Think of the Lake District and the usual picture that appears is probably one of thick, lustrous pine trees and a blue, calm lake pooling gently around the foot of a large hill, if not a mountain? Not immediately will you be reminded of a wild and rugged coastal beauty.
But what you expect to find along this stretch of beautiful coastline?
The Solway Firth
The answer to this is plenty. Reaching out from the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that is the Solway Firth, with its wild salt marshes attracting many species of wildfowl, to the boundless sands of Morecombe, the wonts of beach bums, bird lovers, history buffs and adrenalin-fuelled adventure seekers are all indulged by this underestimated seashore.
Across the bay from Morecombe lies Edwardian elegance in the form of Grange-over-Sands with a prom and beautiful ornamental gardens. Run down the sand dunes at Drigg, go horse-riding or kite surfing on the sandy swathes of Haverigg or Silecroft or go old-school with a bucket and spade and dig some big holes, then sit and wait for them to fill up with the tide at Seascale.
If you have a twitch to itch, Walney Island is a fabulous place for watching birds. It’s reached by the Jubilee Bridge and once there, you can enjoy the stunning vista across to Morecombe Bay. Migratory birds often stop at Duddon Estuary and although there is no yellow brick road to croak about, a quarter of the world’s breeding Natterjack Toads happen to live there too.
Whitehaven is a dapper Georgian town and in its heyday was the UK’s third-largest trading port. Coal and textiles were the exports while spices, rum, coffee, tobacco, and sugar all came in from far-flung exotic places. You can learn about pirates and smugglers at The Rum Story and travel back in time through a tropical rain forest.
St. Bees Head
At the nature reserve of St Bees Head, caterwauling gulls and seabirds will circle overhead if you decide to trundle along the length of the Coast to Coast walk, made famous by Alfred Wainwright and starts at St Bees’ beach.
Maryport is the southern-most town on the Solway Firth and grew from a fishing village to a grand port and shipbuilding centre. It has rows and rows of splendid houses, again from the Georgian era when the area originally thrived and flourished. Thomas Henry Ismay, owner of the White Star Line which built the ill-fated Titanic, was born here too.
Catch of the Day
You can’t visit this coast without trying the seafood. The fertile waters hand over an abundance of cockles, shrimps and mussels that you can buy fresh from the boats at Maryport’s Elizabeth Dock. Finally, a visit to the seaside is never complete without rounding the day off with a fish-and-chip supper. Eat straight out of the wrapping perched on the town’s promenade while watching the sun go down over the Irish Sea.
Feeling inspired to come and see the coastal allure of the Lake District? Why not have a look at our collection of fine Lake District cottages and see if anything reels you in.