Drigg Dunes, Cumbria

Head off the beaten track and explore the beautiful Cumbrian Coast, a favourite of botanists and birdwatchers

25th April 2012
Drigg beach Photograph: Dave Willis
Difficulty
Easy
Distance
6 miles (10km)
Duration
3 hours

This walk explores the wild Cumbrian coast and the ancient Roman port of Ravenglass, using the train to return so you’ll have plenty of time to relax among the sand dunes of Drigg’s remote foreshore.

START

Start from the railway station at Ravenglass, but leave time to explore the village itself. The main village street is paved with beach cobbles and the low cottages form a protective square almost enclosed from the ravages of the sea. The beach, which is actually an estuary formed by the confluence of the rivers Irt, Mite and Esk, although not sandy, is incredibly scenic. Head down to the railway viaduct; on the west side take a footbridge that leads across the River Mite. Turn left and follow a path to the end of a road at Low Saltcoats. Follow this road for a short distance before taking the first left down a road that leads towards Hall Carleton, where it turns sharp right and passes under the railway line.

1.25 MILES

Continue along the road, passing a lane junction on the right, until you reach a footpath on the left at a right curve in the road. Take this path across a field then descend to the old packhorse bridge at Holme Bridge. In the 19th century the River Irt was famous for the rare black pearls that grew in its freshwater mussels, but poaching is thought to have led to their extinction here.

1.75 MILES

After crossing the bridge follow the footpath that heads northwest across fields, initially under power lines and then veering away from them to the left. When the path meets the B5344 road turn left into Drigg. The village is small and unremarkable save in one rather unfortunate way – it houses the UK’s national low level radioactive waste repository. Officially there is very little actual radioactive waste at the site, but it’s curious to find such a place adjacent to the wild and beautiful wildlife refuge of Drigg beach and dunes.

2.5 MILES

In Drigg, take the beach road to the level crossing over the railway, past the station and continue on to the beach. The road down to the sand dunes is a long circuitous lane bordering the nuclear waste repository, protected by lines of high fencing, but these are soon left behind as the beach draws near and the scale of the dunes becomes apparent. This is the largest sand dune system in Cumbria supporting species such as sea holly, sea bindweed and blue fleabane. The dunes and the estuary of Eskmeals and Ravenglass also support one of the largest seabird breeding colonies in the northwest.

The beach is a superb stretch of sand that appears almost endless at low tide. You can walk for miles northwards, all the way to St Bees Head if you wish, although Sellafield will be far enough for most. Return to Ravenglass by train from Drigg.


Useful Information


TERRAIN

This linear walk starts from Ravenglass station and finishes on Drigg beach via easy lanes and footpaths to sand dunes and sandy beach at low tide. (Some shingle at high tide). Use the train at Drigg for the return leg to Ravenglass.

HOW TO GET THERE

By car: Ravenglass is reached from the M6 via J34 on to the A591 and then A590 to Newby Bridge and then Greenodd. Next take the A5092 to Grizebeck, then A595 to Ravenglass. From Carlisle, follow the A595 south from either the A596 (West Cumbria coast road) or the A66 (Penrith).

By public transport: North Western Trains serve Ravenglass from Carlisle, Lancaster and Barrow-in-Furness. The Ravenglass and Eskdale railway also serves Ravenglass from Eskdale.

The Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway
Ravenglas
CA18 1SW
Tel. 01229 717171
ravenglass-railway.co.uk

REFRESHMENTS

The Ratty Arms
Ravenglass CA18 1SN
Tel. 01229 717676

MORE INFO

Visit Cumbria
www.visitcumbria.com

Cumbria Tourism
www.golakes.co.uk
 

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