Day 147, 148. Tuesday 12th & Wednesday 13th September. Ravenglass to Askam in Furness.
My visit to the Freemasons Hall in Millom revieled yet another recipient of The Victoria Cross. Lance Sergeant Tom Fletcher Mayson, a Terrirtorial Army Soldier of The Kings Own Lancashire Regiment and also a member of Whitwell Lodge No. 1390 was awarded The VC for repeated acts of bravery and devotion to duty. This was all the more poignant as only this week I'd been listening an episode of Craftcast, The Freemasons Podcast where the chap being interviewed was talking about the Memorial at Freemasons Hall which honours 64 Freemasons, all recipients of The Victoria Cross. Their medals represent 1 in 10 of all VC's awarded in World War One and this figure becomes 1 in 6 when including those awarded to Freemasons who were members of othe Grand Lodges globally. A incredible statistic I'm sure you'll agree, the bravery of these men fighting in some of the most unimaginable conditions, I really must get down to Grand Lodge in London to see the memorial.
Eric arrived nice and early so after I'd packed my soaking wet tent we agreed that to avoid a very boring 14 mile walk along the roads, we would catch the train for one stop which would get us over the river Esk and as Eric had brought his dog along for the walk, it would be much better walking on the coastal path and not on roads. At Bootle station we walked down to the beach and while waiting for Stephen to arrive with coffee and bacon butties, I got my wet tent out and hung it on a gate to dry in the wind.
Suitably fed and watered we were off, my pack much lighter with a dry tent and Eric buzzing because he had learnt from Stephen that a mutual acquaintance of theirs was still very much alive and well, Eric had thought this chap had died about 12 years ago but meeting Stephen for the first time, he'd learnt that wasn't the case and Eric was a very happy man.
I very much enjoyed talking with Eric during our near 15 mile walk along the beach and coastal path. Eric had worked at Sellafield for over 40 years before recently retiring and had some fascinating stories to tell, most of us have no idea what goes on behind the enormous gates and elaborate security fences of a nuclear power plant and the things I'd leant, first from my mate Charlie and now from Eric, were very interesting. We arrived late afternoon at Haverigg just as the rain was starting to fall, the big black clouds had been following us all afternoon but until now, we'd been lucky. We said our goodbyes, Eric had a half hour walk to the train station to get back to Ravenglass to get his car and I had a 10 minute walk around to the campsite. The lady at the site very kindly only charged me £5 for a pitch so I put the tent up as the rain really started coming down and I crawled inside to get some water on the boil to cook my tea. It hadn't stopped raining so at 8pm I went over for a shower and washed my underwear, returned to my tent and went straight to bed.
No hanging about the next morning, I walked into Millom to meet Stephen for some breakfast and he had lined up someone else to walk with me for the day.
Rod turned up half way through breakfast and Stephen boxed up his breakfast and tore off, he was late for an appointment but assured us that he would see us later. Rod is a keen walker and a lovely guy so I thouroughly enjoyed my day walking and chatting with him, I didn't have to consider navigating as he'd walked the route many times.
It was great to be back on trails and paths following the Duddon Sands inlet, it was a whole days walking having to walk east and then west and by the end of the day I still hadn't got back out to the coast, just over 22 miles but very little road walking and plenty of good conversation so all good.
Stephen met us as promised with fresh coffee and then met us later in the day when we'd reached the border of the province. Rod and I had walked a short stretch on private land so had to scale a large gate covered in barbed wire to get out, don't you just love it when your mate gets ready with a camera, just incase you fall and make a fool of yourself, can't miss the opportunity of getting your humiliation on film.... 🤣 unfortunately for Stephen and his very big camera, both Rod and I made it over with no blood spilt or bones broken !!!
At Duddon bridge, we crossed over into West Lancashire Province, despite still be in the county of Cumberland and Westmorland, all very confusing but both Stephen and Rod walked with me for a few miles, probably just to make sure I was off their patch... thank you guys, I had been incredibly well looked after by the Freemasons of Cumberland and Westmorland and I'm very grateful to you all. It wouldn't be long and I'd be walking in Lancashire.
Alone again I made it around to Askam in Furness where I intended on booking into the campsite there. Instead I called in at The Plaform One bar which unfortunately was shut. Chatting to the owner who was there doing some jobs he poured me pint and I helped him fix up some wall heaters on the walls before he pointed me in the direction of the only pub in the town that was open on a Wednesday where interestingly I met his brother who who kindly donated to my fundraiser after we'd had a good chat over a pint, or two !! 😉🍻 as the light was just fading I walked down to the waters edge and found a nice flat piece of grass in front of the RNLI Station and settled in for a comfortable and peaceful night.