270 Cockerham to Lancaster

It’s another dull morning. From Marsh Lane I rejoin the Lancashire Coastal Way and walk through low-lying fields, full of sheep, past Pattys Farm (nice name) towards Bank End. The path curves around what might have once been a beach.


The path becomes a track. A delivery driver in a white van (just visible in the photo above) stops and asks if I know where ‘The Nook’ is. Just his luck to ask the one person who doesn’t know. Sorry mate.

I pass a fine-looking ram. His harness will be charged with special paint so that the farmer can identify the ewes who’ve been serviced. Most of the ewes are marked. The ram looks pleased with himself.


Another car comes to a stop beside me. Do I know the way to Bank End caravan park? Well, Bank End is just ahead, so I suggest they keep going.

The footpath continues, now running on top of the raised bank. The views over the marsh are great – full of space and light – despite the gloomy weather. In the far distance is the shore I walked along yesterday.


I’m still having trouble with my camera. The lens has developed a mind of its own and will only focus on certain things. So taking a photograph of the marsh (above) is tricky, but capturing these two bird watchers (below) is much easier.


I walk past several caravan parks. Flocks of birds (starlings I think) wheel around.


Ahead is a collection of buildings – Bank Houses, according to my map. And a small car park where a group of walkers are assembling.


They must be even slower than I am (is that possible?) because I soon catch up with them. The reason for their slow pace is due to constant stops for photographs. I offer to take a group photograph, but the guy with a camera says there’s no need. Perhaps he thinks I’ll run off with it?


Ahead is Cockersand Abbey, as mentioned by my elderly friend yesterday. Not much remains of it. Shame.


Just out to sea is the lighthouse, Plover Scar, the one that my elderly friend said had been damaged by a boat. It’s a stubby little thing and no wonder we couldn’t see it yesterday. [If you look closely at the base in the photograph below, you’ll notice it looks asymmetrical.]


Onwards along the bank, which now runs beside the water. This is the mouth of the River Lune.


I pass a fenced off portacabin with tractors and other machinery standing nearby. This is the construction hub for the Plover Scar lighthouse repairs. No sign of activity at the moment. I guess they can only work on the lighthouse when the tide is out.


Further along and I see the sign: ‘DANGER. Quicksand.’ I hope the contractors know what they’re doing.


I really enjoy this section along the bank, and it’s a great shame the path has to turn inland, yet again, when I reach Crook Farm.


I walk down a very muddy farm track…


… and then over a series of marshy fields. At least the path is well signed.


I join a sunken lane, just before yet another caravan park. This lane is called ‘Marsh Lane’ too. There is a pragmatic practicality about the naming system around here.

My sunken lane joins a proper road and I puff up Tithe Barn Hill to reach a spot marked as a viewpoint on my map. It’s only 20 metres above sea level, but high enough to give a commanding view over the flat stretches of marsh below.

There’s the River Lune. And beyond is Sunderland Point. It looks so close! But I have a long way to go up the river to reach the nearest bridge in order to get there.


I walk down the road and into Glasson, also known as Glasson Dock. This used to be a busy place, as it was once the official port for the city of Lancaster, saving boats from making the longer journey up the shallow River Lune. Now it’s much quieter and pretty…


… although still an active dock, with no-nonsense working ships moored up alongside the pleasure yachts.


I stop at a rather rundown pub for an excellent lunch, a meat pie. At my request, the cook provides some vegetables to go with it instead of the usual chips. Very kind. The resident springer spaniel comes and sits by my knee, looking lovingly at me and my pie. I’m afraid I’m hungry and eat the lot, so her patience is unrewarded.

From Glasson I’m following cycle route number 6 towards Lancaster. (When finished, this long-distance cycle route will connect London and Cumbria, but this particular section seems to come to a dead-end at Glasson. I’ve already walked another section of this cycle way, down near Northampton.)



The path/cycle way leads to Conder Green, where a bridge crosses over one of the tributaries of the River Lune. It’s odd to see a sailing boat sitting, stranded, on the grassy marsh.


Beyond Conder Green I walk along the edge of the marsh for a while, meeting a few dog walkers, before climbing up the bank and rejoining the cycle way. It follows, I think, the track of an old railway line, but is nicely overgrown with trees and not boring in the way old lines often are.


The sun has decided to come out, at last. Hooray! But the good weather has brought out the cyclists, and lycra-clad speeders are constantly either whizzing past me or coming towards me. Despite the busy traffic, I manage to take a self-portrait.


After a while my path splits off from the cycle way, taking a rough route along the edge of the marsh.


I meet some brightly marked sheep. Wow! What a colour, ladies.


The going is tough. High tides have washed up driftwood and other debris, so the ground is uneven and covered in obstacles.


Hoping for an easier path, I climb up onto the bank. Clearly others have had the same idea, as there is rough path – although very overgrown – running along the top. I’m not sure if it’s easier walking, but the views are better.

To my right is an area of small lakes, called Aldcliffe Marsh. The cycle way runs on the other side of these patches of water. It’s late afternoon and the colours of the grasses are warm and wonderful. I spot a heron.


Further out, across the fields, I can see the outskirts of Lancaster.


My bank curves around, following the course of the river, and at the apex of the curve I’m opposite a pub. It looks very enticing. I can see people sitting out in the sunshine on the terrace.


I decide I must visit that pub when I continue my walk along the opposite bank of the river. But it’s out of reach at the moment.

Onwards, I’m heading eastwards along the River Lune, and I know Lancaster is only a mile or so away, but for the moment I seem to be in the middle of nowhere. On my left, a raised mound runs along the opposite side of the river, and my map indicates it might be a covered rubbish tip.


On my right are fields and cows. Or are they bullocks? The nearest one starts to walk towards me, but I’m safe behind a fence.


Further along I come to a sign telling me this area is called Freeman’s Pools. The sun is low behind me, bobbing in and out of clouds, and creating dramatic lighting effects across the landscape.


I would have taken far more photographs, but find I’m constantly struggling with my jammed camera. Sometimes it shoots. More often it doesn’t. I’m coming to the sad realisation the lens focusing mechanism is damaged, almost certainly due to the sand that flew in a couple of days ago (thank you Blackpool). And it doesn’t look as if it’s going to cure itself.

Onwards. This walk is lovely, especially as the river is high – nice to see water instead of mud – but the path is quite overgrown and doesn’t look much used.


After a while, I join a road on the edge of Lancaster where a new housing estate is going up alongside an area of light industry. The houses by the road have great views over the River Lune and seem to be selling well.


Mums are walking back from school, with young children and pushchairs. This new estate already has an established feel to it.

The road takes me along the old wharf area, a place called St George’s Quay, which has a strange mix of decrepit warehouses and newly developed residential properties. I see the railway bridge ahead. This would be my first crossing point over the River Lune…


… but I’m staying in a hotel just beyond the bridge. Tomorrow, I’ll be going over the river, but my walk today is over.

Walked today = 12 miles
Total distance around coast = 2,734.5 miles


About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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21 Responses to 270 Cockerham to Lancaster

  1. I love the brightly coloured sheep but they do look a little odd – makes you wonder if the resident ram got the wrong end! lol

  2. owdjockey says:

    Ruth, could you please tell me the way to Greggs in Lancaster? Thank you.

  3. beatingthebounds says:

    The pub is the Golden Ball. It sometimes gets cut-off by the tide.

  4. All familiar territory to me. I like the bit about the Springer, I had one for16 years, a great friend. He would mug anybody for food, especially hikers with sandwiches.

  5. jcombe says:

    This walk is fresh in my memory as I did it only a couple of months ago. I always feel strangely guilty if someone asks me for directions and I don’t know. But the funny thing is the number of times I’m walking somewhere with a map and am stopped and asked directions. I think people see you with a map and assume you know where you are going. But of course the opposite is true. People not familiar with the area have maps with them, locals do not! So usually the best I can do is tell them where they are and hope that where they want to go is on my map.

    The path you were following is indeed and old railway line.

    As I see another reader has mentioned the pub opposite is on a tidal road. As in fact is quite a lot of the walk the north side of the river. Sunderland Point is the only place in the UK which is not an island but is cut off at high tide. So I hope for your next walk you were lucky with the tide.

    Sorry to hear about your camera. I think you use a Canon EOS SLR? I used to use an EOS400d and that sometimes developed problems if it got wet by using it in the rain or having it in a less than waterproof bag or case in heavy rain. I sometimes had problems with it after such an event where it would start to do odd things such as take photos in black and white only, randomly switch ISO setings or act as if the shutter buton was always being held down, so it would take photos continuouslly. Sometimes the inside of the lens or the screen would steam up for a while too. A day or two switched off in the dry with the battery off would always fix such problems. The only time this failed was the last time when I fell in the sea with it switched on and around my neck. It never recovered from that dunking (though it did survive a similar accident where I fell in a river.,…). Might be worth a try. Another option is to try cleaning the contacts between the lens and the camera, it might be as simple as that. A final thing to check is to find out if the problem is with the lens or the camera. So you could see if you could borrow another Canon lens off someone and see if that works OK (or try your lens on their camera). That would at least help point where the problem lies. You could also try it on manual focus, there should be a switch on the lens.

    If you use the kit lens (18-55mm) I happen to have an old one which works fine but I don’t use it (because it does not fit my current camera). I have lost the lens cap for it though. Feel free to get in tocuh if it is of interest (I would let you have it for a nominal sum e.g. to cover postage). I think my email address should be visible to you within WordPress?

    • Thank you for all those excellent tips, Jon. I’ve had this camera and lens combo for 5 years, and I’m surprised it’s lasted so long considering all the travelling I’ve done. Water and sand are always hazards when you walk with a camera..
      Your offer is extremely kind. Am sending you an email.

  6. owdjockey says:

    Hi Jon, it is rather a misconception that access to Sunderland Point is cut off by tides. Vehicular access yes, but there are a number of footpaths which lead around Lades Marsh to Sunderland Point. I was there a couple of weeks ago and chanced my luck on the road. I made it across with literally 90 seconds to spare!

  7. Jacquie Butler says:

    ‘No thank you, there’s no need’ seems a rather churlish reply to your offer of a group photo – perhaps it was a clandestine meeting and their other halves didn’t know.
    I like the blue rinse brigade – I find sheep very photogenic.
    This looked like a particularly pleasant walk with wide open skies and no route finding problems.

  8. David L says:

    Enjoy my old home town…… But do watch the tides at Sunderland Point. If you want to go round the point itself, or go across on the causeway/road, make sure you start before mid-tide. As others have said you can get round to the houses by footpaths over higher ground even at high water, but you’ll struggle to get to the Point itself. At low water you can go round it easily on the foreshore and pick up paths on the seaward side, leading up to Heysham.

    The Golden Ball is also ‘Snatchems’, allegedly because it was a place where the navy press gang snatched drunken sailors to crew the fleet.

    • Lancaster is a lovely place, and nice and lively because of the university. A wonderful place to live, I would imagine. (Apart from the one-way traffic system around the centre, which creates an enormous roundabout effect!)

  9. Marie Keates says:

    I love those colourful sheep but can’t help wondering about the wool. Perhaps the dye washes out?

  10. 5000milewalk says:

    Ahhh! Now I know what the gate is meant to look like – the one just after the muddy lane at Crooks Farm with the red tractor. I followed in your footsteps yesterday, but the gate was under 4ft of water! I considered wading it, or swimming (4ft was only a guess!) but eventually managed to find a way round in the end! 😄
    Lovely photos Ruth – it looks so much nicer in the summer!

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