Day 135: Parton to Silloth

Distance: 27.10 miles

Ascent: 1496 feet

Weather: Sunny Apart from First 30 Minutes

Accommodation: The Fairy DUst Emporium


I woke up this morning slightly confused as to how my laptop was on my head, but I must have fallen asleep whilst I was still on it as it was not in its case. On top of this I was slightly surprised to hear it raining on the canvas as the forecast hadn’t said anything about rain. Fortunately, as I got out of the tent the rain lightened though there was a brisk breeze and it was surprisingly cold. After taking the tent down I put on my gloves and was on my way.

Part of the route today from where my tent was until Allonby would be on the only part of the English Coastal Path that Cumbria has managed to open so far (less than 20 miles), so it would be interesting to see how well the route was signposted and how clear and thought out the route was.

The rain had completely stopped within 20 minutes, and the start of the day was flat until after Parton where it climbed steeply up onto the cliffs. At the top here, I was surprised to see a sign saying that this section from A to B (only a mile or so) on their map of the England Coast Path was not complete so please follow the alternative public footpath which I did. It does appear slightly strange that they say this section is complete and printed on OS maps if it is not.

The path descended slowly down to Harrington by which time the sun had come out and there was a lonely looking boat in the middle of the quite large harbour. From here the route took a quite interesting route criss-crossing under the railway line, before finding probably the most efficient route through the industrial works on the outskirts of Workington. The path climbed straight from the heavy industrial area onto a surprising green headland called the Howe, which was really nice and even more surprisingly had a cross with Jesus on it at one of it’s highest points.

The path dropped down onto the river/harbour and I was soon in the centre of Workington. Due to the fact my laptop had been on most of the night I decided to stop for a tea and snack in the Tesco’s to allow myself to recharge it. Whilst checking the rest of the route today I suddenly thought I knew something about SIlloth and then it came to me that the Landlady in Cark had given me a cafes details in SIlloth to contact which I had forgotten to do, so I sent out a quick message not sure whether I would get a response due to the lateness.

As I left Workington I hit another sign, this time saying that the Enlgand Coat Path was shut due to Network Rail fixing/increasing coastal defences for the railway. So, I started on the alternative path they suggested, but as is often the case the diversion is never as well signposted as the real route. After about a mile and a half there was a path down back to the England Coast Path shown on my map, so I took it and got back on the England Coast Path and there were no signs saying it was shut from this point.

About a mile later following the arrows straight on I suddenly noticed that the path directed me literally onto the railway sidings (less than 1.2m width from the track) which was obviously a mistake.  I can only assume this is where they had put the extra defences in and the path must have been below the boulders, so I walked along the boulders the 200m to where I could see they finished. The only issue being when I reached the other end is that I was now somehow on the other side of a fence, which seemed strange as I hadn’t gone through any fence the other end. I had to get around this fence which due to the way they had cut the metal mesh naughtily had sharp points. I thought I could get around but as I hopped down I knew immediately I had caught it and was sure it was the tent. I was so angry both with myself and more Network Rail for there stupid incorrect signage and there stupid fence that had as I expected completely torn through the sack of my tent.

I sat down and briefly checked the tent inside the bag, which I expected to be completely ruined, but as far as I could see without rolling it out it miraculously seemed to have survived with only the pole bag being ripped inside the main bag. I will only know for definite when I put it up next time.

I continued still worried about my tent, and a bit angry, on the flat path to Maryport where I stopped for a tea to calm down a bit. In fact I could tell I was heading into an anxious, low state as my mind started to absolutely race from one thing to another from things around me to past events, ‘Why is there orange cheese in this, is the temperate zone 1000 miles north and south of the equator, will Network Rail replace my tent, why is there a Polar Bear in the aquarium shop, does anyone like orange cheese …….’ essentially on a loop with many other things jumping in and out. It makes it impossible to focus on anything important and I had to give up doing the planning I was hoping to quickly do, and I decided the best thing was to get back on the walk as quickly as possible. Then a couple of minutes after leaving the café now mostly calmer I randomly started crying for absolutely no reason. I have learnt to just let these moments happen as there is nothing I can do at the time, all I can do is not be annoyed at myself after I have calmed down for heading into that state, fortunately I can count on one hand the amount of times I have had these issues on the walk, whereas at one point before this walk these types of things amongst others were an almost constant in my life.

A phone call came through at an almost perfect time from The Fairy Dust Emporium Café in Silloth, and Vicky said she would sort something out for accommodation tonight which calmed me down even more.

For the next 11 miles or so the route was very similar, with beach walking and paths through the dunes the whole way, the sun was out and the backdrop of the Scottish mountains across the water were stunning. There was one slightly dubious moment where a bridge had come of its supports presumably  at a very high tide and was very precariously leaning to one side. I gave it a good wiggle to see if it seemed strong enough and I decided it was, about half way across I realised that a rope and a small bit of wood on the other side were all that was stopping the bridge tipping over but I made it safely across.. I passed Allonby about half way along and was soon (well several hours) at Silloth. It is an interesting town quite different to anything else around here, seemingly with a fair amount of industry still and interesting cobbled streets.

I met Vicky who was incredibly welcoming and immediately offered me a cake, and she was kindly putting me up on her sofa for the night. I got bombarded by the 3 dogs, who seemed to like the new visitor and after a curry I was definitely ready for bed.

So apart from the tent incident, and the slight low that ensued it was in general a good day. But Cumbria should just say they don’t have any England Coastal Path yet, as in there only 20 mile section 1 miles is actually not open, and the other 3 or 4 incident points probably knock another 6 miles or so off.

charles compton