An Arnside Amble

The weekend after my walk from Grasmere I felt like getting out again. Saturday promised to be a fine day, if blustery, so I had a think about where to go. I didn’t fancy driving so decided on taking the train over to Arnside for a ramble along the coast.

The Arnside and Silverdale Area of Oustanding Natural Beauty (AONB), is one of those places off the beaten track which are great for getting away for a walk through some beautiful, varied countryside with lots of “added interest”. Some people are lucky to live there!

From the train station it’s a short walk to the promenade. It looked like it was high tide or, probably, just after.

I took the riverside path heading out towards Morecambe Bay

Reaching the salt marsh bay at New Barns I could see that the tide was starting to recede.

I carried on along the stretches of salt marsh and sandy beach until I reached Arnside Point, which is probably the start of the bay proper. After this point I’d have been paddling in the sea or sucked down into quick sand so I climbed up the slope up on to the cliffs

and carried on towards Far Arnside. I walked through the caravan site, then through the fields. My route then took me through a second caravan site

until I reached Arnside Tower. I stopped for a while to refuel although it was difficult to find a spot that was sheltered from what was quite a strong wind. It seemed to be coming from every direction as it swirled around the ruins of the ruined pele tower.

I carried on past the nearby farm and along a short stretch of road before turning off up a path into the woods at the bottom of Arnside Knott, which provided some shelter from the wind.

I climbed up through the woods to the top of the modest hill with extensive views which pack a punch. On a good day it’s possible to see almost the whole extent of the Lake District mountains but long distance visibility wasn’t so good so the fells were largely lost in the haze. Nevertheless the view was still worth the climb!

After walking along the ridge, stopping off at the main viewpoints, I made my way down the steep paths back towards Arnside via the riverside, stopping off at a small cafe near the restored fingerpost – you can just see it in the picture below. It’ has very limited seating which was all taken but I enjoyed a coffee and cake sitting on the bench next to the signpost.

A nearby information board tells us that The old County of Westmorland erected 139 numbered cast iron Fingerposts between 1894 and 1905 cast by Joseph Bowerbank at the Victoria Foundry in Penrith. The signposts were all numbered and this one, which stands on the riverside path close to the coastguard station was number 5. It was restored by David Gosling of Signpost Restoration Ltd. The sign’s located well away from roads carrying motorised traffic, but when it was erected over 100 years ago the inland paths would have been very important thoroughfares in a tourist resort. 

I carried on back towards the prom.

It wasn’t so late, about 3 o’clock so I decided I’d catch the direct train back to Wigan at 4:30. That gave me enough time to carry on along the river on the concessionary path on disused railway line across the salt marsh towards Sandside. Although it had clouded over, it was still warm despite a strong wind.

The marsh is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a breeding ground for birds such as oystercatchers, lapwings and curlews. I saw several of all of these, and possibly a marsh harrier (being attacked by oystercatchers!) as I followed the path .

The sign was quite clear that walkers should stick to the railway line path and keep dogs on a leash to protect the wildlife. The rules clearly don’t apply to everyone.

I reached the small settlement of Sandside then turned round and retraced my steps (walking into the wind!) back to Arnside.

I arrived in good time to catch my train.

Sunset on the Knott

So, I didn’t catch the 3:30 train. At this time of year it’s going dark at 4 pm and I thought I’d spend a little more time in Arnside and then watch the sunset over Morecambe Bay from the top of the Knott. I reckoned I’d still have time to catch the direct train at 5:30. It was a good decision.

I took a break for a while followed by a short walk along the shore. Then I turned inland and set up the hill towards the Knott. The sun was already starting to go down and the temperature was dropping but my down jacket was keeping me nice and snug.

Leaving the streets of Victorian houses behind, I walked through woodland and then, emerging on tot he open fell, looking behind me the views opened up over the estuary towards the mountains of the Lake District

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and to the east, there was Ingleborough on the horizon

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Reaching the top of the hill I walked along the ridge to a viewpoint overlooking the Bay. The sun was beginning to set

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The sun slowly slipping below the horizon

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Until the sky and the sea were on fire

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I made my way back down the hill and after a final look along the estuary

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walked back to the station in good time to catch my train back to Wigan.

What a marvelous end to the day.

Over the years Arnside and Silverdale and the Cartmel penisnsula on the other side of the Kent estuary have become favourite haunts when I fancy a moderate expenditure of energy and an easy (usually) journey on the train. It’s less well frequented area than the Lakes as visitors zoom past on the M6. I hope that doesn’t change as since my visit it’s turned up twice on the TV. Arnside was the subject of an episode of the BBC series “Villages by the Sea” and it also featured as a “Winter Walk” on BBC 2 last week. Both on iplayer for a few weeks, I suppose.

Arnside, Storth and the Fairy Steps

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At the moment, looking out of the window, Storm Barra is arriving and it’s wet and windy outside. Not a good day for a walk. But it was quite different a couple of weeks ago when I took the train to Arnside for the second walk of my long late autumn weekend.

Although I’ve been walking around Arnside and Silverdale quite a few times over the years, I’d plotted out a route where I hadn’t ventured before, to the east of the village following the old coffin road to Beetham. It was a beautiful sunny day, cold, but with no wind so I soon warmed up as I set off walking.

Leaving the station I turned left instead of turning right towards the prom. After a short stretch of road I turned left down a track and then over the level crossing.

There was reasonable path throught he fields, although a bit muddy underfoot.

The next stretch, however, was more than a bit muddy. The clue was in the name really – Arnside Moss. Although agricultural land this would once have been part of the flood plain of the River Kent and I found myself wading through boggy land, sinking at times so that the mud covered the top of my boots. Luckily I got across this stretch unharmed except for boots completely coated with muck. (Perhaps I should have got some advice from Mark of Beating the Bounds – this is his patch!)

I crossed a couple more fields, much drier underfoot, heading towards Hazelslack Tower, an old, ruined Peel Tower, one of several in the area (I’ve passed another, Arnside Tower, many times during my wanders around here)

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I walked past the tower, which is next to a farm, took the path across a field and then passed through a gate into the woods, following the signs for Beetham and the Fairy Steps.

I was in limestone country now so much drier underfoot.

After walking through pleasant woodland, I reached what looked like a dead end

but there was a way through – I’d reached the Fairy Steps – a flight of naturally occuring stone steps in a narrow passage between two sheer rock faces. Allegedly if you you climb or descend the steps without touching the sides of the narrow gully the local fairies will appear and grant you a wish.

Well, you’d have to be a lot slimmer than me to achieve that. It was a real squeeze – I had to take off my rucksack or I wouldn’t have got through! There is a diversion to avoid the steps for those of wider girth, or who otherwise don’t fancy the challenge. Amazingly the steps are part of the “coffin route” between Arnside and Beetham.

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Before Arnside had a church and graveyard, the dead had to be transported to Beetham for burial in consecrated ground. In those days there wasn’t a road alongside the river and this would have been the main route between the two villages. It seems impossible to get a coffin up through the narrow gap but I suppose that in those days the corpse would have been wrapped in a shroud rather than put in a wooden box. But I certainly wouldn’t have liked the job of carrying the body.

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I stopped for a bite to eat and a hot drink from my flask at the top of the steps with views through the trees across to the Kent Estuary and Arnside Knott on the other side of the moss.

Refreshed, I carried on through the woods, down the hill in the direction of Beetham

but turned off in the direction of Storth. I reached a minor road and followed it a short distance before turing onto a path through more woodland

eventually emerging near the small village of Storth

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I passed through the village arriving on the banks of the Kent Estuary.

It was still a glorious bright sunny day and the Lake District Fells from Coniston to Red Screes were clearly visible in the distance

I joined the path that followed an old railway line along the banks of the river towards Arnside. The bright sun was very low preventing me from taking photos in th edirection I was walking, but I grabbed a few snaps looking back towards Storth and across the river.

There were sheep grazing out on the marsh. Salt Marsh lamb is a delicacy yet, along with flounder and shrimps from Morecambe Bay, you never see it on the menu of the local hostelries in Arnside which serve up the usual formulistic “pub grub”.

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The path terminates behind the station and as it was about 3 pm there was a direct train back to Wigan due in less than half an hour. But I had an idea. So instead of waiting on the station, I crossed the footbridge and headed towards the prom.

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To be continued….!

A walk around Arnside

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The Saturday after I’d been to London I felt like I needed to get out for a walk, but nothing too strenuous after a busy week, but something that would blow the cobwebs away. I didn’t fancy driving so decided I’d get the train over to Arnside for a route that would take me along Morecambe Bay and up the small hill known as Arnside Knott.

It was rather grey and overcast when I arrived, but the thick cloud soon cleared leading to a warm, sunny day.

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From the station I walked over to the “prom” and set out along the Kent estuary towards Morecambe Bay. The tide was well out, revealing the expansive flat sands. They looked harmless enough but many people have lost their lives in the treacherous quicksands or when the tide rushes in “faster than a running horse” No danger of that today, the tide wasn’t due in for several hours and the siren announcing the turn of the tide only sounded when I was safely back in Arnside at the end of my walk.

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Looking over to Grange and Humphrey Head on the other side of the Kent estuary
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Looks like one of the markers used by the Queen’s Guide. Perhaps preparing for a walk over the sands?
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Some of the Lake District Fells visible in the distance
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With the tide well out I strayed deep ont the sands before returning to the shore at Far Arnside. I then crossed a couple of caravan sites and took the path up towards Arnside Tower.

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The ruined building is a Pele Tower, one of many  small fortified keeps or tower houses, built close to the English and Scottish borders from times when these lands were plagued by raiders and reivers.

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Descending th e hill I spotted that since the last time I was around here the farm near the tower had opened a cafe that was open at weekends and school holidays, so I stopped off for a brew

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Refreshed on a hot day I carried on towards the Knott

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climbing up through the woods

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After a short climb I reached the ridge and was greeted with great views over the Kent estuary towards the main Lakeland Fells in the distance

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and over Morecambe Bay, where the tide was still well out

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After taking in the view while I had a bite to eat, I set off back down the hill towards Arnside via the estuary.

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I followed the shore back to the prom

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where I treated myself to an ice cream which I ate sitting on the small pier looking over the railway bridge (tide still not back in!)

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It was nearly time for the train – a direct one back to Wigan so no need to change at Lancaster!

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so only just over an hour after boarding the train I was back home after an enjoyable day’s walk.

Along the Bay

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Tuesday, the second day of my short early break we decided to take the train to Silverdale for a walk along Morecambe Bay. A favourite walk I’ve done several times but never in winter before. The day started out cold,overcast and a little misty, but during the walk the cloud broke and we ended up being a very pleasant day.

We left the station and set off down the road turning down the path leading to the salt marsh.

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It was rather muddy and sticky underfoot in places, but we were suitably attired.We followed the coast past the old copper smelting furnace that looks like a lighthouse and along to Jenny Brown Point.

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We carried along the coastal path on land owned by the National Trist to the recreated  lime kiln at “Jack Scout”.

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Coming back off the coastal path onto the road I headed towards Silverdale village, passing Lindeth Tower which, was used by the author, Elizabeth Gaskell who wrote one of her novels, Ruth, there.

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Unfortunately the nearby Wolf House gallery and Cafe is closed on Monday and Tuesday during the winter so we missed out on the opportunity for a brew so we carried on passing through Silverdale village back to the coast, walking along the rocky shore as far as “the Cove” where we stopped to eat our sandwiches. The sun was breaking through the cloud by now.

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We carried on cutting inland and made our way towards Arnside Knott.

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From the top of this modest hill there are great views across Morecambe Bay and the Kent Estuary, but the Lake District fells which provide a stunning panorama on a good day, were shrouded with cloud.

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We retraced our path back to the coast and then followed it around to Arnside,

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By now the sun was beginning to set and we were treated to a stunning sunset over the estuary from the pier while drinking a quick take away coffee. Then on to Arnside station to catch the train back home.

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Another good day’s walk. Now it’s back to work

Silverdale to Arnside reboot

Another glorious day on Wednesday this week. I’d had enough of slaving away in a hot and stuffy office so decided to take the afternoon off and get out in the sunshine. I decided to head up to Arnside and Silverdale a favourite area just an hour away by train, and walk from Silverdale station along the coast, cutting inland to Arnside Tower and up Arnside Knott, heading back tot he coast and along to Arrnside to catch the train home. It’s a walk I’ve done before so, it was very much a “reboot”.

Here’s some photos I took

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A good afternoon walk, about 9 miles but not too strenuous,  making the most of the good weather while it lasts!

 

Coastal Walk from Silverdale to Arnside

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.

Silverdale to Arnside walk

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.

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It was very peaceful – being mid week there were very few other people about.

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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.

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Just beyond were a few isolated houses – “Jenny Brown’s Cottages”

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The tide was receding fast leaving behind a vast expanse of sand.

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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.

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Coming back off the coastal path onto the road I headed towards Silverdale village, passing Lindeth Tower which, was used by the author, Elizabeth Gaskell who wrote one of her novels, Ruth, there.

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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”.

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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.

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From here the modest hill of Arnside Knott, which is owned by the National Trust, was clearly visible.

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Well, I can never resist a hill so it had to be climbed.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Eventually the Kent railway viaduct came into view,

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and not long after that I arrived at Arnside

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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.