Category Archives: Lancaster Canal

BACK IN THE SADDLE – Morecambe bay and beyond, continued.

Crawling out from under my rock I wonder where a week has gone. It went in a haze of Covid fever, headache, cough and abdominal pains which laid me lower than expected. I could hardly read others posts never mind complete my own. I’m not at my best.

***

June 14th. 2022.

Where was I?

Ah, yes. Parking up at Halton Station in preparation for a cycle ride around Morecambe Bay. Post coffee I’m off, so good to be out again feeling free as a bird. Into Lancaster, over the Millennium Bridge and out to Morecambe. I take a bit of detour past the football ground to arrive at the coast in the West End near the site of a former pier. The view out over the bay is clear, but everything seems at a great distance. I soon pass the Midland Hotel, one day I will call in for tea, and continue up the promenade without stopping at the various attractions.

West End Sculpture.

I’ve been this way so many times before, I even know the way from the end of the prom to reach the Lancaster Canal. Normally I turn south here but today to vary my route I head north alongside the canal. This is a delightful stretch with the canal elevated above the surrounding countryside. Below are Hest Bank and Bolton-le-Sands, and father out are the treacherous sands of the 2004 cockling disaster when 21 illegal Chinese immigrants lost their lives. We still don’t know how to manage the flow of immigrants into our country.

I have to be careful to leave the towpath at the correct spot, not signed, to pick up the 700 cycle route which could eventually take me, if I wished, all the way around Morecambe Bay to Ulverston and Walney Island, Barrow. Today I only went as far as the River Keer and its eponymous bridge. Whenever I’m here I can’t help thinking of The Bridge on the River Kwai and start whistling Colonel Bogey. Obviously the name of the bridge and its wooden structure set my mind into action. So much so that I paused my writing here a couple of hours ago to watch the 1957 film starring William Holden, Alec Guinness and Jack Hawkins on Vimeo. I had forgotten how good it was, building up the tension and reflecting on the British character and psychology in times of war. Directed by David Lean, arguably his best film was a few years later – Lawrence of Arabia. We will shortly come across his name once more. It is worth your time to watch again and revaluate    https://ok.ru/video/2090020047523

The Bridge on the River Keer.

***

Where was I?

Ah, yes. Coming alongside the diminutive River Keer into the railway town of Carnforth. The railway station is on the main west coast line with branches to the Cumbrian Coast and inland to Skipton, a busy junction. Most of the main line expresses cruise through at speeds unimaginable at the time of the fictional ‘Milford Junction’ just pre-WWII. It was here that David Lean directed much of the romance of Noel Coward’s Brief Encounter. Carnforth has capitalised on the ongoing success of the film and a Heritage Centre has been created on the platform – all things railway and cinema. Here I go again – diverted to watching a tormented Celia Johnson and a rather wooden Trevor Howard in Brief Encounter on the computer. I’m now an emotional mess, must have been  the Rachmaninoff. I’ll never finish this post.

***

Where was I?

Ah, yes. Enjoying a cup of tea at the famous waiting room. I had time to drift back in time as the pot of tea took an age to arrive. On my way again I now followed the 90 (Lancashire Cycleway) up to sleepy Nether Kellet now high in this range of unnamed low hills.  Views back to the Bay with the Lakeland Hills behind and ahead over Lancaster and the Bowland Hills. Whizzing down I missed my turn and ended up alongside a military training centre above the Lune. All barbed wire, locked gates and grey paint. Halton village had some old properties previously related to a now demolished Halton Hall, worth a more detailed visit. Back over the Lune I was the last car in the car park and drove home tired but contented not knowing what was ahead.

More variations and suggestions on cycling Morecambe Bay, very satisfying.

***

BACK IN THE SADDLE – Morecambe Bay and beyond?

June 14th. 2022.

A couple of weeks go by with more minor injuries preventing walking far – so time to get back on the bike. The problem was where should I go – my easy routes are becoming repetitive. After a few days bouldering up at Craig Y Longridge I feel rather stiff and lethargic this morning. Before you ask, although walking is painful I am able to do low level bouldering as long as I don’t jump off or more likely fall off. Anyhow, I have survived and need a longer day’s exercise, the wind has dropped so out comes the cycle, or rather in goes the cycle, into the cavernous boot of my estate car. No need to dismantle anything which could later cause me problems of a mechanical nature. Every cycle ride I do my heart is in my mouth expecting some failure which my limited mechanical abilities could not solve, leading to a long walk. I’m surprised there isn’t a breakdown service available to cyclists.

I’ve spotted, on the cycling map, a Route 90 that will give me a circular ride after I’ve progressed up Morecambe Bay to Carnforth. As I said, feeling lethargic I didn’t get going until lunchtime but once more I’m in the parking at old Halton station. I grab a coffee from the convenient snack van ready for the off along the familiar lines through Lancaster to Morecambe…

***

I’ve not felt well for a couple of days, head cold, sore throat, chesty cough, dizziness,bowel and bladder irritation and as I commence to write up yesterday’s completed excursion here this morning I feel distinctly worse. Time for a Covid test.

I’m going to bed so will catch up with you later.

CICERONE’S LANCASHIRE – Cockerham Coast and Canal.

The day was gloomy and so was I – perhaps I overdid the whisky last night. I was still mooching around the house late morning. But I keep trying to push my walking that bit farther. As you know I’m slowly working my way through Mark Sutcliffe’s Cicerone guide to Walking in Lancashire. In this I’m mirrored by Phreerunning Martin who always gets an interestingly different take from me, the pleasures of blogging. I needed something not too long and preferably as flat as possible. Walk 15 seemed perfect. I know the Glasson Dock area well and have done several variations of this walk before, probably most recently on my Lancashire Monastic Way. But looking at Mark’s  route I spotted some paths I had never walked. I might struggle to say something original about this walk.

I was a little embarrassed to leave my car in The Stork’s private car park, but the other space was taken by Travellers and their caravans. The channels of the Condor don’t look at their best during low tide. Following the old railway I came into Glasson, busy with people visiting an outdoor market. I couldn’t go past the little shop without buying a coffee, this time to drink as I climbed the minor hill to the viewpoint. The views were disappointing but the coffee good, sorry about the environment polluting cup.

I worked my way around the coast. The tide was out, so Plover lighthouse was accessible, it was previously maintained from the shore before becoming automatic. The incumbent keeper was based at Lighthouse Cottage where there was another light atop a wooden scaffold to line up ships coming into the tricky Lune channel. Across the channel I could see Sunderland Point at one time the major port on the Lune.

A sign talks of plovers nesting on the shoreline, but I wonder about this as the tide comes in fully most days.

Lots of walkers were converging on Cockersand Abbey, of which the only remaining building is the octagonal Chapter House. This has survived because it was used as a mausoleum by the Daltons of Thurnham Hall (see later) during the 18th and 19th centuries. The red sandstone rocks on the shore  line  show where the building blocks of the Abbey originated.

Continuing around the coast on the sea embankment passing several caravan parks which looked very vulnerable to high tides. It will be interesting to view this area in the coming decades as sea levels rise.  Those are the Bowland Hills behind.

Tree of the day.

Small planes kept taking off from somewhere on Cockerham sands, disappearing into the dark clouds only for tiny parachutes to fall from the skies. They were from the Black Knights centre. Was the sign for parachutists that had gone astray on their descent?

I left the coast and followed bridleways through drained lands up to Thursland Hall where one is corralled into narrow ways to bypass their fishery. Change of scenery.

A kilometre of tedious walking brought me to Thurnham Hall, a C17th country house converted into a spa hotel. It looked very smart and there were plenty of people staying in the attached residential block. Walking through I reflected that my life seems very simple compared to others. Escaping by a gate into a field I was wary of proceeding through the large herd of frisky bullocks, so I resorted to an outflanking manoeuvre bringing me back to an ancient green lane. A bridge gave access to the Glasson branch canal.

Herons are a common sight on waterways, staring motionless into the water. I have never seen one catch a fish, but today I was lucky this heron had just caught an eel and was having difficulty trying to swallow it whole. The highlight of the day.

*****

LANCASTER, CANALS AND COAST.

I used the abandoned railways of Lancaster for several cycle rides last year, and today I wanted to include the Lancaster Canal in a more varied circuit. Down the Lancaster Canal towpath, along the Glasson Link, take the old railway along the Lune Estuary, old railway to Morecambe, sea front to Hest Bank and complete back on the Lancaster Canal to the aqueduct over the Lune. Almost a figure of eight. Perhaps the map will explain what I intended.

I park up, as usual, at old Halton station. The area is busy with university oarpersons. I have to ride a couple of miles to join the canal at the Lune Aqueduct. I notice for the first time some exclusive looking riverside houses on the far bank, foliage normally obstructs the view. The air is still, allowing various strong aromas to float across from the adjacent industrial units; a hoppy smell, acetone and rubber. These are the only clues as to what transpires behind closed doors. I wonder what finds its way into the river.

You may remember me writing last October about ‘a good Samaritan’ who came to my aid, or more correctly my bike’s. Well, there he is again, I don’t need assistance today but stop for a chat, like old friends, and a photo.

I don’t stop for many other photos after that, as I have documented the area well on other walks.1  2  3  4

There is a ramp leading up to the elevated canal right next to the Aqueduct. A well surfaced towpath leads me quickly through the centre of the city, passing the cathedral and warehouses on the way. I use a couple of crossover bridges which used to take the barge horses over without the need for uncoupling.

Soon I’m out into the countryside and the first people I meet are from my home village, walking the canal in stages, From here on I’m struggling. The towpath is very muddy and narrow. My tyres don’t grip and I slip and slide about, feeling in danger of a headlong dive into the canal. I walk the worst stretches.

Turning off onto the side canal to Glasson brings the same problems with the mud. There are six flights of locks on this stretch. I’m relieved and weary, arriving at Glasson Dock. I head straight over the bridge to my favourite café shop for a welcome rest, coffee and homemade pie, late breakfast/early lunch. I haven’t come far, but my average speed is well below 10mph.

Refreshed, I join the rail track alongside the estuary, the tide is out, for a much quicker ride back into the city. I pass right in front of the old warehouses, Harbour Master’s office and waterfront pubs of the renovated St. George’s Quay I need to explore this area of Lancaster more, the celebrated Maritime Museum is housed here. Ahead is the Millennium Bridge, which takes me across the Lune and onto the familiar rail track to Morecambe. St. George’s Quay is better viewed from this side.

Spot the shopping trolley.

The front at Morecambe is quiet, I have a quick ride down the stone pier before following the Bay around to Hest Bank. Side-streets take me back onto the Lancaster Canal and a much better towpath all the way to the balustraded Lune Aqueduct.

I’m pleased overall with this 28 mile circuit, level all the way with plenty of interest and of course those incomparable views across the bay. The second half of the ride has thankfully been far easier than those muddy canal paths to Glasson, for which I need to find an alternative before next time.

A RURAL RIDE TO FIND A WITCH.

It was cold on the hands today.

Somewhere I have a book detailing interesting graves in Lancashire, Who Lies Beneath?  I can’t find it at the moment. But I remember visiting Woodplumpton a couple of years ago when I was taking my late friend with advanced Alzheimer Disease for a ride out and a lunch in the splendid Wheatsheaf Inn. After lunch of fish and chips, her favourite, we crossed the road to have a look at St. Anne’s Church. I always wanted to return to search for a curiosity in the graveyard. On a ride some weeks ago, the road to Woodplumpton was closed due to the substantial work on Preston’s Western Relief road. I intended to make amends today and cycle in from a different direction.

I’d come through Inglewhite, Bilsborrow and Cuddy Hill.  After the motorway and A6 it is all fairly flat with a maze of lanes, many seemingly going nowhere. A sort of no man’s land between the motorway and the Fylde. I crossed the Lancaster Canal a couple of times and passed the Plough At Eaves, a pub we used to visit when working in Preston, but that was years ago. The pub is one of the oldest in Lancashire, dating back to 1625. In former times it was variously known as the Plough at Cuddy Hill, the Cuddy Pub and more unusually the Cheadle Plough Inn. It has recently been refurbished, so I wonder what they have done to the cosy inside.

Once in the straggling village of Woodplumpton, I ignored The Wheatsheaf and headed straight to the Medieval church on the other side of the road. Outside the church’s Lychgate were the ancient stocks and mounting block. I found the squat sandstone church open, it was a Sunday, and was impressed with the stained-glass. Those well known Lancaster architects Austin and Paley were responsible for renovations at the beginning of the C20th.

But my main search was outside in the churchyard for the burial place of an alleged witch, a local 17th-century woman named Meg Shelton, also known as the Singleton Witch or the Fylde Hag.

According to legend, she was feared by the local community and tales grew up of her changing shape and form to steal food and create mischief. She died in 1705, crushed between a barrel and a wall. Apparently it was thought that she miraculously escaped from two graves and was then buried head first in a narrow slot, a boulder placed on top of her to prevent further escape. The disturbance of the first two graves could have been caused by vandalism towards her.

I soon found the boulder in the rows of conventional headstones. It was about a metre across and looked a hefty barrier even for a witch. A little brass plaque identified it and there were remains of some flowers placed alongside. I found it strange that she had been buried in consecrated ground, though there was a rumour that she was a mistress to the local lord, who might have arranged her burial.

She died a century after the infamous Pendle Witches, but her kind were still feared by the community. Did she practice the dark arts, using herbal remedies and so-called spells?  Thus earning herself a reputation and being blamed for calamities in the general run of life by the more suspicious locals. Had she been mentally ill, frightening others and becoming marginalised? Or was she just the area’s criminal?  It would be hoped that people’s illnesses or differences would not be victimised in the same manner four centuries later. Perhaps that bunch of flowers shows some understanding.

Whatever the truth in Woodplumpton, there was certainly a bewitching sunset back in Longridge.

A QUICK TRIP AROUND THE GUILD WHEEL.

Storm Arwen had passed through, but there was frost on the ground as I set off for a ride around Preston’s Guild Wheel this sunny morning. I wasn’t expecting to stop very often, but I did capture a few pictures.

In Red Scar Woods above Brockholes Nature Reserve, there was still plenty of Autumn colour.

The River Ribble was lower than I had seen it recently, with plenty of muddy banks on show.

The bridge taking the new Western Distributor road over the Ribble Link Canal is progressing fast.

At last, the Whistlestop Café, next to the canal on the University’s sports grounds, was open again, the first time for months when I’ve been passing. So I had to give them some custom and enjoy a quick morning coffee. That was about it really, I was home for an early lunch just as it started snowing.

OUT WEST – QUIET LANES TO KIRKHAM

I had noticed a sign off the Guild Wheel pointing to Kirkham, so today I set off to investigate. Everything is new around here. Holly Close, Bartle Meadows, Deer View, Waterside. etc. etc. I’m always intrigued by the names the developers come up with to try and create a feel for rural living while at the same time destroying the countryside alluded to.

I decided to park in Broughton to create a circular route using parts of cycle ways 62 and 90 out to Kirkham and back. Setting off on the familiar Guild Wheel I was confident of not getting lost in the maze of Cottam. A fisherman was sitting by the little pool somewhere in the complex, he was chatty and content to be out in the lovely sunny Autumn weather. As I pedalled off I pondered on the thought of retiring from vigorous exercise and taking up the rod. I soon came to the sign pointing to Kirkham. It didn’t lead me down a leafy track but along a new avenue, Cottam Way.

Along the way were a series of ‘sculptures’ which didn’t have any obvious relevance to their surroundings and for which I can find no information. There were two stone cairns, some stone heads and brick arches either side of the road. Anyone any ideas? There was also a cross which was inscribed with the relevant information.

The parish council has this to say about it…

Thomas Harrison Myres (1842-1926) was an English railway architect who designed stations and ancillary buildings, he and his wife had various residences including one at Cottam. Thomas was greatly interested in the restoration of road side crosses and succeeded in restoring sixteen throughout Lancashire. After his death, a fitting monument was erected to him and his wife Catherine at nearby Lea bearing the inscription.

“To the glory of God and in the memory of the pioneer of the restoration of roadside crosses, Thomas Harrison Myres of Lea Lodge and Catherine Mary his wife. The base of this cross originally stood 20yds from this spot and was removed here and dedicated July 28th 1929”.

The parish council also notes…

“ a sad event of 25th March 1952 when a test flight of a Canberra Mark2 was being made between Salmesbury and Warton by 29 year old Thomas Evans a very experienced and highly rated pilot. The aircraft was observed flying fast and low over north Preston when it suddenly went into a steep dive and hit the ground in what was at that time open farmland. The pilot was tragically killed, but no other casualties resulted”.

At the end of Cottam Way I had my first brush with the developments for Preston’s Western Distributor road which is being built to provide a link from the M55 to all the new housing on this side of Preston.

Cycles were allowed down Sidgreaves Lane. The Quaker Bridge carries the lane over the Lancaster Canal, for which the engineer John Rennie was responsible for in the 1790s. As was so often the railway followed close to the canals and the next larger bridge took me over the rails to Blackpool. The new road crosses here, I took the underpass and escaped into Lea a rather nondescript place.

Under the new road.

I cycled alongside the Springfields site still producing nuclear fuels. On the corner was an C18th windmill {now a pub} — a different source of power.

Another windmill was passed on the way into Kirkham, this one converted to living accommodation. Windmills were very common at one time in the windy Fylde. Kirkham has a long history from Roman times and developed as a weaving town from the 1600s using flax and then cotton. Today it is a bustling shopping venue with lots of independent businesses. Lowry painted Church Street on more than one occasion. I found the Queen Victoria’s Jubilee lamp and the fish slabs in the cobbled marketplace.

I wasn’t convinced as to the authenticity of the police phone box. St Michael’s Church looked resplendent in the Autumn sunshine, There was a hidden cycleway out of town, passing a simple art installation reflecting the town’s market status and the flax weaving trade. Back onto the open roads, I made good time through Treales and onto Bartle Hall where my route to Woodplumpton was closed completely by the Western Distributor works. I ended up back in Cottam on the Guild Wheel to Broughton.

Is this the last green space in the area, I hope it has protected status?

*****

SOIXANTE NEUF.

    I thought I’d give this post a sexy title to boost readership. Not that I look at all sexy in my fading Lycra cycling shorts. There should be an age limit for appearing in public wearing Lycra, and whatever it is I am long past it.

  I’ve driven up the motorway, coming off at Junction 36 and found the narrow lane leading down to a car park at the redundant Halton station. This is on the old Morecambe to  Wennington line which closed under The Beeching Act in 1966.  Route 69 of the National Cycle Network connects Hest Bank on Morecambe Bay with Cleethorpes on the East coast and uses this section of line from Morecambe to Caton.  Off I pedal westwards on the 69 into Lancaster. The River Lune is mainly hidden and I don’t recognise much until the Millennium Bridge where the 69 crosses the river. I’m heading to Glasson Dock, so I stay on the south side of the water. There seem to be a multitude of cycle paths in Lancaster and just following my nose I end up under the castle with the priory church looking down on me. A few streets later and I find my way back to the river which is not looking its best, the tide is out exposing lots of mud. I’ll locate the correct way next time.

Halton station.


Soixante neuf.


Under the M6.

The canal aqueduct.


The new Greyhound and Millennium Bridges.


Priory church — getting lost.


Lost.

   Eventually I’m safely on the old railway track heading to Glasson. Lots of cyclists are using this route, I keep leapfrogging various parties as we go at different speeds, and I’m frequently stopping to take pictures of the Lune estuary. I have walked this stretch in the past when I was connecting a Lancaster Monastic Way. It is interesting to contrast walking a route and cycling it. One misses the little details as you ride by and although everyone says hello there is no chance to chat, that is until you reach a café and then can delve into gears and stems. As I don’t know one stem from another, I avoid the busy cyclists’ rendezvous at Glasson and cross over to the little shop which has freshly baked pies and good coffee. Here I can talk to the mature couples who have motored here for a good old-fashioned afternoon out. And of course there are the fishermen with their ready tales of yesterday’s catch.

Glasson across the marshes.

Up the creek?


Lost forever.


Smell that coffee.


Pike?

   A lot of the cyclists head back the way they came, but I’m in for exploring different options that I’ve spotted on the map. So off I go along the rough narrow track, you couldn’t call it a towpath, alongside the Glasson Branch Canal to meet up with the Lancaster Canal. Ahead are the Bowland Hills, looking splendid in today’s sunshine. An easy option would be to follow the canal back to Lancaster, but I’ve walked that stretch many times.

The Glasson Branch

Endless games of fetch the stick.


Junction with the Lancaster Canal.

  So again I go my own way again, threading through Galgate and onto lanes crossing the motorway and leading into the hills. There is only one bit I have to walk up, and then I’m onto the lovely high level road to the scattered houses of Quernmore. From up here are views across Morecambe Bay to the Lakeland Fells with the Bowland hills rubbing at my right shoulder. I sweep down past the isolated Quernmore  church and on to the entrance to Quernmore Estate at Postern Gate which I recognise from our  ‘trespass’ on the straight line from my house to Sir Hugh’s in Arnside.  I daren’t risk cycling through today so I take the busy road down to Caton and am soon back onto  that rail line  — Route 69.

Lancaster University, Morecambe Bay and Black Coombe.

Grit Fell.


Quernmore Church.

Postern Gate — tempted.


Down to Caton.

  This last section back to Halton is impressive by dint of passing over two viaducts above the Crook Of Lune built in 1849 to carry the railway. This is a popular spot today with tourists, walkers and cyclists. There are stunning views up the Lune towards Hornby Castle and Ingleborough. Turner’s painting of the scene, pre railways, shows  the original Penny Bridge carrying a road. This road bridge was rebuilt in 1889 and stands just below the East Viaduct. A long stretch in trees with little sight of the river has me back at Halton Station.

Eastern viaduct.

The Lune valley eastwards.

Crook of Lune road bridge.


Western viaduct.

Halton Bridge.

I go down to the river near the wrought iron lattice bridge built in 1911 from the remains of the Original Greyhound Bridge in Lancaster. Sitting quietly in the sunshine, contemplating the slow flow of water before hitting the motorway. I didn’t need that sexy title  — this landscape has no need of titillation.

*****

CONNECT FOUR ON THE CANAL.

 

Saturday,  April 24th.      7miles.      Ellel.

I am just beginning to connect up with friends I’ve not seen for months. D and P had arranged a walk with Mike, and they invited me along. I mentioned I’d not visited Ellel Grange estate, close to where I was walking with Sir Hugh last week. I drove round and round looking for our rendezvous spot at Thurnham Church, is it coincidence that Denise’s walks often start at an RC Church?

The church of St Thomas and Elizabeth was consecrated in 1848 and had links with the Dalton family in nearby Thurnham Hall. In the grounds is a mausoleum for the Gillow family, well known local furniture makers, it has elaborate Egyptian columns on one side only. In front of the church is an eroded C19 cross recovered from nearby Cockerham Abbey.

We moved on. The day promised more sunny and warm weather. Along a farm track D and P commented on a new house that wasn’t here a couple of years ago when they last passed.

Fields, thankfully now dry, were crossed towards the Ellel Estate. We detoured up a hill for a view of the Italianate hall with its towers and extensive gardens. It was built in the 1850s for an ex-mayor of Liverpool and has been recently used as a religious retreat, but see below.

Our next objective was a view of Kings Lee Chapel  a Victorian gothic church designed by Joseph Hansom who also designed the impressive St. Walburge in Preston and the Hansom Cab. The church is closed and has been subject to vandalism. If I had been alone I would have been tempted to approach closer up the drive.

Apparently the whole site is for sale with plans for yet another holiday complex. Some estate buildings are already used as holiday lets.    https://www.lancastervision.com/holiday-village-100-bed-hotel-and-vr-experience-plan-for-lancaster-revealed/

We left the estate over their balustraded canal bridge and had a pleasant stroll along the Lancaster Canal.

At the junction with the Glasson canal we took a break outside the lockkeeper’s cottage on a suitable bench. D unexpectedly produced four sandwich buns out of a hat for us.

Onwards though Galgate we eventually left the canal by a path across a field of probably 100 cows. A hill gave us views of the bay and distant Lakeland hills. We took to the road around Condor Green where the old Stork pub is needing renovation.

The little café on the old railway line was doing good business with cyclists and walkers using the route between Glasson and Lancaster. Using the railway track bridge we crossed the creeks looking forlorn at low tide.

From the number of people we had passed we expected Glasson to be very busy, so we cut through to the canal by  Christchurch. There was a little fête on, and I came away with some thick cut marmalade which has turned out to be delicious. We were now on the Glasson branch canal which links to the Lancaster canal by a series of locks. This section seemed to be popular with nesting swans.

I did a series of walks up the Lancaster Canal with D and P back in early 2018 where there is lots more information. https://bowlandclimber.com/2018/01/09/the-lancaster-canal/

We left the canal and climbed fields back to Thurnham Church from where a cavalcade of cars made their way to a nearby garden for more socially distanced but connected refreshments.

*****

 

AN AFTERNOON AROUND BARNACRE.

Monday 26th Oct.  5.5miles.  Barnacre.

I was kicking myself by lunchtime today. The forecast was for rain but there was hardly any and now the sun was shining. Could easily have had a meet up with friends for a day’s walk. My new boots haven’t arrived yet, tomorrow?, so walking in trainers I need to stay on dry ground which is difficult around here at the moment. A cursory look at the map and I had inspiration for a quick afternoon’s outing on lanes around Barnacre, a rural area to the south and east of Garstang.

In less than half an hour’s drive I’m parked by another deserted looking pub, the Kenlis Arms.  originally  an 1856 hunting lodge,

The walk itself is on quiet lanes on the edge of the Bowland Hills passing a few farms and lots of sheep.

White sheep of the family.

My first real  objective is the Church of All Saints, yet another designed by Austin and Paley of Lancaster, 1905. Set in a peaceful woodland area its red roof stands out across the fields and its tower is castle-like. A lane takes me down to cross the motorway and main railway line.

Forge Lane passes the old forge where the family are splitting logs with a hired machine, looks great fun.

The lane continues down to a ford on the swollen Wyre but fortunately there is a nearby footbridge. This whole low-lying area is part of the local flood defences when water can be diverted into the fields to reduce the flow downstream. I walk through the Millennium Green past the hydraulic weirs for controlling the flow of the Wyre. It must be quite a sight to see the floodplain filling up. I’ve been this way before on The Wyre Way.

Millennium Green with a misty Nicky Nook in the background.

A diversion into Garstang’s High Street highlights several interesting buildings.

The old grammar school, C18th.

The old Town Hall. 1760.

I walk over the twin arched bridge on the Wyre and a little later drop down to the Lancaster Canal for about a mile of quiet towpath back to my car.

Garstang Castle.

A walk snatched from nothing and dry feet at the end of it.

*****

 

A LANCASHIRE MONASTIC WAY. 9. Cockerham to Lancaster.

                                                         Lancashire Coastal Way.

It is strange weather – one day of wind and rain, the next bright sunshine and then more rain. I take my chances on a sunny day. I’ve moved on to the northern part of Lancashire’s Monastic Way by John Convey, will think about a link-up from Sawley at a later date. It is a clear morning with a chilly wind coming off the sea as I walk down the lane to  St. Michaels Church, an Anglican Parish Church in Cockerham. Of course, it is closed when I arrive. The oldest part is the C16 tower. The body of the church was rebuilt by the Lancaster architects Austin and Paley.  who were responsible for much church architecture from the mid 19th century. Cockerham Priory from the C13 was situated hereabouts but there are no remains from when it was dissolved in 1477.

Soon I was on The Lancashire Coastal Way following flood defences surrounded by low tide marshes around the coast to visit Cockersand Abbey. The obvious remains are the C13 Octagonal Chapter House with a few other bits of walls from the Abbey Church. There had been a hospital on the site which was dissolved in 1539. The land was subsequently acquired by the Daltons from Thurnham Hall and the Chapter House used as a mausoleum hence its preservation today. It is a bleak spot for an Abbey.

Out in the Lune estuary is the Plover Scar Lighthouse, also known as the Abbey Lighthouse, an active 19th-century lighthouse now fully automated. The last time I was along here the lighthouse was being repaired following a collision with a commercial vessel. Nearby on the coast is the original lighthouse keepers cottage. The lighthouse can be reached at low tide and in the past, the keeper would have to attend to the paraffin lamps.

After Crook Farm, I followed what had been Marsh Lane which disappeared under flood water at one point. Wet socks resulted.

But soon I was seated outside the friendly Glasson Cafe enjoying a coffee and pasty.

The marina was quiet at this time of year, I joined the Glasson Branch canal, which when it was completed in 1825  joined the Lancaster Canal near Galgate. Then along in 1883 came the railway to link to Lancaster, it was on this disused line I would continue the walk. But first I had a look at Christ Church alongside the canal. This Anglican Parish Church was designed by Edmund Sharpe who became involved with the Lancaster firm of Austin and Paley mentioned above. Originally built in 1840 but added to in the C20. I walked in to find that the west gallery has been converted into an accessible coffee/reading room. The stained glass in the east window was impressive, designed by Joseph Fisher [1979] of the Lancaster firm  Shrigley and Hunt

Returning to the Railway track I crossed the River Condor and headed north, easy walking with views across the Lune estuary. To my right were the grounds of Ashton Hall now a golf course. I could not see the hall which was established in the C14, a tower apparently is from that date. The hall has had many owners but in 1884 was sold to the wealthy lino manufacturer, James Williamson whom when he was knighted took the title Lord Ashton. With reference to today, he arranged to have a halt built on the railway line I’m walking on. After his second wife’s death, he had the Ashton Memorial built in Williamson park, an elevated site seen from afar and later today.

River Condor.

Ashton Hall Golf Course.

Along the line, the hedges were loaded with red berries, no wonder lots of birds were about, Redwings and Fieldfares. A solar farm has been built near Stodday, they must have more sunshine here than the rest of Lancashire. The climb away from the line up to Aldcliffe was steeper than expected. I was now heading directly into Lancaster along the Lancaster Canal a route I’ve used before.

Today I had time to leave the canal to have a look at the nearby Lancaster Cathedral.  When in 1791, the Roman Catholic Relief Act was passed local Catholics built a mission in Dalton Square. When a larger church was needed local architect Paley designed this church for the present site, consecrated in 1859 it became a cathedral in 1924. The tower and spire are 240ft high making it visible throughout the city. The interior was impressive but with too many fussy side chapels. Some of the stained glass was by Shrigley and Hunt, mentioned at Glasson. Unfortunately, I found a lot of the information preachy, I can appreciate the stunning architecture without being religious.Time to catch my bus.

                    Lancaster with the Ashton Memorial, Cathedral and Town Hall.

 

*****

 

WAINWRIGHT’S WAY – A KENDAL INTERLUDE.

A Kendal snapshot.

Nick Burton’s book Wainright’s Way is far more than a walking guide as he incorporates so much well researched biographical detail of AW. Already I’ve have covered his early life in Blackburn which included a look at the town where he lived from 1907 – 1941.

Now having reached Kendal, where AW lived from 1941 until his death in 1991, Nick takes a short tour of the town pointing out places AW was associated with and I found much of interest on my stroll around. Kendal Civic Society has placed green information plaques everywhere marking historic buildings, far too many for me to mention here, all I can say is that Kendal is worth a days visit.  It was not a town I was particularly well acquainted with, in the past queuing through the main street on the way to and from the Lakes, now it is thankfully by-passed.  Visits to the climbing wall in an old milk processing mill on the outskirts gave no time for exploring the town and anyhow the traffic is awful and parking difficult.

Today I start above Kendal Green, a lovely open space, at the end of a culdesac where AW had a house built in 1949. He lived here with his first wife, Ruth, and then with his second, Betty until his death. Being elevated he had good views to the Kentmere Fells. What a contrast to Audley Range in Blackburn.

AW would walk down past Kendal Green on his way to work, this is a large open space with mature trees. Halfway down is a plaque commemorating an oak planted in 1864 to celebrate Shakespeare’s 300th birthday. I wasn’t sure that oak was still standing but there is a further plaque for one planted in 1964, 400 years since his death. The link is explained in the first plaque.

At the lower end, you arrive at Windermere Road where AW caught buses to the Lakes on a Sunday. Here also is the corner shop where he stocked up on pipe tobacco.

The long straight road into the town is  Stricklandgate leading to the distinctive Town Hall where AW worked from 1941 to 1967, becoming Borough Treasurer in 1948.

To get here I passed the  Library, Stricklandgate House, and ‘Wainwright’s Yard’ The latter a newly developed shopping arcade made more memorable by the present-day premises of Westmorland Gazette who published most of AW’s books.

The ‘yard’ is one of the dozens off the main street that at one time hosted small industries and shops, most have been altered over the years but all are numbered and can be located with a leaflet from the tourist information. One nearby is named Webster Yard after the architect who designed much of 19th-century Kendals’ prominent housing. Another is C17th Sandes Hospital built with wool money, it now encloses rebuilt almshouses designed by Webster’s firm. Apparently many of the properties AW would have known were demolished in the 1970s.

 

Sandes Hospital

I wandered into the back yard/garden of The Brewery, formerly a Vaux brewery and now an arts centre and Yough Hostel, and was delighted to see the Leyland clock which I’ve discussed in a previous post about the A6 over Shap.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Further on are some ornate gates that lead to Holy Trinity Church. Built when Kendal was prosperous from the wool trade it is one of the widest churches in the country with five aisles. What an amazing church.

There is the Old Grammar School and Abbot Hall and I’m on the banks of the Kent for a riverside walk. A small park had a plaque referring to K Shoes, once one of Kendal’s largest industries. Howard Somervell of Everest fame, 1920, belonged to the family running K Shoes and naturally wore Kendal-made boots on the mountain. Nearby is a record of historic flood levels.

MIller Bridge, Webster designed, was built in 1818 as part of a complex of warehouses serving the terminal basin of the Lancaster Canal. Aynam Mills were originally for the wool trade but in AW’s time were the premises of a well-known tobacco and snuff manufacturer, Illingworth’s. I became a little lost in the maze of lanes amongst all these warehouses, many being put to good use.

My route took me along an elegant Georgian terrace the home of the all-encompassing Kendal architect George Webster. A little further was another terraced area with an open space where the residents dry their clothes to this day.

I passed another church and then Castle Dairy one of the oldest occupied houses in Kendal. Apparently, the Elizabethan interior is worth viewing as part of a meal in the restaurant now in the building.

 

 

 

 

Round the corner is the town’s Museum where AW was heavily involved for the time he was in Kendal. It was closed today so I was not able to view a collection of Wainwright memorabilia.

Over the busy Victoria Bridge with associated sympathetic warehouse accommodations alongside the Kent. Ahead back on Stricklandgate was the third of Kendal’s parish churches. On the next corner are the premises of Titus Wilson, printers since 1860, AW’s first publisher.

It was now a short walk back up the side of Kendal Green.

Kendal is certainly worthy of further exploration.  I can appreciate it would be a good place to live and did I mention Kendal Mintcake?

 

WAINWRIGHT’S WAY. 7. HAWES BRIDGE TO MITCHELLAND, B5284.

Westmorland Country.

Sir Hugh and I are progressing on our Wainwright Way journey, over halfway now. We’ve been able to do at least one trip a week between other commitments and weather windows. Today we pass through Kendal, AW’s hometown from 1941 to his death in 1991, featured prominently in his Westmorland Heritage book, 1974. Then we climb Scout Scar one of AW’s The Outlying Fells, 1974, “ a pictorial guide to lesser fells .. of Lakeland written primarily for old age pensioners…”  We were hoping for good views from this fell into Lakeland and in particular the Kentmere fells leading to High Street our objective in a couple of day’s time.

The day starts well with a gentle stroll along the River Kent into Kendal, we chose a riverside option over the suggested canal route which we have both very familiar with. Perfect, sunny and clear, boding well for the day ahead. The filled-in Lancaster Canal was joined on the edge of town as it headed for defunct wharves and warehouses at the heart of a previously industrial Kendal, the coming of the canal improved the supply of coal from Lancashire to those industries. However today we were diverted up past an enormous cemetery to visit what remains of Kendal Castle on its elevated hill. AW, when he first moved here lived in a council house just to the north-west of here.

Castle Grove AW’s first house in Kendal.

Many of Kendal’s dog walkers were up here this morning enjoying the weather and views, Scout Scar was prominent to the west whilst looking north to the Lakes there were some ominous clouds on the summits. The castle has guarded over Kendal since the C12th and has apparently strong links with Katherine Parr, the 6th wife of Henry VIII.

A Wainwright. 1975.

Heading down we walked through neat Victorian terraces, crossed the River Kent on a footbridge and joined the crowds on Kendals high street. The town hall where AW was Borough Treasurer stands proud at the top of the street.  When I explored Kendal recently I was unable to find Collin Croft one of the sites sketched by  AW in his Westmorland Heritage, I tried a little harder today and we found our way into a hidden maze of alleys typical of the town.

We then walked up leafy streets heading out of town. A sign above a gateway alluded to links with a previous Presbyterian Chapel. An obelisk appeared without any information. Over the Kendal bypass, interesting milepost,  we entered fields that are marked as an old racecourse and also the start of the Lake District National Park. The sky was clouding over despite the optimistic forecast. Scout Scar, or more correctly Underbarrow Scar, is a limestone escarpment popular with the people of Kendal and today walkers and joggers appeared from all directions.  We arrived onto the ridge near a large cairn with the trig point to the north. It was then that the heavy rain hit us, views disappeared and we walked on grimly towards the ‘mushroom’  shelter. Any semi-shelter was already taken and it was too cold to hang about so we just carried on to the end of the fell, a slight anticlimax to what should have been a memorable situation. The shelter was erected in 1912 in recognition of George V’s coronation. It has a 360-degree indicator which I had been interested in viewing but all that was lost in our haste to get off the fell.

A Wainwright. 1975.

Calmer sunnier conditions returned as we walked off nearby Cunswick Scar on Gamblesmire Lane, a bridleway we followed down into a different landscape. Undulating green fields, stone walls, sheep, whitewashed squat farms all make up the Cumbrian landscape, of course in AW’s time it was Westmorland. Gamblesmire Lane, almost Quagmire Lane in parts continued through this landscape. In sections it was a unique, hedge defined rollercoaster.

We eventually found somewhere to sit and eat and then it was field after field heading towards an isolated tower. A farmer was sorting out his sheep for market and seemed keen to chat, he must lead an isolated life up here. Eventually, we reached the restored bell tower of the C17th St. Catherine’s Church, the rest of the church was demolished and a new one built a short distance away, seen in the picture below.

A Wainwright. 1975.

 

More idyllic fields were traversed and we were soon back at the car and a drive home in lovely low sun.

*****