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.

Spring Break

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It’s been a long haul from Christmas this year with Easter being so late – I wish they’d fix the date! So I was glad to be able to take a week off work last week to go away for a few days. We found ourselves a cottage for 4 nights just outside Cartmel at the foot of Hampsfell.

Cartmel is a small, attractive village to the north of the treacherous sands of Morecambe Bay, which is something of a “honeypot” with an old Priory church, old houses and other buildings, a number of touristy shops, a Michelin 2 star restaurant, four pubs and the smallest racecourse in the UK. The village is just to the south of the Lake District National Park, although our cottage, one of a small group of properties, was just inside the National Park boundary. Historically the Cartmel peninsula, together with nearby Furness, the other side of the Leven estuary, were part of Lancashire. Cut off from the rest of the county the area was often known as “Lancashire over the sands”. Following local government reorganisation in 1974 it was absorbed by the newly created county of Cumbria.

This old map shows the pre-1974 county boundaries and includes the area north of Morecambe Bay which is now incorporated into Cumbria.

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Although seemingly cut off from the rest of the county the area was accessed via routes over the sands of Morecambe Bay. The tide recedes from the bay leaving behind a vast area of sand and mudflats criss-crossed by a number of river channels and notorious for it’s quicksands. Until the Furness railway was opened in 1857, crossing the sands was a major route of communication. It was a dangerous crossing, though, and many people were trapped by quicksands and a rapidly rising tide, losing their lives. According to Wikipedia Cartmel apparently means “sandbank by rocky ground“, from the Old Norse kartr (rocky ground) and melr, reflecting it’s location a few miles north of the bay.

We were lucky to have some decent weather – cool, but sunny – so managed to have a good break taking in some walks, a visit to a stately home and even some art! So, lots to write up, but for a starter here’s a few photos we took in and around the village and our cottage.

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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.

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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.