Things to do nearby Whistling Jack's
The pretty seaside village of St. Bees in the most westerly part of Cumbria has a delightful beach with breathtaking views toward the Isle of Man and. The iconic red cliffs of St. Bees Head form the only heritage coastline between Wales and Scotland that features an RSBP bird reserve. St. Bees is the start of Wainwright’s famous Coast to Coast walk (and cycle route) so you can expect to see many eager walkers and cyclists dipping their boots and back wheels in the sea as they set off over the cliffs.
The mile-long sandy beach at St. Bees is one of the most popular family destinations along the western coast. It is popular with water sports enthusiasts with opportunities to kayak (bring your own boat!). Alternatively, rock climbing and bouldering are possible to the north of the beach, or you can simply enjoy the cliff walk from St. Bees to Whitehaven.
St. Bees has a wonderful golf course offering a challenging round overlooking the beautiful beach and the sea. It is also a popular area for paragliders and hang gliders due to the board flat plateaus and cliff slopes. You will see them launch themselves into the air and fly across the coast!
The wide expanses and easy access to St. Bees Beach have resulted in it becoming increasingly popular with kite buggy enthusiasts and kite surfers. Those that prefer to just fly kites rather than use them as a means of transport will find that there are a number of excellent sites on the coast, free of overhead cables and with sea breezes virtually guaranteed.
The village is packed full of interesting history. St. Bega is said to have fled across the Irish Sea to St. Bees when she was promised in marriage to a Viking prince. A local legend tells how Bega asked the Lord of Egremont for some land and he, laughing, told her that she could have as much as the snow covered the next day. Miraculously, despite it being midsummer, snow is said to have fallen on the land around what is now St. Bees Priory.
Though founded in around 1120, the priory was built on an existing religious site. Across the road is St. Bees School, founded in 1583 by Edmund Grindal, previously Archbishop of Canterbury. The village itself has produced evidence of Mesolithic and Bronze Age Habitation and a range of buildings from different eras can still be seen up the main street. Look out for Nursery Cottage, dating from the 17th century, and its curious “witch’s seat”.
Hadrian’s Cycle Way passes through St. Bees from Ravenglass on it’s way to South Shields. The route is 174 miles long and sign posted throughout. You can cycle much of the route whilst using St. Bees as a base.
Following the coast north along the C2C route will bring you past Fleswick Bay, known only to a few locals until the growing popularity of Wainwright’s route, and St. Bees lighthouse. Continue on to Whitehaven, a traditional Georgian town that houses a pretty marina. The Beacon is an excellent museum where you can learn about the local history of the area and get a fabulous view out to sea. Alternatively, head to the Rum Story to learn about the darker, piratical side of Whitehaven’s past! The Rum Story also has a café, and the town itself has plenty of eateries, bars, and shops, including a several supermarkets where you can pick up all your essentials.
The old industrial town of Workington is now the shopping hub of West Cumbria. With a pedestrianised high street, a variety of shops, a multi-screen cinema, two museums, two theatres, and even a trampoline park, there’s plenty to keep you busy. At Hall Park you will find the ruined and Curwen Hall, burned down in the war but nonetheless an important feature in the town. You can walk through the leafy park and down to the river where you might see salmon jumping or herons nesting in the trees. Look out for the remains of Cuckoo Arch en-route: the ghost of a World War 2 soldier is said to wait there for his fiancé!
Just to the south of St. Bees at Egremont, Florence Mine was the last working iron ore mine in Europe until it closed in 2008. What used to be the shower block is now the Florence Mine Centre for Arts. It houses an art gallery, exhibition space and workshops areas. There is also a multifunctional studio where you may be able to catch a film, come to an open mike night, attend a sports class, or watch shows and plays. Egremont also has its own ruined castle.
The nearest lake to St. Bees is Ennerdale. The Ennerdale Valley is one of the Lake District's wildest and most tranquil, its remote location a perfect place to escape to. The lake has the distinction of being the only lake in the Lake District without a tarmac road running alongside it, just adding to the peace and quiet. Walking is the big draw here with Pillar, Steeple, High Stile, Great Borne and Red Pike offering rewarding days out on the fells. The lake itself is a fairly easy circular walk, although the path is narrow in parts and some minor scrambling is involved! You will be rewarded with a silence broken only by the birds and the wind through the trees.
The Wasdale Valley is similarly remote and boasts some favourite walks, including onto the Scafell Range and up Great Gable. The valley boasts England’s deepest lake, tallest mountain, smallest church and the “biggest liar” competition.
Muncaster Castle is a fabulous day out. The castle sits in an envious position overlooking the valley, with spectacular views of the surrounding fells. There are regular events throughout the year including the world-famous Festival of Fools. They also have a renowned Hawk & Owl Centre and regular bird of play displays. There are extensive grounds and the displays of bluebells and rhododendrons, when in season, are just breathtaking. There is also a meadow vole maze, a lovely Georgian terrace, and the castle itself. With all this and more to explore, you may find you need more than one day to visit!
Ravenglass is the only coastal village within the Lake District National Park. It as an old fishing village and Roman port with signs of its Roman heritage, including a bath house, still visible in the area. The famous Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway route starts here, winding its way into the hear of Eskdale. The La’al Ratty, as it is locally known, is a narrow-gauge steam engine that takes in stunning scenery on its pleasant seven-mile journey. At the other end of the route, don’t miss a walk to Stanley Ghyll Waterfall from St Catherine’s Church and an amble through the Japanese Gardens at Giggle Alley! There are also several pubs in the area for tasty food and a pint.