Sunday, 25 November 2012

Whitehaven

I should have really checked the distances and times properly before driving up to Whitehaven from Grange-Over-Sands. We should have really stopped off at a couple of places on the journey up. I should have really tried harder to over take the Danish car in front of me which was going terminally slow.  Then again it is hard to find a place on the A595 to overtake with all the twists and turns on the road. I practically punched the air when they finally turned off at St Bees. Then again we should have turned off there too as St Bees is supposed to be a lovely place.  On the plus side of the one and a half hour journey it was a pretty drive.  The A595 harks back to 60s and it's scenery you'd find in an episode of "Heartbeat".  The weather was also good with pretty blue skies.  At Egremont I did find the cheapest petrol in Cumbria,  Although passing by Sellafield was a bit spooky for obvious reasons.

Whitehaven is a harbour town on the Cumbrian coast.  Technically it isn't a part of the Lake District although it's not too far from Ennerdale Water.  Whitehaven has a compact town centre that is part pedestrianised. The buildings reminded me of the old buildings in Dublin close to the River Liffey, with their rendered frontages painted in various colours. If it hadn't been a bright and sunny day I think Whitehaven could have been a bit depressing.  It has a down-at-heel edge despite the obvious regeneration monies being pumped into tarting up the town.

We parked on the edge of the town centre near the Leisure Centre in the pay and display car park. It was a short walk into the centre where we found a mix of local shops from a tattoo parlour to cafes and little gift shops. There was an outdoor market too, but is wasn’t particularly inspiring as it was full of the usual cheap tat.

The charity shops weren't very exciting to be honest with you. Although that day they weren't particularly busy as the elusive summer sun drew people outside to the pubs and BBQs.

Whitehaven is a down-to-earth town with some chav type elements. One man with his chest puffed out was walking a staffy type dog.  The dog was showing its dominance by barking at all the other dogs.  One brave street artist asked whether the chap wanted a portrait of his dog, but the dog owner declined.  For some bizarre reason I had an image in my head of him and the dog looking rather proud from an oil painting over his mantelpiece.  Although in reality the spot above the mantelpiece would be pride of place for the 50 inch plasma telly.

The harbour was lovely and it should be with the amount of regeneration money that had clearly been pumped into the town. There were banners along the harbour front indicating the Olympic torch had been along here. There were plenty of seagulls making a nuisance of themselves. One psychopathic seagull was terrorizing all the other birds.  Another regurgitated its food to share with another seagull and then ate it again. They are so disgusting and this did nothing to quell my seagull phobia.

We did notice a pub called the Vagabond with a painted sign of the cover of Bob Dylan’s "Nashville Skyline" album. I bet this place did some live music, although I did think Whitehaven could be a hairy night out at times.

If it weren't for the sunshine I don’t think this would have been such a nice place to visit. Definitely take in a few towns on the way there to break up the monotony of the journey. I'm still kicking myself we didn't visit St Bees, which is the beginning of the coast-to-coast walk.  My friend spent her honeymoon walking the coast-to-coast raising lots of money for Christie's Hospital and the Bolton's Women's Refuge in Bolton.  Her fine, if not barking mad, efforts were justifiably splashed over the local press, although she did draw the line at Granada Reports filming her wedding.

It's worth visiting Whitehaven, but make sure you visit a few other towns to break up the journey, although Sellafield doesn't quite float my boat.