Follow A 5000 Mile Walk

46. Brighouse Bay to Gatehouse of Fleet

From the beautiful Brighouse Bay, I make my way west and north, passing the weird and wonderful creations of a James Brown (not that one), and three old ladies attacking a tree. Then up the Water of Fleet, along the old canal, past an old palace, and into the little town of Gatehouse of Fleet.

45. Nun Mill Bay to Brighouse Bay

Wandering down the west coast of Kirkcudbright Bay, I investigate a wrecked schooner, get soaking wet trousers and feet in the woods, and round the Ross peninsula.

On the way I pass the tranquil Little Ross island… where a lighthouse keeper was murdered by his colleague.

42. Rascarrel to Dundrennan

Climbing out of Rascarrel, I battle through oceans of bracken, nettles, hogweed, gorse, streams and bogs, and every other barrier that nature could possibly think of. Past a beautiful garden, I find a cemetery with a most poignant story. Finally, the abbey where Mary Queen of Scots spent her last day in Scotland.

41. Balcary Bay to Rascarrel

On a fantastic sunny autumn day, I climb the cliffs out of Balcary Bay with fantastic views out over the bay and the Solway Firth. I meet Lot’s wife, who’s not looking so good in her old age, and recount a nasty battle between hutters and developers at Rascarrel.

40. Palnackie to Balcary Bay

After a bumpy bike ride to the start, I circumnavigate the two peninsulas protruding into Auchencairn Bay: Girvellan and Torr. I find remote beaches covered in cockle shells, and the red sand of Red Haven beach. Then I walk along collapsing boardwalks into the village of Auchencairn.

Finally, a long slow meander down the Shore Road takes me to Balcary Bay.

39. Dalbeattie to Palnackie

Starting from Dalbeattie, where most everything is grey except (unusually) the sky, I walk down the western side of the Urr estuary, to Palnackie, where I’m devastated to miss the World Flounder Tramping Championships… wouldn’t you be?

Then a long walk down to a beautiful remote beach, and the castle you couldn’t have bought for £5.

38. Sandyhills to Dalbeattie

From the lovely beach at Sandyhills, I pass through the eye of a needle (it was easy, perhaps I’m a camel?… definitely not rich anyway) and up onto the cliffs. Then I fail to find a bogle in a hole, but do find Nelson’s grave.

Finally the long walk up the Urr estuary through seaside villages and woods, and then an attack by a swarm of wasps. Lovely.

37. Caulkerbush to Sandyhills

Due to me taking the lazy option yesterday, I left a little gap, so this is a very short walk along the A710 from The Village With Two Names down to the lovely beach at Sandyhills to plug the gap.

The upside is I get to spend an hour soaking up the sun on the beach!

36. Drumburn to Caulkerbush

From the middle of nowhere on the A710, I struggle with a tongue-twister while heading to the beach at Carsethorn.

Then a long beach walk past a huge house on the beach, tunnels through rocks, and the first lighthouse since Lancashire… the ugliest lighthouse ever.

35. Dumfries to Drumburn

From Dumfries heading south down the River Nith, often along the boring A710, but occasionally through pleasant woods and riverside paths.

I pass the house of another Maxwell who lost almost everything, and an abbey built by a grieving widow for her sweetheart (well she didn’t build it, she was very rich so got other people to build it for her).

34. Bankend to Dumfries

The sun finally comes out in Scotland! Starting at the derelict home of the derelict Maxwell family, I skirt the Caerlaverock peninsula and trek up the eastern edge of the River Nith. That involves negotiating a precarious bridge, admiring a snogging shelter, and enjoying a pint at The Swan. Finally a pleasant walk past a bridge dedicated to someone who didn’t invent something, and into the county town of Dumfries.

33. Powfoot to Bankend

A walk of mostly lanes, B-roads, and drizzle. One of the most exciting parts was a Museum of Banking. Which was closed.

There were a couple of nice bits though. Powfoot itself, and a section next to Lochar Water.

32. Dornock via Annan to Powfoot

First I make my way to my little mud-island – the point that I first set foot in Scotland, then walk along a beautiful beach strewn with building debris. Up the old Solway Viaduct embankment into Annan, where I’m delighted to partake in the local love of bakeries. Then down the western bank of the River Annan, through the industrial village of Newbie, and along the coast to the pretty village of Powfoot.

31. Bowness-on-Solway to Dornock

There are two ways to walk from Bowness in England to Dornock in Scotland… the long (dry) way and the short (wet) way.

I chose the short way.

30. Newton Arlosh via Bowness to Glasson

Circumnavigating the Bowness peninsular. I pass the huge antennas at Anthorn Radio Station in a state of awe and fascination that only a nerdy electronics engineer can conjure up.

Then I explore the remains of the Solway Viaduct – a Victorian railway bridge that linked Scotland to England and allowed thirsty Scots to fill up on otherwise dry Sundays. Then pass through the pretty village of Bowness on Solway (not -on-Windermere) and the remains of the docks at Port Carlisle.

29. Silloth to Newton Arlosh

In which I avoid skin-burn in Skinburness, and even worse down Dicktrod Lane, walk to the pointy bit of Grune Point, then trudge the lanes past various salt marshes. I visit the abbey that Robert the Bruce and some local teenager trashed, accidentally trespass across some fields, and end at a fortified church protected by an eagle.

28. Maryport to Silloth

I negotiate a 13 mile beach that just goes on and on and on and on….., take a few mudbaths, and eventually arrive in the lovely town of Silloth.

27. Harrington via Workington to Maryport

Starting from Harrington, and trespassing through the site of the old Moss Bay Hematite Iron Company and an old quarry, I then stumble upon Christmas-tree-land – whoever thought that would be here! Through Workington where I visit the memorial to PC Bill Barker who heroically stood on the bridge during the 2009 floods as it was washed away. Then along a shingle beach to Maryport and its nice little harbour.

26. St Bees via Whitehaven to Harrington

From the pretty village of St Bees, I climb over the beautiful St Bees Head, with great views of Dumfries & Galloway and the Isle of Man. I walk through the nice town of Whitehaven, then get bored to sleep by a guy on top of a hill, before dipping down into the village of Harrington, where I encounter a man being eaten by a fish.

25. Seascale to St Bees

My first walk in a long time, on which I pass the site of the worst nuclear accident in British history, encounter a strange beach-shanty-town, and learn about the made-up history of St Bega.

24. Ravenglass to Seascale

In which I invite someone along for a short stroll, and things don’t quite turn out as I’d planned.

23. Bootle to Ravenglass

I finally fill in the gap in my walk between Bootle and Ravenglass. I get through the Eskmeals Firing Range without anyone shooting at me, discover the best beach in Cumbria (which isn’t saying too much), and end up fording the River Esk to get to Ravenglass.

22. Millom to Bootle

In which I encounter two lighthouses, battle my way across boulder fields, contemplate cliff climbing, and nearly fall in a river.

21. Kirkby-in-Furness to Millom

In which I suffer greatly from yesterday’s 15 miles, cross that bloody railway line god knows how many times (although it selfishly doesn’t let me cross any rivers), and pick a fight with a sheep.

20. Barrow-in-Furness to Kirkby-in-Furness

In which I get to like the town of Barrow a little more, consider risking drowning for a short cut, get caught by the fuzz, take a big tumble and hurt myself, then get sunburnt crossing a desert.

19. Ulverston to Barrow-in-Furness

My longest walk so far on this adventure, in which I discover a contender for Britain’s Shittiest Island award, and encounter a strange cloaked figure.

18. Cark to Ulverston

This is a walk I’ve put off for three weeks due to my dislike of cycling. It takes me up and down a mountain, around the Leven estuary, dodging cars and lorries on the A590, and all the time I think I could have waded across the river instead.

17. Grange Over Sands to Cark

I consider risking the marshes around the hilariously named Humphrey Head (OK, not that hilarious), trudge a few more lanes (more happily this time), completely fail to spot a peregrine, then skirt the “Low Marsh” as the fading shafts of sunlight glimmer off the water.

16. Sandside to Grange-Over-Sands

OK, this walk doesn’t strictly start from Sandside. Sandside is south of the River Kent, and this walk starts from the opposite bank of the river, on the north side. That’s because on the last stage I waded across the river to the start point of this walk, and so I can start from there. Confusing? Well, yeah, have a read to find out why.

15. Silverdale via Arnside to Sandside

On the hottest day of the year, I set off in jeans and a women’s hat – seemed like a good idea in the morning. I meet a friend, and decide to wade across the river, because it’s just such a long boring walk otherwise.

14. Hest Bank to Silverdale

I swap direction for one section, and battle a 50mph headwind southwards, passing through scenic clifftops, old copper mines, and salt marshes, and then trespass the territory of the local ovine biker gang.

13. Heysham via Morecambe to Hest Bank

It’s been 71 days since I last walked a section of my coastal adventure. In that time the world has become a very different place. Back then people went to pubs and chatted to each other. We went dancing, ate in restaurants. We kissed and hugged each other. When we needed groceries we just walked into a shop and bought them. In the mornings we went to work, and came home again in the evening. Then we stopped.

12½. Coronavirus

I was checking the weather forecast all week – this weekend was going to be the best weather since last summer. Come Thursday I was about to book a day off on Friday so I could do three walks this weekend. Fantastic! At 1:30am on Friday morning I was awoken by the sound of coughing.

12. Overton to Heysham

A really varied and enjoyable section this one – tidal roads, marshes, villages, shingle beaches, caravan parks, nuclear power stations, ports, clifftops, ancient monuments, and promenades. Really enjoyed this one, apart from going down a loooong dead end!

11. Glasson Dock via Lancaster to Overton

I catch three buses and take an hour and a half to travel 1.25 miles, encounter a pair of other long distance walkers, and get dispirited.

10. Fleetwood to Glasson Dock

I manage to squeeze a walk in between Storm Jorge’s anger fits, get accosted by a farmer, bullshit my way out of it, consider swimming across a flood, and see an animal I’ve never seen before.

9. Blackpool to Fleetwood

I traverse the longest promenade in Britain, surely it must be? This section of the walk should have chalked off three piers and a ferry, but I was to be disappointed!

8. Warton via Lytham & St Anne’s to Blackpool

This was my first proper day-night walk. The first half on banks and paths, the second half along the beach. I planned to come into Blackpool after sunset – after all, Blackpool is so much nicer in the dark!

7. Preston to Warton

This walk starts off lovely, quickly turns depressing, then briefly becomes lovely again before sinking in the mud and becoming totally disheartening! Oh well, I didn’t expect too much different, to be honest.

6. Tarleton to Preston

This was a really pleasant walk – first up the eastern bank of the River Douglas, then the south bank of the Ribble, and all the way into Preston.

5. Banks to Tarleton

This day started badly, picked up nicely, then spectacularly deteriorated at the end.

4. Southport to Banks

On a cold, very windy day, at the beginning of February, I make the relatively short journey from Southport Pier to the strangely named village of Banks, and learn a little more about birds.

3. Formby to Southport

A long walk along an even longer beach. I get bored even though I’m in the most spectacular landscape, then end up feeling guilty about it!

2. Crosby to Formby

My second ever coastal walk is lovely, mixing dunes, countryside, and beaches. It can’t get much better than this!

1. Liverpool to Crosby

On the very first stage of my round-Britain coastal walk, I get a bit emotional at the start, bored in the middle, and exhilarated at the end. Here we go, woohoo!