Sunday, 2 March 2014

Maryport, Cumbria

We hit the road from Workington to Maryport and took the coast road (A596).  It’s a rather bleak industrial route as we passed lots of large factories.  The view of the sea was obscured in part by the railway which hugged the coast side and it was a very grey and drizzly day.

We followed the signs for the car park, which was conveniently behind the main street in Maryport.  It was a pay and display car park but seemed reasonably cheap.  A dog was watching us intently from a nearby car and a local cat managed to evade our clutches as it passed through the car park. 
There was a little alleyway that took us through to the main shopping street.  Our main priority was to look through the charity shops first as it was getting late in the afternoon.  I noticed most charity shops closed at 3.30pm and we literally had 15 minutes to do them all, which we managed by the skin of our teeth as there was nothing much to see. 
After our mad charity shop dash, we explored the other shops.  We found a little bakery and bought ourselves a couple of cakes – a choux bun and a slice of carrot cake.  They filled a gap but weren’t the most exciting cakes we’ve ever had.
We noticed there were lots of ladies standing in the shop doorways watching the world go by, whilst having a cigarette.  Some were chatting with passers-by or with each other.  In my mind this scene seemed to echo another age, where folks were friendlier and the internet was a figment of someone’s imagination.
Maryport architecturally is your typical British seaside place with small, old buildings covered in colourful render to protect them from the elements..  There were lots of pubs and some hotels in the town.  I can imagine spending a cosy evening down the pub having a pint or two here.  I’m sure during the summer they have some tourists, although it’s definitely off the beaten path for Cumbria and about an hour’s drive to the M6. 
We did find the Carlton Market Hall which was a sweet vintage inspired café with arty market stalls.  The guy on the café was enthusiastic and we just had a wander round checking out the local art and gifts.  It was definitely a nice place to rest your weary feet and have a cup of tea.  Although doing a little post-visit research for this entry, I’m not entirely sure it will be open in 2014 as it’s up for sale.

Despite the drizzly weather we wandered down to the marina.  It was deserted.  The tide was out from the marina and the seagulls were on the sand trying to find some food.  It was one of those watercolour days were you could just barely make out the Scottish coast across the Solway Firth.  We noticed as we walked along the promenade there were paving bricks with words carved on.  Clearly the marina had had some form of regeneration in recent years and the Council decided to get the locals involved in a community art project.  The paving bricks had become weathered over the years and moss was collecting in the carved words making some words hard to read, however it somehow added to the charm. 
Across the marina was the Wave Centre, which is a local tourist attraction with a theatre, bistro and climbing facility.  However we didn’t get that far as the poor weather drove us back into the town. 
The shops were already closing up for the day and the kids were making their way back from school.  There wasn’t much else to see in Maryport especially as the weather wasn’t up to much and we had a two hour journey in front of us to get back to Cartmel. 

On the day we went, Maryport was a very sleepy town, although it was much nicer than Workington to visit.  I sincerely hope this place is busier in the summer when the weather is better and there are more tourists about.  However I’ve got a sneaking suspicion this place is struggling to keep afloat as there were plenty of empty shops, which is a worry for the town’s economy.  Maryport is definitely worth a visit especially if you want a place to get away from modern life for a few days and despite the bad weather I also found it was still a good place to take photos.