Walney Island circumnav.

"Barrow is sheltered from the ravages of the Irish Sea by Walney Island...", states Jim's opening paragraph in his guide - Northern England & IOM - detailing the circumnavigation of this charismatic island. Having spent my formative years on the west coast of Cumbria, when I first read this chapter I did rather wonder if it wasn't the Irish Sea that was protected by Walney, from the ravages of Barrow...
Be that as it may, the island - England's eighth largest - remains a favoured and relatively local paddle.
The forecasts were the usual mass of conflicting information with everything from F3 to F7 winds predicted; either way I suspected we would get a good push down the west coast of Walney, but getting there would take a little longer than usual. We paddled north from Roa Island with the very last of the flood, which had turned before reaching The Meetings and by the time we were up at the north eastern tip, the ebb was well underway.
Still, we enjoyed the shelter of the dunes, basking in the sun and enjoying the warmth before heading out into the freezing wind. Above, Brian heads back into the channel, the huts of Lowsy Point beyond.
In fact the sea was rather less wild than appearances from the channel would have suggested; the mass of breakers that appeared beyond the sand banks turned out to be much smaller than they looked and within a short while we were heading south at a good speed...
...surfing the small stuff close in and generally enjoying the ride.
By the time we passed Earnse Point however my feet had frozen forcing a short break and several laps of a sandbank at a fast jog to restore circulation while frozen hands were too shaky to track these Sanderling steadily enough for a crisp image, still I quite like it.
Back on the water - John heading along the wide empty beaches, the fells beyond with just a dusting of snow.
Further south - Tim looking out across the expanse of Morecambe Bay...
...just before reaching the lighthouse and turning the south-west corner.
Right on cue, the grey seals appeared, following us into the channel...
...above which the last of the day's light caught the flanks of Buck Pike and The Old Man of Coniston with the Dunnerdale fells on the far left.
Turning north, back towards Roa Island, Dave and Brian pass the distinctive channel markers...
...and finally Piel Island's castle.
On a neap tide and having left Roa Island a little later than planned, it had taken rather longer to complete the trip than is normal but blue skies and the first hint of Spring, despite the cold, had made for another enjoyable circumnav. of Walney - with surprisingly little in the way of ravaging from either the Irish Sea or the residents of Barrow.
Footnotes:
Jim's guide, Northern England & IOM, published by Pesda Press can be bought directly from Pesda, or through Jim's blog here: jimskisblog.blogspot.com/2011/06/book-has-arrived.html

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