Skip the Lakes and see the Cumbrian coast – without a car

Of the millions who visit the Lake District every year, very few check out its dramatic coastline, so our writer has its beaches and wild dunes almost to herself

The air smells of seaweed and woodsmoke as I step on to the platform at Ravenglass. The salt marsh nearby has galaxies of pale pink thrift flowers, the River Esk glitters in the evening light, and a waterside path heads off towards distant fells. As a fan of walking, Wordsworth and sticky toffee pudding, I’ve had many memorable holidays in the Lake District over the decades. But, like most of the other 16 million visitors a year, I’ve rarely visited the Cumbrian coast.

I’d arrived in Lancaster 150 minutes after leaving London – less than half what it would take me to drive – and switched to the railway that meanders past Barrow-in-Furness and through the national park. The kaleidoscope of landscape and changeable weather outside was engrossing: green crags rose out of foggy marshland, ribbed sand shone gold and Black Combe loomed through storm clouds over Silecroft. There were manmade landmarks too, such as the lighthouse-shaped monument above Ulverston or the red sandstone walls of Furness Abbey.

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