One of the good things about being your own boss is that you can decide how to organise your workload. The weather forecast for the bank holiday weekend was not so clever but it was expected that last Thursday would be a fine day, particularly in the north, so as there was nothing that needed finishing urgently I decided to put on my boots and head out for a walk.
I didn’t want to go too far, and didn’t feel like driving, so I hopped on the train and set off for a relatively little known corner of north west Lancashire and south west Cumbria on the coast of Morecambe Bay – Arnside and Silverdale. The area isn’t far from the M6, but most people tend to zoom past heading for the Lake District or Scotland. With no through roads to anywhere, it’s a place you have to deliberately go to as there’s no reason to pass through – unless you’re taking the train to Barrow, Workington or Whitehaven. And compared to the nearby Lake District and Fylde coast, it has relatively few visitors. Consequently, it’s one of the quietest and most peaceful rural areas in the North West of England.
I’ve visited the area quite a few times during the last 6 or 7 years. It’s easily accessible by train meaning I don’t have to drive if I don’t want too. I’ve normally taken a circular route, starting and finishing at Arnside station, but this time I decided to start at Silverdale and follow the coast up to Arnside.
Map of route
After a short walk on the narrow road from the station towards Silverdale (it can be a little hairy at times as the road is narrow and bendy without a footpath and cars come racing round the bends) I came to a footpath which leads down to the coast.
It was very peaceful – being mid week there were very few other people about.
After 10 minutes or so I hit the coast of Morecambe Bay. The tall tower in the picture below isn’t a lighthouse. It’s believed to have been part of a copper smelting furnace dating back to the 1790s.
Just beyond were a few isolated houses – “Jenny Brown’s Cottages”
The tide was receding fast leaving behind a vast expanse of sand.
This section of the coast is owned by the National Trust. It’s rural and picturesque now, but at one time it would have been more industrial. The Trust have recreated a lime kiln at “Jack Scout”. Kilns like this were used to make slaked lime from limestone for agricultural and building use. There’s a display board that explains how it worked.
I stopped off at Wolf House gallery and Cafe for a brew and a bite to eat, then set off again, passing through the village back to the coast, walking along the rocky shore as far as “the Cove”.
I cut in land, taking the path up to Arnside Tower. It’s a pele tower, a defensive structure to protect the local population from marauding Scots, built in the late 14 or early 15th century. It’s in ruins and isn’t accessible as it’s too dangerous.
From here the modest hill of Arnside Knott, which is owned by the National Trust, was clearly visible.
Well, I can never resist a hill so it had to be climbed.
As it’s the highest point for many miles, from the top there are tremendous views over Morecambe Bay, The Kent Estuary beyond which the Lakeland mountains are spread out in a magnificent panorama (well, on a good day) and over to the Howgill Fells and the Three Peaks in the Yorkshire Dales.
The view was good but it was a little hazy, so although I could make out the Lakeland Fells they were a little indistinct and didn’t come out on my photos (which I was taking on my mobile phone as I’d neglected to take my camera with me). However, I’d managed to get some good shots during previous visits.
I now had the option of heading down into Arnside, but I decided I’d re-join the coastal path a little north of where I’d left it. The tide was well out by now so I was able to walk along the beach. Care has to be taken as Morecambe Bay is notorious for it’s quick sands and fast incoming tide that can easily cut off careless walkers.
With it’s vast expanse of sand, the Bay looked like a damper version of the Sahara Desert.
Eventually the Kent railway viaduct came into view,
and not long after that I arrived at Arnside
where it was time for a strong cup of coffee to recharge the batteries before catching the train back home.
There’s a good free leaflet showing suggested walks in the area here. My walk was an approximate combination of two of them. A circular walk around Silverdale also featured in the Guardian “Top 10 winter walks” in December 2010.