The Cumbrian Coast
Welcome to the EDGE Guide to the Cumbrian coast.
For ease of description we will begin our tour of the coast from the north near Carlisle where the River Eden merges with the Solway Firth.
The Cumbrian coast is famous for its bird life. Campfield Marsh on the Solway and Hodbarrow at Millom by the Duddon estuary are RSPB Nature Reserves.
The Cumbrian coast has a long and varied history stretching back to prehistoric times when the Neolithic and Bronze Age inhabitants built their stone circles - see Grey Croft and Birkrigg
The coast was important to the Romans as well. What is now Maryport is where the Romans chose to site their main supply port for the furthest north west corner of the Roman Empire. Bowness on Solway is the site of the west end of Hadrians Wall. Click here for more on the Romans in Cumbria.
OS Sheet 85
Leaving Carlisle city centre behind you head west from the castle and bare right at the roundabout heading up the B5307. A mile or so along the road begins to broaden as you head down hill look for a road to your right sign posted for Burgh by Sands. Take this road - thats the most complicated bit over.
When you reach Burgh by Sands you will see a sign post on the right pointing to the Edward I monument this was erected as a remainder that King Edward I died here in 1307 on his way to do battle with the Scots.
The Solway looking West. Click for larger image.
Burgh Marsh is a short way past and offers good views over the Solway to Scotland. High tides brought about by the new moon can result in mild flooding and also the Solway Bore. A smaller version of the famous River Severn Bore in the Bristol Channel.
Travel further along the road and you will come to Port Carlisle the ill fated entrance to the short lived Carlisle canal - the canal became obsolete when the railway could be used for transport instead.
Not much further and you come to the pretty village of Bowness on Solway home to a lovely church and also the north western tip of the Roman Empire, the last fort on the Roman Wall was sited here.
The headland begins to curl round inland and creates Moricambe Bay an important wetland area for birds. Drive through Anthorn and Longcroft and then turn right onto the bridge over the River Wampool. When you get to the T-junction in Kirkbride turn right and head through the town. You will see as you leave some Second World War aircraft hangers, there is a road up to the right signposted for Newton Arlosh and Abbey Town. Take it. Then turn left onto the B5307 in Newton Arlosh.
The church at Newton Arlosh
It is worth while stopping to admire the small church at Newton Arlosh, clearly the builders were expecting trouble when they erected the tower.
Abbey Town is not picturesque but has Holme Cultram Abbey to invite interest. This building was at one time a great deal bigger and more important site. But following raids by the Scots led by Robert Bruce in 1322 and then 200 years later the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII Holme Cultram was left a shadow of its former self. It is still a working church and has some very impressive stone carvings on display in the entrance.
In Abbey Town turn right onto the B5302, just passed Calvo take the road on your right for Skinburness. If you would like a walk then follow the route indicated for the Grune. The tip of which allows for panoramic views of the Galloway hills, Solway Firth, Moricambe Bay, and the Lake District fells.
The road through Skinburness follows the coast down to Silloth.
The Victorians had the idea of developing Silloth into a holiday resort as they did at Grange over Sands and work was begun to gentrify the village. However they seem to have lost interest in the project and Silloth in some ways resembles a film set!
Join the B5300 and head down the coast - 4 or 5 miles brings you to the Allonby Sands. Allonby itself has a shop with something of a reputation for tasty Ice Creams so you may wish to stop here for a break.
OS Sheet 89.
Continue south on the B5300 until joining the A596 (T) from where you approach the town of Maryport. Important to the Romans as a port there is a good museum (The Senhouse Museum) at the site of the Roman fort overlooking the town.
The Galloway Hills and Solway Firth
Further south on the A596 is Workington an industrial town undergoing some regeneration and home to a very impressive Georgian church. Follow the signs for the A597 and Whitehaven and join the A595 just north of Distington - head south to the historic town of Whitehaven. Whitehaven has some points of interest to the visitor and can be read about in more detail by visiting the Whitehaven page on this guide.
In the town centre join the B5345 and aim for St Bees. The village centre is pretty and there is a good walk up St Bees head above the sands. Now you have a choice - head inland and visit the ruins of Egremont Castle and rejoin the A595(T) later or, take the coast road through Nethertown and Braystones to Beckermet.
Not far from Beckermet is the Sellafield Nuclear Power Station with an impressive Visitor Centre and further south is the village of Gosforth. From Gosforth you can drive towards Seascale and there walk to Grey Croft Stone Circle or, turn inland and head for Wast Water.
OS Sheet 96.
You may instead wish to continue on the main road to Ravenglass where you will find the Ravenglass and Eskdale miniature steam railway (well worth a trip). Here also is a Roman Bath House and further inland Muncaster Castle.
If you are not in a hurry try the following route -
Still heading south on the A595(T) look for a road to your right pointing to Lane End - take it and head through Newbiggin, under the railway bridge and travel along the coast - follow this road all the way to Bootle where you rejoin the A595(T).
With the sea on your right you will have Black Combe on your left as you approach the turn off to Millom on the A5093. When in Millom you can visit the Folk Museum and the Nature Reserve near Haverigg. To the north of Millom and still on the A5093 is Millom Castle and the delightful Holy Trinity church. The castle is in private hands and not open to the public but can be seen from the road and the church yard - it is in a poor state.
You are now in the lovely Duddon Valley and over look the Duddon Sands as you climb up the hill to rejoin the A595(T).
If you are interested in seeing Swinside (probably the finest Stone Circle in Cumbria) take a left to Broadgate and watch out for a lane to your left at Cragg Hall. The Circle is sign posted - you will have to park your car here as the route is a rough farm track and not a public road - the circle is about a mile up hill close by Swinside Farm.
Just across the river at Duddon Bridge there is a road to your left which will take you further up the Duddon Valley and beyond into the Lake District fells take this if you wish explore more.
At Broughton in Furness you can turn off onto the A593 and head up to Coniston Water or continue to the Furness Peninsula and visit Barrow in Furness, Furness Abbey, Dalton Castle and if you wished take the ferry to Piel Castle. You must turn off at Dalton onto the A590 inorder to visit Barrow.
Dalton Castle, Dalton in Furness
Walney Island is worth visiting - a long Spit of land joined to the mainland by a bridge at Barrow it stetches from the south of the Duddon Sands to the north of Morcambe Bay and contains an important Nature Reserve.
Piel Castle can be visited by taking the ferry from Roa Island off the A5087. The A5087 hugs the coast and takes you north to Ulverston - on the way you can visit Birkrigg Stone Circle and explore the villages on the Peninsula such as the sleepy Great Urswick.
Ulverston offers diversions for the visitor and has a museum dedicated to one of its more famous sons Stan Laurel of Laurel and Hardy.
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Rejoin the A590(T) in Ulverston and head north past Greenodd. Keep an eye out for a road (the B5278) on the right for Haverthwaite, Holker Hall and Cark and Flookburgh. Holker Hall is open to the public and has a museum and gardens and should be visited. At Cark or Flookburgh you can turn inland to visit the picturesque village of Cartmel and Cartmel Priory or continue to Allithwaite and Kents Bank. Cartmel can be approached from all these locations. and is a must see - Buy some of the local pudding at the Post Office!
Looking from Grange over Sands to Arnside
Now head for Grange over Sands and enjoy a stroll along the promenade overlooking Morcambe Bay by the railway station. Taking the B5277 out of town rejoin the A590(T) east of Lindale. Keep driving until after some time you reach the junction for the A6 which you should take if you would like to visit the superb topiary gardens of Levens Hall.
The A6 continues south through Heversham to Milnthorp where you take the B5282 to Storth and Arnside the southernmost town of the Cumbrian coast and where we reach our journeys end.
If, as I hope, you have been using the Ordnance Survey maps listed you will have noticed that there is a railway that follows the coast pretty closely - this is an excellent trip and allows for a relaxed journey to places of interest though ultimatley not as flexible as using a car.