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St Bees Coastal Walk

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by Shikainah Champion-Samuel (subscribe)
A great believer in exploring the off beat, non-touristy things hidden inside every city.
Published September 13th 2017
A walker's haven
So, on my birthday a few weeks ago, we did a first. The first time we went walking as a family, just for walking's sake. Yes, like those ramblers and walkers that one always sees in glossy brochures advertising scenic holidays ! Now, those who know me well will attest to the fact I am not usually known for such feats. But, hey, there's a first time for everything (never mind that mine ended in a hearty lunch, probably piling back all those calories I lost during my little amble).

So, not wanting to be too ambitious on one's maiden venture, we chose a walking route marked as 'easy'. It was a circular walk of sorts, starting by St. Bees beach, where one can dip one's feet symbolically in the Irish sea before setting out and then returning there after a 3 mile brisk walk. My girls don't need an excuse to play in the water and here's what you can see they did before we set out.

beach, cumbria
The water's always inviting !
This is a walk that took us then along the bottom of the cliff and across three fields. Once we reached the bottom of the third field, we hit a bit of a poser as there was a fork in the road and the map we were following didn't exactly give us clear direction at that point.

coastal walk
The undulating fields around us
We tried to look around for some local, but apart from a little wild rabbit that poked his head out of the hedge, only to withdraw it again rapidly, we didn't see a soul. We just chanced it and went along one of them.

This led to a school called St. Bees where some very helpful staff pointed us in the direction of the St Bees priory which was the next point on the map. Dating back to 1120, it is still stands, a magnificent edifice, now under the aegis of the Church of England, which runs regular Sunday services there. We spent a little while walking around the priory and then continued with our walk. We were lucky that a Red Admiral posed ever so graciously for a photo.

butterfly, beach
'Twas a treat indeed!


Blackberries abounded in the hedges and every now and then, I succumbed to this weakness. Eventually, the path then led into another field from where it emerged out onto St. Bees beach car park and the beach, suggesting our little circumnavigatory tour was over.

On reflection, I think we could have gone in for a more challenging walk. On the village website there are other longer walking routes described as well, but we weren't sure how much our 9-year old could take in. I mean, this was the easiest one of them. The most challenging one there is the Coast to Coast walk which starts from St. Bees on the North West coast of England, cuts right across the country and ends in Robin Hood Bay, Scarborough, the North sea, on the North East coast. This walk is around 192 miles and it is recommended for experienced walkers to do over a period of 12-15 days.

As I write this, I remember there's one thing new on my to-do list: join a local walkers and ramblers group nearer home. Yes, I think we've discovered that our family does like walks, though I think we might be a long way away from attempting something like the Coast to coast challenge.
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Why? For all those nature lovers
When: Spring and summer are best seasons
Where: Firth drive, St Bees, CA27 0EY
Cost: Free
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