Monday, 4 June 2012

Buzzing from St Bee's to Whitehaven Festival

Lighthouse at St Bee's Head
There's a few things you need to know about me; I hate crowds, I loathe shopping, I don't like paying to park and I'm scared of dentists.  All of these facts will be relevant in today's blog.  Our mission was to visit the Whitehaven Festival and although I have a very sore back, my dislike of crowds and paying to park is greater , which is why we ended up at St Bee's Head 4 miles south of Whitehaven.  It was still £2 to park,  but I never mind so much when it's one of those honesty boxes popped out by a farmer.  Finding the carpark at St Bee's Head is an achievement in itself and it took us 2 laps of Sandwith to locate the correct turning.

Isle of Man from cliff walk
Thankfully the path to Whitehaven is a lot easier to find than the carpark and the views will soon take your mind of any aches and pains.  The route winds along the top of red sandstone cliffs and away in the distance, across the Solway Firth, looms the coastline of Dumfries and Galloway.  We stopped along the way for a spot of lunch, perched on a couple of small flat rocks.  After lunch we walked 200 yards around the corner and found a bench.  Typical.  We only saw a couple of people along the entire route, and then we arrived in Whitehaven where we found a whole lot more.

Red Arrows
It wouldn't be appropriate for me to comment in detail about Whitehaven Festival as a) we didn't see much of it, b) it was heaving and c) it appeared to centre around a huge market and I would rather have root canal treatment without injections than fight my way through a crowd of shoppers (see my opening comments), so we found ourselves a small patch of grass on the hill above The Beacon and settled down to watch the air displays.  I've always loved aerobatics and not just the Red Arrows; the things some pilots can do with an aeroplane amazes me and I always visualise them sitting in their cockpits with a great big grin on their faces as they swoop and dive through the air.

Whitehaven Chiphaven
After the displays were over most people left, so we headed for the harbour for a quick look around, but it was still busy and most shops were packing up so we found ourselves a chippy which sold the largest "small portion" I've ever seen.  Top marks to Whitehaven for building a "Chiphaven" in the middle of the harbour - a chippy shelter with a domed roof to protect you from dive-bombing Herring Gulls where you can clog your arteries in peace.  Genius.

All that remained now was a 4 mile walk back along the cliffs to the car.  It was one of those stunningly peaceful evenings where the only sounds were the birds and the crunch of our boots on the path while the sweet fragrant aroma of Deep Heat wafted around us.  We didn't see a single soul after we left the town and we took an outrageous number of photographs, most of which failed to adequately capture the moment and some of which I've included below.  (There are some fabulous shots from the same walk and loads of other info on West Cumbria on this fab site - though we did have better weather - sorry Sean!)

Many people head to Cumbria for the fells, but the Cumbrian Coastline is spectacular and there are 100s of miles of coastal path to take your pick from, so next time you're in the area, head west and don't stop till your feet get wet.  You'll thank me for it.