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Date & start time: Thursday 25th June 2009. 8.30pm start.

Location of Start : Tarnflatt Hall Farm (parking), St Bees, Cumbria, Uk. ( NX 948 146 )

Places visited : St Bees Head.

Walk details : 2.25 mls, 350 ft, 1 hrs 25 mins.

Highest point : The Lighthouse 310 ft ( 95 m )

Walked with : Ann and the dogs, Harry and Bethan.

Weather : Blue skies and fluffy clouds, warm.

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 St Bees Sunset Walk

Map created by EveryTrail: Travel Community


A settled period of weather encourages us to chase the evening sun west to the coast of Cumbria . . .

Don't panic . . . we stop short before we fell over the edge !

The signposted route at Tarnflatt Hall Farm
Foxgloves on the roadside, looking south over Fleswick Bay

The good people of the Hall have provided a parking area (and an honesty box for the £2 parking fee) to allow us easy access to St Bees Head.

The signboard map offers a round trip option walking down through the fields to Fleswick Bay and then up to the lighthouse.

In view of the time and the the fact that we delayed our arrival by eating our fish and chips at St Bees foreshore, we decided that the direct walk to the headland would be in order to enjoy all the evening had to offer.

Picture of man walking along the road to the lighthouse.

Picture of woman following . . . but this does not represent or allude to any political statement !

The picture shows the farm where we parked and tops of the Lakeland Fells in the background.

The lighthouse is now un-manned but the house is still in use as holiday accommodation by the look of it.

These buildings stand at the most westerly point of Wainwright's Coast to Coast path.

They are normally seen in passing once you have dipped your boots in the sea at St Bees and are off, full of enthusiasm, to Robin Hood's Bay on the east coast.

The top of the light, with the glass prism lenses that rotate to give the characteristic flash sequence.

Standing proud at the top of the headland and overlooking the Irish Sea, the St Bees Lighthouse still provides a guiding light to local shipping.

The original lighthouse was built in 1712 and was the last remaining coal-fired light in Britain. It was destroyed by fire in 1822 then rebuilt and converted to run on oil in1822. It is the same tower that is still in use today. (Click here for the technical details)

The fields are now taking on an orange hue as the sun starts to set.

In my ignorance I thought the sun would be setting over the Isle of Man

but in fact it was a whole sector further north and the land we can see is the Mull of Galloway in Scotland.

Early sunset from the Fog Horn Tower on the cliff edge at St Bees.

We had time to walk the cliff top a short way but didn't want to move far from the view of the setting sun.

Walking along the cliff path, we came across a stile and a short path down to a viewing area right on the cliff edge. We knew this was a seabird breeding area but had not realised that there were any facilities for viewing them.

The viewpoint signboard.
A Herring Gull living on the edge.
Close up of the list of possible birds.

As we walked along the colour of the sunset increased in intensity.

A Herring Gull against the backdrop of the rippled sea.

Another on the cliff just below us.
A second viewing area, just a little further along.

The black and white markings on the cliffs below were in fact a colony of breeding Guillemots.

They covered every last inch of flat rock strata on the red sandstone cliffs.

A further close up of part of the colony. What you can't see is the general chatter and noise so click here or on the photo for a short video.

( The 1 min video should open a new window and play in your Windows Media Player)

( It may take a minute or so to download on slower connection speeds - please be patient )

Returning now, we walk back enjoying the setting sun and the dramatic light on the clouds above.

Back at the first viewing area, we re-cross the stile.

The cliffs have a much deeper red colour now.
Another close up, of the birds huddled on these rock ledges.

Below us the seabirds gently circled as the sea changed colour.

Back towards the lighthouse, I climb a little to see a wider view of the sunset.

The sunset beyond the hills of Galloway.

Nearly gone . . .

Our drive out here tonight has been well rewarded . . . this was magical.

Time to go . . .

and as we return to the lighthouse at the top of the cliff, we see the clouds behind us also lit by the red light of the sunset.

Back on the road to the farm, passed the Foxgloves again.

The sun would have one last trick in store . . .

The hidden sun cast a vertical shaft of intense light up into the air . . .
. . . illuminating the clouds above with a wonderful plume of light.

We had no time to return to the cliffs as the special lighting effect was changing fast.

As we returned to the car it was still in evidence.

We watched it slowly fade.

Would the last person out shut the gate . . . oh yes . . . and turn out the light !

- - - o o o - - -

Technical note: Pictures taken with with Ann's Cannon 75 or my G7 Digital camera.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

This site best viewed with . . . a fine evening and a wide expanse of sky.

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© RmH.2009 # Email me here # or leave me a Guest Book Entry

Previous walk - Wednesday 24th June 2009 Mid-summer's Day

A previous time up here - 7th November 2003 St Bees Head on a fine evening

Dear Roger and Ann,

I have just watched the sun set! I just had to comment on your magical photos.
The unusual optical phenomenon is referred to as a sun pillar - an effect I
believe which is created from reflection of the light off ice crystals due to
the low angle of sun. . . .
Pete Burgess.

Thanks Pete.

I've since investigated the Cloud Appreciation Society site which shows more Sun Pillars here

" Though generally classed as a halo, sun pillars are slightly different because it is caused by the sun reflecting off, rather than passing through, the ice crystals in the upper atmosphere. This is not dependant on optically pure prisms but does depend on the crystals wobbling as they fall."

( taken from the Cloudspotter's Guide by Gavin Pretor-Pinney )

Next walk - Friday 26th June 2009 3 Peaks with the Railway Children