• Start: St Bees Station
  • Finish: Whitehaven Station
  • Distance: 6 miles/10 kilometres. Allow 4 hours.
  • Grade: On footpaths through fields and along cliffs. Steep in places with a couple of sections that are slippery in wet weather - especially on the section Saltom Bay to Whitehaven where erosion occurs frequently
  • Places to Visit: The Beacon, Whitehaven, telephone - 01946 592302. Whitehaven Tourist Information Centre - 01946 695678.

The Cumbria Coastal Way is a long distance footpath stretching form Carlisle to Milnthorpe, a total distance of 169 miles. However you don?t have to walk it all at once! Many shorter walks can be enjoyed, this one from St Bees to Whitehaven being particularly interesting, with spectacular cliffs, diverse birdlife, industrial heritage and even a smugglers bay. From St Bees station follow the road to the beach then turn along the coast towards St Bees Head. As you climb up the cliff wonderful views will unfold. On a clear day the Isle of Man is visible to the west and the fells of the Lake District to the east. You will also see a mass of seabirds flying below you. St Bees Head is a Nature Reserve owned by the RSPB and the red sandstone cliffs are important nesting sites for many birds. Continue along the cliff top path as it takes you down into Fleswick Bay. According to local stories smugglers used to use this secluded bay under cover of darkness to bring their contraband ashore. (For a shorter walk turn back here, 3 miles return). To continue the walk go along the cliff path and past the lighthouse. The path is well way-marked so just follow the yellow arrows and the Cumbria Coastal Way signs. There are several viewing platforms along here from which you can get excellent views of the birds, provided you have a good head for heights. Skirt round Birkhams Quarry, a small scale quarry for high quality blocks of St Bees sandstone, then cross the track and walk below the cliffs of Lingydale Quarry. You can see the remains of the Barrowmouth Alabaster Mine below, and a little further on, you can walk down the old incline for a closer look at this and the Barrowmouth Unconformity, where the rock of St Bees sandstone meets the coal measures. Go back up onto the clifftop path and follow the way-marked posts above the old spoil tip and down to the good path that takes you towards the old winding gear of Haig Pit. You are now in coal mining country where mines once worked the very rich coal seams, the best of which, the ?Main Band seam? was up to 14 feet thick. The mines followed the coal seams out under the sea up to a distance of 5 miles. Follow the signs down to Saltom Pit, dating from 1729 this was the world?s first undersea mineshaft. From Saltom Pit walk back up to the path and walk to the candle stick chimney, part of the mine ventilation system. The original lamp house for Wellington Pit has been restored and is now used by H.M Coastguard. Follow the tarmac path as it winds its way down to the harbour. Dating from 1634 the harbour is a conservation area. The Beacon, on the harbourside tells the story of this fascinating town.