Bye, Bye Scotland

Day 71 –Balcarry Bay to Stubb Place– 30th July – 37 nm

It is a muted start to the day; Team Fatboy had a fitful night of sleep in the van overnight. Team Manager spent much of the night listening to the wind apparently, while yours truly was more concerned with the shenanigans of our psycho lorry driver.

But, the sun is out and Balcarry Bay makes for a pretty setting, all the more so because the tide is in and the gloopy mud is nicely covered.

The forecast is for light winds but a rather unruly W-NW is blowing out of the bay. Hmmm... a difference of opinion there it seems.

For once Team Manager is showing a little frustration -When is the wind going to end? When will we get a break? Fatboy is a little more sanguine for a change; it’s just another pissy paddling day, nothing special. Let’s go see what happens.

Out of the bay and point towards England. There were a few whitecaps forming inside the bay, it’s so different to the forecast that it’s just not possible to have any real confidence in a plan. It’s a sort of suck it and see, options day, with the added twist of a crossing too. There aren't really that many options for the first leg though – carry on or come back, that’s it really.

Once committed to the 13 nm crossing, Workington will be the first aim point, followed closely by Whitehaven – like peas in a pod...

After Whitehaven it’s all cliffs around St Bees Head, but then there will be a sandy coastline for the remainder of the day.

Meanwhile Team Manager has accepted a challenge to a race to the other side, with a brief detour to purchase our still-missing Cumbria/Lancashire maps along the way.

An hour and 5 nm out it’s a bit breezy, the earlier W wind was influenced by the high ground behind the bay. Out here it’s more from the NW. But the following sea is manageable and the Taran just wants to crack on. I guess I have to follow that lead.

It’s a clear day, the Robin Rigg wind farm lies just ahead, with the Cumbria Fells stretching into the distance behind. It’s a pleasant view.

The swooshing turbines soon fall behind and I throw the North Workington cardinal buoy into the plan for a bit of nav practice – it’s hard to miss it in the sunshine anyway. The conditions lift and fall as I make my way across, the channels and banks having opposing effects.

As I reach the buoy I turn S now towards Option 2 - Whitehaven. As I'm passing the buoy I get a quick call from Team manager. It’s a hurried conversation on my part but I hear enough to gather that she’s still in Carlisle – score one to the Fatboy, but then I didn't have to stop to buy maps - we don't do excuses...

Down near Whitehaven I decide to press on to St Bees, knowing in my heart of hearts that Whitehaven is the sensible option. But the miles just seem all too short there.

Of course the cliffs at St Bees Head make for large, lumpy and confused water, brief but demanding - oh why don’t you ever listen, Muppet?

But eventually we get around the corner and the Taran is threaded through the surf to land on the welcome sand at St Bees. The sun has brought the crowds out, the beach is busy. As I tidy the boat and unfold my trolley, I spend a time watching a double SOT in the far edge of the break trying to make headway against the wind. They don’t inspire confidence. I tune my psychic powers and urge them to turn in towards the beach and walk home. They don’t listen.

I find a quiet spot in the far corner of the car park and await International Rescue, while I sit in the breezy sunshine. I shake my head in amazement at a sudden group of boy racers roaring across the busy, child-laden, ice cream van containing car-park. It takes a while for it to dawn, but eventually I realise they are the Lifeboat crew responding to a shout. I ponder for a while on the dead kids v rescued seafarers equation.

Team Manager arrives to distract me and we sit around for a few hours as I wait for the tide. I have a chat with the owner of a new Tarantella and we discuss boats and things until I have to get on again, the pretty scenery of Sellafield awaits, tantalisingly down the coast.

I move out beyond the break and parallel the beach, the wind increases as I head S, but the sandy coastline makes for a straightforward paddle, as far as the Eskdale range at least. But I’m close enough in to see that there are no flags flying, and decide to land as soon as I can on the far edge of the range – at Stubb Place.

There’s not much to Stubb Place, just a couple of houses, a don’t-enjoy-yourself-here sign from the chaps with guns, a bit of shingle beach and plenty of cold wind.

So we soon get sorted and head up the road to a very pleasant farmyard campsite. It’s basic, but peaceful and friendly. We have a rushed boil-in-the-bag meal and as the wind finally drops we take a time-out to watch the bats hunting beneath the moon. Not a bad way to end the day, all too soon it’s time to head for the land of Nod.

Welcome to England by the way.