Monday, 17 September 2012
While we were at Whitehaven on this second visit, we had a large spring tide. Walking out onto the harbour walls, the outer harbour was effectively an expanse of sand, and mud, with a trickle of water leading from the lock to the sea. The outer lock gates are built level with the inner harbour parapet walls, some 9m above the cill.
This photo doesn't really show how deep the lock really looks, but you can see how small the floating pontoon looks. At high water the level in the lock is a good meter higher than the inner harbour.
The original outer harbour wall dates back to the early 18th century, as evidenced by the date on the sundial ( 1730 ). The walls are made of the local red sandstone, and are heavily erroded in places. The inner harbour walls were added in the 19th century, with several 'tongues' protruding into the harbour being named after the main products landed there ( e.g. sugar tongue & lime tongue ).
The sun came out and highlighted the wave sculpture, and observation platform, this was built for the millenium celebrations, as part of the regeneration of the harbour.
This is 'NJ' in her berth, right next to the exit ramp - very convenient for the facilities !
We had two enjoyable stays in Whitehaven, but the weather is starting to feel quite autumnal, and we have decided to call it a day for this years cruising. With the tides as they are at the moment, we are faced with a fairly tedious passage back to Piel Island with foul tide for most of the day, and then on to Fleetwood to lay up for the winter.
By the time we get back to Fleetwood we will have travelled some 1850NM since setting out from Hartlepool in April, and although it has been a fairly dreadful summer from a weather point of view, it has been a fantastic experience which neither of us would have missed for the world ! We can now look forward to visiting the Irish coast next spring, and then moving up to the West coast of Scotland, and the Hebrides - Happy Days !!
After 5 days in Whitehaven, a weather window opened, and we decided to move across the Solway Firth, and vist Kirkcudbright ( pronounced Ker-Koo-Bry ). The town is about 3 miles upstream from the mouth of the River Dee. Initially, a back transit is provided by the lighthouse and a beacon on the foreshore, this took us to the start of the winding, narrow, and shallow buoyed channel leading to the visitors pontoon on the edge of the town.
At low water, the river banks are revealed as being quite 'steep too'. There is also a very significant current in the river, so attention to spring lines was important.
The town itself was very pleasant, and there seemed to be a lovely light in the area, as witnessed by many art galeries and studios. There is also a significant fishing fleet based here which provided further interest. We took a walk out along the river bank towards the sea, and were rewarded for putting up with frequent showers by this fantastic rainbow arching over the town.
After 3 nights in Kirkcudbright, another weather window allowed us to start moving south again. We had a fantastic sail back over the Solway Firth to Whitehaven. More very windy weather was forecast so we booked into the marina for a further three nights.
Thursday, 13 September 2012
We left Fleetwood at 14-40 on 6th September after a month at home, and sailed over to Piel island for the night. We chose a slightly different spot to anchor but had no problems, and were ready to set off up the coast bound for Whitehaven. We weighed anchor at 09-40 in the morning and had a good sail, mooring in Whitehaven Queens Marina at about 17-00. The town is very pleasant, and the marina friendly and well maintained ( and good free WiFi included ! ). Whitehaven also has the best tidal access in the area at a nominal HW +-4Hrs.
We spent a total of 5 nights in Whitehaven, and had good walks up, and down the coast.
The photo above is the view looking North from the path towards Whitehaven with the southern pier visible, and below is St. Bees Head from the coastal footpath.
The weather wasn't particularly good, but on a walk up the coast to Parton, we got a view of the Galloway coast on the other side of the Solway Firth ( just to the left of the railway signal ).
This is the view from Parton towards Whitehaven, with St. Bees head in the background.
Finally on 12th September, after nearly abandoning due to heavy rain, we set of for Kirkcudbright on the Galloway coast. After a few heavy, and very unpleasant rain showers, the weather steadily improved, and we arrived at the entrance to the River Dee in bright sunshine.