September: Seashore Celebrations!

This month was my birthday month - so with having time off work my mum and I figured it'd be a great opportunity to have a weekend away near the Seaside! It's not often we get to explore an area further afield from home as I can't drive so we decided to spend a few nights in the area as to ease the amount of driving mum would have to do! We decided to stay in Parton so that we would get the train to St Bees and wander along the coast path! We were very lucky as the weather managed to stay dry until our drive back home, and it was extremely heavy rain on our drive back home!

It was rainy on our drive there, but the weather had begun to clear up once we had passed Bassenthwaite and found the junction for our hotel at Parton. As we had arrived before check-in at the hotel, we decided to have a little wander around Whitehaven, as neither of us had been to Whitehaven before. We managed to park by the train station and we began our exploration from there. We wandered along the shore towards the North Pier Lighthouse, which is the smaller of the two in the area. This part of the harbour primarily overlooks the small shore of coastline which resides beside the train station and we could see further up the coast to the rocky shore at Parton and beyond. After crossing the closed sealock onto the west pier we wandered up to the West Pier Lighthouse, its white colouring contrasting beautifully against the red rock which formed the pier. Naturally, I had to get a picture with the lighthouse as some of my friends call me this as a pun on my last name, and it has become a tradition for any of us to get photos with lighthouses! Finally, we made our way along to the Crows nest which was central to the harbour allowing for views all around, particularly of the buildings resting upon the coastline which connects to St Bees.

After checking into the hotel, we had a little rest and settled into the room before deciding to venture out for a walk before the rain was forecasted. We wandered across farmland, past the church on the hill which was built on roman land, and made our way down to the shore. The shore at Parton is pebbled, with large rocks embedded into the shore, marked with the curvature of the waves that crash against the shore. There was a few people wandering along the shore towards Whitehaven, so we made our way in the opposite direction where there was a large collection of washed up boulders forming the coastline. It was so relaxing to just meander along the coastline, looking out into the vast sea laid out in front of us whilst the salty air filled our senses. We found a perch on some rocks and sat out looking across the ocean and down towards Whitehaven and beyond, losing ourselves in the moment. It was so tranquil watching the waves move across our eyeline, with the occasional boat appearing and disappearing on the horizon. The whole time we were sat no one wandered over towards us so we were also blessed with a calming soundscape of the waves gently brushing up against the larger rocks on the shore and the occasional squawk above us as birds circled above our heads. Eventually the light blue sky faded to grey, and the outline of Whitehaven began to darken as it silhouetted against the evening colours, and the distinct line where the sea dropped from vision to blur. With the darkness came a few spots of rain, and our queue to head back to the hotel to relax for the evening.

As we were eating our dinner at the hotel restaurant, the rain began to clear up, ready for the dry weather expected tomorrow. We had just about finished our meal when suddenly the clouds that had been lingering scattered across the horizon, and the sky soon began turning a beautiful pink colour. Within a few minutes we had finished our food, grabbed my camera from the room and jumped in the car to find a spot to watch the sunset from. When driving towards central Parton, we passed the church on the hill and an arch in the grounds caught our eye so we pulled up and wandered into the churchyard to find a perch. At the far end of the church there was a bench placed with a perfect view over the coastline. We took a seat and just watched as the sky began to transition between warm shades of yellow, orange, pink and eventually with a hint of purple. The sea danced in time with the sky, reflecting its vibrant shades in a tone or two darker and when a large wave made its way across the colours scattered like a tye dye pattern. Once the sky had began to fade, we made our way through the churchyard, and examined the arch which turned out to be the 'Chancel Arch' - the only part to remain of a former church that resided on the hill before the current. The arch was also a fantastic foreground to the sunset, and I managed to snaffle in a few shots before nighttime took over.

The next day we had decided to walk from St Bees to Whitehaven along the coast. We grabbed the train from Parton to St Bees, it was interesting travelling so close to the sea, but I wouldn't fancy it on a wet and windy day! Upon arriving in St Bees, we made our way to the coastline and open beaches beside the cliff tops. There were several people wandering along the shore and out towards the water but we cut along the edge of here to begin our ascent up onto the cliff top. You could clearly see where the erosion of the rock has caused the path to be moved further inland, and distinct parts could be see just inches away from the new fence which had been put up. The sun was shining down on us, luckily we had our backs to it so it kept us warm from the breeze facing us, and when we looked back down towards St Bees, its shore sparkled and the sea was a vibrant blue. Out in the distance, we could see the very top of St Bees Lighthouse beginning to appear and this was our halfway marker between here and Whitehaven. Majority of this part of the walk is through the green pastures, but the path ahead was clearly outlined as it followed the curves of the sea. The grass contrasted beautifully with the deep red of the rock that formed the cliff and coastline, and large chunks which had broken away from the mainframe could be see resting on the small sections of beach developed between the dips of the cliffs. The path takes you down one of these dips to where Fleswick Bay resides, but we decided to continue with our walk as we weren't sure of the tide times and the lighthouse was becoming more distinct with every step we took with more coastline appearing behind it.

Finally, we reached the lighthouse resting a little inland from the path and took the moment to have a little rest on the greenery surrounding it. By now Whitehaven and the coastline towards the North had come into view, and the shores of St Bees could no longer be seen from the otherside. The next section of the walk was much more rural compared to the other half, as this section left the green fields and ran closer to the edge of the cliffs and the nature that resides there. This area was dominated by shrubbery and tiny wildflowers at their roots. More of the ruby rockface was exposed in this area, and the colour contrasted beautifully with the pink/purple heather which was beginning to blossom. This part of the walk takes you past a quarry site where the path began to raise up and down and from here the path takes you into the depths of the cliffs, cutting through small valleys which have formed overtime. This part really allowed you to get lost in your surroundings, just taking in the scenery and not a sign of mainstream society in site. Eventually, the path began to open up into green fields again, and Whitehaven was clear as day on the horizon. From here, the history that can be found the port town also began to appear in abundance, with old mining buildings such as Saltom Pit resting halfway between the sea and path and the new buildings residing further in land. We came down into Whitehaven, past the Candlestick which we had looked up at the day before, we took a moment to sit here and have a rest looking over the harbour and deciding where to go for food now we had finished our walk. After food, we sat down by the beach for a little before heading back on the train to Parton.

After arriving back in Parton, we decided to stay down by the shore for a little while before retiring for the evening at the hotel ready to leave the next morning. We made our way back along the shore towards the rocks which we had previously sat by the evening before. Tonight the sea had a bit more life to it, causing large waves to shatter into the air as it hit the rockwall protecting the trainline. Unfortunately there was no glorious sunset this evening, but the view was still magical and calming nonetheless with the plain blues and greys mixing together. This was truly the perfect ending to our break away, after all there's nothing like sea air to help cleanse the soul!

The good weather had held off until the morning we were due to leave, thankfully! If the weather had been better we would have headed back down to the shore at Parton for a last minute wander, but instead we decided to see what interesting places we could stop off at on the way home! We knew we wanted to have a stop at Bassenthwaite Lake, we were going to on the way in but the traffic was quite busy on the road we would have had to cross so we decided to do it on our way back instead. We managed to find a pull in to the side of a road which followed the outline of the lake and a little pathway down to the shore. We had a clear view across the lake to the Skiddaw range and it looked stunning against the grey clouds which were resting on its peak. We have been so lucky on our breakaway that a lot of the places we have visited have been relatively desolate of people, and Bassenthwaite was no different! We slowly wandered along the shore in both directions, at one end there was a lovely bridge crossing the river which meets the lake which we wandered up to get an 'aerial' view of the lake. On the other side of the lake there were a group of Egret birds chilling on some wooden poles sticking out of the riverbank, they seemed completely unfazed by the sounds of the cars crossing the narrow bridge so I like to imagine they are regular visitors to the lake! We soon ended up back on the lake shore and found a stone to perch on just so we could take in the glorious views of Skiddaw once again, only leaving once the raindrops turned gained traction and more of the mountains in front of us were engulfed in cloud.

Despite spending a couple of days by the sea, we decided we weren't quite done with enjoying beach walks and the crisp ocean air so we went for a wander down the shore at Arnside. Despite it being the first dry day after a spell of drizzle and light but consistent rain showers, it was very quiet along the promenade and the principle beach areas beside the main car parks. The sand wasn't too squishy under our feet so we were able to walk quite far out on the shore whilst the tide was out, and just slowly meander across the sand, looking in pools of water and at anything that caught our eye in the distance. We eventually made our way to the cafe that rests just off the shore and grabbed a coffee to sit out and watch the sea dancing in the slight breeze. With the tide being out there was a band of sand which was separated from the mainland by a stream of water each side of it. The rich colouring of the sand contrasted beautifully against the green of the trees the other side of the water and the bright blue sky which was fighting its way through soft white clouds. After finishing our drinks we made our way back, this time heading through the bottom path of Grubbins Wood before coming out back onto the sands. In the woodland it was still quiet with barely a soul in sight, so we slowly made our way through noting the trees which had began to turn different shades ready for the start of autumn. Whilst we were wandering along here there were several moss covered tree stumps which were home to some really interesting mushrooms! It was their colour that caught my eye first - a really bright orange - and they were thin and whispy with no caps on the top.

I haven't got round to looking up what they are (I'm really poor at doing stuff like this) but I've never spotted mushrooms like this before, and they appeared on different types of logs or old tree stumps. I find stuff like this really fascinating!

At the end of the month it was my birthday, which was part of the reason we decided to have a few nights away. I didn't want to do much on my birthday, just a quiet day at home and then spend the night at my Grandads house with potential plans to walk the Old Man, weather permitting. After visiting my grandma in her care home, we made our way to my grandads house in Coniston. I had seen about the Cat Cafe 'Kittchen' at Hawkshead online so we decided to go through there for a cuppa and some cuddles with the cats! It really is a lovely place which I would recommend to everyone regardless of being a cat lover - it isn't run like a usual cat cafe, but rather you are visiting the cats home and its clear to see how loved and well looked after these cuties are! After visiting the Kittchen we made our way to part of the lake shore on Esthwaite Water as I had never visited there before. Unfortunately the heavy rain had began as we arrived there so I didn't really get any photographs but we still had a nice wander along part of the path where the surrounding trees provided shelter. I always find it therapeutic staring out into bodies of water when the raindrops are falling hard and cracking the mirror-like surface, especially when the wind is causing waves to crash against any rocky outcrops on the waters edge.

The next morning the bad weather had continued, so The Old Man was a no go as we had assumed before going to bed the previous evening. Still, we wanted to go somewhere so we decided to have a drive out to Hodge Close (another place I had yet to visit!) for a little wander during one of the lighter spells of rain. I absolutely love driving down tiny rural roads, although if I were to be actually driving the car I imagine I would think differently, which are surrounded by natural woodland which has had very little interference from mankind for a very long time. A tiny beck followed each twist and turn of the road from the left, and the right was home to steep grassy embankments and tall clusters of evergreen trees. I think with the poor weather it really added to the ambience of the scene, having an early evening feel to it despite it being only mid morning. There were one or two cars parked up at Hodge Close when we arrived but we didn't see a soul as we wandered around the fencing at the top and partway down the road leading towards Oxen Fell and other walks. Some of the foliage had began to lose their summer leaves so the tiny cracks and crevices in the red stones could be seen clearly, contrasting with the aquamarine coloured water which rested at the bottom.

Although summer has flown by, I'm excited to see what autumn has in store for us all!