I take the train to Carnforth station, made famous by the classic film Brief Encounter. Although the station itself is lacking in romance, they capitalise on their fame with a ‘heritage museum’, complete with a Refreshment Room and old-fashioned porter trolleys.
Is the Refreshment Room the same room they used in the film? Or is it a mock-up of the original? I’m not sure.
Leaving the station, I follow a road, and then a cycle track, heading back towards Warton. I’m actually retracing the final stage of my last walk, and I feel a little lonely because I don’t have my husband with me this time.
Before I get to Warton, I turn off down a minor road signposted to Silverdale. The official Lancashire Coastal Way actually runs on a parallel road along the slopes of Warton Crag above me, but this route is closer to the coast.
Traffic is light and the walk is pleasant, with intermittent bursts of sunlight lighting up the surrounding fields.
The railway line is below me and the occasional train rumbles by. In fact, the train runs closer to the water than any road or footpath at this point.
After a couple of miles of road walking I reach a collection of houses. This is Crag Foot. A chimney suggests there might have been mining here…
… but later I learn it was part of a pumping station to drain the nearby marsh.
At Crag Foot a sign welcomes me to Silverdale, and here I turn off the road (hooray) to follow a footpath round the edge of the marshes.
The path (a track really) passes under the railway bridge and then over a narrow river.
Now I’m walking on a permissive path that follows a raised bank – with the odd name of Quaker’s Stang. The bank swings around the edge of a broad expanse of marsh, its bright green surface is intercut with a lace work of watery channels and gleaming pools.
This whole area is part of Leighton Moss Nature Reserve. Looking back, I can see the raised mass of Warton Crag in the distance. I check my map and discover the river channel in front of me is called Quicksand Pool. Quicksand! I decide not to venture onto its muddy banks.
At the end of the curved bank is a mysterious tower. It looks old, but remarkably intact, considering its exposed position and I can only imagine what a buffeting it must get in winter storms.
[Later I find out the tower is the remains of a copper smelting works.]
By this time I’ve met quite a few other walkers. This is a popular place. And now I’m approaching Jenny Brown’s Point.
As I round the point, the walking becomes a bit of a scramble, with deep mud and the stones from a structure – possibly an old wharf? – littering the shore. Across Morecambe sands, in the far distance, I can just make out the blocky outline of my old friend, Heysham Power Station.
At this stage I’m forced to leave the shore. [Although, later I learn it might be possible to walk all the way around to Silverdale at low tide, according to a great blog, Beating the Bounds.] I scramble past a private house, where unfriendly ‘Private’ signs sit uneasily alongside a lone life belt.
And then I clamber up the bank to join the road. It’s a tiny tree-lined lane, virtually traffic-free, and a lovely walk with occasional glimpses of the water to my left.
I pass an area of land, called Jack Scout. For some reason it’s not marked on my map as National Trust property and I don’t realise I could have walked through it – rather than along the road – until it is too late and I’ve gone past it.
What intriguing names. Who was Jenny Brown and who was Jack Scout, and did they know each other?
Now I reach Gibraltar Farm. A neat, organised place, that offers unpasteurised milk from a dispensing machine. You put your money in and fill your milk jug. I’m tempted… but I don’t normally drink milk.
I walk along a road and then cut off to the left down a sneaky footpath, and end up in Silverdale. I spot a pub and sit out in the sunshine with a diet coke (yes, I’m on a diet again!).
I know I’ve nearly reached the end of the Lancashire Coastal Way. In Silverdale, according to my map, the Way runs down along the shore, and ends half a mile further along at the Lancashire/Cumbria boundary. So I head down to the shore.
The row of houses overlooking the beach seem idyllic, but unfriendly signs tell me it’s a private road…
… while another sign warns me about quicksand and tides.
It’s a great visual image. Very threatening. Like a still from a horror movie. And it certainly leaves you in no doubt what the danger involves.
Anyway, I discover there is no way round the point. Perhaps when the tide is low… if I was brave enough to risk it. But the tide is high and there is no way through.
I check my map and discover an alternative footpath I can use which runs across fields a little further inland.
Reluctantly I turn back and walk up through the village, past the pub again. And then I spot an official Lancashire Coastal Way sign, pointing towards a field, and I realise they must have changed the route since my OS map was drawn up.
Anyway, this turns out to be a lovely walk, across another area of National Trust land called ‘The Lots’.
After this I join a very old lane (almost a hollow way) and then a path that winds above the shore and down to a little cove. Red Rake, my map says. And it has a cave.
I join the road, and soon come to the Lancashire/Cumbria border.
Goodbye Lancashire Coastal Way. We’ve had some ups and downs, including obstructed footpaths and missing signs, and unnecessary inland deviations, but I’ve grown rather fond of you. Farewell, and I hope the local authorities put a little more effort into looking after you.
Hello Cumbria. Now, my husband’s OS map showed a Cumbrian Coastal Way, but my newer OS map doesn’t show it. It seems to have, literally, dropped off the map! Shame.
Unfortunately, this first section of Cumbrian coast involves yet more road walking. Luckily only for a short while, and with some lovely views over the bay.
After a mile or so, I turn off into a little lane. A footpath invites me to head off to the right and climb up Arnside Knott. Ooooh, I’m tempted. But the afternoon is passing by, and I better stick to my coastal walking plan. Onwards.
At the end of the lane is a caravan/chalet holiday park. It’s very leafy and quite pretty.
And beyond the holiday park I pick up a woodland footpath. The path runs all the way around the base of Arnside Knott and into Arnside, my final destination.
This turns out to be the best part of the day’s walk. The tide is too high to attempt to find a way along the shore, and I don’t mind because I do love walking through trees.
A man has been walking the same way, sticking lower than the path whenever he can, which often involves scrambling his way along the low cliff. Sometimes he’s behind me. Now he’s ahead.
I slow down and wait for him to disappear. It’s not that I’m nervous of his presence, but I prefer to walk alone.
It’s such a beautiful evening. October sunlight streams in low. The trees frame the water. I’ve managed to buy a replacement lens for the one that jammed, and so I’m enjoying a co-operative camera again. I make slow progress because I stop and take far too many photographs.
Across the bay the tide is going out. Banks of sand appear. That’s Silverdale over there. Such a pretty name.
The path is overgrown in places, with brambles and low trees, and it’s rough underfoot. After the man ahead disappears, I meet nobody else for over an hour. It’s a thrilling walk.
I’m slowly rounding a promontory, turning away from Morecambe Bay and up the Kent Channel. I pass Park Point and am now approaching Arnside Point.
Ahead is Blackstone Point. The marsh grasses glow in the low sun, looking like fields of golden corn.
I stop for a snack (I didn’t stop for lunch today – only the diet coke – and am suddenly hungry). I find a convenient post and take a self-portrait.
Onwards. I walk down by a stony shore in the shadow of oak trees. Acorns drop from the branches above, plopping onto my head and shoulders.
I’ve reached a wide open area of marsh, called New Barns on my map. And here I begin to meet other walkers.
When the sun drifts behind clouds the light becomes quite gloomy. It’s getting late. Ahead I can see the dramatic line of the Kent viaduct. And I wish I could walk across it… but it’s for trains only.
I’m approaching Arnside, and meet more people. An elderly man is folding up his folding chair, moving slowly and stiffly, and has packed something away in a bag attached to what looks like a Zimmer frame. I wonder if he’s been sketching.
Now there’s a concrete path, running beside a stone wall. I meet dog walkers, strollers, old couples, young lovers, and a solitary fisherman on the bank.
Round a corner and Arnside comes in sight, lit up by the sun which has slipped out from under a cloud. It looks wonderful.
The viaduct gleams in the evening light, with the hills of Cumbria – the Lake District I presume – blue and brooding behind.
On the way to the station, I stop at the Albion pub for an evening meal, and sit outside watching the sun setting over the Kent Channel. Last time I was here was with my husband, and we enjoyed the company of fellow walker and blogger, Conrad. It was good to meet a ‘virtual’ friend in the flesh and we had a great evening.
Tonight I’m alone. With the beautiful sunset for company.
- You can read an interesting theory on what the name ‘Quaker’s Stang’ might mean on Andy Denwood’s blog.
- If you’re interested in the Lancashire Coastal Way, you can look at the PDF leaflet.
- The Cumbria Coastal Way may no longer appear on the OS maps, but you can follow a description of the route via a walkers’ diary on the Visit Cumbria site.
Walked today = 11 miles
Total distance around coast = 2,777 miles