This was a brilliant coastal walk, with dramatic cliff-tops and awe inspiring views of hundreds, upon hundreds of nesting birds. The route I took was one way – from Whitehaven to my home at Moor Row. There are a number of return options available for those that want to give this walk a go:
- Train: St. Bees to Whitehaven
- Bus: St. Bees to Whitehaven
- Bus: Moor Row to Whitehaven
The route is quite safe, but please take heed of all signs, as the ground is unstable in certain areas.
The cliffs along the coast are composed of a red Permian and Triassic sandstone about 200 Million years old. St Bees sandstone was created by water borne sand and has a very small grain size, making it a very workable stone still much in demand for building. The mica in the stone gives it a sparkling effect.
St. Bees is the only breeding place in England for Black Guillemots. I was lucky enough to time my walk to see these stunning birds on their nesting ledges on the cliffs. Guillemots look ungainly when they shuffle, but underwater their streamlined shape comes into its own and they become agile and maneuverable. They have been likened to small penguins.
The cliffs of St. Bees are also the breeding grounds for Razorbills and Puffins. The wildlife on the coast is spectacular.
This walk commences at Whitehaven’s historic 17th-century harbour.
Head towards the Beacon Museum, then up to the Candlestick Chimney. Just before reaching the chimney, take a left and continue, towards Kells. There, head south along the coastal path, taking in the views of the old Haig Pit buildings and the historic Saltom Pit mine workings which sit on the shoreline of Saltom Bay. Proceed along the well established path, keeping the coastline to your right.
At Barrowmouth, head up cutting through an abundance of fern. Soon you will reach Birkhams Quarry. Keeping the quarry to your left, continue along the path making sure that your footing is sound as you proceed. At the far side of the quarry you will emerge onto the St Bees coastal path, which you can now follow all the way to St Bees.
This path brings you to the St. Bees lighthouse, RSPB viewing points, Fleswick Bay and eventually to the beach at St Bees. At Fleswick Bay, if the tide is out, do pop down to the shore and check out the beach which is host to semi-precious stones.
At St. Bees, you can catch public transport to return to your starting point. I however headed inland at this point. I headed towards St. Bees Priory, and then followed the public footpath at St. Bees School, which took me along the valley, towards Moor Row.
- Distance: 9.95 mile
- Max Elevation: 510 metres
- Download Google Earth KML file