Another commented that "at least she hadn't fallen off" - apparently it's happened, in gusty winds. A couple of them headed down the trail.

As we hiked out the access road, several more vehicles with S&R people passed us, going in toward the trailhead. It would be a tough job to get her out, I knew, but at least there were a lot of people to help. (Heh, I looked it up - 18 people total from the Wasdale Mountain Rescue Team participated.)

The access road led to a tiny village, which we crossed through and continued onto a right-of-way through a farm. Passing through fields of sheep, we eventually found ourselves on a converted rail path, and from there it wasn't far to the village of Cleator, where we had time for a beer in the pub before climbing onto the bus that took us to our B&Bs.

Incidentally, I used my Garmin 305 - a runner's wrist-GPS - to record our walks. Though I recharged the battery nightly, I didn't bring my laptop and thus was unable to download the data until I got home. As it turned out, I recorded more hours than its memory could take, so it cleared out all but the metadata of the first five days' walks; this means that I have total distances, but no tracks or elevation data. I'll be including maps of the bits of route I have once I get there, but if you're curious about this day's walk you can see a map of St. Bees to Ennerdale Bridge from someone else's walk - we stopped where the pink path crosses the red road, in the middle of the page. My recorded distance was 10.4 miles; the official distance is 8.5, but I started recording from my B&B, rather than from the beach, and also included the diversion to Fleswick Bay and a short jaunt to get a closer look at the lighthouse.

towards Cleator

Twelve photos at Flickr

(no subject)

Date: 2013-07-04 08:28 am (UTC)
luzula: a Luzula pilosa, or hairy wood-rush (Default)
From: [personal profile] luzula
Oh wow, those are some lovely views! I probably would've stopped to botanize all the time. *g*

(no subject)

Date: 2013-07-09 01:29 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
"Pride goeth, people"....lmao, Ilana! I love it. :) (Treehugger here)

(no subject)

Date: 2013-08-05 11:41 pm (UTC)
just_ann_now: (Default)
From: [personal profile] just_ann_now
*waves from Lurkdom* Actually, I'm a friend of [profile] zebra363.

These are wonderful pictures, and your write-ups are excellent - it's just like being there, except for the money, and the blisters *grin* I'm particularly enjoying the wildflowers, and the scenic vistas. It's just glorious.
Edited Date: 2013-08-05 11:42 pm (UTC)


ilanarama: me, The Other Half, Moab UT 2009 (Default)

August 2017

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My running PRs:

5K: 21:03 (downhill) 21:43 (loop)
10K: 43:06 (downhill)
10M: 1:12:59
13.1M: 1:35:55
26.2M: 3:23:31

You can reach me by email at heyheyilana @


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