Cumbria and Lancashire, January 2023

After two and half days at a conference near Birmingham, I travelled north to the Lake District. I had some online meetings to fit in on a couple of days, but the rest of the week and weekend I ended up with a number of interesting outings along the coastal margins of Cumbria and Lancashire.

Wednesday – Arnside

I took the train out along the coast for its wonderful views, and to an enjoyable afternoon walk from Arnside – with a little diversion to avoid the high tide covering the coastal path to New Barns.

Thursday – Barrow-in-Furness

An enjoyable run this morning exploring some of the watery margins of Barrow.

Thursday – Millom Rock Park

After some online work meetings, I made a late afternoon visit to the Millom Rock Park with views of Ghyll Scaur Quarry

Friday – Piel Island and Sheep Island

A walk I’ve wanted to do for a long time, from Walney Island to Piel Island (and Sheep Island). I set off 80 minutes before low tide – and aware of the correct route which is not a straight line.

The muddy track for the first 200m or so was the only challenging bit. After that a few splashes through shallow water but mostly damp sand. The tidal range is almost eight metres and it moves much faster than me so it’s important to know the tide times and plan prudently.
Passing near Sheep Island
Looking towards Piel Island as I cross towards the northern end of one of the channels
Black Combe beyond Barrow
Safely on Piel Island, as a car from the island heads across the sands to Walney
Across the channel to Roa Island
Houses on Piel Island
The pub – I hear good reports of the fish and chips here, but their website says not currently serving food, though they weren’t open at 9am anyway.
The jetty, the route by which most people visit, via the little ferry from Roa Island
A view of my walk back to the car
Remains of a Sherpa van that got stuck in the sand
A final view of Piel Island from Sheep Island – not very accessible with barbed wire, but the edges perfectly good to claim I’ve visited another island.

Friday – Lancaster

After Piel Island, I took myself on a railway outing from Barrow to Lancaster, mostly for an interesting visit to the Maritime Museum, but with quick stops at the Monument to Captured Africans, the Roman Bathhouse, and the Castle.

St George’s Quay on the River Lune, where is located the Maritime Museum
Part of the Roman Bathhouse
Finally a quick stop at the Castle before catching the train back to Barrow

Saturday – Maryport

A gloomy and increasingly damp morning on Saturday, with a run up the coast from Maryport, then Maryport Prom parkrun, and then a walk down the coast to Flimby, filling the gap in my Coast Path exploring from Allonby to Drigg.

From Broughton I drove the short distance to Green Road station where there is free parking for a few cars. I tipped my flask of boiling water into my porridge pot, which I finished preparing and then eating on the platform while waiting for the train to arrive. It’s a lovely journey up the coast, and though I started in full darkness, there was soon enough light to enjoy the views.

About 7.50am on a gloomy Saturday morning in Maryport. Not many people about.
The River Ellen as it enters the sea
I ran north towards and past the golf club. The first section would duplicate the parkrun course, but I continued beyond the parkrun route to reach the point I’d run to on the England Coast Path in January last year.
The parkrun was increasingly damp, but a friendly bunch and it went well for me. My parkrun location #169
“A Fishy Tail” sculpture, a commemoration of the town’s fishing heritage.
“Alauna Aura” celebrates the town’s history from its founding as the Roman town of Alauna, through its time as Ellenfoot, to become Maryport. The ship is HMS Bounty of mutinous fame.
Part of the harbour
Heading along the coast to Flimby.

Sunday – Leigh Branches

A long run today, just over 30km from Manchester to Wigan along the two Leigh Branches (Bridgewater and Leeds & Liverpool). This was planned as part of my training for the Milton Keynes Marathon on 1st May, but this run was where that training went wrong – I had a very minor foot niggle beforehand, which I ignored. The run itself went really well, completed with remarkably little effort and no after-effects on the legs or digestive system. But my right foot rapidly rebelled with some sort of strained ligament, and by the Tuesday I could barely hobble a few paces.

Stretford Waters Meeting where I turn right towards Leigh
The Barton Swing Aqueduct over the Manchester Ship Canal
I’ve never had such simple navigation on a run before – turn right in 20.2km (which was only swapping to the other side)
At Worsley, straight on lies the route to the original mines that were the initial reason for building the canal into Manchester. To the left lies the route to Leigh.
Pennington Flash, viewed from the route of the eponymous parkrun. I’m a long way below the canal, the land having sunk hugely due to the impact of coal mining.
Plank Lane Bridge: built as a fixed bridge, replaced by a swing bridge, and now a lift bridge.
The lower of the two Poolstock Locks, the only ones along the Leigh Branches.
Lock 86 Henhurst Lock, as I leave the mainline at journey’s end.

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