The Lake District's Energy Coast
Wastwater, Drigg and Whitehaven's Fascinating Rum Story
Distance: 6.6 kms
Time: Allow 2 hours
We may have been right on the fringes of the Lake District and spending time enjoying the coastline, but you can’t really visit the Lake District without visiting a lake can you? A picture in the corridor of our hotel inspired this morning’s walk to the stunning Wastwater lake.
The lake is almost 3 miles long and more than one-third mile wide and is the deepest lake in England at 258 feet. Who needs the honeypots of the central Lake District when you can visit a Lake as beautiful as this without the crowds?
The walk starts a a tiny little National Trust car park. Get there early to make sure you can bag one of the parking spots! It is a little tricky to find the car park – the code for your sat nav is CA20 1ET.
Dry Stone Walls
Dry Stone Walls wind their way across large swathes of land in this part of the Lake District. These intricate structures are everywhere.
Built without anything to hold them together other than the skill of the builder, they have been standing for years.
If you want to find out more about the ancient skill of building a dry stone wall, check out the Merchant & Makers website. It has all you could possibly ever need to know about dry stone walls – and more.
Buy your Own Woodland
Have you ever fancied owning your very own woodland? Well – there we passed one with a for sale sign on our walk.
For £55k, you could buy a 3 3/4 acre wood at Ennerdale Bridge.
Just imagine it – a gloriously wild, deciduous woodland with access to a babbling stream, on the fringe of the Lake District.
OK – you can’t build a house in your wood, but you can camp and enjoy outdoor living, build a wood store and cook outside. Owners become custodians of the plants, trees and wildlife in their wood. Are you tempted?!
Wastwater was idyllic – but the undoubted highlight of the walk for me has to be the crummy squidgy lemon cake at The Sawmill at the end of our walk. Situated by a babbling river just around the corner from the little car park at the start of the walk, The Sawmill is the perfect place to stop for a while and refresh yourself at the end of a hike. There is a large car park, a shop selling local produce and food is served all day.
This little visited part of the Lake District is full of surprises. Drigg Beach is vast, wild and remote – flanked by sand dunes with all sorts of interesting flora and fauna. Stroll among the dunes and see how many species you can spot. For example, can you find a bright red burnet dune moth? I couldn’t, sadly, so no photo. But you might well be more lucky?
Strolling amongst the dunes with your I Spy book in hand isn’t all there is to do on Drigg Beach either.
If you are feeling energetic, you could ride your bike along the shoreline.
We also saw several people combing the beach with metal detectors. This is a really good place to find all sorts of buried treasures apparently.
Lowlight - Sellafield Power Station
Well – this is why this part of the Lake District‘s Coast is known as The Energy Coast. If you look right to the end of the beach, you will see Sellafield Power Station looming ahead in the distance. It is a bit of a blot on an otherwise idyllic landscape.
Whitehaven is a short distance from Drigg and a good place to while away the remainder of the day.
The Rum Story
The Rum Story is a large museum in Whitehaven and does a good job of bringing the story of Jefferson’s Rum to life. It is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays but otherwise open from 10 until 4.
The history of rum making is fascinating. You can learn about all aspects of it here. everything from how sugar plantations work, how rum was made, traded and smuggled and the after effects of the demon drink are all skilfully brought to life.
Your entrance fee gives you £5 off a bottle of Jefferson’s Rum – well – it would be rude not to?
Of all the exhibits, the one that made the most impression on me was the famous diagram that the abolitionists used as part of their campaign to end the Slave Trade.
This image – courtesy of The British Library – shows conditions inside the ‘Brookes’ slave ship, which transported enslaved Africans to the Caribbean.
Because many of the slaves would die on the voyage, traders would pack as many people as possible on to their ships. Each person occupied a tiny space just 10 inches in the hold and were often chained or shackled together in pairs, making movement even more difficult.
Thankfully, times have now changed.
Glad I Packed
It is always a challenge carrying an SLR camera on a hike. I treated myself to a Wandrd Camera Bag for this trip and was very glad I did. It is a completely weatherproof bag that has an inflatable lining you can push inside the case to protect your camera. It sits snugly on your hip with a shoulder strap to help keep your camera stable. This way, you can hike with freedom, but also have your camera ready to hand whever you feel inspired to capture the beauty around you. It is also easy and light to pack for big trips. Highly recommended if you are a keen photographer!