Walney Island is a ten mile extension of Barrow, accessed by a lifting bridge over Walney Channel. The channel seperates Barrow from Walney and before the bridge was built the only way to Barrow was by small ferry. It's hard to believe that Walney still only has one point of access. I know it's a worrying thought for the locals if there is ever a major incident on Walney. Imagine all the islanders trying to flee Walney at the same time over a single bridge!!!
I lived on Walney from the age of four until I was ten and loved it. The freedom we had to wander the lanes, the woods and beaches. We would spend hours blackberrying or making dens or scrambling amongst the rock pools on Walney's beaches.
There even used to be an outdoor swimming pool which was a magnet to us after school in the summer. I believe this was closed down due to poor hygiene when some nasty virus infected the water.
Still, we had the sea to swim in . Walney has miles of sandy beaches which are popular with old and young alike. Sand-dunes back some of them and there are two nature reserves, one at either end of the island.
Walney has it's own airfield where budding pilots potter about. Gliding is an extremely popular pastime here. It's interesting to watch them from the beach.
The channel is the place to launch local boats, many larger ones being resident in the channel all year round. From here, you can circumnavigate the island.
There are major concerns as to the survival of Walney, it being such low-lying land. During extreme gales and high tides, the island is occasionally broached resulting in serious flooding and the village of Biggar becoming cut off. Sea defences are forever being rebuilt in the desperate fight to preserve the community. On a red hot summer's day, sneaking off to the beach for an hour at lunch time for a quick swim. Because the sands are so flat and the sea so shallow, the sea becomes incredibly warm as it washes in over the sun-warmed sand.
All Weather Football Pitch
Barrow Leisure Centre has an all weather football pitch which can be hired out to both individual groups and football teams. The pitch can be divided in two so if there are only a few of you, it's not too big. It also makes the hiring cost cheaper.
Philip decided he would like to hire one part of it for him and his friends for his birthday. For 45 mins, the cost was only £5 which I thought was great value. It gave the boys a safe, mud-free place to have a good old kick about. Fortunately it was a glorious day so I didn't mind standing around watching. It was the next part of the birthday deal I wasn't keen on......Pizza Hut and unlimited ice-cream!!!!!
Can only book one week in advance. No studded football boots.
At The End Of The Longest Cul-de-Sac in England...
As Barrow , (west Cumbria) is just down the road from us, I thought I'd better make the effort to write a little about the place(known locally as the town at the end of the longest cul-de-sac, the A590)
A one time, massively huge, ship and submarine-building town, and an important port, everything depended on this industry. If you didn't work for Vickers Armstrong (as it was back in it's heyday) now B.A.E. Systems, then you were the odd one, the out-comer. Now with the shipbuilding industry going abroad, the workforce has declined until only a mere few thousand remain employed here. Barrow has had to adapt and attempt to change. Not an easy task for a traditional working class town who had always relied upon local resources and industries such as the steelworks and iron ore mining.
The port is still used today by cargo ships and for the launching of any submarine or boat built at B.A.E. and even the odd cruise ship calls. There are still a few fishing boats remaining. I suspect they have to travel a long way for their catch these days.
People have had to adapt, re-train, change their vocations, move away or face the consequences of the dole queue.
Gradually old buildings are coming down,(not necessarily the ones that should) and new replace them. People are being re-housed as poor areas facing re-development fall to the demolition men.
Redundant docks are being re-vamped in a massive re-development scheme, still to happen.Barrow is Britain's newest cruise liner port and Gateway to the English lakes by sea. Each year, more ships are calling here, an excellent port of call for visitng the Lake district and all other nearby local attractions. It's ideally located for exploring this western corner of England and this is what Barrow are desperate to promote.
Could Barrow really have a marina, would people use it, pay for it etc.\? Will speed boat users turn to Barrow for their pleasure now the speed limit is in force on Windermere?It needs a lot of major works before Barrow can expect people to visit this area for pleasure and leisure. They do already have a floating restaurant in the dock, an enterprising local 's idea, but there is a long way to go.
"The Good with the Bad......."
I have always been fond of Barrow, it's old-fashioned appearance appeals to me. First impressions are of the long tree-lined Abbey Road as you enter Barrow. Not too bad.
Admittedly there are some dreadful buildings in the town, the terrible concrete 60's precinct by the market, most of it lying abandoned and graffiti covered. Desperate for a major face-lift.
On the other hand, the Town Hall and other facelifted red sandstone buildings are at the opposite end of the scale, proudly dominating Barrow.
The best thing about Barrow is Walney Island, crossed by a single bridge which still occasionally has to be raised to let large boats under. The fact the island only has one access is of major concern to the islanders if there was a major incident. The island is really an extension of Barrow and consists of rows and rows of terraced and semi-detatched houses that at one time would have been home to the shipyard workers, the larger the house, the higher up the salary scale you were.
Walney Channel is popular with the boating fraternity and the island's beaches are a magnet to old and young alike in the summer. We often walk the beaches in Winter, collecting firewood. Now we take Philip with his new petrol powered radio-controlled car. An ideal place for this sort of thing.
If I say:
The best thing in Barrow-in-Furness is the Road out of it
You'd probably think I was being facetious... But, actually, it's kind of true! The A590 leads you into (and out of!) Barrow through some Magnificent views of the surrounding countryside and coast. There can't be any other road in England flanked with this standard of beauty. It's Spectacular.
It's a bit hard to describe. I guess it's a typical Northern English town. We have the usual stuff - good shops, a market on Monday, Wednesday, Friday & Saturday, some good restaurants, a cinema, a bowling alley, an ice-skating rink, a park, a zoo, lots of Pubs, a few nice churches, a street full of nightclubs and late bars and buckets of rain.
And the ruins of an Abbey....
And we're by the sea - so we have beaches...
see? typically northern.
Reflections of Barrow
"Barrow In A Good Light...."
I took these photos on a brilliantly sunny February day, noticing their reflections were worthy of the odd photo. It certainly gives industrial old Barrow a different perspective!!!
This is taken from Michaelson Road Bridge, looking towards the dock entrance. On the left you can just see the Princess Selandia, a floating restairant and nightclub.
This area is hoping to undergo major rejuvination and magically transform into a marina. One day................
"Where To See Submarines...."
Again, looking from Michaelson Road Bridge but the other way. This is where you used to see the submarines that had been built in the "shed" behind, being worked on. I still think it's quite an exciting sight, a submarine in the water.
Still looking from Michaelson Road Bridge to BAE Systems. Not sure what this building is but behind, you can just see Blackcombe mountain poking it's head above the architecture.
"Industry With Pleasure"
From Walney Bridge. On the right, BAE. Systems looking into Walney Channel and Barrow's Boat Club on the banks. Poular place for boating.
"Walney and Bridge From Channelside Walk"
Walney Bridge arriving on Walney. Behind is St. Mary's Church where I used to go to Sunday school.
The bridge raises in the middle to let tall boats in and out.
"Fishing Boat Reflections"
The bright colours of the fishing boats reflected in the calm water. Hard to believe this is Barrow!!!!!
"Walney's Only Bridge..."
This is Walney's only access and exit. Frightening isn't it?
The really annoying thing about this bridge is the fact you can't see the views of the channel as some bright spark decided to make the bridge rails solid. The lifting part in the middle has rails you can see through for a split second. To appreciate the views you have to walk across. Be warned if you try and take photos from the middle part, the road bounces as vehicles travel across.
Tranquil scenes in Walney Channel, taken from Barrow. When the tide recedes, most of these boats are left high and dry. Those in deeper water require a tender to reach them.
There always seem to be stories of boats breaking their moorings in high winds, resulting in the vessels having to be rescued from wherever they end up.