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Fleetwood to Ulverston: 98.60 Miles.

Fleetwood to Ulverston

13th - 18th April 2021: 6 days.

Introduction

Introduction

If the break between the North Wales and West Lancs Coast sections of my walk was 'interesting', on account of Covid 19, the seven months since we completed that leg at Fleetwood has been a nightmare. Quite apart from the huge impact that the 'Winter Wave' had on our lives, particularly in Greater Manchester, we lost our brother-in-law in Australia, my brother in the UK, a good friend of my Mum's, the husband of a good friend of Kym's and to top it all, Kym's brother Johnny had a triple by-pass and is being investigated for other health concerns that arose during his op. We were definitely ready for a break!

April 12th was the first day of relaxation of lock down so we booked a pitch at Brackenthwaite Farm, Yealand Redmayne. Whether because we were out of practice, or because A&E Leisure had altered a few things when they serviced the caravan, I don't know, but we had a rocky start!

The Journey

The Journey

The tow up the M6 was OK and we found the farm at the end of some windey lanes, arriving at 13:00 to be shown the ropes by the owner. We chose pitch 4 on sloping grass and spent ages trying to reverse onto a level spot. The car clutch stank by the time I'd finished. Kym then reminded me that I had previously fitted a motor mover to the caravan....senior moment! I then tried to raise the jockey wheel but if came out of its housing and the front of the van smashed onto the floor. We had to move the heavy stuff out so I could lift it, which I just managed without putting my back out.

The rest of the day was very pleasant: our first pub lunch for 9 months at The Albion in Arnside, then shopping for supplies in Carnforth before a light meal in the van and an early night.

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View from caravan, Brackenthwaite Farm

13th April 2021 – Fleetwood to Knott End: 15.6 miles

Day 67

The night was freezing and our water supply had frozen solid in the morning. We managed a quick breakfast then set off in the car for Knott-End-on-Sea, which took the better part of an hour. Parking in the free car park I was worried to see the tide out so far as to leave a mere stream, which I doubted the ferry could cross. I checked and found that the ferry hadn't run for 6 months: very annoying as I this was not mentioned on the Wyre Council website.

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We decided to get the bus to Poulton, which took about 40 minutes after a 15 minute wait. Alighting at the church, we jumped straight onto the bus behind us, which stated 'Fleetwood' on its destination board. It should have said 'Fleetwood via every street in every town between'. The 6 mile distance took us an hour to cover. The driver seemed to know every passenger by name and even insisted that one elderly lady get off the bus so she could visit the bank whilst we waited! When finally we got off at Fleetwood, the driver asked knowingly "Did you enjoy the trip?"...Ha ha.

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Setting off from Fleetwood with car visible across river

And so it was, that at around 11:00, we set off from the Wyre Ferry dock along the dismal estuary side road. This seemed to be a town that was really on its uppers until we got to the ubiquitous 'retail park' where we popped into Asda for the toilet and to buy a couple of croissants. We walked through the retail park and new houses around the marina to find a footbridge across the entrance. 

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Marina entrance, Fleetwood

This led to more houses and a reasonably pleasant path along the river that gave onto a nature reserve around some old ponds.I asked a ruddy faced, deaf, Scotsman if the path continued beyond the park: he wasn't much help. We crossed the park then hit the access road, which doubled as the access to the municipal tip. This was quite possibly the worst stretch of the entire walk to date. We passed between industrial wasteland and a former open cast tip. The road was strewn with fly tipped rubbish. It was dreadful.

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The worst mile of the entire walk?

The road passed over the former railway line between two absolutely awful static caravan sites. Hundreds of vans were crammed onto the area between the refuse tips and the busy main road. We had to walk around one of these - 'Cala Gran' (honestly!) to regain the path down to the estuary. This ran between the site and a chemical factory. We got the first whiff of a smell that would stay with us for much of the rest of the day.

The next couple of miles ran along the water's edge but with huge industrial units and an old dock full of dodgy looking water on the inland side. It was all a little depressing and quite concerning that we saw absolutely no wildlife on the estuary.

We arrived at Stannah Country Park where we checked and found that high tide would be at 13:09. We disregarded the warning signs and stuck to the waterside path, which fortunately was still passable. This was a much more pleasant part of the walk. We had left the industry behind and the views were now of green countryside across the water. We passed numerous commemorative benches including some attractive carved ones.

After  a while we came upon the old jetties that ran north from the Blackpool and Fleetwood Sailing Club. They were all completely wrecked and accommodated a variety of equally wrecked craft. The first looked amazing: a jumble of old boats and timbers that jutted 50 yards or so out over the water. It looked completely undafe but there was an old chap working on it.

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Old Jetties, Hambleton

The Yacht Club looked underused. We walked along the road, past some more boats and large houses, to reach the A685, where we hugged a tributary of the Wyre back to the Shard Bridge. This part of the shorline was quite muddy and we had to pick our way carefully through the water.

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Blackpool & Fleetwood YC, Hambleton

Crossing the bridge we found that the adjacent pub was shut so we followed the path along the eastern bank and back to Hambleton. Cutting inland through a passage we found the 'Shovels Inn' to be closed. I Googled the other food option in the area and found that it was a care unit holiday home restaurant that had strict rules regarding who could eat there: we failed on every count. We walked up the road and came upon 'Montanas' where we bought jacket potatoes and a caramel flapjack. We walked back to the river and found a seat overlooking the busy yacht club where we ate our food in the sun.

The club was busy with boats, but not with activity, that being restricted to a couple of guys having a drink on their yacht and another grinding away on a DIY job. The narrow channels through the mud flats were impressive.

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Lunch stop

We wandered on up the quiet lane which we then followed for some distance. Many of the large farms had created lodge or static caravan parks. One particularly impressive old farm was in ruins - a great project?

The lane gave way to a footpath that ran along the inside of a couple of nature reserves that extended to the river estuary. These were crossed by myriad streams through the mud. We saw the odd bird but more were to be seen on the farmland to the east. The farms were pockmarked with 'brine wells' from which the salt water was pumped across the Wyre to the chemical plants.

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Sheep licking the brine pits

Leaving the final reserve we passed the impressive Hackenshall Hall then crossed Knott-End Golf Course before arriving at the estuary side for the final walk back to the car. We were both quite tired so jumped in the car and drove back, stopping at Condors Green to reccy tomorrow's transport arrangements and then at Carnforth for supplies.

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Fleetwood from the approach to Knott End

14th April 2021 – Knott End to Conder Green: 15.65 miles

Day 68

Decided to catch the later of the two buses from Conder Green to Knott End so arrived at the closed down Stork Inn at 09:00 where we listed to the radio and got ready. Kym spotted the bus in the nick of time as it was early and not going to stop. We paid our £8.60 - a sure sign that this was another 'round the houses' job. Sure enough, it took us 15 minutes to tour Glasson Dock before the bus arrived back near the Stork again. We were then treated to the delights of all the local villages, including a double round trip of Pilling where we picked up an old chap and his dog, having given them notice of our impending arrival on our first pass.

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We alighted at Knott End and chose to have a coffee and a bacon bap at the Knott End cafe. It was great and after a photo we set off along the front. The houses were a little tired in town but had great views across the bay. The tarmac path ran for a long distance, affording a good view north, of the bay and the distant Lake District Fells and south, of the houses and gardens of Knott End's suburbs.

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The view back to Knott End

We passed many friendly people then a school next to which was a smallholding with various animals, including emus. On past a stange fenced off area before we left the houses behind and continued along the still tarmac path. We came to a small car park by Fluke Hall where we left the embankment and followed a pleasant lane past attractive farms: one with beautiful daffodils. We passed some engineers fixing an overhead telephone cable before arriving at Pilling Church and a closed pub we had passed on the bus. Here we followed the road that we had taken on the bus and arrived at the old white windmill, now a fine house.

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Emus by Pilling School

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Pilling windmill

Here we debated whether to follow my inland route but an elderly chap coming down from the leveee said we could follow it all the way to Conder, so we ascended the raised path and followed it to where it turned right along Pilling Marsh. The levee gave a great view of the bay and of the grassy, marshy foreshore. We tramped on for a while but then came to a gate bearing a sign that said 'No public access', which we ignored on account of prior notices saying access was permitted at this time of year.

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Heysham Power Station from Pilling Marsh

I was concerned about not being able to get off the levee as several water courses ran inland from it, so we descended to a farm track that headed towards the main road. Shortly, a tractor pulled up and the farmer told us we were 'hopelessly lost'. He related the story of why he'd put the private sign up on the leveee but said we were fine to walk along it. His beef was with Natural England. He then told us about his parents' brushes with hospital, his long Covid and his support for Brexit. He had done a lot to promote wildlife on his farm but received no compensation. We chatted for 30 minutes then retraced our steps to the levee where we had a nice sandwich lunch.

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Warning sign, River Cocker

We followed the levee until it turned right and then followed the River Cocher Cut back to Breck's Bridge. Here we saw lots of sheep and a heron, having seen only a few birds on the longer stretch. We crossed the bridge and noticed several cyclists in a time trial on the main road. The path followed the levee on the far side of the Cocker out to Patty's Farm, which was adjacent to an airfield used by the Black Knights parachute club. We stopped for a snack at the large table and chairs erected as a signpost to Patty's and Bank End Farms then followed the road to the latter.

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Table and chair sign-stone

We chatted to the farmer's wife, who was walking her dog and she assured us that the sea regularly came up across the road at this point. Passing through her farm and several static vans we then passed by Bank Houses and more statics before arriving at the Chapter House of Cockersand Abbey, which stood on a promontary guarded by the Plover Sear lighthouse. It was sunny but a cold wind blew so we kept putting on and taking off our hats and gloves. We sat for a while watching the birds and admiring the view.

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Remains of Cockersand Abbey

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Interesting beach signage, Cockersand

Following the embankment round to Crook Cottage and Crook Farm, with its old ships mine and anchor, we turned right across the fields aiming for yet another static van site. At that point we joined the road which we followed up to the view point above Glasson. There were great 360 degree views all described on a panorama set on a wall. After a brief sit, we descended to Glasson where I bought a paper and we read up about the docks on an information board.

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Panorama looking west from Glasson viewpoint

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Disused railway line from Glasson to Conder Green

The trail back from Glasson to The Stork was along the old railway line, which gave good views of the Lune Estuary to the left. There were a surprising number of abandonned vessels in the mud. We detoured off the trail for the final quarter mile back to the car, which we reached exhausted. We drove back to the 'van and sat out for a beer.

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A wonderful sentiment and the reason for this walk

15th April 2021 – Conder Green to Carnforth: 19.10 miles

Day 69

After another freezing cold night and an Elsan toilet malfunction (and clear up by me) we left by car for Carnforth Station. Paid £5 to park then went to the 'Brief Encounter' platform to buy tickets. I went back to the Co-op to buy a paper.

The train was packed with schoolkids. We got off at Lancaster and followed them to the 89 bus stop, where we waited 25 minutes for the bus to Conder Green. It was on time and we arrived at The Stork where we'd parked yesterday. I chatted to a chap renovating the pub, which apparently burnt badly 18 months ago damaging much of the very old interior.

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The train was packed with schoolkids. We got off at Lancaster and followed them to the 89 bus stop, where we waited 25 minutes for the bus to Conder Green. It was on time and we arrived at The Stork where we'd parked yesterday. I chatted to a chap renovating the pub, which apparently burnt badly 18 months ago damaging much of the very old interior.

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The soon to be renovated Stork Inn at Conder Green

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We retraced our steps to the coastal path and started along the old railway line that bordered the Lune mudflats. It was fairly easy going and quite pleasant, if cold out of the sun. We saw a few birds on the mud and bits and pieces of wildlife on the onland side. We passed Lancaster Golf Club and a large solar farm. The dome of Lord Ashton's memorial was a constant reminder of his importance to Lancaster.

We stayed on the levee rather than taking the more direct cycle path and were rewarded with a large area of water and mud flats with many birds. The levee eventually ran close to the river channel as it turned east towards Lancaster. We stopped for a snack and to relieve ourselves, in the act of which Kym overbalanced into a nettle patch - ouch! We set off again, overtaking a woman who was polluting the lovely silence with moronic music playing on her phone - aagh!

A bulldozer was levelling ground across the river and had a dreadful 'Caw Caw' 'health and safety' reversing sound that could be heard for miles, despite there being not a sole to run over!

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The River Lune with the Lake District Fells beyond

We continued along the riverside until we reached some attractive new housing and then equally attractive apartment blocks on the site of the old lino factory. Passing under the railway bridge we reached the converted wharfside buildings and some very old buildings that were distinctly lopsided.

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Lancaster wharfside

We arrived at the new footbridge and asked a lady for coffee shop recommendations. She led us up to the centre of town where we sat outside a fine new coffee shop - Journey Social Kitchen, where we were well looked after by lovely staff. We each had a drink and a cake then walked back to and across the Lune to pick up the cycle trail to Morecambe.

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The railway bridge over the River Lune, Lancaster

The trail was very popular with cyclists and walkers and the odd reprobate, including a couple of tossers on big fast electric scooters - morons! It was interesting looking at the properties adjoining the trail. Most had made an effort but some had thrown garbage and fly tipped over their own back fences - incredible!

I was checking the map when a wag passed us and said 'The sea's that way!' We arrived at the front shortly thereafter and made for the art deco Midland Hotel, where we caught sight of the Lake District Fells across the bay. We passed the Eric Morecambe statue and a great iron panorama of the Fells, then started a long tramp along the esplanade and past the golf course before leaving the road at the sign to @Jo-n-Lee's Cafe', which had a good write up online.

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The Midland Hotel, Morecambe

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Depiction of the Lake District peaks with the real thing in the distance

We donned our masks and entered the cafe but Jo (or Lee) told us that they'd stopped serving hot food half an hour ago, so we left and carried on along the rocky shore line. The rocks gave way to grassy hummocks, through which water channels passed, making progress very slow.

After some time we came to Morecambe Lodge and bought a couple of underwhelming pasties from the cafe there, sitting at an outdoor table by the railway line to eat them. We walked on along the beach and/or the adjacent track, passing some good quality static van sites, including one at Red Bank Farm. We stopped to photograph a white carved memorial to the lost Chinese cockle pickers then moved on to the next section of shore. This took us along a small coastal road with nice houses on it and on to Wild Duck Hall.

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Memorial to the drowned cockle pickers, Bolton-le-Sands

We left the marsh temporarily to climb a small hill that gave us great views of the ebbing tide and fast developing mudflats, onto which large numbers of birds started to descend. Off the far end of the hill we walked along the untidy shore line until we reached the untidy Marsh Ho Farm, where I had hoped to take a track back towards Carnforth. The farm had a different view of access so we had to carry on down the beach and then a small lane to Galley Hall.

We walked up the driveway and followed an 'alternative footpath' sign that took us nowhere. Bashing through some brambles we crossed a boggy area before arriving at an old farm, where we took a lane under the railway bridge that led to the road back to Carnforth Station. We jumped in the car and drove to the Wheatsheaf at Bentham for a well earned beer before driving back to the 'van.

My Strava reading said 19.1 miles. Kym's said 18.15 miles. 'MapMyWalk' shows that we walked 17.44 miles. Take your pick!

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Coniston Old Man from the caravan, Backbarrow

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Crescent moon from the caravan, Backbarrow

16th April 2021 – Carnforth to Sampool Bridge: 18.36 miles

Day 70

After another bitterly cold night, we made an early start and parked up at Carnforth Station. Kym got the paper and I paid for parking on 'Ring & Go'. We set off back towards Galley Hall where we'd left the route yesterday.

The river bridge was just before Galley Hall and the river crystal clear. On the far side we followed beside the railway before crossing it by bridge to take the road towards Warton. We found the footpath off to the left just before town and said good morning to a lady dog walker. The farmer had grubed up where the path should have been so we followed its course by OS App and found a barred stile in the corner of the field, which meant a further detour. We eventually made it onto the minor road below the disused quarry.

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Ascent out of Warton

There followed a pleasant walk by some nice houses and past an open area where a chap in a static caravan site van was fly tipping a load of garden waste. The road descended to meet the one we could have taken, at Cragg Foot, which was the corner of Leighton Moss. 

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Dry stone walls, Crag Road

From there we followed a cut and passed beneath the railway. We passed a couple of gents with long Y-shaped walking sticks before deciding to take the coastal path to Jenny Brown's Point and Jack Scout. There were great views out across the sands and back as far as far as Heysham Power Station. We passed some lovely properties as we approached Silverdale Green but thought of the mayhem that they would have to endure in high season as tourists tried to negotiate the single track dead end road.

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Jenny Brown's Point, Siverdale

I had hoped we would find the coffee shop we used to go to with the boys when we had our caravan on a winter seasonal pitch up here and sure enough, as we passed Lindeth Tower and Gibraltar Farm, it appeared on the right. The coffee shop owner was just opening up so we got drinks and two cakes and sat in the sun. We chatted to a chap and his wife who were about to leave their accommodation and then to the owner who had been there 40 years and so would have served us 25 years ago!

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Tide out, Silverdale

We pressed on down to the shore and were surprised to find that the green patchwork of sand islands was completely gone, to be replaced by muddy sand. We walked across this before taking the lane back up to the Arnside road and along to Holgates Caravan Park. I had hoped to pick out where we had spent our first night in our caravan back in 1996, but the small farm site had become a minor town with dozens of static vans, cabins and a huge number of touring caravans. Kym suggested that we should come back some time: I had had enough after one stroll through. I couldn't stand the thought of more than five minutes of screaming kids, yapping dogs and adults talking loudly into mobile phones.

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Entering the final county of the whole walk

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Arnside Tower

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We exited the site at the old tower and descended back to the Arnside road which we followed for a hundred yards to the footpath off to the left. It took us up the steep side of Arnside Knott and onto the treeless summit from where we could see down to the River Kent and across to Grange-over-sands. We descended through the trees and past some fine houses then took a footpath down to the front. Walking east we passed the Albion pub but, as it was only 12:15, decided to buy a pie from the bakery next door. Kym ordered then waited outside whilst I got us a seat at the end of the decidedly chilly pier. The pies took ages and were not worth the wait: mine was burnt.

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Railway viaduct over the River Leven at Arnside

We pressed on through town, past the station and under the railway to follow the Milnthorpe road. Half way along we diverted to the more picturesque levee that gave us great views of the vast expanse of sand through which flowed the tiny River Kent. The path gave out as it met the main road so we crossed over and followed another path along the old railway line through a spectacular cutting. This brought us to The Ship Inn but I was worried about us making our 16:15 bus so we pressed on.

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The Kent Estuary with White Scar in the background

The path diverted beside the river before we arrived at the bridge over the River Bella just above a pretty weir. 

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River Bella road bridge near Milnthorpe

 Dodging the traffic to cross the bridge with no footpath we immediately turned left up a small lane that ran beneath another levee. The lane strethced out further than we could see into the distance and it was some time before it took, first a right and then a left, turn. We walked gingerly passed a muck spreader whose load was being discharged onto the field and our lane. A couple of swans brightened up the drainage ditch.

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Hazardous muck spreader

We passed some allotments where we exchanged a cheery hello with a gardener then saw a cyclist nearly run into four ducks before we joined the busy A6, following it as far as Levens Hall. Part of the hall was being renovated but the topiary had been shaped and it appeared to be open to visitors.

We negotiated the busy road junction at Levens Bridge and then cut through some trees to avoid the worst of the traffic. A lady dog owner gesticulated at me from across the busy highway to ask me to kick her dog's ball back to her. The path followed on the other side of a hedge to the A6/A590 link. After a short stretch risking life and limb on the road we followed a farm track back across the A590 and up towards the village of Levens. We were sorely tempted to stop for a beer at the Hare and Hounds pub but we resisted and walked away towards Sampool Bridge.

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Shock horror...Cyclist narrowly misses ducks!

We passed a local girl out walking and asked her where the bus stoped in Sampool Bridge. We were slightly concerned when she said she'd never heard of the place! We carried on and found a bridge which a local couple confirmed was Sampool. They directed us to the bus stop on the A590 and we waited there for the bus which arrived on time ten minutes later.

After a short but pleasant drive, we got off the bus at Grange Station and asked why our 17:15 train wasn't showing on the departure board. Apparently a reduced timetable was being operated and the next train wasn't until 18:15 - a 1.5 hour wait. We were directed to the Commodore Pub where we sat outside amongst the numerous hounds and had a pleasant lamb shank (me) and fish & chips (Kym) then a shared sticky toffee pudding. We walked back to the station and were back in Carnforth 20 minutes later after listening to two youngsters talking about what they were each doing with their lives just now.

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Arnside Knott from Grange Station

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Sunset over Leighton Moss, Silverdale

17th April 2021 – Sampool Bridge to Cark-in-Furness: 15.28 miles

Day 71

After another bitterly cold night we breakfasted then drove to Sampool Bridge where we parked on the road outside a Volvo garage. We set off at 08:30 and walked across the bridge and through the village to pick up the Bay Cycle Route which followed the old Barrow road.

It was cool in the shade but the day held the promise of warmth. The old road made for easy walking though we did have to watch out for lots of cyclists. We walked towards and past the great stone cliffs of White Scar then on through trees, at times running parallel to the busy A590.

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White Scar from Sampool Bridge

On reaching Town End we turned left at the pub and passed beneath the A590 to take a minor road south. We stopped to chat to a pleasant chap who was about to do some birdwatching. I told him about my walk and he told us anout the local wildlife, which he said included an osprey in the trees around Meathop Moss.

We walked on, Kym stopping regularly and for lengthy periods to train her binoculars on the distant pine trees,but to no avail. I chivvied us along as we had lost a bit of time osprey hunting. We saw a chap using a digger on the drainage ditches with a tiny lamb looking on intently. A little further on a sheep was clearly distressed at having lost her black lamb that lay dead in the field.

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Holme Island from Grange-over-Sands

We turned right and climbed the hill to Meathop village, which appeared to consist entirely of holiday lets. Passing Meathop Hall we ascended the road further to Meathop Grange CC site. The traffic became more intense as we passed through the wooded hillside of The Grange. It seemed a lot further than the map suggested but eventually we descended past steep limestone cliffs to a wide drainage channel where work was being carried out.

This brought us to the estuary but it was the other side of a large embankment along which the railway line ran. The road was a straight and dusty affair. It passed Grange golf club on which several games were in progress. The road rose to meet the B5277 which we followed the short distance to Grange Station.

Shortly before the station we followed a couple of pushbikes over a footbridge across the railway. The gentleman rider had a small dog in his wicker cycle basket on the rear of his machine. We followed the promenade path past the station and the tremendous colourful gardens that lined the route. Kym asked an elderly couple for cafe recommendations and we followed their instructions to eat toasties on seats in front of the first of the cafes we came to. It was glorious sitting in the warm sunshine looking out across the sandy bay to the route we had taken to get there. Kym listened intently to a conversation between static caravan owners at the next table.

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Grange Lido

There were no toilets at the cafe o we walked on to the old lido area, past the tearooms where we'd had a cuppy with Ian and Sue back in 1996. A kind lady held open the door of a pay toilet as she exited: just as well as we didn't have any change.

The proposed Lido redevelopment looked interesting, though it had clearly stalled on account of Covid 19. We passed some terrific tennis courts before leaving the path and taking the small lane beneath the interesting houses of Kents Bank. Just past Kents Bank Station I had charted a long detour inland as no route that followed the railway was shown on the map. I decided to check with the chap dressed in the style of a pirate who was sitting outside the craft shop that ocupied the station buildings. "Are you local?" I asked, "No, I'm just the Saturday boy" he replied, ageistically optimistic. He thought we would be able to follow the line which, on crossing it, we found that we could.

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Coastal train service at Humphrey Head

This cut a mile or so from the planned route so when we got to Wyke Farm, having seen a train pass over the strengthened section of line above us on the rocky shore, we decided to explore Humphrey Head Point. The going was damp and uneven across the marsh to begin with. We passed a couple who looked familiar and I asked "Are you Ann and David?". "Yes!!" they responded, surprised, as we revealed ourselves to our good friend Chris's sister and her husband! It was the most amazing coincidence as we had not really planned to walk that bit of the coast. We had a good chat and confirmed that we would see each other again at Chris's daughter's wedding in August.

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Morecambe Bay from Humphrey Head

We walked to the end of the peninsula and were rewarded with fine views of the entireity of Morecambe Bay. The tide was out and the far distant shore was hazy, but it was an awe inspiring sight. 

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Trig point, Humphrey Head

We sat near the trig point at the highest point of the headland for an apple and more great views. These included of Cark airfield beside which we walked after descending the headland. 

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Differing welcomes on the road to Cark

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We watched as light aircraft shuttled parachutists up one after the other to descend back to the airfield, landing at the same times as their returning planes.

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Parachutists at Cark Airfield

At the end of the airfield we could have turned left towards Low Marsh, as my route intended, but on seeing the procession of young people in cars heading in that direction chose instead to turn right, noticing the Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding factory.The road took us past a playground full of kids and into the rather grey square of Flookborough. Resisting the temptation of the pub beer garden we walked on to Cark Station where I tried to buy tickets to Grange, but the app wouldn't work. The train arrived and we noted that it was bound, eventually, for Manchester Airport. We took a couple of seats for the short but scenic trip back to Grange and got off before being asked to buy tickets.

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At Grange we checked the Sunday timetable with the ticket office clerk then bought ice creams to pass the time when we realised that a taxi back to the car would cost £35 and the bus didn't depart for 50 minutes. We watched the tide rushing in before boarding the bus which took us back to Sampool Bridge where the car awaited us. I drove back, stopping at Milnthorpe Spar to get a meal for tonight and other supplies.

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The route ahead

18th April 2021 – Cark-in-Furness to Ulverston: 14.61 miles

Day 72
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Another cold night but a little overcast when we puled back the curtains at 06:30. After our usual breakfast we packed and drove to Silverdale, where Kym got the Sunday paper before we drove back to Silverdale Station where we parked in the tiny car park. We bought return tckets to Ulverston from the machine on the platform, noting that it was particularly loud - not pleasant for nearby residents. It was cool whilst waiting for the train but it arrived on time and whisked us across the River Kent and along the coast to Cark.

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Passing over the River Kent, Arnside...Compulsory masks!

We set off from Cark Station at around 09:30, stopping at the decent public toilets in the village. Kym took a diversion to Holker Hall that added a couple of hundred yards but allowed us to see an advert for an 80 year old lady walking a marathon in aid of pangolins!

We followed the B5278 past some estate houses with latticed windows and past the closed entrance to Holker Hall. We turned off up a small lane to the right which became a track. A chap was checking sheep on his quad bike as we made the slow climb to the ambitiously named Mount Barnard.

Skirting the forestry works we took a wrong turn after saying good morning to an elderly gent who preferred his own company to ours (thanks Kym!). Finding the correct path we followed it, passing two more walkers, into Burns Farm and its attractive static caravan site. The path out wasn't indicated and we went the wrong way, which necessitated a descent to a farm track a couple of hundred yards away. Kym had a call of nature in what turned out to be full view of a walker descending the hill, who gallantly consulted his map allowing her time to finish!

We had been assailed, since leaving the station, by the incessant drone of the aircraft taking parachutists up from Cark aerodrome. The noise carried for miles as their engines strained to elevate their loads. How the resdients could tolerate this inconsiderate behaviour that benefited so few but impacted on so many was beyond me.

We arrived at Speel Bank Farm and saw some delightful young lambs, including one being fed from a bottle by the young lady farmer. The trail then took us up through the woods and onto the first 'fell-like' terrain of our walk. A small tarn sat at the summit. Descending from Speel Bank we passed another farm then climbed through a pretty wood in which primroses and other wild flowers were blooming. We had good views down to the River Leven and of the railway viaduct which, had we been able to walk over it, would have shortened our route by about 10 miles!

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Spring lambs, Speel Bank Farm

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Leven Estuary from Speel Bank with railway viaduct just viewable

Emerging out of the trees we came upon the larger Bigland Tarn. Several walkers were by its shore, including a Julian Fellowes lookalike. We followed the path to the left, below Bigland hall, which descended through woods to the B5278 again. Tom called as we walked down and we had a pleasant chat with him.

On reaching the road we turned right towards Haverthwaite and crossed the road bridge over the River Leven. I checked the map and we needed to retrace our steps to take the footpath on the southern bank. I thought it strange that we had taken a long detour just to cross the river but then didn't. The map showed however that there was a crossing point near Greenod, so we pressed on.

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River Leven road bridge, Haverthwaite

The river bank was a suitable place to stop and eat our sandwiches. We sat opposite a cricket pitch across the river, which looked to be tidal, even this far upstream. After the delicious food it was on along the lane and footpaths running parallel to the river and through Roundsea Wood. The final stretch towards Greenod took us across fields that were being drained and towards the noisy A590.

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Lunch by the River Leven

The path crossed the river by means of a long footbridge, but on the far side it was not obvious which way we should go. We decided to follow the river so took a path between it and the A-road. We came off the path at a lay-by where we had a snack and Kym asked two fishermen if the embankment that lay ahead was a public right of way. They hadn't a clue, of course, but suggested that we took it! 

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Disused railway embankment, Greenodd Sands

After double checking the maps and finding no obvious other routes, we stepped over the fence and onto the mile long disused railway embankment that ran above the river on which the tide was coming in. It was easy going and all looked well as we approached the end until we noticed that there was a locked gate which we had to clamber over. That took us int a long reclamation yard. thankfully deserted, but at the far end of which was a second locked gate. This one had a high barbed wire barrier on top. It looked like we were trapped until I spotted a side gate, over which we made an unceremonious escape onto the minor lane.

We followed the lane towards our goal but the right of way seemed totally to disregard the fact that we could walk along the disused railway line, which we did. This took us to a small track that became a small lane that took us over the active railway line, passing the imposing but run down looking Plumpton Hall and back to the banks of the River Leven.

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Plumpton Hall near Ulverston

The walk down the river was pleasant, particularly as we had the pub at Canal Foot in our sights. We walked beneath some waterside bungalows to reach the canal and take a seat at which we enjoyed a celebratory pint from the interesting pub.

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Virtual customers only at The Bay Horse, Canal Foot, Ulverston

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The end of the penultimate section of the walk - Canal Foot

Our planned return train was at 17:08 but there was also one at 16:08 so we drank up and walked past an enormous GSK factory and vaccination centre, then up the 'Rope Walk' and finally round the houses to get to Ulverston Railway Station where we waited for the on time train.

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Rope Walk, Ulverston

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The Hoad Monument, Ulverston

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It was a relief to sit down and watch the view of our previous 3 days walking unfold as we travelled back to Silverdale. Our car awaited us and we hot-footed it back to the caravan to relax at the end of nearly 100 miles of walking.

A good week, blessed with excellent weather. Only one more section to go!

Afterward

Afterward

In the late afternoon we visited Leighton Moss RSPB reserve, which we had to ourselves and which looked superb in the early evening sunlight.

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Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve

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We allowed ourselves a 'day of rest' following the walk and decided to take the weight off our feet by going for a drive around The Lakes. The fells were a burnt brown colour, presumably due to the lack of rain in recent weeks. We stopped for a lunch with a view at the National Trust cafe at Dungeon Ghyll.

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Langdale

On the day of our departure we thoroughly enjoyed a morning visit to Levens Hall, with its superb topiary and where we bought some great food and some beers that we took back to eat sitting outside the caravan.

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Levens Hall topiary

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