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Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Walk 191 Sellafield to Bootle Station (Cumbria)

Walk 191 Sellafield to Bootle Station (Cumbria)

(Fourth leg of English coastal walk – Gretna Green to Chester)

Map: L/R 89 and 96
Distance: 15 miles or 24 km
Difficulty: Easy, mostly flat
Terrain: coastal path, footpaths and roads.
Access: Not sure about parking at Sellafield
Public transport: Trains between the two places – either may be a request stop – can't remember (X on the destination board means you need to speak to the guard to stop the train).

Start the walk at Sellafield and walk south to Seascale alongside the railway line. Seascale was originally a Norse settlement and the name means hut or shelter by the sea. Evidence of an effort during Victorian times to make the town into a seaside resort is evident in some remaining fine Victorian houses. More recently its proximity to nearby Sellafield has sparked fears that childhood cancers are increasing. Research on this appears to be ongoing and seems to be suggest that this is not the case. The taxi driver mentioned in the walk through Whitehaven came from Seascale and killed two residents here when he ran amok. Look out for the Round Tower, this was a pumping tower dating from the days when Seascale had no proper water supply.

Take care if the red flag flying as this means that there is military activity on the shooting range further down the shore. So don't be tempted on to the dunes near Drigg but follow the path as marked on the map inland towards Drigg. Then navigate along minor roads to Saltcoats before crossing the bridge into Ravenglass.

Ravenglass is a pleasant spot and a good place to stop for refreshment. It may well be worth a day visit in itself. The Romans built a fort here and you can visit the remains of a bath house. The settlement is the only coastal village lying within The Lake District National Park. It is uniquely situated on the meeting of three rivers – The Esk, The Mite and The Irt. At the back of the town is The Ravenglass and Eskdale railway (I believe it is known as the Ratty) which was England's first narrow gauge railway. It was opened in 1876 to carry ore from local mines. It was closed in 1912 but was reopened much later as a successful tourist attraction. It goes 7 miles inland with trains pulled by steam and sometimes diesel. A great way to see some of the local scenery.

The walk down from Ravenglass is a bit of a slog mainly along the road. It was noisy with all the military shooting and explosions at Eskmeals. Not a walk I enjoyed and you could well skip it by getting the train from Ravenglass to Bootle.

Photos show: The beach with red flag near Seascale; the front at Ravenglass.

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