Whether you’re a toe-dipper, a flask-and-sandwich bringer, a dog-walker or a lone runner, Cumbria has some wild and rugged beaches, with great views often peace and quiet and fresh air.
Silecroft is a sand and shingle beach, with the majestic Black Combe Fell in the distance. On clear days you might see the Isle of Man from the coast here, and there are some spectacular summer sunsets. Alongside the beach is a site of special scientific interest (SSSI) nature reserve, where natterjack toads make their habitat and spawn and ‘sing’ in the springtime. Local and migratory birds – swallows, oystercatchers and gannets can be spotted.
The village of Ravenglass, within the Lake District, lies on a coastal estuary where 3 rivers meet before joining the Irish sea. The beach here is a mixture of mud, shingle and sand, backed by a small grassy area. Old fisherman’s cottages form a pretty backdrop. From the beach, you can see the fells of Eskdale and Wasdale with lots of walks from the coast and a lovely circular walk taking in the Roman Bath House. Not far away is Muncaster Castle, home to the Pennington family since 1208, with its gardens and Hawk & Owl centre. Nearby is the La’al Ratty steam railway- one of the oldest and longest narrowgauge railways in the country, running for 7 miles through gorgeous scenery to beautiful Eskdale.
Near Barrow is an 11-mile long island in the Irish Sea, at the tip of the Furness peninsula. You get to it by the Jubilee bridge (toll free). This lovely spot has plenty of sandy beaches at the northern end of the island and a naturist beach north of Earnsie Point. It’s also home to 2 Cumbria Wildlife Trust nature reserves. Here you’ll find a colony of grey seals, and lots of migratory birds enjoying a stop-off point on their flight. You’ll also see the pale pink Walney Geranium – a plant unique to the island!
An idyllic setting next to the village of Arnside, the area is in an area of outstanding natural beauty with stunning views. Head to the lovely Victorian promenade, which leads to a coastal path that is popular for dog walkers. Stop at the Arnside ‘award-winning’ chippy for a delicious meal or snack, try one of the great pubs, and have a browse in the art galleries, and other quirky boutiques. The sunsets here are amazing, with views over Morecambe Bay and the Lakeland fells behind. Being on the Kent estuary and in Morecambe Bay itself, beware of fast, dangerous tides and only venture out on the sands with a guide or on an organised walk. Not suitable for swimming.
The most westerly point of the county and the start of the coast to coast cycle route or walk, St Bees is home to a mile-long sand and pebble beach also known as Seacote Beach. At the north end is a promenade extending toward the red sandstone cliffs and backed by St Bees Golf Club. Home to our native seabirds such as guillemots, kittiwakes, fulmars and razorbills, you may spot peregrines and ravens soaring ahead over the sandstone cliffs. It’s also dog-friendly all year round, and great for rockpooling and exploring.
Also known as Roan Head locally, is owned by the National Trust, and is an exposed area of huge sandflats and dunes, with fabulous views into the Lake District fells in the distance. It’s not good for swimming as has strong currents but is an important nature reserve home to rare plants and insects and around 15% of the UK’s natterjack toad population. So, if you don’t like amphibians, steer clear!