Is Arnside in Lancashire or Cumbria?
Do you remember those heady days of ‘lockdown’ when the rules of travel had us all baffled? This little peninsula on the edge of the Lake District always has me wondering which county I’m in – I could at one stage travel to Silverdale but not to Arnside 3 miles away, Yealand Conyers but not Beetham up the road. Sir Hugh, my friend living in Arnside, had agonising decisions to make. Could he be fined for walking 3 miles south? Well, those days are over for now, so I’m happy to park up above Arnside for a cycle ride around the peninsula, one quarter of which is in Cumbria.
Of course until 1974 Arnside was in Westmorland, with parts of Lancashire across the water in the Lake District, but that’s another story…
Enough of the waffle, let’s get on the bike and go. Well, I don’t go far before stopping to explore a bit of Arnside. It has recently been featured on TV in a programme about coastal villages. The programme is worth a watch on iPlayer for the history it portrays and some fine drone footage. I pause on the front to gaze across the sands and imagine the dangerous tidal bore coming in.
As I write this, I hear of the death of Cedric Robinson, the Queen’s Guide to crossing treacherous Morecambe Bay for 56 years at a salary of £15 per year. I always regret that I haven’t done the crossing, I was booked in on a charity walk three years ago, but flooding made the channels dangerous, and my event was cancelled.
I come across some curiosities –
There is a clock tower dedicated to a Rev. Bamford and family, who lived and worked locally at Oakfield School, 1895-1935.
What must be one of the shortest piers in the kingdom was constructed in 1870, following the building of the railway viaduct in 1857 which stopped ships going up the Kent to the port of Milnthorpe. Across the road was the original port’s Custom House, highlighted in that BBC’s programme. Time to move on, I headed out towards Milnthorpe but turned off onto quiet lanes through the Dallam Hall Estate. They have a herd of Fallow deer here, but today they were being camera shy. The sounds of gunshot on the estate made me feel uneasy. Soon I was dropping into Beetham, with time to have a look around St. Michael and All Angels Church. The tower is reputed to be 12th century. The interior was interesting with some superb carved wooden Victorian chancel screens and a tomb from 1490 with two stone effigies believed to be Sir Robert Middleton of Leighton Hall and his wife Anne. This tomb was damaged in 1647 by soldiers of Fairfax in the Civil War.
Across the road was the C18th post office and the C17th Wheatsheaf Hotel. The steep hill out of Beetham up to Slack Head defeated me, the first of several today. I was then faced with an even steeper hill into Yealand Conyers. At the top was the old school (now a hostel) and Quaker Meeting House from the C17th. George Fox preached here in 1652. The simple graveyard of the Quaker burial ground was a delightful, peaceful place, so much more edifying than the ornate tombs in other graveyards. Out of interest the list of recent burials showed the majority to have been well advanced in years, maybe I should look into Quakerism – simplicity, integrity, equality, community, and peace. I’m already half way there. The three limestone Yealand villages occupy an elevated position and came into prosperity in the C17 with flax and hemp industries.I have never visited nearby Leighton Hall.
It was mainly down hill into Warton, another village of C17th cottages. At its heart is the George Washington Inn, the Washington family having ties to the area in the past.I couldn’t resist a look into Warton Small quarry, a once time popular roadside climbing venue. It looked overgrown today. Farther up the road. I had to push, is the much larger Warton Main quarry, scene of some epics in the past. Most people avoid the scary long routes, 150ft, on the wall, but a pair were busy today on the upper tier where there are some safer bolted routes.
Once I’d got my breath back, I enjoyed the switchback road with views over Morecambe Bay. On past the much photographed chimney at Crag Foot which was once used to drain Leighton Moss, home of the Bittern. Some more walking up hills and then I was in and then out of Silverdale. As I tired, I took less photo opportunities, but I couldn’t resist stopping at the little cove for a view across the bay to Morecambe Power Station once again. On the road below Arnside Knott I have a glimpse of the C16th fortified Arnside Tower before I reach the outskirts of Arnside.
Once back in Cumbria I called in on Sir Hugh the master modeller. This was a blessing as he plied me with tea and a wonderful Banana Cake, courtesy of his son William.