The Cumbria and Lake District Coast by Kevin Sene – an informative guide to the beautiful Coast

Sometimes my husband Northernvicar knows far more about a type of book than I do – certainly in the case of guidebooks which he studied at Cambridge! I would add that this book is very attractive and would fit neatly in a bag for ease of carrying. It also has a section of “Further Reading” which includes useful books and websites for each chapter, and a comprehensive index of places and topics.

Kevin Sene, The Cumbria and Lake District Coast

The first thing about this guide is that it covers an area which I doubt has ever had “one guidebook” before. Starting at Fleetwood, north of Blackpool, it works up and around the coast. There is a lot of coast; round the whole of Morecambe Bay to Barrow in Furness, then up the Irish Sea past Ravenglass and St Bees, then the industrial coast past Workington and Maryport, and the Solway Firth itself. Most guidebooks stop at the Scottish border, this one does the north side of the Firth, right along to the Mull of Galloway. So many visitors stay in the Lake District and never venture west, this guide is an encouragement to do so.

It contains the sort of information you would expect – when in Carlisle visit the Guildhall Museum, Castle, Cathedral and Tullie House (usually with web addresses for all these places). It gives an idea of road and rail connections, though the railway map, rather confusingly, includes all the freight lines to places like Fleetwood – you might look at it and think “I’ll take the train.” No, you won’t. There is mention of the coastal line from Carnforth to Barrow and up to Carlisle – but I would have given it a couple of pages as a feature, it is a fascinating line and links so many of the coastal communities.

It is not just a guide book – go and visit a, b and c – but contains articles about the wider countryside and history of an area. The author describes himself as “a scientist and writer on water and climate themes” and there is a great deal about the coastal landscape, water safety, habitat, maritime history, the tides and the bores. A bit of judicious editing might have made for a better balance. Having said that, there is information here that is fascinating to anyone who is walking or cycling the coast, watching the birds, or exploring the maritime history. I doubt any other guide gives even a paragraph to “Crosscanonby salt pans”, 17th century pans where sea water was allowed evaporate to produce salt for preserving meat and fish (page 164).

The book is a sensible size which could easily fit into a rucksack, pannier or glove compartment. There are some pages where we have white lettering on a blue background, which I do not thinks help visibility, but there is a good selection of photos (though why isn’t there one of the statue of Eric Morecambe in the town that bears his name?). At £19.99 it is not a cheap purchase, but if you divide that by the miles of coastline it covers, it does not work out expensive at all.