Saturday, 4 June 2016

Coast to Coast walk - arrival at St Bees

Pebbles selected and ready for the off!
The walk starts from St Bees in Cumbria, a small town or a large village (take your pick) named after St Bega, a Irish princess and early Christian who established a religious community there some time between 500 and 800 CE.
Joyce and Margaret drove us up, dropped us off by our B&B and disappeared south; we set off to explore St Bees. There's an ancient sandstone Norman church with an interesting carved stone doorway. It was once part of a Benedictine priory, dissolved during Henry VIII's land grab. From the church, we headed into town looking for somewhere to eat that night. It was a strange place - on a Friday afternoon at around 4pm, everyone seemed to have stopped work and headed for the pub. Every pub seemed packed and quite rowdy and none of them looked particularly appetising.
At the coast, we found the start of our walk for the next day and selected a couple of pebbles from the beach. There's a tradition that people doing the walk get their boots wet in the Irish Sea and pick up a pebble which they carry to Robin Hood's Bay and throw into the sea before wetting their boots in the North Sea. David chose a surprisingly small pebble (perhaps trying to cut down on weight).
There's a large display plaque depicting the start of the route and you can see the path climbing the cliff to the north.
That evening, we ate at the Seatoller Hotel, a large place by the sea that has seen better days. The large bar had a strong smell of damp, so we went into the lounge, which was not too bad and had a couple of beers and a light meal. The clientele seemed to comprise construction workers, several couples not quite enjoying the dirty weekend they imagined and a few walkers. The beer was Black Sheep and it was pretty good.
When we came out into the early evening light the Isle of Man was crystal clear on the horizon. It looked magical.