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" St Bees Head with Pat "

Date & start time:    Sunday14th April, 2019.   3.30 pm start.

Location of Start :   The Radio Mast, Hannah Moor Lane, St Bees, Cumbria, Uk. ( NX 955 148 )

Places visited :         Tarnflatt Hall Farm, St Bees Light, North Head and back along the cliffs.

Walk details :             2.5 mls, 525 ft of ascent, 1 hour 30 mins.

Highest point :          The radio mast, Hannah Moor Lane,  400 ft - 126m.

Walked with :             Pat, Ann and our dogs Dylan and Dougal.

Weather :                    Overcast and breezy, otherwise very nice.

© Crown copyright. All rights reserved. Licence number PU 100034184.


We have a walk arranged with a friend, but a keen easterly wind makes the prospect of exposed walking on the fells less attractive today.

Pat was born in Workington on the coast but as she now lives away, she hasn't walked the coast path for quite some time.

Today we can all re-acquaint ourselves with the area.

Pat and Ann with Dylan and Dougal.

- - - o o o - - -

The walk started from the radio mast on the highest part of St Bees Head, about a mile or so from the lighthouse.

It was overcast and dry, but the cool breeze meant that hat and gloves were a good option.

First real view of the lighthouse . . . across newly ploughed fields.

Just to  the right of it, through the distant haze, you may also make out the Isle of Man.

The soil here has a deep reddish tinge due to the underlying red sandstone rock that forms the geological bulk of St Bees Head.

To the north, again less clear due to the general haze, is Criffel on the Dumfries and Galloway coast of Scotland.

The route passes through Tarn Flatts Farm and on down the private road to the lighthouse.

There's space for parking at the farm and an honesty box for those wishing to start closer to the lighthouse.

The roadside gorse is in full bloom now and the perfume would have been stronger if it were not for the breeze.

Roadside flowers are starting to fill out the hedgerows.

Here what looks like young cow parsley has started blooming early due to the recent sunny weather.

In amongst the hedgerow plants . . . some delightful new bluebells.

St Bees Lighthouse . . . self-catering in the keeper's cottage . . .
. . . but with a working light in the tower.

Ann and Pat make their way down the final part of the track towards the old fog horn building

and towards the 300 foot cliff edge that looks out over the Irish Sea.

On the other side of the fence, more gorse and bluebells.
Below them is the dizzy drop to the foot of the cliffs.

We turn left on the path adjacent to the cliff and along to a gate where there is an observation area giving views over the cliffs.

Below are popular nesting ledges for seabirds and protective perches for others more associated with the land.

A jackdaw perches near the enclosure.
Two kittiwake pairs on the cliff ledges.

These cliffs are famous for breeding birds.

The residents including the only breeding colony of black guillemots on mainland UK.

An adult kittiwake cruising on the breeze.
A cormorant flies past close to the sea surface.

The turbulent water close to the shore has coloured the water with silt and sand.

I have difficulty focusing on the bird as it flies by so quickly.

- - - o o o - - -


It is a quiet day for birds today.


In the season these cliffs are alive with sound

and the skies full of  soaring birds.



We leave them to their cliff ledges

and head back towards the fog horn.


On with the walk.



- - - o o o - - -

It is not busy . . . but there are a number of other people about, many of whom are also walking their dogs.

The disused fog horn buildings.

Technology has made the use of sound signals redundant and the building is hardly suitable for anything else.

We're taking the path around the northern half of St Bees Head . . .
. . . where the cliffs and headlands are as wild as they get.
Two more cormorants fly by . . .
. . . and we see them again as they appear around the headland.

The coast path twists and turns, staying as close to the cliff edge as practicable.

An ancient land slip allows the path to dip as well as weave in and out.

This section has the exposed red sandstone next to the path,

and the relatively soft nature of the surface has enabled people to scratch names and carve designs in the exposed rock face.

A new seat since we were last here is dedicated to a David (Jazza) and Catherine Curwen (1943/44 - 2017)

who appear to have spent many happy years together enjoying this view.

In close up we can see the harbour entrance to Whitehaven, its harbour walls, lights and markers.

In the distance, the village of Lowca under the two tall wind turbines. 

There's traces of an old Roman fort apparently, on the low ground in between the two townships

The coast path heads on but we'll take the public footpath signposted right, across the fields back towards the car.

- - - o o o - - -


The white signs are getting faded now

but the map clearly shows the footpath alongside the field divide.

I feel the farmer has crept a little to close to the wall with the plough

and at times we are forced to walk the furrows.


At the top of the hill our carriage awaits.

[ There's more parking alongside the fence itself, if needed.]

- - - o o o - - -

As we left the coast at the turning point, we've missed out on seeing the St Bees Quarry. 

A slight road diversion takes us back over to the coast.

Marshalls work Birkhams Quarry for the red sandstone,

removing it in large blocks for processing into building materials elsewhere (hence the lack of quarry buildings).

They talk about it being an occasional quarry, working it as and when they need the particular stone it produces.

They also try to avoid disturbing the birds during the nesting season,perhaps another reason why there is a lack of activity today.

- - - o o o - - -



Click here or on the photo above

for a more readable enlargement of the information.

The view from the road end explains the name The Colourful Coast given to this section of the long distance Cumbrian Coast footpath.

You can pick out the reds of the soil, the green of the vegetation, brown of the bracken, silver of the stones at the top of the beach

and the black of the seashore rocks. What is also black, but now hidden, is the coal that was traditionally mined from the area.

We leave this colourful character with his view of the colourful coast . . . and head home to Pat's for supper.

- - - o o o - - -

Technical note: Pictures taken with either Ann's Panasonic Lumix TZ60, or my Panasonic Lumix Gx8 Camera.

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

This site best viewed with . . . 'colour' sensors in the back of the camera.

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Previous walk - 9/12th April - The Rest of the Week

A previous time up here - 19th April 2013 - St Bees Colourful Coast

Next walk - 15th April - Low Fell with the Graysons