A Coast to Coast odyssey: Stage 2 – Cleator to Ennerdale Bridge

Last night we had a wonderful evening at the Jasmine Cottage B&B in Moor Row.


Our lovely host Jean couldn’t have done more to make our stay restful and enjoyable.  In the evening, she drove us to a near-by pub in Cleator for dinner and arrived exactly on-time to pick us up 2 hr later to ferry us back to the B&B.  As well, I inadvertently rushed out of the door the next morning without clearing out the hanging space in my room.  Jean kindly offered to bring my gear to our next overnight stay in Ennerdale Bridge for a small gratuity!  Thanks heaps Jean!

Our journey today took us through Cleator, then over Dent Fell and 0n to Ennerdale Bridge where we stayed at a local pub.

As we entered Cleator, we came across the local cricket club, with an excellent turf pitch and interesting covers (need them to cope with the English weather, I guess).


We were also interested to see a Royal Post van driving down very narrow lanes around Cleator, presumably to clear neighbourhood letter-boxes.  Please, no-one tell David Cameron that such inefficiency still exists!

IMG_0360aThe centre of Cleator consists of strip housing that was originally built for workers in the local mines.  Unfortunately, there’s not much that can be done to beautify them.  But outside the town centre, we were struck by the number of beautiful gardens.  Here are just a few examples:

IMG_0350a IMG_0348a IMG_0346a IMG_0345aOn the edge of town, there was an especially attractive row of gardens backing on to the local beck.

IMG_0372aMost of the small towns along the C2C route have a cooperative store that services not only the local community, but also the passing parade of C2C walkers.

IMG_0365aSo we stocked up with lunch to have along the path – in this case delicious individual quiches that were freshly baked in-store.  Visible from the same point as I took the previous photo was this …. what is it?

IMG_0366aSoon we were on our way out of town to Dent Fell.  It is the rounded rise in the background of this photograph.  Looks like easy stuff, right?  Well, we’ll see!

IMG_0368a Dent Fell is said to be a Lake District outlier – much smaller than the true fells of Lakeland … rather like a pimple on the Cumbrian coastal plain.  We were told that the ascent from this side is easy, but that the descent down the other side is much more challenging.  Can’t wait for that … it’s all been pretty tame so far!

IMG_0401aAs we climbed, we came to several ‘false tops’, only to find that the climb would go on after what we thought was the summit.  Around the lower slopes, there are extensive pine plantations.  Above, you can see reasonably mature trees on the right, a clear-felled area to the rear and some new planting on the left.  We couldn’t understand why harvesting was being done by clear-felling?  Why not selectively thin and leave the best stems to grow into large saw-logs?

So far, so good.  We had read dire warnings about deep bogs around this part of the path, but couldn’t really comprehend what thus would really be like.  I must have sensed trouble brewing because I started taking a series of photographs.

IMG_0391aAt the next step, one of our team was down …. and it was grit and mush up to the wast!  When the bog is so deep, it’s surprisingly difficult to extricate yourself from it.  You can see one of the men in our party appear from the plantation further up the track and another coming slowly to help … and with all of the hilarity, me continuing to take pictures.  It turned out to be women helping each other on this occasion!

IMG_0394aBut why wasn’t Tricia holding the other Tricia’s hand to help her up?  Because she didn’t want to be pulled over as well! There are limits, it seems.

Pretty soon we had passed all of the false tops (or so we thought) and arrived at a large cairn to mark our arrival.  The views back over the Cumbrian Plain were are simply stupendous!  About 300 degrees, with a patchwork of cultivated and grazed fields, a network of dry stone walls and both small and large villages, with characteristic sharp boundaries between agricultural areas and the towns (ie little acreage urban sprawl or ribbon development).

IMG_4053aThe sharp rise of the St Bees Headland could be seen clearly, IMG_4058aand the drop down from the headland where we left it during stage one (just before the town of Whitehaven) could be seen further to the north.   IMG_4051aThe other striking landmark from the top of Dent was the Sellafield nuclear power station.   We were told by an English C2C walker that the name of the station was changed after a significant nuclear accident several decades ago.  I have a vague recollection of the leak, but the public relations effort to rehabilitate the reputation of the station passed me by.  IMG_4067aOver a brew, we had an interesting conversation with a family group of three who were on the last leg of their east to west crossing.  They told us what a delight we were in for … some of it not easy (it’s really difficult to know what that means!), but very rewarding.  We bid them farewell as they headed off towards Cleator.  IMG_4062aIt turns out that the cairn at the top of the Dent climb is another false top.  The true top is further along, where the views are to the east.  So this was our first sighting of the Lake District and the Lakeland Fells.  And the boggy herb field in the foreground was also a pleasure.  IMG_0412aThe soil scientist in our midst was quick to notice the different parent material on the eroded path as we started to descend.  This was slate and would weather into finer material than sandstone, hence the bogs!


Our descent from Dent commenced with a sharp shower of rain (ie, everything was then slippery), and was quickly followed by a climb over a deer fence stile.  Best be careful here!  IMG_0423aThen, the descent began in earnest … Laurie about to head over the edge!

IMG_0432aWhile the path was mainly a grassy slope at this point, the gradient was steep.  Given that the horizon in the background of the photo below is horizontal, this picture gives an idea of the slope that we were walking down.  Stedman (the guide book of choice for most C2C walkers) says that this is the steepest part of the whole C2C path.  But I know that it’s not the steepest part of the whole route …. but more on that in a future post!

IMG_4069aTowards the bottom of the descent, there is an even steeper rocky and stony section – another one of our group lost their footing here, but thankfully only sustained a slightly bruised hand.

IMG_0457aAfter the rigours of Dent Fell, we followed a small stream up to its head-waters with the delightful name of Nannycatch Beck.  On the opposite side were steep pastures and occasional scree slopes.  One of the scree slopes reminded us of home!

IMG_0460aAnd even the sheep seemed to tire of the steep slopes of their pasture!


There were also rocky outcrops on the steep slope as well.  Here’s me in front of one, on the other side of the camera  (see Michael, I was there!).


For the first time, we noticed a box on the side of the road that appeared to be used in winter to hold salt for de-icing the roads (we came across many of these as we moved through Lakeland – sometimes full of rubbish!).

IMG_0474aI can imagine sections of road needing salting in the dead of winter.  But how is it applied?IMG_0476aThen, Tricia was off to find the first of many rock circles that apparently can be seen along the C2C path.

IMG_0480aWe read that his circle was constructed by a local identity several decades ago.  No antiquity here!

IMG_0485a But still worth pondering the historical purpose of these circles.  Some sort of pagan ritual? Or the site of some type of community competition?  Doug (the Soil Scientist) can’t decide!  IMG_0488a

When walking through these fields, it’s easy to forget that these pastures are actively managed and that people make a living from them (or not … but that’s another story!).  Here, a farmer appears to be heading out to apply fertiliser to some pasture.  IMG_0491a

It was good to finally arrive at The Shepherd’s Arms Hotel, our accommodation for the night in Ennerdale Bridge. IMG_0500a

Vital stats for Stage 2

Distance for Stage 2:  13 km

T0tal distance:  27 km

Level of difficulty:  moderate

Highlight:  the magnificent views over the Cumbrian coastal plain from Dent Fell

Update (from Brian): To access the whole Coast to Coast odyssey series, click on Len’s name or go here.


Time for Tony Abbott to admit his climate policy is crap

That is Giles Parkinson’s advice to Abbott.

Parkinson says Australia should be embarrassed by its lack of action compared to the United States and China, which has indicated it will place a cap on its emissions as soon as 2016.

Ironically, Abbott could have a pretty good collection of climate and renewable energy policies just by doing nothing. Everything Labor put in place is still there, apart from Tim Flannery and the Climate Commission, which has morphed into the Climate Council with private money and public donations.

The carbon price is still there, the renewable energy target can still deliver more than a 20 per cent share of wind, solar, hydro and biomass, and push more coal- and gas-fired generation out of the market.

Even the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, with a $10 billion budget that will hasten new technologies and deliver abatement and profits to the government, and the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, with money to spend on new technologies such as this groundbreaking solar thermal plant, and the first large scale solar and storage plant for a major mining operation, are still in operation.

So, too, is the Climate Change Authority. And by a strange quirk of fate, the country’s official emissions reduction target has jumped to 18.9 per cent, the result of some forward thinking policy wonks who decided to lock in Australia’s prior climate commitments in the case of a political stalemate.

Around 19 per cent is exactly what the CCA, and many others, say is Australia’s fair share, given the developments overseas.


So what sort of fool would want to tear these policies down? Pretty much the sort whose ideology and vested interests makes him blind to the fact that business as usual is neither credible, nor possible.

Not everyone in the Liberal Party is happy:

As one Liberal Party observer noted this week: “Clearly, there are enough sitting Liberal members that reject the Americanisation of Australia’s social values.

“There are enough who understand science and research and the importance of science and research to Australia’s well being. There are enough who are sick of the Liberal brand being trashed by climate deniers within the party.”

A voting block of around 16 would do the trick – that’s less than the number of Coalition MPs under threat in marginal seats. What could possibly be the downside?

Bring on the revolution, Abbott must go!

It’s all very well for some Liberal pollies to have a conscience. None of them seems to have the bottle to do anything that might lead to change.

Time to stop dreaming. Greg Hunt, Abbott’s climate poodle, plays with the figures, stretches things a bit and concludes that the US and Australia have very similar positions.

The real fun begins when they sit down with Clive Palmer, who thinks all the carbon ‘tax’ collected should be reimbursed to the polluters.

Also I wouldn’t mind being a fly on the wall when Abbott sits down with Obama and discusses whether climate change should be on the G20 agenda. Surely if Obama is serious about climate change he’ll give Abbott an offer he can’t refuse. Like why would Obama bother coming if important stuff is left off the agenda.