Coastal Walks – Gletness to Eswick – Walk 61

30th March 2014

A really fine day, negligible wind and sunny. Although feeling slightly under the weather, I thought a walk to Eswick might clear my head. If time and energy permitted, I would walk round the the headland of Eswick by the Flaach and Croo Geo.

I was dropped off by the tea man who was going to pick me up in three hours time, saving my low energy levels from a cycle ride. Setting off above Northouse, it was cheering to see the spring lambs enjoying the sun. Passing by a really neat and tidy croft at Saltayre was more uplifting than the usual messy croft practices that leave you feeling quite sad. This was generally a tidier piece of coastline, with these inlets being less prone to the usual detritus and debris.

Passed a recently deceased solan goose floating very gracefully it the water’s edge. It was rather beautiful in an odd sort of way, but no evidence as to what had caused it’s demise. Passing Dead Man’s Geo, I reached the Loch of Pile where there was a delightful little stone cottage, beautifully preserved. I decided to stop and eat my lunch here and try and catch some of the beautiful colours of the landscape in a small watercolour. It was a wonderfully peaceful half hour and refreshed, I set off along the Ribbands, a knobbly hilly section of the coast, passing the Eswick Holm and round the bay of Eswick. Sadly the little bay at Aswick was not so lucky with the prevailing wind, a disgusting amount of sea litter covered not only the beach but had blown inland covering a substantial area of grass. Together with a not so tidy crofting practice, this place looked like it had been hit by a tornado.

On Dalradian limestone the geology provides a fractured coastline and a raised shingly beach at the South Bay of Eswick, it was funny to be walking on a beach with the sea crashing on the rocks way below. The fertile limey soils provide a high grass content for good grazing, not that there were that many sheep surprisingly. There are a profusion of stacks of the coast and I was able to pick out details of the light on Hoo Stack with ease. Difficult sailing on a bad night I would imagine.

A seat on a promontory below the Ward of Eswick was a bit of a challenge. I can guess why someone would put it there, but you would not need to be scared of heights. A stunning vista though! Reaching the lighthouse was another rest point with more stunning views. The original lighthouse was apparently established in 1904 but was destroyed when a large section of the cliff collapsed in 1994. The replacement unfortunately is not so romantically designed, but provided a good 2nd lunch point. I thought Fru (Maiden) Stack probably once contained a broch site, given the location, but apparently the remains are of a monastic settlement, now detached from the mainland, the name holds the myth of the imprisoned maiden separated from her lover by a somewhat protective father. Of course she was rescued by her Norse lover and they escaped to eternal happiness – or something like that.

Along the north side of the Moul of Eswick, the soft limestone provides an interesting range of tiny inlets and geos – too small to be named – before you reach a rather lovely sandy beach. Of course the tea man was exactly on time, so no waiting around the lovely little settlement of Eswick.

© Copyright Diane Garrick