Day 130: Cark to Walney Island
Distance: 27.60 miles
Ascent: 1218 feet
Weather: Overcast But Dry apart from Last 20 Minutes
Accommodation: Queens Arms Beer Garden (kindly Offered)
After a good night’s sleep behind the village hall I was up early and heading back down to The Rose & Crown Pub where the landlady had kindly offered me breakfast which was very nice and set me up for the long day ahead. The forecast for the day was for sunny spells most of the day before heavy showers from 6pm so I had a race today to see if I could beat the rain.
The first part of the day had worried me as the Holker Hall Estate meant there was no path along the coast and in fact hard to even gain access to the foreshore. The only alternatives were diversions up onto the fells and back down and during planning I did not want to do this. So, I came up with a plan that I felt would work but it was a risk as if say I came up against an issue at the end I may have to backtrack the whole 4 miles meaning a wasted 8 miles in total. This route started taking a small public road that took me down to almost the foreshore at Cartmel Sands and then along to Lower Frith where it turns out that Lord & Lady Cavendish actually live in a very smart large modern sort of barn conversion. As expected at this point the track became private and said no walkers allowed but I got down/near to the foreshore which I think was public access due to being tidal where the route became stunning and felt very remote. I absolutely loved this part, some of the best 5 miles of the walk, and there was a very walkable route the whole way with several little coves, and the only headland had a flat stoned area to get around. I am so glad I chose this route and was at Greenodd 6 miles into the walk after only about 2 hours. Also on this stretch I saw my first Eider Ducks which make a quiet bizarre sound, sort of high and low pitched at the same time.
I had a little break here under the road bridge and out of the wind. The next stage was also liable to issues as there was no path that followed the coast. I had decided to take the route of a dismantled railway, which I have a feeling now was probably accidental trespassing as I suddenly ended up in a slate tradesman yard but had no option but to walk through, and the guy in the forklift gave me a bemused look but said nothing. From here after a slight change due to route being overgrown and a short stretch of lanes I was back on the dismantled railway. At Plumpton Hall I joined a proper path and after following the foreshore I arrived at the end of the Ulverston Canal.
The route diverted inland here slightly, to get around the Glaxo Smith Kline factories I believe, before returning down to the beach. I passed signs for a very surprising site here the Manjushri Buddhist Centre housed in the stunning old Conishead Priory. This was in a state of complete disrepair before the Buddhist community took it over but having raised in excess of £1,000,000 they have done numerous works to the building to make it functional again.
The wind had got up and was a stiff headwind, and the next 7 miles were very flat along the beach which meant I was very exposed. The terrain was easy, but the wind made it hard going. I shifted onto the road sometimes just to break up the monotony but finally made it to Rampside. There is a little island linked by an embankment here, Roa Island, which felt like a right nuisance as my body felt very tired, but I quickly darted out to it and back again. I probably should have taken longer looking around. In fact, on after thought I could have done a very interesting route, getting the tiny ferry from Roa to Piel Island and as it was low tide walked across to the southern most tip of Walney Island but this would have taken advanced planning.
My body way absolutey exhausted at this moment presumably from the fatigue of having walked well in excess of 100 miles in the last 4 days. In fact, I was actually stumbling quite a bit and knew I needed to either stop or have a rest very soon. Fortunately, only 2 kilometres away there was a large Morrisons, and after passing the giant gas terminal I reached it and after grabbing a couple of supplies just collapsed in the café and actually had a full on early dinner.
Recuperated a bit, I had to continue. I passed all the giant BAE building before crossing over the Jubilee Bridge and onto Walney Island. It became abundantly clear that this beginning part of the island after the houses was not good for wild camping with a tidal flat on one side and fenced of fields with animals on the other. The rain had just started though fortunately only lightly, and I decided to head for the pub in Biggar and ask if I could pitch there. The Queen’s Arms kindly let me pitch in their beer garden, and I got the tent up as quickly as I could in the now quite heavy winds and was fortunately back in the pub before the heavy rain started only a very short while later. I was planning my route for tomorrow and was not sure about where I could go through the Cumbria Wildlife Trust reserve but fortunately the ranger happened to walk into the pub and as well as having a general chat was able to verify my route and let me know I could just walk around the gate that wouldn’t be open till 10:00. So after a couple of donations and some complimentary chips I was off to bed and was sure I would sleep well tonight as I was exhausted.
A weirdly satisfying day due to overcoming the Holker Hall Estate issue and lack of paths near the dismantled railway, but one that has completely exhausted me (maybe just fatigue from previous days).