Monday, August 10, 2009

Day 0.5: Quick Start!

P8050341An excellent place to start the walk

Day 0.5? Day 0 was done. Day 1 hasn’t started. So it has to be Day 0.5!

Three ironic things:

  1. One of the classic nature walks, Coast to Coast Walk, starts at St. Bees Village, a village which is sandwiched between a nuclear power plant and chemical works factory!
  2. The west to east direction Coast to Coast walk starts in the west direction!
  3. After an year of planning, I started the Coast to Coast walk a day ahead of schedule!

After an early start from London, I reached St. Bees on Wednesday afternoon. The initial plan was to take rest for the rest of the day getting ready for the 14 day walk. However my land lady had a different suggestion. According to her, the weather hasn’t been this good for such a long time, and I should not miss a walk today. The suggestion was to cover the first 8 kilometres or so of the walk and then return to St. Bees. And on the next day, start from St. Bees again and rejoin the walk where I left it off the previous day. Sounded like a good idea. This will also give me an opportunity to see St.Bees head (a hill with steep cliffs facing the Irish sea) and the St. Bees light house leisurely without being worried about the long walk ahead on the first day.

So I started around 1:00 PM for the first part of the walk. So it is Day 0.5.


St. Bees is a small village with the biggest attraction being that it is the start point of the Coast to Coast walk. There are also a few shops, a few pubs and some B&B places for the walkers. A typical quiet English village.


St. Bees Village

Apart from that there is a very old church (and some mythology around it, as always) and an equally old school.


St. Bees Church


St. Bees School

The actual starting point of the walk, the St. Bees beach is slightly over a kilometre away from the village (and that walk doesn’t count!). The beach was very crowded – and I am hoping everyone in the beach did not come for a Coast to Coast walk – if so it will be a crowded walk! Fortunately most weren’t there for the walk – they were just having a picnic and some fun. I saw only a few walking up the St. Bees head.

As a ritual, I too dipped my foot in the Irish sea and started the walk.


The start of the C2C walk – Beach at the Irish sea

As I start climbing up the St. Bees head reality kicks in. Things are very different compared to what I practiced in Singapore. The climb to the top of St. Bees head is steep, walkways are non existent at certain points, and there is no fences on the sharp edges – one wrong step and it is a few hundred feet down! This is going to be much tougher than what I thought!


View of St. Bees from St. Bees head

As you climb up the St. Bees head, there is a magnificent view of the entire Village, that of the Irish sea and the farmlands in the background. After a couple of kilometres, I suddenly realize there is no one walking with me anymore, the few who were walking with me have disappeared, and the long path is front of me is deserted. And then the path almost disappears among thick growth of ferns. Time to get the map out and brush the map reading skills!


The red cliffs at St. Bees head


After crossing the St. Bees head, the must view thing is a few centuries old light house. I am not even sure whether it is operational. There seems to be no one around, even though there is a decent road leading to the light house.


St. Bees light house

Once the St. Bees head is covered it is a long walk back to St. Bees village. The walk back to the village is more than 5 kilometres. There goes the saving. I just covered 8 kilometres and to do that I have to walk an extra 10 kilometres.


I was back at the village around 6:00 PM. A quick bath and it is dinner time at a crowded village pub.


First night accommodation at Stone House farm

1 comment:

DK said...

I am running the route in June. Really appreciated your tips.