The 10km route for the final ‘spare’ day. The big deviation to the West was caused by the discovery that the coastal part of the planned route is in fact tidal….
As with all my standard plans, the last day was a filler day. In this case I had allocated around 10 km for the filler day, this would provide ample schedule ‘stretch’ should I need it.
Rather surprisingly, this part of the walk turned out to be the most dangerous part of the walk – and by a long way…
How did this occur? And what was the danger?
The incident started with a simple planning error due to a lack of experience. In this case, I had never planned a coastal walk before. The end result is that I hadn’t considered the tides or their effect on the planned route. It would be way too late by the time I had made the discovery.
When I got to the appropriate turn off from the A595 road, there was a sign with a time table of tide times. I looked up my date and time to discover that my route would be underwater by the time I got there
Even worse, there didn’t seem to be any alternate routes other than the A595 road.
I made the reluctant decision to take the A595 back to Ravenglass even though I knew it would be a fast and busy road. In retrospect that was probably one of the most dangerous and stupid decisions I have ever made.
Whatever I imagined I’d face on that road, the reality was a lot worse. I found myself in situations where big lorries were flying around the bend at 60 mph, leaving me with only inches to spare as I desperately sought to press myself into the foliage as best as I could. When I look back at this I realise that I could have so easily have ended up being a traffic accident statistic…
In terms of the A595, the only safe part is from Ravenglass to Fell Lane as that part is paved. All other parts of this road are totally unsuited to hiking and are in fact too dangerous. So if anyone is reading this and planning to head off from Ravenglass make sure your plan takes you off the A595 by Fell Lane at the latest.
On the positive side I have learnt three very big lessons:
1. Check whether coastal routes are affected by the tides.
2. Always make sure that all route planning contains contingent alternate routes that do not rely on the usage of main roads.
3. If you find yourself in the situation that I found myself, then the only real decision that should have been made, is to simply find a safe spot and rest up for a few hours until the tides subside.
Dangers and lessons set aside, Day 4 was on the whole rather pleasant. I knew I didn’t have far to walk and the going was pretty smooth and mostly downhill – perfect! It meant that I could maintain a nice relaxed pace, without having to worry about the timings too much.
As usual I’ll let the pictures tell the story of day 4:
It’s now the morning. This is a photo of the tent from my water filling location. I chose to fill from the nearby stream rather than the lake as I spotted a sheep’s skull in the lake and wasn’t sure if the water there could be trusted.
Here I’m getting everything ready for breakfast. In this case freeze dried ham, eggs and potatoes with a cup of tomato soup!
The freeze dried breakfast doesn’t look too appetising prior to hydration!
Once the breakfast has been rehydrated it starts to look much more palatable. Whilst I liked this breakfast meal, I prefer my scrambled eggs with a lot of black pepper, so next time out I will bring some with me!
I’m now all packed and ready for the short 10 km walk back to Ravenglass Railway station.
Initially there is no distinct track, but navigation is easy – just follow the lake Westward!
As I head toward the Western edge of Devoke Water I start to get a much better view of the small island in the Lake. This one is apparently called Watness Coy.
As I head Westward some signs of trampled grass start to appear – this must be the main track leading away from Devoke Water.
Soon I make it to the end of the lake. The ground here is quite boggy and criss-crossed by numerous water outlets.
Once again all signs of a track disappear. I’m quite lucky here as the topology of the nearby hilltops makes navigation simple, even without the use of a compass.
As I contour the hillock to the West of Devoke Water I once again pick up some faint signs of a trail. Although I’m pretty sure that I’m in the right place, there doesn’t seem to be any obvious signs of the numerous Cairns that should be littering the slopes of this hillock. Such observations can make one question one’s position, but at the end of the day contours take precedence in navigation as hills rarely move or change!
I have now cleared the hillock. This is one of the few occasions on this trip that I had to get the compass out. I’m looking for walled fields as these are my ultimate destination. The compass seems to point to some walled fields that are a fair ways off in the distance. So off I go!
After a while I start to pick up more permanent signs of a trail. Not only is the trail easy to follow at this point, but it seems to be way-marked by rocks as shown here! This inspires confidence that I’m headed the right way!
Where the trail runs through ferns, the way forward becomes even more obvious. Up ahead are two sheep. I’m surprised that they haven’t heard me despite my close proximity to them. Rather than stun them by appearing right on top of them, I stamp the ground a little until they notice my presence then run off.
This is the view to the North West as I head South West toward the walled fields. This part of the walk was very tranquil, but also very hot. The easy going also made it a very relaxed affair.
I soon spot the field walls that I’m expecting to see. At first I can’t make sense of their shapes when compared to the map. That is until it dawns on me that a lot of the wall structure is out of view behind a low ridge line just below me. Here I have cleared that ridge line to get my first proper view of the whole wall structure. This enables me to get a precise locational fix on the map. It’s one of the reasons that I prefer the 1:25000th scale maps over the 1:50000th maps, as the former show all boundary features.
Here I’m crossing one of the fields approximately Westward. The going is initially very easy, but it soon turns into deep bog and very rough ground. I’m keen to get through this field quickly as there were a number of cows and bulls in it. Didn’t want to attract too much undue attention! 🙂
Crossing the field was hard work and not helped by the fact that it was also up hill too! Up ahead I spot my exit! The sign seems to point to an exit off to the South end of the field, but I know from my map that if I follow this I will be way off course. As a result I choose to ignore the arrow and carry on through the gate.
I get into the next field with some relief that the cows and bulls left me alone. There is very obviously a trail here. So I’m now wandering why the previous trail arrow was pointed the wrong way?
The trail takes me to a marked trail exit, further proof perhaps that the previous sign was indeed pointing the wrong way…
There is no real trail in the next field, but the shape of the boundary walls make it obvious which way I should be walking!
In the next field I’m faced with a steep descent through some pretty thick vegetation. This significantly slowed up progress. In the distance I can see the River Esk and the A595 road which is my current target point.
*Max Zoom* In the far distance I can see a rather posh manor! This one is called Muncaster House and is open to the public!
I make it to the bottom of the hill to the gate that will take me onto the A595 road. However, there is an electric gate blocking the way. The insulation on the handle doesn’t look too good, so I decide to limbo under it!
From my planning I know that the A595 road is quite a dangerous place to be due to the speed and the numbers of vehicles that use it. Luckily this stretch has grass verges to jump on when traffic appeared. I’m determined to get to the path by the bridge as soon as possible so as to limit my exposure on this road.
After a fast paced walk I’m elated to find the gate leading me off of the A595….
However, my elation is short lived. It seems that this route is liable to tidal flooding. I check the timetable out and to my immense disappointment I realise that by the time I get to the river, that part of the track will be under 2 metres of water
I’m sure the map didn’t mention this, though I guess I should have used some common sense during planning, given the track’s proximity to the river and the sea.
The sign says use an alternate route – but after checking the map there isn’t one. At least not a safe one. In the end I take the grave decision to speed hike up the A595. I know that it is going to be potentially dangerous, but I’m out of options at this point.
This is very much a planning lesson learned….
I’m now on the A595 and not particularly happy about being there. On the plus side, I can really put in some speed on the tarmac…
The view Eastward over the River Esk. In the far distance one can just make out the mountains that I had climbed earlier on the walk. I know this is the very same River I had been following the previous day and once more my mind is joining up the dots to make a coherent picture of the surrounding terrain.
Initially the A595 isn’t too bad. The big grass verges and good view distance provide enough warning and space to stay safe.
However, the situation soon deteriorates. Forward visibility is limited and cover to my right is also limited. I can handle the cars whizzing past. It’s the big lorries that are truly scary. On a few occasions I was pressing myself into the undergrowth as far as I could, only to have speeding lorries passing just inches away from me at 60 mph. Not funny at all. I could have quite easily have been a statistic here.
Major lessons have been learnt here. In the future, coastal routes will be checked for tidal activity, plus, never again will I plot a route where the only alternate route out is via a main road.
After a few close calls, and with much relief, I finally get around the bend where I am presented with a decent grass verge. Finally, a modicum of safety.
Soon the grass verge is replaced by paving. Up ahead I spot the turn off where I started my walk – it brings memories flooding back of day 1. In particular I remember how fresh and full of energy I was compared to my current condition where I was a little worse for wear!
I know this part of the route, as I had walked this road on the way out. There isn’t much further to go before I get to the end of my walk.
Woot!!! The first sign of my destination! In this case quite literally!
Up ahead is the turn off that will take me off the busy A595 and onto the minor road leading directly to Ravenglass. Parts of the sea are also visible too!
On the way to Ravenglass I spot a path going off road. I decide to follow it as I suspect it will take me to the station. Here it has lead me to a bridge crossing the railway lines. From here I can see where I need to go!
Eventually I make it to Ravenglass railway station and a well earned rest. The only problem is that I’m now very self conscious of my smell – 4 days in the wilds in the kind of temperatures I walked through can make one very smelly…
I’m a little early, but I don’t mind waiting for the train. Just being able to sit down and take my pack off was reward enough! So ends another great walk!