2021 has been designated as Cumbria’s Year of the Coast, celebrating everything this diverse but little-known stretch of coastline has to offer.
Our coastline’s stunning rural landscapes and breath-taking sunsets perfectly complement the wider North West region’s experiences, stretching from Liverpool, through Lancashire resorts like Blackpool and Southport, and up along Cumbria’s coast from Morecambe Bay to the southern tip of Scotland through huge expanses of rural splendour, beautiful nature reserves and a wide-range of coastal walks.
Research shows Cumbria’s coastline can be overlooked by visitors to The Lake District, but changing attitudes are becoming more evident, with a growing appetite to explore the county’s stunning coastline, as made evident by The I newspaper, which published this great feature, here.
A further exciting development is looming closer too, with the entire English coastline soon being made accessible to visitors for the first time, thanks to the new England Coast Path National Trail. When fully-completed, the 2,800 mile trail will be the world’s longest sign-posted walking route.
So, for those who crave a peaceful experience, there are plenty of locations which hug the Irish Sea which are well worth a visit, which many people haven’t discovered yet – even National Geographic agrees! Explore by train if you wish, or travel between these locations by car or bus. So, with our coastline boasting secluded beaches, gorgeous sea views from the clifftops, historic harbours and a coastal railway, here are ten great ideas to get you started and help us celebrate Cumbria’s Year of the Coast.
Duddon Estuary: Just south of the Copeland district border, Foxfield is a great place to take advantage of the Cumbrian coast, taking in beautiful views of Duddon Sands and the Duddon Estuary – a Site of Special Scientific Interest, flanked by Sandscale Haws, North Walney, Hodbarrow Lagoon and Haverigg Haws. With Natterjack Toads among the estuary’s most famous natural inhabitants, it’s estimated that the estuary hosts around a fifth of the species’ national population. It’s also a popular spot for birdwatchers, with sightings of Redshanks, Oystercatchers, Dunlins and Curlews providing regular delight.
Green Road: Similar views are afforded by Green Road and is perfect for those who would prefer to take a short, easy stroll. Arnaby Moss is nearby and part of the Duddon Special Area of Conservation. Birds including Pintails, Redknots and Redshanks are a common sight here for the quiet onlooker.
Ravenglass: The Lake District National Park’s only coastal village is home to a quant harbour and the mighty Muncaster Castle, home of the same family for more than 800 years. It even houses a magnificent Hawk & Owl Centre, where falcons, owls, hawks, eagles, herons & vultures fly daily. Meanwhile, what better way to experience the Western Lake District than by steam railway? Climb aboard England’s longest narrow gauge heritage attraction, the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, and take a trip to the foot of the western fells.
The Bay Cycleway: In the south, The Lake District coast tumbles into the magnificent Morecambe Bay, around which is wrapped more than another 100 miles of glorious coastline. From the historic ship-building town of Barrow-in-Furness around to the seaside resort of Grange-over-Sands, the stunning coastline takes in South Cumbria’s essential ‘must-visit’ coastal towns and villages. Offering wooded estuaries, sea-washed turf and fine views over the Kent estuary, take a trip along the coast by train at sunset, passing through an official area of outstanding natural beauty at Arnside and Silverdale along the way. Take in the famously peaceful seaside town of Grange-over-Sands with its Edwardian promenade and art deco Lido, flanked by a rail journey whisking you over no less than two estuary viaducts for an unbeatable photo opportunity.
Black Combe: At 2,000 feet high, a walk to the summit of Black Combe summit rewards walkers with spectacular panoramic views across Cumbria and as far as the Isle of Man, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. To reach it, just follow the footpath from the southern end of Whicham Valley.
Silecroft: With Black Combe looming above, Silecroft offers plenty of space along its long stretch of peaceful beach, with horse-riding adventures available thanks to Cumbrian Heavy Horses.
Bootle: The smallest market town in England and offers easy access the coastline for a lovely seaside stroll. Alternatively, Bootle Fell will whet the appetite for those who quite fancy a view from somewhere a little higher – a highlight of which, is the ancient Swinside stone circle. While here, pop-in to the Norman Church of St Michael to gaze up at its stunning stained glass windows.
Drigg: A Site of Special Scientific Interest awaits visitors to Drigg, with a beach a short walk away from the village along with a peaceful nature reserve also nearby. There’s also an old wooden jetty at Seascale for a vintage photo opportunity and history to delve into at Braystones. Have a wander along Seascale’s old wooden jetty or take a look at Nethertown, situated on the Cumbria Coastal Way. This provides walkers with a great place to start a stroll towards St Bees, with stunning clifftop views.
St Bees Heritage Coast: The Cumbrian coast has a rich variety of experiences to excite visitors, from the towering sandstone cliffs that dominate the Heritage Coast at St Bees. Back on the coastline, St Bees Head is a breath-taking sight, with towering red sandstone cliffs looming above the crashing waves and sandy beach below. Forming part of England’s only Heritage Coast between Scotland and Wales, St Bees Head is the home of the largest sea bird colonies in the North West, with their bustling communities highly active here in the spring and summer months. It was also recognised by Conde Nast magazine as one of the best beaches in the UK!
Parton: With easy access to explore the beach, Parton is a great place to begin some fascinating walks, with residents quick to point out that for stunning views of the sun going down at the end of the day, there’s no better view than the one on offer here. Nearby, Harrington is a quiet harbour town with a combination of pleasant walks and stunning views, with more stunning views on-offer at Flimby, across the Solway Estuary up to Scotland.
You can visit many of our suggested winter weather locations listed above by car, or for information on current rail and bus timetables, follow the links below:
- Avanti West Coast (For connections to Cumbria’s coastline from The West Coast Mainline at Lancaster and Carlisle)
- Northern Rail (for Morecambe Bay and Cumbrian Coast routes)
- Local bus services with Stagecoach