Today was our first official day on the path, and I can feel it, from my head to my toes (especially my toes!). After walking 3-1/2 miles north along the magnificent St. Bee’s Head cliffs (lots of slippery up and down on very wet red clay mud),
we turned inland at Saltom Bay, taking our last look at the Irish Sea:
It was a sad moment for me, giving up the bracing wildness of the wind and water, but as we entered the sweet pastureland around Sandwith, I began to adapt to inland scenes:
We passed lots of sheep as we walked through two farms and along several streams. We crossed under active railroad tracks and also passed old ones that have been turned into bikeways. Once we had left the cliffs, being sure of our path was sometimes a challenge; the maps and the guidebooks and the waymarkings are not always entirely clear, and we often found ourselves wondering which gate to go through. At one key point, towards the end, we were just about to head down in absolutely the wrong direction (for the first time) when we encountered a couple out for an afternoon walk. They walked along with us until we found the public footpath into Cleator, leading to the quite clearly marked “Wainwright Passage”:
Once in Cleator, we left the C2C to find our hotel, the Grove Court, formerly a school. “Oh it’s very posh,” the owner of the Albert in St. Bee’s had told us in the morning. Not exactly posh, I’d say, but a little more comfortable, in fact, than the Albert where we had spent last night. Carole, at the Albert, just back from a two-week holiday in Spain, had been rather gruff with us when we arrived. She warmed up in the morning, telling me that as a girl she had gone to the school in Cleator once a week for cooking lessons, “domestic science.” (Cleator is in fact just two miles or so from St. Bee’s; Wainwright’s path is obviously the scenic, and not the direct route.) Carole and her mum and her nan are St. Begans, and we talked a bit about how the town has changed. When she was growing up, she said, pointedly, there were five stores on the main street (now there is just a Post Office): “we had a butcher, and a cobbler, and everything you need.” Now the shopping is in Whitehaven. One needs a car, and she doesn’t drive. Here’s a picture of Carole with Jimmy, as we were leaving:
And here are Jimmy and I, in a shot Carole insisted was necessary, “to show you’ve been at the Albert!”:
Finally, just a few shots along the way, including one of Jimmy at his elfin best:
And now, perchance to sleep, before we head tomorrow for Ennerdale Bridge (just 5-1/2 miles, though with a bit of a climb along the way) and our first introduction to the Lake District!