287 Eskmeals Range to Ravenglass

Should be a short walk today. Only 4-5 miles from Stubb’s corner to Ravenglass. The only problem is… there’s a ford to cross. I’m optimistic all will be well – I’ve brought my waterproof socks with me!

I begin at the southern end of the Eskmeals Range, where a beautiful rainbow hangs across the beach.

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The range is not in use on a Sunday, and my B&B host thought it was possible to walk along the shore when the range was closed. But he was wrong. Dire warning notices inform me the sands are forbidden territory. So I set off down the road.

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It’s a long road. To my left is the range. To my right is a flat area of farmland, with a fringe of impressive Cumbrian hills in the distance.

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The sky offers a constantly changing landscape of clouds, some very dark indeed. Oh, and another glorious rainbow appears.

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The hills are shrouded in mist. Or, is it rain? I think it is rain. And it’s heading this way. The BBC weather forecast is rarely wrong and it predicted showers around mid-morning.

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A short time later, drops begin falling around me, so I stop to stow my camera and phone away and fix my waterproof cover over my rucksack. As I ‘m doing this, I’m aware of a car pulling up beside me. It’s my husband.

‘Get in,’ he says, as the rain comes thudding down. I don’t need a repeat invitation. We sit in his car, watching the downpour.

‘I’ve got some more bad news,’ he says. ‘The ford is… well, it’s a proper ford. I suppose you could cross it on horseback.’
‘I don’t have a horse.’
‘No,’ he says. ‘What are you going to do?’
‘Walk up to the nearest bridge.’ I pull out my map. ‘It’s only 3 miles up the river.’
‘That’s not too bad,’ he says. ‘Only an extra 3 miles then?’
‘3 miles up means 3 miles down again,’ I remind him.
‘It’s going to be a late lunch.’ He seems disappointed. He’s decided not to cycle today and so he is going to drive to Ravenglass and walk back to meet me.

‘Never mind.’ I remember something that cheers me up. ‘There another ford half way up the river. Perhaps I can cross there?’

The rain stops and I climb out of the car to resume my walk. The first ford is only a few hundred yards away and crosses the River Esk alongside the Eskmeals Viaduct. The viaduct carries the railway line but is, unfortunately, closed to walkers.

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I stand beside the footpath sign and look out over the river. My husband was right. You could cross on a horse, maybe, or in a boat. But on foot? In November? No, it looks far too deep and cold for a wading attempt.

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I follow the road, which swings round and heads eastwards towards a small village called Newbiggin. At least the views are lovely and, although I’m walking in gloomy light following the rainstorm, the hills ahead are bathed in sunshine.

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At Newbiggin, I turn off the road and follow a footpath which should take me, via various meanderings, up to the nearest crossing bridge over the River Esk. Ironically, at the start of my footpath, I have to cross another ford to get over the little Whitrow Beck. But there is a proper footbridge provided and I don’t have to wade.

My footpath begins as a farm track. It’s muddy. There is evidence of cows! I hope I don’t meet any.

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Luckily the route is cattle-free, although it remains very muddy, particularly when it take me through Waberthwaite Marsh. (What a great tongue-twister of a name!) Waberthwaite itself is a small hamlet, with an old church.

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Just before I get to the village, I find the footpath sign for the second ford. ‘Ravenglass via deep tidal ford 1/2 mile.’

Hmm. I’m assuming the ford isn’t 1/2 mile deep, but I do know it’s more than 1/2 mile to Ravenglass. The other finger post is also misleading. ‘Muncaster Bridge 1/2 mile.’

I know it’s more than 1/2 mile to the bridge. They must have a different system for measuring distances in Cumbria!

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Looking towards the ford, all I can see is a river full of the water. And the word ‘deep’ is a little off-putting. Onwards. I’m going to stick to the dry path instead.

Dry path? On the other side of Waberthwaite is another warning sign. This footpath is ‘liable to tidal flooding’. I have already checked the tide times on the web, but I check them again on the chart. It’s 3 hours till high tide. I should be fine.

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The footpath follows another farm track, at least to start with, and it is very, very, muddy.

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Eventually the track comes to an end, and I walk across wet fields, only getting lost once before I find the bridge. That was quick! But it’s not the Muncaster Bridge across the Esk. No, it’s just a little bridge across the much smaller Broadoak Beck.

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On the other side is the village of Rougholme, which is even smaller than Waberthwaite, and from there I join a delightful path through woodland… before emerging on the edge of a broad, flat plain. Here I meet the River Esk again, dead ahead.

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I walk across the plain. I think the best way to describe this would be: water meadow. It’s certainly very boggy. And the footpath is invisible on the ground, but luckily some footpath signs – and the occasional rotten stile – help me keep on the right track.

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I’m making it sound miserable, but this is a beautiful walk, and it’s even better when the skies begin to clear. I feel my spirits lift. Especially when I see another rainbow. The third one today.

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After wading through a bed of boggy grass, I reach the bank of the river, and there, around the next curve, is the Muncaster Bridge. At last!

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On the other side of the Esk is the wooded estate of Muncaster Castle. I take a photo of the building with my camera on full zoom. I’m anticipating more photographs of the place as I head back down the other side of the river. But, in actual fact, I never get a better view of the castle than this.

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Following the rainbow, and feeling a bit like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, I reach the bridge. Here I meet the busy A595 again, and must dodge traffic to get across. Shame. I would have liked to spend longer enjoying the views from bridge, but it’s too dangerous.

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Just over the bridge, and after another traffic-dodging 1/2 mile of road walking, I come to the track I intend to follow. It’s marked on my map as a permissive footpath and leaves the A595 at a lodge house. But there are no footpath signs to be seen. Is it still a permissive path, I wonder? I know access to walkers can be withdrawn at any time if the landowner decides to close the path.

It’s really far too dangerous to stick to the road, so I decide to follow the track anyway. If the path really is closed, I’ll just claim ignorance.

First it passes through a strip of woodland…

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… and then across a grazing field, and then back into woodland. Now it winds below the castle, which I only spot glimpses of through the trees. I find a few footpath arrows, and polite signs asking me to stick to the ‘permitted route’. Oh good. That means I’m allowed to walk here after all.

I leave the castle behind and continue following the permissive route along a delightful woodland track. Now it runs just above the river and it’s lovely, with the ground covered in golden leaves. Surprisingly, I meet absolutely nobody else and have the place to myself.

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Further along, and I come to the place on this side of the river where the Waberthwaite ford crosses over. I’m really glad I didn’t try to wade here. It looks deep. Maybe the ford is passable on foot at the lowest of low tides? I don’t know.

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The footpath forks. I could either take the direct route up to Ravenglass, or stick to the river bank. I decide to stick to the bank, of course, which turns out to be a mistake, as the path virtually disappears. Yes, among all these reeds, grasses and brambles there is a path here… somewhere!

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While I’m fighting my way along here, I get a text from my husband. I’d forgotten he was supposed to be walking to meet me.

‘Are you on the permissive footpath, or the other one?’ he asks. I have time to text him back, ‘walking along the bank,’ before my phone dies. Battery dead. My recharger has failed me.

A short time later, just when I’ve convinced myself I’ve totally lost the path, I find a ‘bridge’.

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Hmm. The plank seems rotten. The ditch below is deep. Should I inch across, or take it in one large stride? One large stride – and the plank shudders alarmingly – but I make it over without falling.

The footpath improves after this, and leads me back under the railway line.

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On the other side is a good view of the Eskmeals Viaduct. This is where the first ford would have taken me. There’s no sign of a path, and I’m really glad I didn’t attempt the crossing here.

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At this point, the river makes a right angled bend and flows northwards for a while, before emptying into the sea just south of Ravenglass. I round the bend of the bank, and there’s Ravenglass ahead.

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I can see all the way to Ravenglass – and there’s still no sign of my husband. Where is he?

With only an hour until high tide, the shore is getting increasingly narrow and muddy. So I decide to duck inland, under the railway line, and follow an alternate route along a track marked on my map. Perhaps I’ll meet my husband here?

I don’t. But I do meet a couple of walkers, the first I’ve met all day, at a ruined building, which turns out to be an old Roman baths. How wonderful.

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I would have liked to spend more time exploring the Roman ruins, but I’m hungry now, and worrying about my hubby, so I press on.

After a while, I duck back under the railway line, and arrive back on the river shore again. No, he’s not here either. But I get a great view over the mouth of the River Esk. This is where it turns west again, on it’s final stretch between banks covered in sand dunes, before it empties into the sea.

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I find a slipway leading up into Ravenglass. He must be here, somewhere, waiting in a pub…maybe?

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I meet him coming down the road. Apparently he’s been walking on footpaths all around the Muncaster Castle area, asking everyone he meets if they’ve seen a lonely woman walker. Funnily enough, nobody had seen me. Not surprising, really, because the route I took was completely empty of other walkers.

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Anyway, he seems relieved to find me, and we head off for a pub lunch. After that, well, it’s time to return to Lincolnshire.

This will be my last coastal walk of 2o16. Can’t wait for the new year and a new walking season to begin!


Walked today = 9 miles
Total distance so far around coast= 2,921 miles

Route:


About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, Doctor, woman, etc.
This entry was posted in 17 North West England and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

47 Responses to 287 Eskmeals Range to Ravenglass

  1. Linda Jackson says:

    Hello Ruth:

    I’ve so enjoyed reading your blog and especially now as your’e in Cumbria as I was there in the late summer. St Bee’s is where my friend and I started the Coast to Coast walk and it’s beautiful country. Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I’ll look forward to seeing your posts in my inbox come the new year.
    Best,
    Linda Jackson
    Merigomish, Nova Scotia

  2. jcombe says:

    A nice write up. I was wondering what you’d do about the fords and river crossings. I had wondered if it would be possible to cross by the railway bridge but quickly concluded it would be madness to try. My worry is that I will come across a deep area of mud and get stuck in it. Water you can see but soft mud is hard to tell from firm mud – until you step in it!

    I was a bit put off to having walked to the inland route to find the path was tidal there too! I’m glad the tide times were correct. I was impressed to see someone had put them up. I was less impressed when I discovered they were for *last* year! I was quite pleased I managed to find that path over the boggy area up to the bridge without getting lost (but it was still very wet).

    Like you though I got very lost on the permissive path past Muncaster Castle. I ended up at Friday Point and it was only when I checked the map and GPS I realised how far off off course I’d ended up! So it was not just you that got lost here. Once back under the railway I followed the beach north to Ravenglass.

    • I’m such a coward when it comes to wading. If I can’t see the surface underfoot I tend to panic. In fact, Alan (who comments below) did wade across and it was an easy crossing! But I enjoyed the walk up to Muncaster anyway.

  3. paul Sennett says:

    Lovely

    Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the EE network.

  4. owdjockey says:

    Hi Ruth, no problems at all for me crossing the river at the Esk Viaduct. I took a pair of plastic sandals which I put on to wade across. The water came up to my lower calf. I crossed about an hour and a half after low tide.. The river bed is very firm, sandy & gravelly with no depressions. The only mud is on the southern bank, which was a sticky guey mess. The north bank was just sand. Judging by your photo when you firtst arrived you would have been ok to wade across.

    Interesting to see what the detour was like though.

  5. owdjockey says:

    Hi Ruth, forgot to mention that just by that transmitter tower nr Stubbs Corner was a field with Jacob Sheep in, never seen them before.

  6. Anabel Marsh says:

    I’ll miss your regular updates which I really look forward to. Have a good rest, a lovely festive season and see you in the spring.

  7. jacquie says:

    A lovely final walk for 2016. Waberthwaite is one of my favourite place names and where the Queen gets her cumberland suasages. I’ve fond memories of Ravenglass too, both the Roman bath house ruins and a trip on the little railway.
    Thank you for the huge pleasure of your blog and wishing you a very Happy Christmas and raising a glass to walking in the new year.

  8. Mike Norman says:

    Well done, Ruth! Put your feet up over the festive season – looking forward to continuing your adventure from the comfort of my living room in 2017!

    • Hi Mike. Have to confess I’m off to the Peak District this weekend for some walking (I hope) with old friends. Looking forward to getting back to Cumbria next year.

      • Mike Norman says:

        Nothing wrong with that. I live in Nottingham which couldn’t be much further from the coast 😦 but I love the Peak District which is only a short drive away for me.

  9. Rita Bower says:

    A fantastic year’s walking Ruth – well done! So 2017 will see you heading into Scotland – exciting! The coast around the Lake District looks wonderful – the beautiful views inland an added bonus! I’m looking forward to doing that stretch….in fact, I’m looking forward to doing any walking….but not until I’m up to date with my blog…think I may have said that last year! 😦 Hope you have a wonderful Christmas & here’s to some great walking in 2017.

  10. Yes, have a great xmas and thanks again for your fantastic blogs from the last few years – they are invaluable reference material as I have still to do quite a few sections of the SWCP and beyond on the west coast.

    I have done quite a bit of walking in Scotland and I am sure you will love it too, I have done over half of the Ayrshire coast and all the East coast from Dundee to Berwick (and down to Whitby so far).

    You have had such an amazing adventure, and much more ups and downs to come of course!

    Best wishes,

    Gemma.

    • Thank you for your very kind words, Gemma. All the east coast?! Crikey. I hope I survive the west coast because after John O’Groats it will seem like downhill all the way… I think. Happy Xmas to you too.

  11. Alison says:

    Thanks for another brilliant blog. It has inspired me to start walking again in the new year. I am always worrying about “what if”, but have decided to stop doing this and start enjoying walking and if I hit a ” what if” then I will just have to deal with it. You recently walked the coast not far from where I live and I’m ashamed to admit that you saw more of the coast and it’s points of interest than I have and I have lived here for over fifty years. Have a lovely Xmas and new year and I look forward to continuing your blog in the new year.

  12. Chris Elliott says:

    Well done Ruth on a great year and a great blog. You are now less that 100 miles from Scotland. You can’t put it off any longer! Enjoy planning it over the winter…. When you get there Argyll and Bute is fantastic. I look forward to reading how you get on next year and learning how you plan to do Scotland. For myself next year is crunch time. I will be attempting to walk a route that I believe other coasters have not attempted from Mallaig and around Knoydart. I just hope that I am going to be up for it. I hope to start in April when I shall be walking through the Glensanda mine. Once past Knoydart things will be all downhill so to speak. I hope to make Durness by the end of 2017, where I used to holiday every year as a child. All the best Chris.

  13. Eunice says:

    Just been catching up with your walks as I’ve been away for a while. Great photos as usual, I love the ones with the rainbows.

    I had to smile at your observation that there must be a different system for measuring distances in Cumbria – I think the same applies in southern Ireland as well. On Monday, while I was over there, I went out walking with a particular castle as my goal – I’d picked up a hand drawn map from a local shop which said the castle was only half a mile past a certain pub. I’d already covered five miles before I found the pub but another mile or so further on still hadn’t found the castle, and on asking a farmer I was told it was at least another two miles from there! There was no way I was going to continue as I hadn’t time to walk all the way back to town before it got dark so I hitched a lift back with the farm guy – the drive back showed me just how far I’d walked so I came to the conclusion that people over there have absolutely no sense of distance!

    Looking forward to reading about more of your walks in the near future – hope you have a Happy Christmas and a great New Year 🙂

  14. gillianrance says:

    I’ve so enjoyed reading your blog, and look forward to your next post in the new year-Have a lovely Christmas. (I’ve just ordered your book as a Christmas present to myself).
    Gill

  15. mrszee333 says:

    Waterproof socks? I’ve never heard of them!

  16. Misha says:

    Such a beautiful walk. I’d love to visit Cumbria one day. 🙂

  17. Lynn says:

    Hello Ruth, have so enjoyed reading your blog this year and I am looking forward to reading it again when it resumes in the New Year. Happy Christmas to you and your Husband. Very Best Wishes for a Happy and Healthy New Year 🎉

  18. This is a wonderful tale of your walking journey. I’m a bit behind on coming to visit here, but I love what I see. I feel inspired by your description and your pictures.

  19. Amanda says:

    Wow! I just found your blog and am finding it hugely inspiring. Your photos are gorgeous and have made me even more excited for my upcoming trip – I’m from Australia and coming to the uk in August to do Hadrian’s wall. I look forward to reading more!

    • Thank you Amanda 😊 And hope you have a wonderful trip to the UK in the summer. Hadrian’s Wall is on my list of walks to do one day, because it sounds amazing. Walking through great scenery and through history too.

  20. pedalboats says:

    Hi Ruth, I wrote a short review of a book on my blog and since then 2 commenters have referred me to you, as a coastal walker. I don’t know if you’ve read this book, or even whether I’ve already mentioned it to you- failure of memory. But here it is anyway:
    No Fixed Abode by Douglas Legg
    my review is at
    https://pedalboats.wordpress.com/2017/01/15/no-fixed-abode/
    Douglas is almost an opposite of you, as his long walk was a response to his disintegrating life- but it was both a window into his world, and a detailed description of the whole coast walk. It was one of those rare books that I think I may read again, one day.
    Heather

    • Thank you for the recommendation Heather. I have just bought the book from Amazon and look forward to reading it. (Also, fixed the link above, which wasn’t working properly!)
      The next best thing to walking is… reading about walking!

  21. Martyn says:

    When I arrived at the railway bridge the tide was in and the road was completely underwater! I made an executive decision and ran across the railway bridge😳😳😳 it was either that or wait until the tide went out. A lot of other people had also done this as the fence to the bridge was broken and there was a faint path up the embankment

  22. Ann Howlett says:

    Hi Ruth
    Having first encountered your blog in January little did I realise that it would be July before I caught up with you. It has really made me appreciate the enormity of what you are undertaking. I
    even allowed myself a silent cheer when you reached Scotland. I have “cheated” slightly and followed your 2017 posts in real time.
    Epic journeys seem to have become my “thing” this year. I have been rereading “Tschiffley’s Ride” which I remembered from school and had been trying to locate for years. I eventually discovered it was reprinted in 2014 so it made an ideal Christmas request. In 1925 he rode from Argentina to the USA.
    Best wishes for your continuing progress around Scotland
    Ann

    • Hello Ann, and I’m always amazed when people set about systematically reading my blog posts! I probably write far too much… but there always seems so much to say about every walk. I’d never heard of Tschiffley’s Ride, but will add it to my reading list, thank you 😀

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