A little further down Cavendish Dock Road, the tracks come to a ferocious-looking gate. It’s the gate to the berth on Ramsden Dock where the nuclear fuel ships, operated by James Fisher plc on behalf of British Nuclear Fuels Limited, are loaded and unloaded.
Summer is here at last – Monday’s stroll to Roa was on a wonderful late spring day but since yesterday it’s been distinctly summer in a way I can’t properly define. Something to do with the soft breeze off the Irish Sea caressing the skin.
Anyway, today was a day to head for the beach, and Rosie’s First Law states that “time spent on a beach is never time wasted”. Especially time spent on Walney beach. Here’s a shot of the buildings around Biggar Bank, as seen from far enough out for the water to come up to my knees. Look, I’m not swimming while holding the Nikoff. The season’s first proper swim in the sea came after I’d put everything a safe distance up the sand – the tide comes in very quickly here.
I have a great affection for old industrial landscapes and there are plenty of those still around Barrow. This building is down the Cavendish Dock Road, a short walk from the town centre, and also carries a reminder of the days when the central areas of Barrow were riddled with railway lines. This one is still in use, for a purpose many may find somewhat sinister as I hope to reveal before too long.
If Barrow’s very own bird wasn’t the Lesser Black-backed Gull it would surely be the Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus). Not that it’s more peculiar to Barrow than it is to any other bit of British coast, although it is very abundant locally and often to be heard flying overhead with its whistling cry. It just looks the part. It’s slightly comical in its ungainliness, and iron-stained in beak and legs, but it is sturdy and stubborn and very good at what it does. Which isn’t necessarily catching oysters – I mean, just how fast can an oyster run? But it does make short work of the many mussel beds around Barrow’s very lengthy shoreline.
Today being very far from the traditional English Bank Holiday, that is, sunny, warm and calm, I had a walk out to one of the outlying parts of the town. Roa Island is connected to the mainland by a causeway and most of it seems to be devoted to boats (so I get pangs of envy just looking around.)
I had intended to take the ferry across to Piel but I didn’t go through with this on the grounds that: a) it’s GBP 4.00 per person for the short return trip, and b) the number of people hanging round the slipway looking expectant suggested that it would be a long wait.
There’s not a lot on Roa Island so if you’re not going to Piel there’s not much point in hanging around apart from looking at boats and the spectacular views over Morecambe Bay and towards the Lakes. Today, although it was a tad hazy, it was possible to follow the Lancashire coast right down to Liverpool. They don’t show up well in photos though, at least not in the pictures the Nikoff takes.
Meanwhile, It would be forgiveable to assume that this little scene, with the Roa Island Hotel and its bit of green in front, were taken in Norfolk rather than North Lancashire. At least, I think so.
A new ship sailed into Ramsden Dock today. The Tahitian Princess is on a cruise from St Petersburg to Dublin calling at a variety of historic destinations. Helsinki, Tallinn, Stockholm, Copenhagen and, er, Barrow! At lunchtime today she became the first passenger vessel to berth in Barrow Docks for three years. Passengers paying GBP 2,000 for their passage were treated to a stunning view of Barrow’s glittering skyline.
I’m sorry, I’ll read that again.
Passengers paying GBP 2,000 for their passage were treated to a stunning view of the still vacant and undeveloped site of the Ramsden Business Park.
They were able to board a bus for a whizz round the Lake District (which can’t really be appreciated in an afternoon). Alternatively they could board a shuttle bus for a tour of the town hall, or a guided walk round points of interest in town, or a visit to Furness Abbey. All of which are, for those with eyes to see, a lot more interesting than they might sound. And that reminds me, to my shame I still haven’t covered Furness Abbey on this page. I really must get out more especially as I have been neglecting you all again of late.
Back to the Tahitian Princess. They say she’s a ship, but I call her a floating Travelodge and the hell with it.