We ventured beyond Lancashire County this week and got a taste of Cumbria, just to the north of us. A bus to Morcambe, a train to Lancaster, and another train to Silverdale, and we were set! Cumbria is known for its rugged coasts and beautiful scenery; the little bit we saw did not dissapoint.
We quickly found the first sign for the public footpath and headed towards the village of Silverdale. I still find the whole concept of the public footpath very bizarre. There is no way, in Canada or the US, people would be permitted to wander around through private property. In the UK, it is entirely a different matter. Public rights of way are provided for by the laws of England, Wales, and Scotland. On this day, alone, we followed signs guiding us through a golf course, through a field of cattle, and right past someone’s house on their private driveway (that felt particularly wrong to me).
There are many times I look around and think of someone in particular. I want to share the things I see with others, so I snap pictures. I dash these pictures off via facebook or in an email or text. Most often, I think of my mom. We share a love of stone walls and buildings, plants and trees, and especially mosses, lichens, and fungi. I stop to take pictures of the tiniest details. Meanwhile, thankfully, Karen is watching for signs and landmarks and getting us to our destination. Left to my own devices, I’d still be wandering around, days later, looking at some flowering shrub I’d never seen before.
In addition to protecting wildlife and habitat, preserving the nation’s heritage, promoting locally and sustainably produced food, The National Trust is also preserving 775 miles (1247 km) of coastline and keeping it accessible to the public.
In the words of my friend, Cath, “The best walks are off the tarmac.” So true, Cath. So very true.
We sloshed through this mucky field…
crossed this very questionable (and ridiculously narrow) bridge…
and eventually found the section of the Cumbria Coastal Way we were looking for.
It’s a little embarrassing how fascinated I am by cows. I consider myself a prairie girl now, but I grew up in northern Canada where there were no cows (Uranium City, Sakatchewn, to be exact, almost 50 km from the Northwest Territories). I still remember a childhood trip to the farm of a great aunt and uncle after which I filled 3 or 4 pages of my photo album with pictures of cows (and none of my great aunt and uncle!). At first, I am usually a bit afraid to get near them; then, I realize there’s no other way around. Eventually, I just can’t get close enough!
These cows (should I be saying cattle? I never know) really caught my eye with their distinctive white stripes. Not only that, but check out how hairy they are! They looked so soft and fluffy, I almost wanted to pet them (not unlike the time the polar bear stuck its head in the window of our tundra buggy on a trip to Churchill, Manitoba, but that’s another story). It turns out they are Belted Galloways, also known as Belties and, not surprisingly, oreo cookie cows.
Breath taking just doesn’t quite sum up the views along this walk. I can’t tell you how many times I had to stop and stare. Words and pictures can’t come close to doing justice to the experience. I describe this feeling as heart-swelling. So often, when I am hiking, I experience a physical reaction to the beauty around me.
Of course, there are also the physical sensations in reaction to scrambling over slippery rocks, climbing up muddy paths, and ‘pushing bush’ along the way. All part of the fun!
The walk from Silverdale to Arnside is apparently only about 3 miles. It took us about 2 1/2 hours (stopping to take pictures, look out over the water, and commune with the Belties must have really slowed us down). We walked along the promenade of Arnside and stopped for a hearty lunch. After that, it was time to sit on the pier and take in the stunning views of the estuary of the River Kent. Here the train crosses the river along the viaduct.
As I watched the play of light and shadow on the water as the clouds floated by, my mind was drawn to my many artist friends who would be able to work magic with paints, pencil, ink, fabric, and thread. I had to settle for taking it all in and hoping that a few pictures might bring me back to this beautiful spot in the future.