I’m going home today, but have planned a shortish, circular walk for this morning. My lunchtime destination? The pub on the other side of the river – the one I saw yesterday.
First I want to explore Lancaster, and so I walk up the hill behind my hotel, through an area called Quay Meadows. On the way I have a tremendous view of the priory and castle, looming above me – but sadly am unable to take photographs because of poor light conditions and my temperamental camera.
The town centre is mainly traffic free and I have a delightful meander. Lancaster reminds me of my home town of Stamford, although much larger. It’s got the same historic feel, and the older houses are built from a similar warm-looking stone.
I walk back down to the river and stand on a footbridge to take a photo looking back at St George’s Quay.
I could cross the River Lune at this point (actually, I could also have crossed via the railway bridge – the Carlisle Bridge – which is a couple of hundred yards further downstream) but either crossing would get me to the pub far too early for lunch! So I’m going to extend my walk by heading UP the river for a while.
Below me is a reminder that supermarket trolleys really do end up everywhere.
I leave the footpath and continue walking up the east shore of the Lune, past a modern road bridge, and then through parkland towards an older road bridge, the Skerton Bridge. This is the fourth potential crossing point I’ve reached…
… but I don’t cross over here either. Instead, I keep walking along the east bank, following a combined footpath/cycle way. My route has two names.
- Cycle Route 69 which will one day connect Morecambe to Grimsby on the north Lincolnshire coast, although it’s still incomplete at present.
- Or the Lune Valley Ramble, a 17 mile footpath connecting Lancaster with Kirby Lonsdale.
How lucky we are in this country to have such wonderful long-distance cycle and walking routes. The extent of the network is amazing. Anyway, it’s lovely along here and I’m not surprised to meet a few cyclists.
I walk under a canopy of trees. To my left is the river, although the view is often obscured by greenery. At one point I hear the thunder of a weir.
Meanwhile, to my right is an industrial estate, with the occasional glimpse of high fences and the sound of trucks and machinery, but for most of this section you could believe you were in the middle of the countryside.
The next bridge I come to is the Lune Aqueduct, an impressive Georgian structure, designed by John Rennie.
I climb a flight of steep steps to get to the top, and catch my breath with amazement when I see the canal.
Of course, I should have known it would be up here, because the aqueduct was built for the sole purpose of carrying the canal over the river, but it still comes as a surprise. There is something surreal about all this water flowing OVER the river, and at such a height too.
I wonder if the canal is navigable? I don’t see any boats.
Now I cross over the river and descend steps on the other side of the aqueduct. I follow a riverside walk, no longer a cycle way. The surface of the path is slimy and slippery in places, but the walk itself is beautiful. Surprising, therefore, to meet no other walkers.
I pass the weir – the one I heard earlier from the other bank – but can’t manage a decent photograph. (My camera is definitely jammed.)After a while, the path disappears and I walk through residential streets, past the two road bridges, until I join another cycle way. It’s my old friend, Route 69.
As I’m now close to the town centre, I meet other walkers – strollers, dog walkers, cyclists, Pokémon hunters. Across the river is St George’s Quay. I’m back opposite where I started!
The official Lancashire Coastal Way follows Route 69 in a northward direction to Morecambe. But that cuts out a great finger of land, including the pub I’m aiming for and the furthest tip of the finger, Sunderland Point. Why does the coast path not follow the actual coast? Weird.
So I abandon Route 69 when it swings up northwards, and continue walking along the side of the river.
I pass a racing circuit. Looks a bit casual for car racing. Oh – it’s a bicycle racing circuit. Not in use at the moment.
My riverside path is also a cycle track, but I don’t meet any cyclists. Neither do I meet any horse riders, although the surface is covered by evidence of their passing. I have to watch my step.
Further along I come across an enigmatic message on the tarmac. ‘Turn – Now’.
No I won’t turn now! It’s lunch time. Onwards. I come to a bend in the path – and there it is. Oxcliffe and the pub.
My path joins a quiet road that curves round towards the pub…
… where a sign warns of the disadvantages of living below the tidal limit of a river. ‘Road liable to flooding.’ Luckily I know the tide is going out, so I have nothing to worry about.
There is nothing at Oxcliffe really, apart from the pub, which has lodges and pods to rent in the grounds (in fact, I nearly rented a pod here, but my hotel was the same price with breakfast included). Officially the pub is called the Golden Ball, and that’s what the sign on the wall says. But I’m confused when I go inside because the name is different on the menu card – Snatchems.
An article in Lancashire Life explains how the pub was rescued from ruin 3 years ago and, in the article, you can see a photograph of the pub at high tide. It looks rather different to the photo above. [Read the Lancashire Life article here.]
The story of the name, Snatchems, is explained. Once this was a busy shipping area and if a ship was short of crew members they would tie up alongside the pub and, literally, snatch a tipsy patron. By the time the drinker realised what had happened, the ship was sailing out in open sea. It’s a great story.
The card reader in the pub isn’t working. This results in a lot of disappointed would-be-diners and must be bad for the landlord’s profits too. Luckily I have some cash with me, but discover I’m not very hungry, even after all the walking I’ve done this morning, and so I have my usual snack lunch. A drink and a packet of nuts.
After my frugal lunch I walk back towards Lancaster. The day is sunny and bright, and my camera behaves itself for long enough to allow me to take a few photographs of the view.
My map says the land to my left was once a rubbish tip or a slag heap. But now it’s an attractive grassy mound, with occasional pipes sticking through the grass, presumably to let out gasses from whatever is decomposing beneath.
I’m surprised when a large herd of horses gallop over the crest of the mound. Later, through a gap in the fencing, I manage to snatch a decent photograph of some of them.
Further along, I rejoin Route 69 as it heads into Lancaster. And I am surprised to see a couple in front of me pulling suitcases. Where have they been? And where are they going? They look hot and bothered, and tired. I soon overtake them.
I cross at the first bridge over the River Lune, called the Carlisle Bridge. It’s both a railway bridge and a footbridge. From the top I take another photograph looking up the river towards the town.
Back at St George’s Quay I find my car and set off on the long journey home. It’s been another wonderful few days of walking. Even if the route was difficult at times, and with frustrating deviations away from the coast, I’ve discovered some delightful places, including Glasson Dock, Snatchems and, of course, the lovely town of Lancaster.
Walked today = 8 miles
Total distance around coast = 2,742.5 miles