Another day snatched from Winter.
In his guide, John Covey follows the Lancaster Canal from Lancaster to Carnforth. That is a route I’ve walked often in the past so I decide after exploring Lancaster to follow the Lancashire Coastal Way instead.
Covey details a Lancaster Friary, a Dominican community of preachers. [1260 until dissolution] There is no trace of any building now.
He also mentions St. Leonards Hospital established in the C12 as a leper hospital later having a church and chaplain for the poor. It closed in 1470 and all trace has gone.
Gardiner’s Hospital was established as an almshouse in St. Mary’s Gate near the castle around 1485. These almshouses were rebuilt in 1792 eventually to be sold in 1938 and the site built upon. To replace them four almshouses were built in Queen Street. At last, I had something to seek out and find. On the way, I happened upon the Friends Meeting House, a Quaker building from 1708. That set me musing in this election week. would the Quakers be the ‘Greens’ of religion? what of the rest? RC’s – Tories, CofE – Labour, Methodists – Lib Dem. We will know our fate tomorrow.
Also in central Lancaster, I already knew of the Penny Almshouses. William Penny, several times mayor, gave funds in 1715 to build 12 small houses and a chapel for ‘poor indigent ancient men and women’. They received a house, an allowance, a suit of clothes and the services of a chaplain. The plaque over the entrance records Penny’s generosity and warns in Latin ‘profanos hinc abesse’ – those of ill-repute should keep away. Next door Assembly Rooms were built in 1759, income from events helped provide for the almshouses.
My object of climbing up here was to visit Lancaster Priory Church. A Benedictine priory was founded around 1094 on the elevated site, about the same time as the castle was being established on an old Roman Fort. The remains of the priory are under the Church which was built in the C15. Becoming a parish church it avoided destruction in the Dissolution. Inside are the celebrated carved choir stalls with their misericords from 1340, two sets of impressive organ pipes along with some beautiful stained glass. From up on the hill, the site of the Roman Fort, a path led down and passed close to the Roman Baths.
All I had to do now was walk a dozen miles to Carnforth.
The Millenium Bridge was right in front of me and I crossed the Lune to pick up a cycle path all the way to Morecambe. The views across to St Georges Quay had the Priory high above and a crooked house squashed in below. There was not much to see on this straight route so I made good progress and was suddenly in front of the Midland Hotel, no I didn’t go in for coffee. I saved that till a little later at the Lighthouse Cafe, a community cafe with a comprehensive menu. Whilst I ate toasted teacake [homage to my good friend Tony] I gazed out at Eric Morecambe bringing me some sunshine on the prom. Unfortunately, when I emerged from the cafe the rain came down and had me scurrying for my waterproofs which once donned, of course, the rain stopped for the day.
The promenade went on forever with a few installations to distract one. Suddenly I was free of roads and walking on the shoreline. Stoney and muddy in equal proportions. The tide was out but following all the recent rainfall the marshes were very boggy. Views across Morecambe Bay were obviously extensive but the background hills came and went. Ahead was the prominent but diminutive Arnside Knott.
At Red Bank Farm, busy with visitors to the cafe, I came across The Praying Shell statue carved in limestone above the sands where 23 Chinese cockle pickers died in 2004. Artist Anthony Padgett has said a link may be made to that tragedy but the idea was conceived before. “It’s symbolism is intended to parallel humanity’s openness to a larger dimension and the way cockle shells open as the tide comes in,” Another couple of miles of marshland with lots of channel hopping where there was no distinct path, probably underwater at high tide. I climbed to higher ground in one or two places, I must admit to being uneasy on tidal areas. The Keer Channel was a muddy mess. I finally hit solid ground on the little road running alongside the Keer and realised I’d been here before with Sir Hugh on our Way Of The Crow Walk between Longridge and Arnside, that was a very wet day 2 years ago.
I had a brief encounter with Carnforth Station before catching my train.