It’s a bit of a slog for most of us to get to the western edge of the Lake District. Taking the train from Preston, Lancaster or Carnforth can take the strain out of it, otherwise it’s a long drive from Junction 36 on roads that threaten never to stop.
The last time I went to Ravenglass it was 1994 as a student; no money to go on the steam railway, then. Nearly 20 years sticking to the central, northern and southern Lake District came to an end last week when I went to Ravenglass and Silecroft to research walks for the Railway Walks book. It reminded me that it’s worth making the effort to get there, with some great coastal walks following the Cumbria Coastal Path and the very short but positively buzzing main street at Ravenglass with pubs and cafes. It was a joy to see, made better by the snow capped fells and the newly born lambs bringing the sound of Spring to the hills. Sure, some of the paths were wet and boggy, but it would take more than a bit of snowmelt to dampen my thirst for the joys the Cumbria Coast Line can bring. I’m going back to Ravenglass in May to look in on some more walks from the narrow gauge railway, this time staying over, and I’m very much looking forward to it.
But even more surprising and wonderful was the walk I recorded and have just finished writing up from Silecroft. Where, I hear you ask? It’s a small station two stops down from Ravenglass with a road that leads to a great stretch of beach. If this were in Prembrokeshire, Devon or Cornwall it would be packed with tourists but, given where it is, there were just a handful of us pacing the beach, admiring the fells, marvelling at the Irish Sea stretching away into the sunset and collecting a nice range of shells. Sure, there’ll be some NIMBYs banging on about the offshore wind farm and the one that sits next to the beach, but bring it on I say. Protect the National Park, but seeing those turning blades out to see makes me feel a little less guilty about constantly charging the increasing amount of electrical gadgets I find myself taking on these walks; camera, iPhone, iPod, dictaphone, er, electronic map measurer.
Two places well worth a visit; two places ignored by most visitors, even those who are Lake District veterans.