St Bees to Cleator-Sunday 16

Forecast today: rain. All day. All the locals look up and say "looks a perfect day for walking." Okay. If you say so. The second we venture outside, spots of rain start. The wind is blowing hard. A perfect day for walking. We wet our boots in the Irish sea as instructed, and then set of up the cliff path. My brother Chris (who only came to drive the bus) is walking the first day with us.

The walk starts (and finishes) with a two or three mile hike along the cliffs, a truly exhilarating walk in the stiff breeze. The seagulls never flapped a wing. It's great to be able to spend a little time on the coast line: walking directly away from it would be more direct, but surely you would have little memory of the coast, which I think ought to be an important impression on a coast to coast walk.

The rain just got steadily worse. But everyone was in great spirits. Marty and Alexis set a cracking pace and soon disappeared. Chris and Adam followed, then Claudia and I. Last was Wayne, who was birding all the way.

As the rain worsened, we turned inland. Not so interesting--we're not in the lakes until tomorrow, so this is really just a cross-country connection between the headlands and the lakes. As we left the last village, this sign-on-the-back-of-a-real-one was amusing/daunting.

Not a long walk today, but we're all tired, and glad to get out of the rain. We've left the van in a pub car park. I've been looking forward to sharing a few beers with Wayne after each day's walk, but I pray that they are not all going to be like this one. Its 1970's chrome, cut glass and exposed light bulbs were tasteless enough when they were new. And clean. But now the dusty, worn fittings warned us that the service and the beer were likely to disappoint. (It is my long experience that these three things are closely connected.) Their delusions of grandeur extended to being visibly uncomfortable about serving walkers, and wet walkers at that.