Today is Snowy’s first anniversary – exactly a year since she came to live in my little family at the age of 8 months. Timid and shy when she first arrived home, and very wary of everyone and everything, she slowly came out of her shell, growing in confidence and learning that the humans she met while we were out and about were friends, not enemies.
For the first few months she had the amusing, if sometimes exasperating, habit of collecting things and in spite of having several toys she would ‘find’ various things to take into her bed. Cardboard toilet roll tubes, Michael’s socks, my trainers and slippers, the tv remote, anything she thought was interesting would end up in there, but fortunately for my sanity that habit has gradually lessened and she rarely collects things now.
In late June/early July Snowy experienced her first camping holiday with me and Poppie. Although during the first couple of days she did bark a few times at the alpacas in the next field she soon settled down into camping life and was no trouble at all on the site or in the tent, with her favourite place being up on top of the picnic table where she could see everything going on around us. We have just recently returned from our second camp at the same site and again she was really good, with not even a single bark at the alpacas this time.
I won’t deny that, compared to all my previous Jack Russells, Snowy hasn’t always been the easiest one to deal with and even now still presents me with a couple of challenges, her intense dislike of other dogs being one of them, but she’s still very young so there’s time for her to learn. Other than that she’s funny, affectionate, adorable and very cute, with the constantly waggy tail of a very happy little dog, so I’m looking forward to her being part of my little family for many more anniversary years to come.
The morning after my bank holiday visit to Hest Bank and various points north I was back on the M6 again with plans to visit Morecambe and Heysham, however the weather gods decided in their wisdom that they would screw things up for me. I’d looked on the live webcams before leaving home and seen cloudless blue sky and sunshine but in the hour it took me to get there a fair amount of fluffy white clouds had appeared though it was still sunny.
Parking right at the north end of the promenade my first port of call was Happy Mount Park, though first I wanted to look at the nearby Venus and Cupid sculpture. I’d previously seen photos of it on other blogs and personally thought it looked ugly so I wanted to see it ‘in the flesh’. Sculpted by Shane A Johnstone it was originally intended to be sited at St. Georges Quay in Lancaster but was erected at Scalestone Point, Morecambe, in 2005.
In 2011 the artist threatened to destroy the sculpture as the local council was unwilling to pay for its insurance and upkeep so in 2012 the Venus & Cupid Arts Trust was formed to raise money for its purchase. Thanks to public donations enough money was raised in three years to cover the cost and in September 2015 it was taken over by the Trust. During the winter of 2017/2018 frost caused some of the mosaic tiles to fall off so in November 2018 it was moved temporarily into Morecambe’s Arndale Centre for repairs; the sculptor replaced the missing tiles with gold leaf to accentuate the repairs rather than hide them and the sculpture was returned to the sea front in June 2019.
Seeing the sculpture up close did little to change my opinion. I still thought it was ugly, and the name Venus & Cupid seems to bear no relation to what it actually is, however the colours did look quite attractive and my photo of it seemed to make it look better than in real life.
Across the road and a couple of hundred yards away was the entrance to Happy Mount Park and straight away I could see things had changed from when I visited last September. Back then most of the flower beds were unkempt and untidy but now laid out with summer plants they looked really colourful, and wandering round the park it seemed as though most of it, especially the children’s areas, had undergone a fairly recent makeover. Unfortunately after a while the weather decided to make a change and the fluffy white clouds joined together to obliterate the sun, resulting in what I call ‘the dreaded white sky’, so I decided to return to the van.
Abandoning my plan to go to Heysham I drove down to the car park near the Midland Hotel and had a mooch round the stalls in the Festival Market then went to Rita’s Cafe nearby for a snack lunch, hoping that the day would soon brighten up again. Unfortunately it didn’t, and though there was still some blue sky over the bay the sun stayed stubbornly behind the clouds, making my photos very dull, so I had a wander round by the fairground and the gardens then cut my losses and set off for home.
I did actually take a lot more photos along the promenade but they deserve a post of their own so I’m saving them for another time. Tomorrow I’m off on my travels again for another ten days at the quiet camp site in Cumbria where I stayed not long ago – no internet access means no blog posts so there’ll be lots to come when I get back.
Back in January this year I watched the second series of a crime drama shot in and around Morecambe. Most of the locations I instantly recognised from previous visits but there was a house featured in a place which I felt I knew even though I also knew I’d never been there. Some logical thought and a study of Google maps and street view eventually showed me where it was so the Saturday morning of the August bank holiday found me driving along Morecambe promenade and the coast road to arrive in Hest Bank just a couple of miles northwards.
The road to the shore was crossed by the west coast main train line and the barriers were down when I arrived so I had to wait a few minutes for the trains to pass. Just beyond the level crossing was a parking area and a small cafe, with a long and pleasant green overlooking the bay and a few more small parking areas set at intervals just off the tarmac lane. With just a couple of large semis and a very small residential static caravan site there was nothing there but it was a nice enough little place which seemed to be popular with walkers with or without dogs, while the vast expanse of sands provided good cantering for a couple of horse riders.
Walking northwards I soon found the house I’d seen in the tv series; the lane turned into a gravel track there which ended in another small parking area and a grassy foreshore above the shingle beach. I would really have liked to walk on a bit further but I could see quite a few people in the distance with several off-lead dogs, something which Snowy doesn’t like, so I turned round there and headed back the other way. Back at the van I got chatting to a couple about to set off on a bike ride along the Lancaster Canal; it seemed it was only a short distance away so I decided to leave the van where it was and go check it out.
I found the canal quite easily and my walk northwards started from Bridge 118, built in 1797, but if I’d been expecting to pass through some nice countryside I was destined to be disappointed as the canal was lined on both sides with houses and bungalows. Many of the properties on the far side had large attractive gardens reaching down to the canal side while those on the towpath side were set just below the canal bank. Long strips of well mown grass separated the boundary walls and hedges from the towpath and I got occasional views over the rooftops to the bay.
Not knowing how far I would have to go to find some countryside I gave up at Bridge 122 and set off back to where I started; I had other places to go to so I didn’t want to spend too long looking for something which could possibly still be miles away. Bridge 120 was a ground-level swing bridge which seemed to provide access to just one house set on its own and not far away was a quirky looking cottage with a not-very-straight roof and an overgrown garden. I couldn’t tell if it was lived in or empty but it intrigued me enough to take a quick photo.
My next port of call was Silverdale but knowing how to get there and actually getting there were two completely different things. What should have been a relatively easy drive from Carnforth turned into an epic all-round-the-houses, miles-out-of-my-way journey round unknown country lanes due to a closed road and diversion at a crucial point, but I got there in the end.
Now I remember going to Silverdale as part of a coach trip with my parents when I was about 9 or 10 years old and though I don’t recall going to the village itself I do remember being totally unimpressed with the coast part of it as there was absolutely nothing there, so I was hoping that after all these years it might have changed a little. It hadn’t – there was still the same rough parking area, the same row of cottages set back behind a high concrete sea wall, the same ankle-twisting rocky shoreline and vast expanse of sand. Yes, the view across the bay was good but other than that there was nothing – in less than ten minutes I had all the photos I wanted and I was back in the van.
Next on the list were Jack Scout nature reserve and Jenny Brown’s Point, a relatively short drive from the village and neither of which I’d been to before. Unfortunately I couldn’t get remotely close to either of them in the van; about halfway there I was met by the second Road Closed sign of the day so I had to find a convenient place to park on a nearby lane and walk from there.
Jack Scout is an area of low limestone cliff owned by the National Trust, with its name thought to have come from old English or Norse meaning a high point where oak trees grow. Well known for its wildlife and extensive views over Morecambe Bay the area features a partially restored 18th century lime kiln and the Giant’s Seat, a huge limestone bench. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see either of these as a notice on the gate leading into the grassland warned of cows in the area and sure enough I could see several of them mooching about among the trees and shrubs. Not wanting to put myself and the dogs at risk I decided not to go there so another few minutes walking finally got me to Jenny Brown’s Point where a couple of benches set down off the lane gave great views over the channels flowing into the bay.
No one really knows how Jenny Brown’s Point got its name. One story says she was a young maiden hopelessly scanning the distant horizon for the return of her lover, another that she was a nanny, cut off and drowned by the incoming tide while trying to rescue the two children in her care, though the more believable theory stems from the 1660s when a mother and daughter, both named Jennet Brown, lived at Dikehouse, the farm at the Point. The area has also been known as Brown’s Point (1812), Silverdale Point (1818) and Lindeth Point (1828) though Jenny Brown’s Point was in use on an 1829 estate plan and has been used by the Ordnance Survey from 1848.
One story which is certainly true is the tragic tale of the Matchless, a converted fishing boat used for taking holidaymakers on trips across Morecambe Bay during the summer months. On September 3rd 1894, carrying 33 passengers and just one skipper/crewman, the boat left Morecambe to sail to Grange-over-Sands but just off Jenny Brown’s Point it was hit by an unexpectedly sudden strong gust of wind. Within seconds it capsized, throwing people into the water where many became fatally tangled and trapped in the sails and ropes. Although other nearby pleasure boats came to the rescue only eight passengers and the skipper were saved; 25 holidaymakers including five children, the youngest only 2 years old, all perished.
A few hundred yards away from the benches the lane ended at the 18th century Brown’s Cottages where huge slabs of limestone looking almost like a slipway led down to the waterside. Nearby were the remains of what would once have been a small quay and part of a broken bridge which would have crossed the channel known as Quicksand Pool.
Just beyond the cottages was an old chimney, now Grade ll listed and believed to be the remains of a short-lived copper mining and smelting project set up in the 1780s by Robert Gibson, Lord of the Manor of Yealand. He wrongly assumed that he had the right to mine for copper on nearby land owned by the Townleys of Leighton Hall and the copper was processed in a furnace at Jenny Brown’s Point, but after several lawsuits the whole operation was abandoned in 1788; Gibson died three years later in 1791.
From Jenny Brown’s Point I walked back along the lane to the van then drove the four-and-a-bit miles round to Arnside. Normally I wouldn’t like to drive into to Arnside on a bank holiday as it would be extremely busy and parking wouldn’t be easy but it was gone 5pm by the time I got there and many day visitors had already left so I was able to find a parking space near the far end of the promenade.
Arnside village is situated on the West Coast main railway line in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. At one time it was actually a working port but building the viaduct across the Kent estuary in 1857 caused it to silt up, making the port no longer viable. The viaduct itself is 552 yards long with 50 piers; it was rebuilt in 1915 and is a very prominent feature of the village, being more or less the first thing to be seen when coming into Arnside past the railway station.
The pier was constructed by the Ulverston and Lancaster Railway Company in 1860, replacing an earlier wooden structure and also providing a wharf for ships after the building of the viaduct prevented them from reaching the inland port of Milnthorpe. In 1934 a storm destroyed the end section of the pier which was subsequently rebuilt by the London, Midland and Scottish Railway Company, then in 1964 Arnside Parish Council bought the pier for £100. Following a storm on the night of January 31st 1983 it was rebuilt by the Parish Council after the cost was raised by public subscription and grants, and it was officially re-opened on April 12th 1984.
Walking along the promenade I heard the sound of singing coming from upstairs in the sailing club building which was once the Customs House. A board outside said the place was open so for curiosity I popped inside; a steep wooden staircase led up from the corner of a very simply furnished room and from up above came the sound of laughter and the chink of glasses. There was nothing to say if this was a public event or a private one but I don’t like sea shanties anyway so I didn’t bother finding out.
My walk took me to the end of the pretty promenade gardens before I turned round and headed back to the van, with a quick detour up Pier Lane on the way. It was well after 6pm by then, the lane was in shade and the few small shops were closed but as I’d never been up there before it was worth a quick look.
My route homeward took me down a part of the A6 which I’d never previously been along and as I headed south I caught the brief sight of an air balloon floating somewhere above the trees. Eventually I could see it properly and with not a lot of traffic on the road I was able to pull up in a couple of places and snap a handful of shots before it disappeared behind a ridge in the fields.
It was almost 8pm when I finally arrived home, with the evening sun having stayed with me all the way back. Having set out reasonably early that morning it had been a long though very enjoyable day but now it was time to make a brew and relax for a while before the dogs needed their bedtime walk.
That’s a rhetorical question to which I don’t need or want an answer but it seems to me that many people these days act as if it’s the holy bible of the internet and the be-all and end-all of social media, to the point where a person is excluded from certain things unless they are a Facebook member.
For a few years now a friend and her daughter have been trying to persuade me to join Facebook but I’ve always steadfastly refused, being of the opinion that a lot of people on there are brainless morons and troublemakers, and I speak from experience. I’m not going into detail but several years ago, when I worked in a senior school, I was the target of a lot of unwarranted personal and malicious name calling, sniggering and verbal backchat which stemmed from something a certain pupil had posted about me on Facebook and shared among her friends. It was deeply upsetting at the time but fortunately it didn’t last too long before the pupil in question was dealt with, though I vowed there and then that I would never ever join Facebook.
Fast forward to one day a couple of weeks ago and through the local community group which I’m a member of – which has nothing to do with Facebook – I learned that a deceased cat had been found at the side of the main road not far from me and someone was asking who it might belong to. From the description I thought it might belong to one of my bosses so I offered to go and collect it – if it wasn’t my boss’s cat I would take it to the local vet to be scanned for a microchip – however when I got there I found it had been picked up by someone else.
It turned out that this guy was a member of a nationwide group where members collect cats killed on the roads and attempt to reunite them with their owners before they are picked up by local council operatives and dumped in the trash to be disposed of, leaving their owners wondering what happened to them when they didn’t come home. The group was started a couple of years ago in conjunction with a campaign to get the government to pass a law requiring all cats killed on the roads to be classed the same as dogs and the accidents reported.
Having had a couple of my own cats go missing in previous years and not knowing what had happened to them I was very interested in becoming an active member of this group – if I could reunite just one deceased pet with its owner it would be worth it – so the guy gave me the details and the phone number of the local woman who started it and runs it. I phoned her later that day but guess what? – to join the group I have to be on Facebook as that’s how they operate and get in touch with individual members. So I guess I won’t be becoming a member after all – it’s a shame but I absolutely refuse to go against my own principles and join Facebook just to join that group.
Another example of this Facebook thing occurred only yesterday. Through my Postcossing hobby I was made aware of Postcards of Kindness, an initiative run by age uk where people write and send postcards to residents of care homes to brighten up their days. Again this was something I would be interested in doing but yes, you’ve guessed it, it’s a Facebook group so unless I become a Facebook member I can’t take part.
I really can’t understand what’s so special about Facebook – it’s as if most people, whether individuals or businesses, can’t function without it and everyone expects everyone else to be on it. Well I may be considered to be something of a dinosaur in the world of technology and social media – I’m not on Twitter either – but though it’s a tad annoying that some things are denied to me my life so far has jogged along nicely and it will no doubt continue to do so without the need for Facebook.
I had the most bizarre experience in my local Asda store the other day when I popped in to get a sandwich and a couple of other things on my way home from work. As seems to be the norm with many supermarkets these days the sandwich and snack section with two self-scan checkouts is in a corner of its own, so to save going through two separate checkouts I went to get the sandwich first with the intention of getting my milk and a loaf from the main part of the store and just going through one checkout with the three items, however….
As I was deciding which sandwich to have a young woman standing almost next to me was loading her Asda basket with quite a large selection of them and it struck me that maybe she was having some friends or family round for the evening, but I wasn’t prepared for what she did next. Expecting her to go to the nearby self-scan checkout I was quite surprised to see her go the other way and head rapidly towards the exit doors. It seemed I’d just witnessed a shoplifter in the act but not being sure if that really was the case, and also out of curiosity, I followed her and sure enough she went straight out of the store with the basket full of sandwiches. I immediately mentioned it to the security guy at the desk by the door, describing what the young woman looked like and what she was wearing, but even though he scanned the whole car park with the surveillance cameras there was no sign of her, she had completely vanished so there was nothing he could do.
Finally getting my own sandwich I went to the far side of the store to pick up a carton of milk and a loaf then made my way to the main self-scan checkouts but as I got there I noticed the same young woman already there, though this time she had a couple of carrier bags over her arm. Having seen her get away with stealing the sandwiches only a few minutes before I didn’t like the thought of her getting away with anything else so I quickly dumped my own three items on the nearby customer services desk, told the assistant on duty “I’ll be back for those in a minute!” and ran through the store to alert the security guy by the door. As I was talking to him the young woman came walking towards the exit so I pointed her out, he stopped her as she went through the foyer and I left him to do his job.
Back at the customer services desk the assistant asked me why I’d disappeared so suddenly and when I explained she said “Well I’ll say one thing, you can certainly run fast!” Retrieving my three items I finally went through the checkout though as I got to the exit, far from seeing that the young woman had been detained as I expected, the security guy was sitting back at his desk on his own. It seemed that he had checked her bags and whatever Asda items she had in there had been paid for and she had the receipt, so he had no reason to hold her.
Thinking about things afterwards, and how quickly the young woman had disappeared with the sandwiches then gone back in the store, I can only assume that either she had a car parked close to the exit doors or she was with someone else in a car, enabling her to get rid of the sandwiches before she could be picked up on the surveillance cameras – it all seemed very strange.
There have been a couple of occasions in the past where I’ve seen someone detained by security at the door – I remember one guy had a couple of bottles of whisky which he hadn’t paid for – but this is the first time I’ve ever actually witnessed someone stealing something. The whole situation was so bizarre I could hardly believe it had happened, but I’ve replayed it in my head several times since then and yes, it did happen. Normally my shopping trips to Asda are very mundane and ordinary but this one certainly wasn’t!
For my final holiday post I thought I would include some of the many creatures which call the camp site and farm their home. When I stayed there two years ago, aside from a large flock of sheep, 24,000 chickens and two dogs, the farm’s animal collection consisted of four pygmy goats, a small collection of hand reared/captive-bred birds in large aviaries and a few ponies which I never saw, however several changes since then have seen the addition of more birds, a couple of rheas, some alpacas and several rabbits.
The aviaries were set back in a pleasant area behind the facilities block, some of them having information plaques attached, while the ponies were in the field in front of my tent and the alpacas and rheas in paddocks to the side. A wide gravel track ran between the paddocks and down at the bottom were the goats, while the rabbits were in an enclosure at the corner of the farm track. It was all a very well thought out set up and reminded me a bit of a small-scale version of a wildlife park.
Great grey owl, native to North America, Europe and Asia
Burrowing owl, native to North and South America
Of course I couldn’t forget my own two camp site creatures, Snowy and Poppie. It was Snowy’s first holiday and while Poppie preferred to lie in the shade under the table Snowy liked to stand on the table so she could see what was going on around us, though she wasn’t happy about having to stay in her travel crate while I took the tent down on going home day.
After having lovely sunny weather for most of the holiday going home day was cloudy and grey. The rain arrived just after I left the site and it lasted until I was halfway home then the clouds cleared and the sunshine and blue sky returned, staying with me for the rest of the day – it was a perfect end to a lovely holiday.
Well not actually bananas but a situation experienced by myself and Michael just recently made me think of the novelty song from donkey’s years ago which I sometimes heard on the radio when I was a kid. Some of you may remember a post I wrote last November when a certain pub/restaurant we went to had no chicken tikka, no chicken pie and no steak pie, fortunately something we both saw the funny side of – well we recently had a similar situation at the very same place.
Just over a week ago, on the Wednesday, Michael suggested that if I picked him up from work at 6pm as I was on my way home from my own job we could go for a meal – it was Curry Wednesday and we could get a meal and a drink for almost £2 less than the price of just a meal on any other day. The curries come with rice, a poppadom and mango chutney, however when our meals were served the mango chutney was missing. On asking the waitress we were told there was no chutney but we could have mint yogurt as an alternative – it sounded a bit yuck but as a dip for the poppadoms it was okay and the meals themselves were very nice.
Two days ago we went back to the pub/restaurant for another curry but this time, not only did they still have no mango chutney, they also had no mint yogurt, and worst of all they had no rice! Now Michael can be funny but still keep a dead straight face so when he came back from ordering at the bar and said there was no rice and we were having chips instead I was convinced he was winding me up but obviously he wasn’t – our curries did come with chips, and though I don’t normally eat chips they actually made a change and the meals were still good.
Last year we put the shortage of meals down to the fact that the restaurant was closing for a month’s lockdown, this time we can only assume that the lack of some foods has been caused by various current disruptions in the supply chain, none of which are the restaurant’s fault, but with no mango chutney, no mint yogurt and no rice it did get us thinking – if we go there again next week maybe they’ll have no chips and we’ll just get curry!
The penultimate day of the holiday and after some heavy overnight rain – very unexpected as the evening before had been lovely – the sunshine and blue sky were back. My first port of call that morning was Harrington, a coastal village between Whitehaven and Workington. As far as I knew there was nothing much there but it did have a small harbour with a handful of boats, and having been caught by the rain after just one photo the previous day it was worth going back for a bit of a look round.
Back in 1760 Squire Henry Curwen built a small quay at Harrington on the south side of the River Wyre (not to be confused with the River Wyre running through the Fylde area of Lancashire) though there were no ships registered to Harrington at that time, but by 1794 there were around 60 ships and trade in the village was increasing. Shipbuilding and its associated industries were established by 1800 and during the 19th century Harrington became quite an important port, exporting coal to Ireland and lime to Scotland and importing iron ore. Unfortunately by the turn of the 19th/20th century a decline in the manufacturing industry saw the harbour’s use gradually drop and the Port of Harrington eventually closed in 1928.
In 1940 the Ministry of Aircraft Production set up a hush-hush Magnesite plant at the former Harrington Ironworks site at the south side of the harbour, which was sealed off and used as a reservoir for the works. The plant extracted magnesium from seawater for use in aircraft components and incendiary bombs; it was operational until 1953 and during its time was one of only two plants in the country. Eventually the plant was dismantled and the buildings demolished and in 1966 the land was completely cleared.
Today Harrington is largely a dormitory town for employees of the shops, offices and light industry in Workington and Whitehaven and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (formerly British Nuclear Fuels) down the coast at Sellafield. At the height of its industrial past the town had five railway stations but now only has one, situated on the Cumbrian Coast railway line close to the harbour.
The harbour itself has found a new lease of life as a mainly leisure facility with 14 moorings for boats up to 35ft and 25 moorings for boats under 20ft, plus six moorings for fishing boats up to 35ft. There’s also a sailing and fishing club based on the north side of the harbour and a slipway for ‘trailer-sailors’ to access the water. On the south side is an extensive and very pleasant parkland area where the Magnesite plant once stood and a road runs along the harbourside to a large free car park overlooking a rocky beach.
Halfway along the road is Sea Legend, a sandstone statue sculpted by Shawn Williamson and unveiled in 2000. Possibly inspired by Norse mythology, viewed from one side the figure appears to be carrying a large fish but on the other side the figure’s hand is clamped firmly in the creature’s huge teeth so maybe it was getting the better of him.
Walking round the inner harbour to the north side I came to the small beach of the outer harbour. A couple of old fishing boats and half a dozen dinghies nestled in the nearby grass and a narrow path led northwards between a pebbly rocky beach and a low grassy cliff. It wasn’t the prettiest of places along there so I didn’t walk too far before turning round and retracing my steps back to the harbour. Round the south side and past the Sea Legend sculpture my harbour walk ended where it began, in the car park overlooking the rock pools and the sea.
The next part of the day was a visit to Workington harbour at the mouth of the River Derwent, three miles or so north of Harrington. I’d been aiming to go there a couple of years previously but a wrong turn had taken me to a dead end near a wind farm premises at the far side of the port, however directions from Jayne and a previous look at Google Maps had given me a good idea of how to get there and this time I found it with no problems.
A long road took me through an area of commercial premises then a pleasant heath alongside the mouth of the river to a car park at the end of what was essentially a spit of land jutting into the sea. A concrete walkway along the nearby breakwater led to an ugly square two-storey tower surrounded by railings and a staircase; not exactly a lighthouse it did have a beacon light on its roof and it’s also one of the two recognised west coast starting points of the coast-to-coast cycle route – the other is in Whitehaven.
Next to the breakwater was an area of shingle/stony/rocky beach strewn with boulders, not the nicest of places to spend any time, so with just one photo taken I drove back along the road to where there was a lay-by next to a strange circular little building with a conical roof and a boarded-up door and window. This was built in the early 1800s as a harbour workers’ shelter – a workman would watch the tide in the estuary from the shelter and raise or lower a marker to inform seamen of the water depth. The chimney stack is apparently a more modern cosmetic addition.
Between the road and the river a tarmac path led from just beyond the lay-by and through a grassy area to a slipway and a small yacht harbour where a couple of dozen leisure craft were moored; the tide was going out and many of them were already settled on the mud. Behind the yacht harbour was a longer harbour where there would be more boats, but though there were bright blue skies out to sea dark grey clouds were gathering inland and constantly obliterating the sun. If it was going to rain I didn’t want to get caught in it so I returned to the van; I could always go back to the harbour sometime in the future.
At the far side of Workington and on the A596 coast road heading north I came to a large Asda store and petrol station so I pulled in there to get a few provisions and fill up with diesel ahead of the journey home the following day. By the time I came out the grey clouds were clearing away and the sunshine and blue sky were back so I continued northwards, and bypassing Maryport I eventually reached Allonby, the third and final stop of the day.
I first ‘discovered’ Allonby at Easter two years ago and was impressed enough to return a couple of months later. To many people it would appear to be just a quaint village strung out along the coast road but delve into its history, as I did two years ago, and you realise there’s far more to the place than you think. Parking overlooking the sea towards the south end of the village, and with views across to the hills of southern Scotland, I walked north along the footpath/cycle path to where Allonby Beck flows across the beach into the sea then walked back south, sometimes along the road and sometimes round the quaint narrow cobbled streets behind.
On the side wall of the Baywatch Hotel was a 25ft mural which had been painted last year as a tribute to Colonel Tom Moore and to raise money for NHS charities. Apparently the wall was due to be painted anyway so the work was commissioned by Peter Blake who runs the hotel and painted for free by Maryport-based artist Bethany Grey. Now while it may prove to be a bit of an attraction for visitors to the village I have to be honest and say I’m not particularly impressed with it – it’s out of proportion for one thing. There are far better Tom Moore artworks elsewhere – Akse’s mural in Manchester’s NQ is far superior to this – but if the residents of Allonby like it that’s all that matters.
At the south end of the village I crossed the road and walked along the beach for a while, something which I hadn’t done on my previous visits to Allonby, then returned to the van. With nowhere open to get anything like a decent meal – I’ve often wondered why cafes etc are closed on Mondays, don’t people eat on those days? – I went across to Twentyman’s shop and got a sandwich and can of Coke which I demolished in the van while looking at the view in front of me.
I don’t know what it is about Allonby but I’ve really fallen in love with the little place and the afternoon turned out to be so lovely that I felt reluctant to leave. I would have liked to stay to see the sunset but although it was gone 6pm that was still hours away so after one final photo taken from in front of the van I headed back ‘home’ to the camp site.
Although the dark grey clouds over Workington at lunch time had caused me to cut my harbour visit short any possible rain hadn’t materialised; the rest of the day had been lovely, and relaxing in the sunshine outside the tent on an equally lovely evening was a good end to the final full day of the holiday.
Although the main reasons for my day out in Keswick during my holiday were to visit the Derwent Pencil Museum and the Puzzling Place I also wanted to stop off at a couple of other places along Derwentwater to hopefully photograph some nice views, however due to the weather and people in general the metaphorical apple cart was well and truly upset.
Things started out well enough with a couple of shots overlooking the River Greta when I came out of the pencil museum, then while I was in the town centre looking for the Puzzling Place I came across some great murals on the walls of a public toilet block – rather an unusual building to find street art but at least they brightened the place up.
Driving down to the bottom end of Derwentwater after my Puzzling Place visit I turned round at the Lodore Falls Hotel and drove back a short distance northwards to the National Trust Kettlewell car park right beside the lake, and that’s where the problems started – there were too many cars, too many dogs and too many stupid people. The car park wasn’t a big one and it was already full so I didn’t think there was much chance of getting in, however a car soon pulled out of the middle and I was able to take its place behind another car.
Down at one end of the shingle beach there were quite a lot of people and three or four dogs and as Snowy currently doesn’t get on too well with other dogs I kept away from there. I’d just taken my first two shots when another dog came running up to us and wouldn’t go away; its owners were sunbathing by the water’s edge and even though I shouted to them three times to call their dog off they completely ignored me. So I threw a stone to land close to the dog and fortunately it had the desired effect, the mutt ran back to its oblivious owners.
Giving up on lakeside photography just there I decided to walk a short distance to another part of the lake, along a narrow path close to the road, but I’d only gone a few yards when I saw some people with a dog coming towards me. The path was barely wide enough for two people to pass even without dogs so before they got any closer I gave up, turned round, and went back to the van, except when I got there I found I couldn’t actually go anywhere.
In my absence a small van had been parked right behind me, leaving me hardly any space to reverse, and the car in front of me had been replaced by a campervan with two canoes on top, parked sideways on and within just a few inches of my front bumper. In short, I was well and truly stuck, and not knowing who these stupid people were or where they had gone I could do nothing except sit in the van and hope I wouldn’t be there for too long. Fortunately I wasn’t – about ten minutes later two young men came to the campervan so I started my engine and thankfully they took the hint, moving the campervan back so I could drive forward and get out.
Finally out of the car park and back on the road, and assuming that any other car parks would be just as chaotic as that one, I decided to give up looking for somewhere else to stop and just go back to the camp site, however just out of Keswick I saw a sign for a couple of marinas at the north west end of the lake so I decided to take a chance. The first marina looked like it might be a private place – with hindsight I don’t think it is – so I drove on to the second one and was pleased to find a large free car park just off the lane and with lots of vacant spaces.
Across the road a wide footpath led through a wooded area and past an outdoor activity centre building to the lakeside where sailing boats were moored alongside two wooden jetties and colourful canoes and kayaks were pulled up onto the shingle beach. Unfortunately by then the blue sky of earlier on had completely disappeared and grey clouds were settling over the lake and the hills so my visit was a brief one. I had only just got back to the van when it started to rain but it didn’t amount to anything and by the time I got halfway back to the camp site the sun was shining again.
Later on, thinking back over the day and the car park situation just reinforced my decision of many years ago to try to avoid very touristy places whenever I can. I’d love to be able to explore more of the Lake District but if that one small car park was an example of what it’s like when it’s busy I’ll be sticking to the less popular places for the forseeable future.
Day 8 of the holiday and I was tying in a look round The Rum Story at Whitehaven with a later visit to St. Bees just a few miles to the south. Leaving the van in Tesco’s car park close to the north end of Whitehaven’s harbour I crossed the road to the end of the pedestrianised Millennium Promenade where there was a large sculpture; known as the Whiting Shoal it was sculpted by Alan Clark in 2001 and depicts the large group of fish which, centuries ago, brought the town its very first industry. Across from the sculpture a long wall had been decorated with street art courtesy of Young Cumbria, a youth work charity for young people aged 11 to 25; I rather liked the dolphins, they looked quite cute.
Away from the harbourside and heading towards The Rum Story I saw that several large circular pebble mosaics were set down the centre of a pedestrianised shopping street. Created by Maggy Howarth of Cobblestone Designs in Lancaster they were inspired by other mosaics which had existed around Whitehaven in the past.
The first mosaic featured John Paul Jones, an 18th century Scottish-American naval captain. Born and brought up in Scotland he began his maritime career sailing out of Whitehaven at the age of 13, then after serving on board a number of merchant and slave ships he rose through the ranks to become a commander. After killing one of his mutinous crewmen with a sword during a dispute over wages he fled to North America and around 1775 joined the newly founded Continental Navy in their fight against Great Britain in the American Revolutionary War. In April 1778 he led two assaults on Whitehaven’s harbour with the intention of setting fire to the fishing fleet on the second occasion but both attacks failed, causing the Americans to retreat.
In 1999, as part of the launch of a series of Maritime Festivals, Jones was given a posthumous honorary pardon by the people of Whitehaven in the presence of Lt. Steve Lyons representing the US Naval Attache to the UK, and the US Navy were also awarded the Freedom of the Port of Whitehaven. The King George ship in the second mosaic is a representation of the Whitehaven-built ship Jones sailed on as a young third mate; it was also the slave ship whose launch was celebrated with a large enamelled goblet, one of the finest pieces of glassware from the 18th century which is now on display at the Beacon heritage centre on the harbourside.
The mosaic of the fox in front of Whitehaven castle and surrounded by running hounds is based on the best surviving original mosaic in the castle courtyard, while the mosaic with the locomotive illustrates the Crampton loco which was made at the Lowca engineering works just up the coast. The first Crampton locomotives were developed between 1845 and 1847, they had a distinctive single pair of large driving wheels and were designed with a low centre of gravity to improve stability at speed on a narrow gauge track, though the design was adopted more in the United States and Europe than in Britain.
The mosaic with what appears to be a couple of men in a hot air balloon basket actually depicts several mine workers descending a shaft at one of the nearby collieries, while the next one seems to be based on the hare coursing events which would take place on Harras Moor above the town. The dragon mosaic doesn’t seem to have any information attached to it but the last one appears to be based on the Lowther family coat of arms. Walking back along the Millennium Promenade after my visit to The Rum Story I just had time to snap a few harbourside photos before my time ran out at Tesco’s car park.
From Whitehaven I drove the four miles south to St. Bees and parked in the large car park overlooking the seafront and beach. I’d been to St. Bees twice a couple of years ago but hadn’t looked round the older part of the village so after a walk along the seafront as far as the bridge across the beck I turned inland and eventually came to the Priory Church, though having the dogs with me meant that I couldn’t go in this time.
Along the road and close to the station was Beck Edge Garden, a small but very attractive enclosed space with a statue of St. Bega and a couple of benches set in a paved area. The statue was sculpted by Colin Telfer of Maryport and was unveiled by the local Mayor on September 16th 2000, when a capsule containing a scroll listing villagers’ names was placed in the plinth by the Chairman of the Parish Council.
Across the level crossing I walked up the main street until I’d almost run out of civilisation then back down on the opposite side. With only one shop which was closed, a couple of pubs and a handful of B & Bs the place didn’t exactly have the ‘wow’ factor but it was nice enough and I did get some quite attractive garden photos.
Back at the van I gave the dogs a good drink then set out for my next intended port of call further back up the coast, however I’d only just got there and taken my first photo when the sky clouded over and it started to rain. It wasn’t heavy but it was just enough to make me abandon my plans and as it was late afternoon by then anyway I decided to drive straight back to the camp site; I could always return the following day if the weather proved to be nice enough.