Monday, 27 August 2012

A Walk on the Wild Side ....

In my last post, I showed you Piel Island from a distance, so when my little sis suggested we go on a guided walk last Saturday, I jumped at the chance! I had walked to Piel over the sands as a child, when I used to go cockling with my Dad, but that was many moons ago.

The day was a bit grey, with dark clouds overhead, but the guide, Walney local John Murphy, (last year's mayor of Barrow), told us it was perfect conditions for a walk over the sands ...

We made our way onto the sand, but first had to get through some grey, slimy mud ... John said there was always at least one person who fell in the mud ... no, not me ... Helen, my little sis! She leapt up like a startled gizelle got up rather quickly, before I had the chance to photograph her! Here you can see her muddy jeans ... nasty sister Claire! I dug out my ancient crocs, because didn't fancy sweltering all day in wellies and could take them off when it got slippery ...

It's about half a mile across the sands to the island, and it is advisable to go on a guided tour, as you would be taking your life into your hands going it alone, having to deal with dangerous riptides and treacherous quicksand ..

 we followed the tracks of landrovers for the most part ... these are from islanders and campers to the island ...

John gave us a running commentary all the way over, on vegetation growing on this bleak, north-westerly coast ... samphire, beloved by posh restarateurs, growing in abundance ...

tidemarks ...

and the island gets closer with each step ...

Believe it or not, this is one of several cars that didn't make it to the other side and got swallowed up in sinking sand!

Nearly there!

And a look back at the way we've come ... Walney Island in the distance ...

Now we're on the island, and this is the row of cottages, two of which are inhabited all year round ...

 And the view towards Roa Island, where me an Millie visited the lifeboat house last week ...

 and the rear view of the cottages.  These were built for the pilots who guided boats and ships onto the island ...

And Piel Castle, still maintaining a feeling of majesty and strength, despite falling into ruin ...

and the beach surrounding the island ...

Seaweed and driftwood ...

Multi-coloured pebbles, rocks and shells ...

Teasels, growing wild ... so called because they were used in the cotton industry, to 'tease' the knots from the cotton ...

A rare Yellow Horned Poppy, which can only grow on 'vegative shingle', or shingle which sustains growth of  plantlife ...

Sea kale or sea cabbage, immensely nutritious and delicious ...

Mussel shingle ...

And back to the castle.  I'm not going to tell you the history of Piel Castle because I can't be bothered  wikipedia does it so much better than I ever could!

What tales of derring-do ...

piracy ...

shipwreck ...

smuggling ...

murder, treachery and skullduggery ...

could these ancient walls tell?

The outer moat above, now overgrown with grass and brambles ...

 How the castle once looked ...

Another amazing view through an archway ...

And the castle ramparts, sadly now unaccessible to the public, though I distinctly remember climbing these as a child with my brother and cousin, oblivious to the shouts of our mothers, sitting on their picnic blanket far below! ...

Parts of the castle, fallen into the sea ...

Happy campers!

And the welcome sight of the pub, The Ship Inn, rest for weary travellers ...

Island wildlife ...

Nice day for ducks!

Could this trapdoor once have been a smuggler's secret?

And the 'throne' ... each year a knight is appointed by the King of Piel Island.  He sits on the throne, but in doing so, must be prepared to buy everyone present a drink!

The arrival of the ferry, linking Piel with Roa Island ...

and Helen sitting in the rain looking very wet (can't believe she ironed her jeans and straightened her hair before our trek!) ...

The journey back to civilisation ... by now it was absolutely throwing it down, but somehow this didn't spoil anything ...

Feet sinking in quicksand, so just threw caution to the wind and went barefoot in the rain! Very liberating ...

and back to dry land, absolutely drenched but exhilarated after having a great day out, communing with nature and learning lots about local history and heritage ...

Hope you're all enjoying August Bank Holiday ... it's abolutely freezing and tipping it down here ... typical August Bank Holiday weather! It's Millie's birthday today, the weather was lovely when she was born, but my eldest Oliver, was born on August Bank Holiday Monday 26 years ago and Hurricane Charlie made his presence known that day!

Whatever the weather, have fun!

Love Claire xxx


  1. Hi Mrs Thriftwood!
    Do you know that I have never been to Piel Claire, even though we live in the same town!! haha..
    Enjoyed your trip, very much and just wanted to say " Happy birthday " Millie, Do what makes your heart smile today.....
    I am having a Pyjama's day today!!
    LoVe Maria x

    1. Maria!!! Can't believe you haven't ever been! It can be arranged ...


  2. That's a walk I wouldn't fancy without a guide! Bet you were ready for tea & cake after that.

    1. Tea, bag of crisps and a Marathon (sorry Snickers, I'm still stuck in the 70's!). Thanks for dropping in!


  3. Thank you for taking us on this breathtaking walk Claire. Truly stunning pictures, I can smell the sea air from here :)
    Victoria xx

    1. Hi Victoria, glad you liked it! Have a lovely week xxx

  4. What a wonderful day out you had with your sister, it must have bought back some memories. I would have been the one falling in the mud too! The plants are similar to those growing down by the seashore here. I didn't know the story behind the teasel.
    Have a good week.
    Sarah x

    1. Hello Sarah, thanks for your lovely comments, and you have a lovely week too xxx

  5. Thanks for taking us with you on a wonderfully interesting trip to the island :-) I really enjoyed it - your pics and prose made me feel like I was right there too!
    Sounds like a fab day out. Enjoy the rest of your week too,

    1. Hello Gilly, really glad you enjoyed it ... you have a lovely week too!


  6. How fascinating, thank you for sharing your walk to Piel, It must be a desolate but very special place to live.
    People pay to sink their feet in that sea clay!
    Thank you for your sweet comments on my blog.
    Thea x

    1. Hello Thea, thanks for popping in ... you're always very welcome! xx

  7. Actually, I think the weather added to the atmosphere of the island! I would have definitely been the perso in the mud, I'm so clumsy! Ada :)

    1. Was very surprised that I managed to stay standing, Ada! xx

  8. What a brilliant place to visit.


    1. Definitely ... you must if ever you're in the Furness area! xx

  9. It looks like such an atmospheric place and really interesting. The ideal set for a movie I think, Pirates of Piel Island!

    1. That's definitely a good idea! Thanks for dropping in ... always welcome! xxx

  10. Oh boy what a lovely area....I love the fact that the weather was overcast..this is usually when we get the best photos. Hugs to you and thank you soooo much for your sweet comment.

  11. What a great post, thanks for sharing your photos from this trip, it sounds fascinating, so full of atmosphere and history. That mud! And that car that got swallowed in the mud! It must be lonely to live on the island year-round. Do they have broadband???

  12. Hi Gillian .. it's an amazing place ... don't know about broadband! In the 70's my friends Aunty had a cottage and it didn't have running water or electricity! They probably have generators now, I know the pub has everything, but I think that the people who have the cottages just want to get back to basics and get away from it all! xx

  13. Birthday blessings to Milly!
    What a wonderful wet and wild trip you had....looks so much fun. I always enjoy outings more when the weathers a bit grim. Bet that pub looked good after all that walking!

  14. What a wonderful walk ! but I wouldn't like to live on Piel Island all year round !! I love to walk barefoot on sand or ..muddy sand....lovely ! have a nice weekend...Gail x

  15. What a fascinating place! I have been imagining pirates singing sea shanties, storm lashed ships caught on rocks and some very merry and generous kings! You look every part the intrepid explorer, and undaunted by the weather! Let's face it, you can either have a trip spolit by the weather or throw yourself into enjoying yourself in spite of it!

  16. What an adventure and what a wonderful post! Who knew that walking across sand could be so full of hidden dangers - the car that didn't make it is incredible! I love the romanticism of bleak and windy days and pirate dens near the sea. Looks like you had a fun time, despite what looks to be a rather wet day - lol!
    Best wishes,
    Paula xxx

  17. Loved sharing your trip across to piel,I love to beachcomb too,have shells everywhere in the garden :)Xxxx


I love to hear what you think of my ramblings and value all your comments ... I will try and get back to you, but am sorry if I don't always manage this ... sometimes real life just gets in the way! Claire xxx