273 am Sunderland Point to Heysham

The next day my hubby drops me off at the car park where I ended my walk yesterday. Pott’s Corner according to my map, but Middleton Sands according to the road signs.

It’s a strange place, temporarily transformed into a construction site (more drainage works?) overlooking marsh and fringed with caravan parks. That’s Morecambe Bay ahead and those are Cumbrian hills in the distance.

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I look along the shore. In the distance is the bulk of Heysham Power Station. It looks as if I could walk there along the edge of the marsh, but nobody else is heading that way and I’m pretty sure I would come to a dead-end.

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Reluctantly I turn away from the sea and follow the road inland…

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… past caravan parks. I’m always amazed these places have customers. This is not the nicest part of the coast and doesn’t even have a beach. I suppose staying here is cheap? I hope so.

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Across the fields are farms…

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… and I meet a horse that looks as though it’s chewing gum. Munch. Munch. I wonder what it’s eating?

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Then I pass a new development, with an imposing set of gates and a guard house. A guard house?! Maybe to protect the new residents from the riff-raff in the caravan parks? (There’s a park directly opposite the gates.) Personally I would hate to live in a gated community. This isn’t South Africa or the wild west. What’s wrong with people?

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A short while later, I come to a footpath leading off to my left. I’m hoping this will take me back to the shore and maybe I’ll be able to walk along the coast to pick up another road that runs alongside the power station. The road I want to reach has the intriguing name of Money Close Lane. There doesn’t seem to be a footpath connection to it, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a way through.

When planning today’s walk, I decided if this particular footpath was very overgrown I wouldn’t bother, but if it was well-trodden that probably meant people used it to access the coast and to walk along the shore. So if the path looked reasonably clear, I’d give it a try.

The footpath looks great! Neat and well-trimmed. Off I go.

I soon come across a man trimming the hedges with a fearsome saw. He stops to let me through. I ask if I can walk along the beach from here, but he doesn’t seem to know. A few hundred feet further along, and I meet a second man with a mechanical strimmer.

This workman is young and fully absorbed in his job. I stand still and wait patiently, but he doesn’t notice me. In fact, after a bit I have to start walking backwards, as he continues advancing with his noisy machine.

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Eventually he sees me and apologises. Onwards. The sea is dead ahead, and I’m walking along the edge of yet another holiday park. Now the air is filled with the noise of lawnmowers. It’s obviously maintenance time.

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I’m relieved to reach the sea, but my relief immediately turns into disappointment. The cliffs are crumbly and there are landslips where the earth has fallen away. Although I’m not exactly high above the sea, the cliffs are too tall – and too slippery – to scramble down without risking injury.

This well-maintained footpath leads precisely nowhere. It’s a dead-end. I look along the shore. Heysham Power Station seems so close… but so unreachable.

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I consider walking through the caravan park, but am not sure if there is a way out the other side. And there seem to be far too many staff workers out and about, mowing, trimming, fixing and painting.

Disappointed, I retrace my route, walking past the strimming men and again having to wait some time before the younger one notices me. In fact, the older one has to jog his elbow – something I was too scared to do for fear of causing injury – either to him or to me.

Why are these workmen looking after a footpath that, basically, leads nowhere? I know there at plenty of other footpaths along the Lancashire coast that could do with some maintenance. But why this one? It’s a mystery.

Onwards.

I’m back on the road and resigning myself to a long slog round to Heysham via Middleton village, when I suddenly see a cycle route. It disappears into an area of rough ground, but is going in the right direction. I follow it, hoping it won’t prove to be another dead-end.

In fact, I find myself in a pleasant area of unkempt grass and scrubby bushes. A sign proclaims this to be ‘Middleton Nature Reserve’, and I’m walking through a wildflower meadow. Lovely!

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At the end of the meadow is another road. The cycle signs tell me to turn left, which I do, and find myself in Heysham Business Park. I study my map. There is a track running right though the estate, and with a bit of luck I should be able to get to Money Close Lane after all.

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But no luck this time. My way is barred by a padlocked gate. ‘Should you require access please contact…’ the sign says, and gives a phone number. For one moment I’m tempted to give them a ring. The road runs straight ahead. Yes, I do require access.

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I turn back, retracing my steps again, and find the continuation of the nature reserve on the other side of the road. I should have turned right instead of left when I left the flower meadow.

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This nature reserve doesn’t appear on my map. It seems to consist of a lake and a surrounding border, where people are strolling, and I wonder if the path only leads in one giant circle around the water. I hesitate. Do I want to reach another dead-end? But I’m fed up with road walking and decide to give it a go.

The landscaping comes to an end. Now I’m alone and walking along old roads which the weeds are trying to reclaim, through what looks like an abandoned industrial lot.

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Off to one side are high fences with warehouses and factories behind them. I follow a vague path in the grass, and discover a gap in the fencing. It’s the end of an alley way. Old oil drums act as bollards.

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I walk down the alley and join a street. My wandering has cut out some road walking through Middleton, but I can’t escape the tarmac now. Onwards. Factories give way to housing. On my left is a golf course. And there’s the power station. I’m essentially doing a huge circuit to get around it.

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The street takes me to a junction with a major road. I’m surprised to see a sign indicating a ferry port. I hadn’t expected ferries. I check my map – the ferry port is clearly shown and, for some reason, I hadn’t noticed it.

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I turn left towards the coast (and the ferry port). A sign high up on the wall of a convenience store says ‘LAST SHOP BEFORE FERRIES’. I guess it’s placed high for the benefit of HGV drivers.

Now the sea is ahead and I’m walking along the perimeter of the port. Where do the ferries go? To Ireland?

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Beyond the port is a strip of curving beach with a narrow promenade. Half Moon Bay, says my map. What a great name! I sit on one of the benches and have a snack lunch. It’s a relief to be by the sea again, but I haven’t really made much progress since I set off this morning.

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At the end of the promenade is an area of rough land. A path leads along the top of low cliffs. ‘Heysham Coast’ says a National Trust sign. (Thank goodness for the National Trust!)

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There are dog walkers up here and a few fishermen down on the shore. It’s a lovely afternoon and everyone I meet is smiling.

I come to a ruined chapel. St Patrick’s Chapel. It’s of Anglo-Saxon origin and was originally founded in the 8th century. I can’t get a decent photo – too many people milling about and I can’t find the right angle for a broad shot.

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My lens (a temporary replacement for the one that jammed) turns out to be no good for framing landscapes. It makes everything look far too close.

Below St Patrick’s Chapel is a much newer – but still very old – church. I don’t go inside, but take a photograph of the churchyard. What a splendid position.

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I walk down lanes with pretty houses. This is, I think, Lower Heysham, an area of Heysham. And then I reach another seaside promenade.

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Onwards. I’ve nearly reached Morecambe.


[To be continued…]


About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, Doctor, woman, etc.
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18 Responses to 273 am Sunderland Point to Heysham

  1. The ferries from Heysham go to Ireland and the Isle of Man; the gated community you passed is a luxury retirement village, built on the site of the old Pontins Middleton Towers holiday camp. Personally I wouldn’t mind living in a gated community, as you say it would probably keep out the riff-raff, though I don’t think you could describe everyone who stays in a caravan as such. Sometimes I wish the small estate where I live was gated, it might stop the boy racers coming through!

    • Hope you don’t think that I think that people who stay in caravan parks are riff-raff! I was being sarcastic. 🙂 I see what you mean about boy racers, but I would hate to live in a place where you felt you had to have locked gates to keep the rest of the world outside.

      • tonyhunt2016 says:

        We live in a country whose agriculture can support only half the population – just wait till we can’t afford the food imports. Then a gated community and a Kalashnikov might not seem like such a bad idea. Cheerful thought for a Sunday evening!

  2. Jjohn says:

    Heysham to Ireland and the Isle of Man I think Ruth

  3. jcombe says:

    Things get better beyond here, back to the open sea at last! It is possible, at low tide, to walk along the shore from Sunderland Point to near Heysham Power Station, as I did that. I entered the caravan park and follow the tracks through it to reach Money Close Lane. I am not sure it is a right of way, I just cut through the caravan park and figured if anyone challenged me I’d just say I was visiting someone staying there. Like you I can’t work out why so many people want to stay there. I thought the caravan park should be “Power Station View” or something, but it was I think called “Oceans Edge”.

    Money Close Lane was just a busy pavement-less road leading to the caravan park so you did not miss anything.

    Ferries certainly run from Heysham to the Isle of Man. It is the main UK-port for the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company (I love how they kept the original name) and a ship runs each day from Heysham to Douglas and back. I think there might be ferries to Ireland too, but these are for freight only I think. I thought about getting the train from Heysham until I found there was just 1 train a day, timed to connect with the ferry to Douglas.

    • I must get braver about trespassing. Actually, I remember you describing how you walked through the caravan park (in another comments section, I think) and might have given it a go – but the place was crawling with maintenance men, and I chickened out.

  4. gillianrance says:

    Gosh you really have to have your wits about you on some of your walks, very frustrating when they don’t go to plan and you have a take detours. It was good to see you finally reached a more attractive section.

    • The trouble is, I’m always trying to follow my rule and stick as close to the coast as I can. That means trying out promising footpaths – even if most of them turn out to be dead-ends!

  5. owdjockey says:

    Hi Ruth, John is right, just head throught the caravan park and exit. Its what I did but got suckered into using a footpath that disappered over the old MOD land. Ended up havig to cut through the golf course to get onto Money Close Lane. As Banksy says, its always easier to do things first then ask permission later!
    Writing this looking out over the River Clyde at Greenock. A beautiful 2 days, so far, of walking along the Firth of Clyde, stunning scenary!

  6. Lynn says:

    Hello Ruth, Middleton Towers used to be a Pontin’s holiday camp. Stayed there myself and during my stay the television building was completely engulfed in flames by if I remember correctly a faulty tv.. Remember the music being classic, now vintage Soul.

    • Ah. Interesting. It does seem an odd place to put a holiday camp, when there are many much nicer sections of the coast nearby. I love vintage soul. Used to live in the west indies when I was a teenager, so it was the background music to my teen years.

      • Lynn says:

        Hello Ruth, I agree about the location being an odd place to put a holiday camp, If my memory serves me correctly, it was next to a prison too !!!. What an wonderful childhood you had growing up in the West Indies, how beautiful and it gave you a love of great music too 😎Classic Tavares, John Handy were the order of the day music wise at Middleton Towers and I even won a prize in a dancing competition !! Take care.

  7. El D says:

    When my camera gives up the ghost – usually because I’ve left my spare batteries bag at home! – I use my mobile phone camera. But I also carry a charger in my ruckie!

    My walking friend, brought up in the country, totally ignores No Trespassing/Private signs while I, a City Girl, quake with fear of men with guns who will shoot me! We have learned to compromise!

    • I’ve never been challenged when trespassing, but I live in fear of humiliation. Also had some unpleasant encounters with cows while crossing fields while trespassing. It’s not guns, it’s cattle you need to watch out for. And barbed wire fences. And swamps.

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