The weather forecast today is dismal. Dark clouds. Showers. Poor visibility. I drive to Abbeytown, sit in my car, watch the raindrops sliding down the windscreen, and wonder if it’s worth setting off at all.
My route today is entirely on the road. So, no mud and no barbed wire fences to worry about. Only a spot of rain. I decide to get out and get on with it.
I don’t carry my camera with me (it would only stay buried in my rucksack anyway) but use my iPhone instead. The resulting photos are dull, grainy, and lifeless… but they seem to capture the mood of the day.
This is flat, marshy, countryside. The first high point I come to is the bridge over the River Waver, called New Bridge (wonder what happened to the old one?). It’s an opportunity to take a photo of the river as it meanders towards the estuary.
The next bridge I come to is called Grange Bridge, and is less obviously a bridge. In fact, it just looks like a bend in the road. At this point, I’m going to leave the B road for a while, and follow a tiny lane that runs closer to the shore.
Lying on the roadside, right at the beginning of the lane, is a mini fly tip site. A couple of dumped computer monitors. Or, maybe, they’re old television sets. Shame.
A jogger swings by. The first person (other than car drivers) I’ve seen so far.
Not many people about, but plenty of sheep. They give me quizzical looks, as if surprised to see anybody mad enough to be out walking on a day like this.
My little lane slopes downhill, and then curves around the edge of the marsh. There looks to be a footpath stretching out through the marsh, dead ahead. But on closer inspections it’s just a strip of no-man’s-land running between two fences.
I enjoy this section of the walk. The rain eases off. I manage to catch a photo of Scotland across the marsh, with the hills looking blue under a heavy mass of cloud.
Ahead is the hamlet of Salt Coates. Farm buildings and a few houses…
… and a large pond. On a sunny day, this would all look most attractive.
I pass a farmyard and see my old foes are safely locked away. Actually, they look so mournful, I feel very sorry for them. Despite the gloom and the drizzle, I’d rather be outside than stuck in an old barn.
There is a move towards keeping cows confined to barns all year round. It’s common practice in America but I think it’s a truly horrible idea. Battery cattle. Seems even crueller than battery hens.
[I’ve often said nasty things about cows on this blog, but that’s only because I’m nervous around them. They are interesting, inquisitive, social creatures, and the thought of keeping them imprisoned all the time is an abominable idea.]
I walk along a tree-lined lane and rejoin the main B road. Can’t believe my starting point, Abbeytown, is only 3 miles away! I must truly be the slowest walker in the world.
Now I’m entering Newton Arlosh. This is one of those long, thin villages, with modern housing developments spreading outwards from an old core. It’s neat and well kept.
I come to the old church – an unusual shape, with a disproportionately large tower, and no steeple. Interesting. It looks more like a castle than a church.
Here I have to make a decision.
There is no bus route between Newton Arlosh and Abbeytown, and so no way of getting back to my car, except on foot. I could turn round here and retrace my steps, but this is something I hate doing.
The alternative is to carry on until I reach Kirkbride. From Kirkbride there’s an infrequent bus service to Carlisle, and from Carlisle I can catch another bus back to Abbeytown. The whole journey will take 90 minutes, and is precarious, because I MUST catch the 14:06 bus from Kirkbride, or end up stranded.
I check my watch. It’s only 11:30 am. I’m sure I can make it. Onwards.
Luckily the pub is closed… or I might have been tempted to stop for an early lunch.
This section of the walk is pretty tedious. Apart from dodging the occasional car, the only exciting thing I come across is an odd hut standing by the side of the road. What is it? No idea. A portable toilet? A toll booth? An alternative Tardis for an alternative Time Lord?
I must have speeded up, because I reach Angerton, on the edge of Kirkbride, surprisingly quickly. And realise, to my horror, I will have to wait over an hour for the bus to arrive. It’s too cold and windy to hang about…
… so I decide to walk onwards for a while. The road takes me over another bridge. There’s a small car park next to it, where a Sainsbury’s delivery van is having a brief rest.
Beyond the bridge is Whitrigg. It’s basically just a crossroads and a collection of houses. I debate continuing further, but I’m getting worried about missing the one-and-only and must-catch bus.
So I head back through Angerton and into Kirkbride. This is another of those long villages, spread out along the road, and I’m not sure where the bus stop is… but then I spot the pub. They’ll know.
The pub has just opened and I can smell smoke. When I go inside, I discover a roaring log fire, and the landlady tells me the bus stops right outside. (No signs. I guess you’re just supposed to KNOW it’s a bus stop!?)
Anyway, I have time to eat lunch, enjoy a pint of cider, and warm up in front of the fire, before making the very long bus journey back to Abbeytown.
[I think the cider addled my brain. I nearly missed my connecting bus because I got off at the wrong stop in Carlisle – only making the connecting bus with 2 minutes to spare – and then I bought a ticket all the way to Silloth by mistake, because I forgot I needed to get off in Abbeytown to pick up my car.]
Later, when I check my Garmin, I realise today is the day I broke the 3,000 mile barrier! Yay!
Miles walked today = a pathetic 7.5 miles, that seemed much longer.
Total distance around coast = 3,003 miles