Eden Way Part 1

5.81 miles 3hr 1min ascent 34m

Rockcliff to Esk Boathouse

This was the final leg of our Cumbria Coastal Way, heading north from Rockcliffe up to the Esk Boathouse, but also the first part of the Eden Way, from Desmesne to Rockliffe. Two badges with one walk!

Mugwort, Global Warming, Old Hall, plant pots on bollards, smuggler’s sign, sandstone cross, Old quay, Marshes, Levees, electric fences.

We parked as we had last week, beside the churchyard of St Mary the Virgin at Rockcliffe and walked down to the village green, passing this tile which presumably harks back to the days when smuggled salt and whisky was landed here. Though it could represent the hard working folks of the village, carrying goods in moonlight with neighbours keeping an eye out for each other in case someone should slip?

The green is lined with flowerpots on the wee bollards, has a couple of new-ish (ie not rotting away) picnic benches and a sandstone sculpture. This is “Global Warming” by Anthony Turner, one of the Eden Benchmark sculptures. The Old Hall can be seen peeping from the trees in the background.

The title of this sculpture is indicative of its global perspective. Situated where the river Eden flows out to sea there is an expanding awareness of the wider world. It could simply be a huge sea creature washed onto the shore but it conveys the sense of an even bigger scale. There is a mysterious pregnant silence about it and it resembles a planet earth held carefully in a hand. The term global warming is now ominously synonymous with the world overheating yet we would like it to mean a nurturing, life enhancing glow!


The path immediately beyond the sculpture wasn’t passable after a few metres. Perhaps at very low water it might be possible to walk in the mud but we turned back and walked along the single-track road for 400m or so until the road turned right and we continued straight on, negotiating our first stile of the day.

The bank here is man made and looks to have once been the quay. It’s pretty silted up now and we didn’t see any smugglers. But we wouldn’t would we? There was line of restharrow separating the bank from the wider grassy area and I needed to keep a close eye on Christy so he didn’t drop his stick down too steep a bank.

We eventually came to a herd of cows but found ourselves separated from them by a deep channel. We walked away fro the bank to find a place to cross and ended up walking along the levee of Desmesne Marsh. Me looking at the views but thinking, “Desmesne, that’s a word I haven’t used since school” We decided the levee was easier going than negotiating the channels through the salt marsh. I’ve already got my salt marsh badge from Skinburness.

Where the levee turned away from the Eden will have to mark the “start” of our Eden Way, though I suppose we have walked further along the River Eden when tramping along the Hadrian’s wall Trail. The Photograph below is taken from the levee. Criffel is the hill in the distance and Port Carlisle at the head of the Eden Channel is in the middle distance, and Annan on the far right.

We decided to turn back where the levee turned east near the Esk Boathouse, with Metal Bridge and Gretna in view. I thought having reached the Esk we could consider our Cumbrian Coastal section complete. I realise that the old CCW carried on to the River Sark near Gretna, but that would involve 2.5 miles along a busy road without pavements.

We stopped for a drop of water, a celebratory jelly baby and a few minutes of contemplation, then turned about and retraced our steps.

We took a closer look at the Norse Cross in the churchyard. Historic England says “The style of the cross indicates it to date to the 10th century.” It is in spectacularly good nick considering it has stood in the open here for a thousand years.

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