The Coast

It was only suppose be a shopping trip to the supermarket, but it ended up at the coast in the little town of Arnside.

I love Arnside. So does my dog. It sits on the edge of the River Kent, at the mouth of estuary which flows into Morecambe Bay. We often walk along the edge of the river towards the Bay but today, sans dog, I wandered around at my leisure.

It’s quite overcast today and the colours are very muted. Arnside overlooks the Southern Lake District and on a sunny day, the surrounding countryside is stunning. My photos looked drab and uninspiring and so amused myself looking for other things to photo.

It all started when I spied this sign on the way to Arnside. No wording – just a circle and an arrow. I followed it which took me through some roadworks in a small village (which I thought it would of diverted me from). I thought it was an one off, but they appeared periodically all the way to Arnside. What it was for I don’t know. I have seen these signs before – some have black squares, others triangles and they are, in my world, one of the mysteries of British life.

I parked up overlooking the estuary and walked a short distance to the river front shops. It was here that I noticed a lot of elderly people just sitting in their cars, admiring the view. I don’t blame them on one level, but the weather was positively balmy and tropical at a heady 7 degrees rather than minus 7 of last week and there’s plenty to investigate. I left them to their peering between windscreen, wipers and a steel fence which stops motorists from plunging six foot onto the beach and checked out Arnside on a pleasant March afternoon.

This sign is at the top of a causeway looking towards the mouth of the estuary. Arnside has its very own bore, similar to the Severn Bore in Avon. Only yesterday I learnt that it only happens if the tide is over 9 metres when it comes in or/and there’s a spring tide. Many years ago, I did witness it happening by pure chance and it is quite a spectacle and equally scary as it rushes up the river. It’s just another force of nature to be wary of in these parts. Apparently, if a bore is due, sirens are sounded to alert people to be aware of its coming. It’s quite spooky really with the wailing enveloping the town. There’s usually a half hour warning and then a 10 minute warning. Morecambe Bay is also renowned for its quicksands and many people have lost their lives over the years. It is advised to use a local guide before attempting to cross.

Aren’t some people so clever with words. I’m just hopeless at such things.

I wandered down towards the railway line and bridge that crosses the River Kent, taking those so inclined to let the train take the strain to the Lakes and beyond. Spotting a lone man sporting a camera around his neck and a keen eye studying the far riverside, I wondered if a majestic steam train was heading our way. Hearing a rumble behind me, I turned to see a huge locomotive spewing black diesel smoke out of its roof, tugging what I thought was some form of cargo. It trailed three trailers behind it, each one with a big cream steel crate and as it levelled with me, it dawned on me that it looked very much like containers for nuclear waste. It was fairly non-descript as it hurtled past at speed, giving no sign of its cargo. I shivered as I thought it would most likely come from the Sellafield nuclear plant on the west coast of the Lake District. No wonder it wasn’t hanging around and the grim realisation that this stuff gets moved around on the regular railways and we hardly ever note it. Where was it going (China probably), what was in those containers and what was going to happen to it. It was quite a scary thought the more I pondered, but then a cafe loomed into view and the thought of a hot latte and a sticky bun overtook my thoughts of a railway apocalypse and I headed towards its steamy warmth.

Silly Sign No 2: I don’t know why but this caught my eye and thought it was quite a strange notice. But then, who says that Mr Icecream Van hasn’t driven onto the mudflats to sell his wares and got hideously bogged down in the gloop and needed rescuing while his pride and joy sunk without trace, sucked into the jaws of the murky mud. I’ve watched that Kevin Bacon film, “Tremors” too many times……..

I love reading these kind of signs, giving you a history of that particular monument, trough, stone edifice etc. I liked the way that this little trough is stranded in brick paving and it was originally moved for a pavement . Now it’s stuck on the promenade surrounded by 21st Century gentrification. But I’m pleased that has survived all that trauma.

The same with the little pier. The community spirit to keep it there and resurrect it despite its calamities. Would it be rebuilt today? Would they just let it slip into the river quietly and put a sign up to say “if you squint and peer closely, you might be able to just see a brick sticking out of the mud”. I doubt a council would buy it today like back in 1964 and anyway it would take them years to decide, so it would slip into the mud anyway.

It was time for me to head back, passing the same elderly people staring out into the far distance in their cars. As I drove I lamented this time of year, spring is just around the corner, but yet to show an appearance apart a from the odd clutch of daffodils, awake far too early, by the roadside, slapped in the face by passing vehicles. The roadsides are muddy, dirty and brown from the last week’s melted slush and it needs a good wash. Alas to add to this grubbiness, was the plethora of rubbish as careless drivers and their passengers (and anybody else who uses the roads) lob their unwanted rubbish out of their window. It’s my annual rant – the disgusting state of our verges, clogged with plastic and for a better word, crap. I won’t bore you or put you off my blog with my venting, but lack of cash prevents councils resourcing into clearance and though a few good hearted souls do clean up, why should they risk their lives clearing up after thoughtless people. What’s the problem with keeping your filth within the confines of your vehicle until you a) see a litter bin b) get home and put it in your own dustbin. I can manage that, so why can’t a certain group of humans? A topic we may return to later.

Little parcels of snow still hug roadsides and behind dry stone walls, lying in streaks down the fells and peaks of Yorkshire. Pretty but unable to capture on camera due to the low cloud and mist and also I’m driving on narrow roads without an opportunity to stop. I also spot lambs in fields and utter a squeal of delight at the sight. I love this time of year when everything is so fresh and new life appears. I just wish it would hurry up though!

A lovely afternoon spent wandering and nosing around. Hopefully more tomorrow!

Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria

Kirkby Lonsdale is a pretty little market, just over the border in Cumbria as you make your way up the A65 towards the Lake District. Stone buildings snuggle up together throughout the town as it nestles above the River Lune.

Unfortunately we cannot the escape the car which litter the Main Street of Kirkby Lonsdale whichever angle you stand.

The Main Street is full of interesting independent shops, cafes and pubs. There’s a great variety including hardware shops, bakeries, clothing outlets and butchers. It has a lovely Tourist Information Office with a great selection of local crafts, for the ideal present or momento from Kirkby Lonsdale.

This is Mitchelgate, one of the pretty lanes in Kirkby Lonsdale, though the old phone camera doesn’t do it justice. Note to self: learn to use a proper digital camera and do the job properly! This was taken about 5pm on an early March evening (and a lot warmer than last week!)

This is the River Lune as it meanders past Kirkby Lonsdale. This is Ruskin’s View named after John Ruskin who praised it as “one of the loveliest views in England” and was painted J M W Turner. Today’s photo doesn’t do it justice, but it’s one of those views that is different every time you go there.

These are the Radical Steps leading for the River up to the churchyard and Ruskins View. There are some 86 steps of varying sizes and depths so you have to watch your step unless you’re a dog and can bound up them effortlessly. They were Radical as the good Dr Pearson was a Liberal and radical back in the early 19th century.

St Mary’s church just off the Main Street by the Sun Inn, where you can cross the churchyard to Ruskins View. It’s beautiful in spring with snowdrops and daffodils.

This is a little taster of Kirkby Lonsdale as there’s much more to show like Devils Bridge and the delightful street names. It’s well worth a visit to explore -it needs a morning or afternoon. Park down by Devils Bridge as there’s free unlimited parking, a brilliant little snack van that does great cups, no great mugs of tea and bacon butties. On most days, especially in the summer, the motorbikers gather here in large groups. Most of them are the more mature biker with the greying ponytail or no hair at all, who own Harley Davidsons, vintage bikes and all the ones in between. They are often seen clutching steaming mugs of the aforementioned tea and admiring each other’s bikes. Quite a sight!

More about Kirkby Lonsdale later. Hope you enjoyed this little snippet. I will get more sophisticated once I learn how to customise my new toy here, but please feel welcome to add comments or some feedback.

A Chilly Riverside Walk

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This is my very first blog. My very first post. Scary.

I will write about my thoughts and observations as I wander around my little corner of England. Here’s my first test run – hope you like it.

A quick dog walk around our local river where there’s a lovely circular walk. The snow of the past week has melted, but behind dry stone walls and the shady areas, it still gathers and clings on. The river, though flowing, still had ice covering it, with fallen trees draped in icicles. It is quietly beautiful. The wind is keen, blowing still from the east, though the Beast from the East is losing its bite. Around these parts it’s known as a “Lazy Wind”. It would rather go through you rather than around you. Sums it up nicely.

It’s overcast this morning, with a black cloud gathering which soon catches us up and starts to gently sleet, though it’s more rain. Snowdrops hang in there and a few daffodils have actually bloomed and their sunny flowers bend in the harsh wind. Out of the teeth of the wind, it feels much warmer, but the wind chill sends it back below zero. I’m glad to be back in the warmth of the house, defrosting my frozen hands on a hot mug of steaming tea.