Cumbrian Contrasts

For a coastline not widely recognised for the quality of its sea kayaking, Cumbria does in fact have much to offer. With one notable exception, you will not find the cliffs that draw paddlers to other more popular areas; you will find remote, windswept sands, rushing tides, charismatic islands and often, whilst not the clean waves of the ocean beaches, surf...
Launching beneath Ravenglass Mike and I paddled out on The Esk with the last of the ebb...
...protected initially from the waves, by high sand bars beyond Drigg Point.
Past the point, heading into the surf, the water becoming so confused as the tide began to flood, that on more than one occassion I was actually surfed out to sea on rebounding waves, very odd.
Having played awhile amongst the breakers, we crossed to what appeared to be more regular waves off Eskmeals.
These provided cleaner rides...
...although all the while we were being swept rapidly back into The Esk estuary. Quite a strange sensation to be surfing at high speed towards the shore whilst also travelling parallel to it, at approximately 3 knots, with the flood.
Having had our fun amongst the surf, the contrast upon entering the estuary was stark.
Swept rapidly past Glannoventa, the Roman fort, we were soon high up the estuary, paddling beneath the densely forested slopes that surround Muncaster Castle.
The fells of West Cumbria provide a beautiful backdrop...
...and with the tide still rising we stopped a while on the grassy banks some 6km from the mouth of the estuary.
Amongst the flooded fields...
...before pushing on under the A595 bridge, still with the tide, the river meandering, becoming narrower, trees crowding the banks, the first of the autumn leaves drifting in the currents below, until eventually we reached the upper tidal limit.
A fast return was assured, first the freshwater of The Esk carrying the boats rapidly west, then the ebbing tide sweeping us on and soon under the railway bridge where we dallied awhile in the gentle waves and eddies beneath.
Beneath dramatic skies and in the failing light we landed for the last time; the end of a day of stark Cumbrian Contrasts.


John Bunyan said…
Wot about St Bees?.... nice cliffs there!
Will Herman said…
Indeed - St Bees being where I (mis) spent my youth I know them well.
The cliffs there were the 'notable exception'.