Tag Archives: Lune Valley.

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.

***

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Further to some comments below on this post, here are a couple of phone photos taken by my son on the canal in Stretford. Bee Orchids.

***

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 – To the points.

I’ve never been fully around Sunderland or Bazil Points so walk no 18 in Mark Sutcliffe’s Cicerone Guide to Walking in Lancashire was an attractive proposition especially as it was flat as a pancake which suited my crumbling body.

I have a fear of rising tides, so the logistics for this walk were important. Tide timetables were consulted and double-checked, last Saturday looked good with a low tide at 9am. Unusually for me, I was parked up at Overton at 9am. Would my car disappear under the waves whilst I was out, I said I was nervous about the tides around Morecambe Bay. Remember the disaster in 2004 when at least 21 Chinese illegal immigrant labourers were drowned by an incoming tide whilst picking cockles off the Lancashire coast.

There was little sign of water as I walked across the causeway, just mud and marsh grass in all directions. The Sea Thrift gave the area a pink glow. A few cars passed heading to town. Soon I was at the few houses that call themselves Sunderland, once the major port for Lancaster and beyond. I wrote of the history of this place when I visited in October last year.

That time I was on my cycle so didn’t go right round the point itself. Today I continued past the last house onto the rocky shoreline and found a place to sit at the very end looking out over the Lune to Cockerham and distant Knott End. There was Plover Lighthouse seemingly on land today. As the tide was well out there were virtually no waders on the shore, just the odd shelduck, but curlews were calling in the fields behind me and goldfinches flitting through the gorse bushes. A local lady walked by and talked of the unique life here. I enjoyed the peace and the view knowing that when I turned the corner Heysham power stations would dominate the landscape.

Glaucium flavum only found on the coast.

I passed by Sambos Grave and the Camera Obscura, I couldn’t resist going inside for the upside down view. Cows were grazing on the marshes. A wild rose had the most delicate perfume.

Up at Potts’ Corner more people started to appear on the sands, presumably from the nearby caravan parks. Here I joined the zigzagging lane for half a mile before cutting across fields to use the sea wall leading back to Overton. The village is a cluster of cottages on an elevated site above the Lune. Some of the properties dating back to the C17th when it was a farming and fishing community.

I walked on to the church, one of the oldest in Lancashire. It was locked, so I couldn’t view the interior box pews and balcony. I found a seat near the Norman doorway and ate my sandwich looking over to Glasson. Then along came a gent in a tweed jacket, shorts and trilby, he cycled in to get some photos of the estuary as the tide comes in. Turns out we had mutual interests and spent a pleasant half hour chatting about this and that.

There was an old lane leading down to the shore from where at one time a ferry crossed to Glasson which looked very close. I walked around Bazil Point on the edge of the rocks, which would be difficult if the tide was in. Each gate on the way has a smart red sign. The point was as atmospheric as the one I’d walked this morning and as the tide raced in the surface of the water displayed a silver shimmering which I found mesmerising.

Ferry Cottage – considerably modernised. What a situation.

Looking back to Bazil Point.

At one stage I left the beach to walk in the fields, though I later found I needn’t have. The path left the field by a most unusual high stile down to the beach. By now I was surrounded by a herd of cows with a sturdy bull coming my way. I was glad of the escape route.

The bull is prowling at the top.

And then I was back at my car, still above the waters. What a magic area this is and well represented by Mark’s walk.

CICERONE’S LANCASHIRE – Lunesdale and Kirkby Lonsdale.

***

This is my latest route from Mark Sutcliffe’s guide to walks in the Red Rose county, although this one starts in Cumbria. Kirkby Lonsdale is a bustling market town in south Cumbria, My journey here had been slowed by several convoys of horse-drawn travellers probably heading to Appleby Horse Fair to be held next month. I park near the Devil’s Bridge where I know the parking is free, his suggestion of central parking is probably unwise.

The medieval Devil’s Bridge has three graceful, ribbed arches and is closed to traffic. I was in no hurry and in fact on arrival cross the bridge on foot to buy a coffee from the mobile stall, a favourite with motor cyclists, when at weekends up to a hundred may congregate here. It has also been the scene of youngsters ‘tombstoning’ into the river below, not to be advised. Chatting to a cyclist, of the bicycle genre, it transpires he has ridden from Preston in a time not that much more than double my car journey. The bridge has a legend relating to the devil, I liked this version…(ignore the plugs towards the end)

So it’s getting late when I start my walk downstream alongside the Lune. For two miles along this stretch all is peace and quiet, only a few dog walkers. The air is however full of rapidly flying Sand Martins, I’m almost mesmerised by their acrobatics. I suspect that this year’s juveniles are boosting the numbers. On the opposite side is a long low sandbank with obvious nesting holes visible. Ahead in the distance are the Bowland Hills, just visible in the rather cloudy sky. Behind are the Barbondale group of lower fells and there across to the east is the distinctive Ingleborough. Once he has attracted your attention you are hooked and spend the rest of the day taking more and more duplicate photographs. I make an effort today to avoid that trap, unsuccessful as you will see later.

Before long I’m heading away from the river on a flooded track up into the village of Whittington. Mark’s route takes a path parallel to the village road, but I am curious to see the old houses so take a slight diversion up the main street. I’m glad I did as there are some interesting properties many from the C17th, most of them listed.

Barn at Low Hall, late C18th…

…with pigeonholes and an owl opening.

Malt Kiln House.

The pub is closed.

The Old School. 1875.

Manor House.

The grand Whittingham Hall from 1831 is hidden down a private drive.

Eventually up the hill I reach the parish church of St. Michael with its early C16th tower. The rest having been largely rebuilt in 1875 by Paley and Austin, well known for their church architecture in Lancashire. Internally there is an elaborately carved chancel screen. The church is built on the motte of an earlier castle, where I sat in the sunshine enjoying a sandwich, The path I should have approached the church by was clear to see ahead of me. Whilst admiring the view I witnessed something I’d never seen before – an angry blackbird was chasing at low level a squirrel across the field. Presumably the squirrel had been attacking the bird’s nest.

Rest over I tackled the very steep lane heading north, it appeared to be a ‘green’ lane but was in fact a highway though I doubt few motorists would tackle it from the bottom. All was in fact very green and shady.

Once at the top I took diverted paths around Sellet Hall with views across to Barbondale and of course Ingleborough.

Sellet Hall. C17th much modified.

Down a meadow full of contented cows to Sellet Mill, a former water powered corn mill where the iron mill wheel has been preserved.

Sellet Mill. C19th much modified.

The continuing bridleway back up the hill was rather strange, behind the mill was the original millpond (now a leisure pond) and coming down into it a rocky stream. The bridle way took me straight up this stream, in parts the old cobbles were visible, but most will have been washed away. After heavy rain this way would be impossible.

At the top I came out into meadows above Kirkby Lonsdale with excellent views over the valleys and to, yes you’ve guessed it, Ingleborough. Again strangely the RofW went straight across the middle of a rugby pitch, what are your rights when there is game on?

Then it was through the middle of the Queen Elizabeth high school, I felt I was trespassing.

I found Kirkby over touristy. There are lots of interesting buildings and alleyways, but the town suffers from a traffic problem with cars everywhere, even though my photos seem to show an absence of them!. I was glad I’d parked out of town – be warned. The flags are out for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee later this week, in case you are from another planet.

I made my way towards St. Mary’s Church. The oldest parts of the church are Norman, doors and pillars, but the structure has had numerous alterations over the centuries. Inside there are three Isles and the nave, so the church appears grand. Some of the Norman pillars have incised decoration similar to Durham Cathedral. I missed a ‘green man’ carved on one of the C12th columns. There is a C13th piscina in another.

The graveyard is extensive with some impressive memorials and at one corner is an unusual octagonal stone gazebo from the late 18th century which was formerly in the vicarage garden.

I’d come over here to visit Ruskin’s View, a celebrated view of the Lune as it curves gracefully in the wide valley with the hills beyond. Turner had painted this scene in 1822 and Ruskin, art critic, painter and poet had this to say about it – “I do not know in all my country, still less in France or Italy, a place more naturally divine.” Kirkby Lonsdale’s tourist jewel was set forever. Unfortunately there has been a land slip below the path which has therefore been closed for safety reasons. There was no way round it, so I give you this picture from the tourist board.

Disappointed I descended the steep Radical Steps to the river. The steps were built in 1820 for Dr Francis Pearson, a political radical, to divert the existing public footpath from his garden – a radical step. A level walk along the riverside, popular with locals and tourists, lead back to the Devil’s Bridge.

In its six miles an excellent walk, one of the best I have done from the book so far

*****

‘TWIXT WYRE AND LUNE.

Another interesting Lancashire ride plucked from the bikehike cycle routes map, utilising NCR 90 and 6 plus some other bits I made up on the way. Don’t forget, by clicking the pictures may be magnified.

I’ve been reading a book over the last few nights, ‘Lancashire Magic and Mystery’ by a Kenneth Fields. It is far more than the mysterious, delving into the history and culture of the Red Rose County. I’d never heard of Plough Sunday before, a celebration of the start of the agricultural year in the first weeks of January.  The book informed me that in agricultural parishes, a plough would be taken into church for blessing. This morning I found myself wandering around the grounds of Winmarleigh Church, St. Luke’s, and there by the entrance was a plough. I wondered about the connection.

I had stopped initially because of a mausoleum I could see in the churchyard,  it was dedicated to the Reddaway family of Winmarleigh Hall who had been instrumental in the church’s construction in 1875. Lord Winmarleigh, paying the renowned Lancaster architects Paley and Austin for its design and build. He lived across the way in Winmarleigh Hall.

Surprised to find the church door open, I stepped inside. A long nave took my eyes to the chancel, with an impressive organ in the south porch. Whilst I was going forwards, I surprised a lady engrossed in her church duties. We chatted away about the church and its past. Her main concern was the financial support for the church in a small community. I brought up the topic of ‘Plough Sunday’. She remembered, as a child, ploughs being brought into the church but now said that a tractor with a plough draws up outside to be blessed on Plough Sunday. What a wonderful piece of history. (The plough turned out to be a seeding machine)

 

.

I was on a cycle ride from Garstang, on the Wyre, to Pilling, bordering the Lune. It was all fairly flat drained land, and being so open the westerly headwind seemed troublesome. Once I had turned the corner and was heading to Cockerham, my pedalling became much easier and the miles slipped by. A sign said ‘kill your speed, not a cyclist‘. It didn’t seem to make any difference to the rushing motors. Anyhow, I survived into Cockerham and soon escaped onto a quieter lane signed optimistically ‘The Lancashire Cycleway’.

Dodging around the main road, I was soon on a fast series of lanes over the Lancaster Canal, over the busy A6 and around the Bay Horse and railway. Hollins Lane took me past a friends’ house who were unfortunately away.

Zoom to Pilling.

Zoom to Morecambe power station over the Lune embankment.

Cockerham church.

I took the opportunity to have a look at Shireshead Old Church,1805. It is now used as a recording studio, yet the graveyard seems to be well maintained.  

A steep lane took me down into the Wyre valley, where there are a group of fishing lakes close to the motorway. In the distance was the tower of Forton Service station, Grade II listed along with the churches I visited, and the spire of Scorton church, a well-known M6 landmark. Looming over all is Nicky Nook, 214m.

The River Wyre.

Nick Nook.

Do any pupils use this bus stop?

I cycled along a private road through Wyresdale Park which is now a wedding venue, glamping site and private fishing lake with a popular café for those climbing Nicky Nook. I ignored the café and continued into Scorton where there is a temporary takeaway serving coffee and snacks from a Citroën van. Refreshed, I was soon back at my parked car, no not the Mustang.

A LUNE INTERLUDE.

 

I was sure when I passed this way before there was a fish ladder next to the Halton hydroelectric installation on the Lune.  That vague recollection had brought the three of us along the banks today. I have not mentioned it, but last week Mike and I ventured down to the Hodder to try and see salmon leaping up its weirs. That was a complete failure, as had been my attempts last year, along the same stretch.

  Not be defeated it was time for another try. We engaged Sir Hugh into our quest, even if it was just to get him away from his models. Meeting up at the defunct Halton Station, This should be an easy walk for my damaged heel. The rain stopped as we stepped out of the cars and incidentally started once more in earnest when we were just arriving back at them. Good timing.

  We crossed the narrow road bridge built from the remains of an older rail bridge. Down below, the River Lune was running high and fast. I made my excuses then, saying there was probably too much water for the salmon leaping.

  We walked past the housing developments near the old Halton Mill and forge and in half a mile arrived at the weir. I pointed out the fish ladder, but they were not convinced, and there were certainly no fish. I began to doubt my research from last year when a ladder and automatic fish counter were mentioned at this site. We poked about at the turbine house and admired the view of the L shaped weir with its rushing flood water.

  My intention was to walk there and back, but somehow It was I who suggested carrying on and creating a circular walk via The Crook of Lune.  I’m regretting that decision now as I sit with an ice pack on my heel.

  Mike and Sir Hugh were pleased with the walk which was new to both of them, It’s difficult to take Sir Hugh somewhere fresh.

   We spent time on the bridges over the Crook of Lune with the views up the valley and immediate vicinity. Something new had appeared on the eastern rail bridge — a multitude of fresh flowers adorning the railings.  They certainly brightened up the scene and we pondered on their originator. It so happened that he was stood almost next to us and we were soon in conversation with him. From Transylvania and now Morecambe, he cycles here most days with the altruistic idea of brightening peoples lives. And he feeds the doves and pigeons. It’s a shame people go off with his best roses, but that’s altruism for you.

  We couldn’t dally any longer and set off back along the south side of the river stopping at the weir again where there was a fish ladder but of course no fish. As I said we arrived back at the cars as the rain started and drove off to nearby Caton and the Ship Inn where we enjoyed, yes you’ve guessed it — fish and chips.

It’s still raining tonight  and due to continue for a couple of days with more flooding, lets hope that may have some influence on the delegates at Glasgow’s international climate  summit.

  Any ideas where we can try again next week?

Too much water?

 

Turbine fish ladder.

 

Flower power.

 

The artist in situ.

 

More prosaic.

 

No fish this side either.

 

Halton’s station framed.

*****

TO THE POINT.

  Sunderland Point is cut off twice a day by the tide, I double-check the tables before venturing forth today on my cycle. High tide is 12noon, so I can have a lazy start — don’t I always. My plan is to arrive at the coast after lunch, when the tide should be receding.

In the18th century Sunderland between Morecambe bay and the Lune was a busy port and ship building yard, with ships sailing to Africa and the West Indies. Cotton, sugar, rum, timber and the slave trade, it’s main stay.  When wharves in Lancaster and Glasson Dock developed Sunderland’s trade finished. Many of the houses found here were originally warehouses associated with the port. In time, the point became known as Cape Famine. The hamlet’s two pubs, cargo warehouses, rope and block makers, customs house and shop have long gone. But in Victorian times it found a lifeline as a holiday and bathing resort, Little Brighton,   But holidaymakers eventually preferred the bustling new seaside resort of Morecambe, with its smart buildings and multitude of attractions. Sunderland Point became the sleepy, out-of-the-way place it is today.

I park up at Halton bridge once again, unload my bike and take to the old rail line. There is something wrong — a strange noise coming from my pedals with each revolution. I stop to try to identify the source. Along comes a tattooed, long-haired ageing hippy on his city bike, “what’s the problem, mate?” His probable diagnosis was lack of lubrication. I stand there looking hopeless as he suggests going to his nearby flat to pick up the necessary tools and oils to solve my problem. In a few minutes he is back, we dismantle the left pedal and apply some much-needed oil. I can’t thank him enough. A good Samaritan has uplifted my mood for the day. I pedal off, relieved and immensely grateful.

The Millennium Bridge in the centre of Lancaster is looking stunning in the sunshine.

Easy pedalling has me into Morecambe in no time. The views across the bay to the Lakeland Hills are so much clearer than the other day. I arrive at the information board for the Way of the Roses, a 170-mile ride to Bridlington — now there’s an idea.

The promenade takes me to Heysham and onwards towards the docks. I thought I had spotted a lane going towards Middleton, but ended up in a massive caravan park under the two nuclear power stations. A friendly dog walker told me of a footpath out of the site onto Carr Lane. I found it and escaped onto the coastal lanes to Potts Corner. The end of the road on the edge of Morecambe Bay.

Holiday heaven.

Escape.

The tide was going out as I chatted to a fellow cyclist on a day out from Settle, I’m almost becoming one of the inner circle of cyclists. A kestrel hovers overhead. In the distance, a ferry was heading for the Isle of Man. Vast open spaces.

Some soggy, muddy and saline riding and pushing on a vague track led me towards Sunderland Point.

I arrive at the site of Sambo’s grave on this windswept peninsula. ‘Sambo’, a generic name, had arrived at the Point in 1736, a cabin boy. Probably abandoned, the little African boy perished in the port’s brewhouse.  Deprived of burial in consecrated ground, his body was interred in this field, overlooking the sea. A local man wrote a verse about him 60 years after his death, which is on a plaque on the grave. The grave is regularly visited and is festooned with messages and mementos.  A memorial to the slave trade.

  A wall has been built around the grave and it doesn’t seem to have the desolate atmosphere I remember from my last visit. This is further diminished by nearby structures — a wooden bird hide and an art installation, Horizontal Line Chamber, a camera obscura by Chris Drury.

https://chrisdrury.co.uk/horizon-line-chamber-sunderland-point-morecambe-bay/   is worth a read with its attached YouTube video.

I entered the stone igloo and managed this image for you, an upside down coastal horizon.  A narrow lane leads to the village of Sunderland. A man is working on the old pub’s brewhouse where ‘Sambo’ supposedly died. The pub itself stood on the edge of the harbour, its present owner sitting outside gave me all the history. A line of stone pillars denoting the extent of the wharf. Of course with the tide being out one doesn’t get the full impact of this having been an important  port.

I go along to the southerly terrace of houses which have been converted from former warehouses. Farther on is Sunderland Hall built by a Robert Pearson, a date stone states 1683.  I should have dumped my bike here and walked to the actual point — next time. A good excuse to return to this unique place, there is much more to explore.

Across the water is Plover Light guiding ships into the Lune. Built in 1847 it was lit by paraffin lights until the 1950s when it became fully automated. There is a Pathé News clip of a Mrs Parkinson, the then light keeper in 1948, going about her duties.

https://www.britishpathe.com/video/lighthouse-1

In 2016 it was badly damaged by a passing ship, the light had to be removed whilst reconstructing the stone base took place.  I remember seeing it in its truncated form from Cockersand Abbey in that October with the light housing on the beach…

The afternoon was passing and it was time to ride across the muddy causeway back to the ‘mainland’. The mud flats on either side have an eerie appearance   Once off the marsh I cycle into the little village of Overton, past the historic Ship Hotel and on to find St. Helen’s Church. It is on a hill south of the village, looking out over the Lune and Glasson Dock. Originally 12th century, it has had several restorations and alterations, but retains its Norman doorway.   A signed cycleway alongside the Lune avoided the rush hour traffic. I pass the Snatchems Inn where in the past youths were plied with drink and then ‘snatched’ as crew for the sailing ships leaving the port in Lancaster. When they sobered up they would be halfway to Africa. It is now called the Golden Ball and looks in a sorry state.  In the fading light I catch an unusual view of Ingleborough.

Interestingly, as I approach the Millennium bridge in Lancaster on the far side of the Lune was the wharf, warehouses, and Customs Office of the old Lancaster port, St George’s Quay, which put an end to Sunderland’s prosperity.

I have really enjoyed the peace and relative remoteness of Sunderland Point today, an antidote to our modern hectic lives. Oh! And my pedal was silent and stayed on to the end of the 25 miles.

*****

There are some dramatic YouTube drone videos of this windswept coast with the tides in and out. Such as…

*****

Today’s route –

BRING ME SUNSHINE.

    I hadn’t intended to come to Heysham but the day seemed suited to exploration. I had parked up again at Halton station and cycled into Lancaster on the old line, as I did last week on my trip to Glasson and beyond. My plan today was to continue on the 69 cycle way into Morecambe and then explore the coast northwards. I was soon crossing the Lune on the Millennium Bridge and then taking another old railway line, still cycle route 69, westwards. Two thirds along here I noticed a marked turning perhaps towards Heysham and on a whim diverted off onto what must have been a branch line of the railway. I was now in the hands of the sign setter. At first, I was on a cycleway between horse paddocks, but then I was directed into suburban streets, thankfully traffic free. Signs were followed until I lost them, and then I followed my nose into the inevitable cul-de-sac in Higher Heysham. A bit of backtracking and then a bit of the main road past the C16th Old Hall Inn down to the ferry terminal.  Not the best way into Heysham.

At last the sea was now in sight. The road came to an abrupt end, but I was able to cycle through on a rough path to arrive at Half Moon Bay where there was a café, but every seat was taken. An advantage of cycling over walking is that it is easy to continue on to the next source of refreshment, though that didn’t quite work out.

Half Moon Bay.

Onwards and I found myself in Heysham Village. Lots of quaint alleyways, I remember from years ago a house selling potted Morecambe Bay shrimps, but couldn’t see it today. Soon I’m alongside St. Peter’s Church. It is thought that a church was founded on this site in the 7th or 8th century. Some of the fabric of that church remains in the present church. In the graveyard is an Anglo-Saxon cross and a stone grave. A track goes up onto Heysham Head to the ruined C8th St. Patrick’s Chapel. Most people come here to view the ‘stone tombs’ — a group of six rock-cut tombs and a separate group of two rock-cut tombs. Each tomb has an associated socket, probably intended for a timber cross. I have to say that today with a perfect blue sky and clear views they were magical.

  I found my way back onto the promenade around Morecambe Bay. Views across the water to the Lakeland Fells held my attention as I approached the West End of Morecambe. I was soon alongside the 1930s art deco Midland Hotel. Somewhere along here is the proposed site of the Eden Project North, which is expected to bring back prosperity to this ageing seaside resort. I’d never been down the ‘stone jetty’ to the old lighthouse, it was along here that a fellow blogger described what she thought was the ugliest sculpture, I’m inclined to agree with her.

  Also on the jetty is a bell that only rings at certain high tides. This bell is one of several around the coast of Britain  connecting us with our maritime heritage and a timely reminder of climate change. https://timeandtidebell.org/#

Bay surging, channels filling, sun setting, I ring, I sing. Listen in.”  written by the local artist community is going to be engraved onto the bell.   I must come back one day at high tide.

   The promenade is wide all along the front so cycling was possible without endangering the crowds enjoying views. I don’t stop at every attraction, I came this way back in 2109 whilst walking A Lancashire Monastic Way, but I have to visit Eric Morecambe’s statue on a sunny day like this.   

Commander C G Forsberg. Master Mariner and Marathon Swimmer.

 

  From time to time I stop and gaze across the water to the Lakeland silhouettes and as I round the Bay, Arnside Knott and Grange become more prominent. “Best view in Britain” one of the locals tells me. I knew of a café at the far end of the promenade where I thought I would get a snack, but time had flown, it was now 3.30 and they had closed.

   The main road had to be used to enter Hest Bank where I found a garage that sold coffee and pies. I sat outside, still enjoying the warm sunshine. It’s always a mistake to ask a local motorist for directions when you are walking or cycling. ‘Go down the road until the traffic lights‘ – no mention of how far that is. ‘Follow the signs to Slyne and at the T-junction turn left to Halton’. After the lights half a mile away, I ended up on the busy A6, there wasn’t a T-junction and I was almost back to the garage where I started. At least I was on higher ground and had a good run down over the M6 into Halton, with the Bowland Fells in the background, and over the narrow bridge to my car, the last in the car park.

  There may not be many more days like this as Autumn draws in — bring me sunshine any day.

 

*****

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.

*****

THE CROOK OF LUNE.

Crook of Lune, looking towards Hornby Castle

Crook of Lune, looking towards Hornby Castle.     JMWTurner.  1816-18.        Courtauld Inst.

*****

The Crook of Lune – no this is not a historical crime story.

It is a bend in the river,  a visual station of the C19th artistic elite,  a rather whimsical painting by the celebrated J M W Turner and a popular visitor destination with a nearby carpark and picnic places.

It is a special place I’ve never really been to. I’ve walked past on several longer routes using the abandoned railway but without realising the significance and beauty of the place. Today I intended to do it justice.

Continuing this morning’s walk instead of returning to the car I pick up a path going down through the woods to follow the north bank of the Lune towards Halton. There is a large weir and on this bank is a small turbine house delivering community hydroelectric power. A digital screen gives a potted history of the area and the development of this new way of harnessing the Lune’s power. At times that can be overpowering and not long after it was operative the whole site was severely flooded, fortunately with no serious damage to the turbines. Incorporated into the building is a fish ladder with an automatic counting sensor. There are no signs today of the salmon for which the Lune is famous but this would be a good place to watch them swimming up water in the next few weeks. There is a long history of mills and forges on this site and there are still signs of early weirs and wharfs.https://i0.wp.com/www.ministry-of-information.co.uk/blog1/0602/images/180206-05.jpg?resize=550%2C413

https://i0.wp.com/haltonlunehydro.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/halton-1936.jpg?resize=550%2C293

The mills developed further in the C19th, stretching down the Lune to Halton, but were eventually demolished in the 60s. Only one remained and has been developed as a community space.  https://haltonmill.org.uk/about-the-mill/industrial-history/https://i0.wp.com/haltonmill.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/mill-building-exterior.jpg?resize=499%2C374&ssl=1

Alongside on the site is a section of interesting looking community housing.  https://cohousing.org.uk/case-study/lancaster-cohousing/ – worth a read.

A stretch of modern housing units is walked through before I reach the old bridge taking me back across the Lune. This bridge has an unusual history…

This brings me out on the line of the track of the Lancaster – Wennington railway, closed in 1966,  at the renovated Halton Station platform. I join the cyclists and walkers heading back up the Lune. It was from the undergrowth near here that Sir Hugh and I emerged one day on our straight line route having traversed the private Quernmore Estate. Today it would have been easy today to miss the footpath leaving the railway to follow the bank of the Lune. Across the way I could see where I had been not long ago. Then my riverside path took me onto new ground as I started looping the Lune. I passed under the first railway viaduct and a  great stretch of river followed before I started going around the Crook itself. Simply stunning. Apparently the view Turner painted was from further up the hill behind me.

I sat for a while in the memorial park watching the river flow by. And then I walked around the loop to the road bridge. This bridge, with its decorative balustrades, was designed by Paley, 1883, who normally did churches. I didn’t cross it but continued to the easterly railway bridge, identical to the westerly,  where I picked up the cycleway to cross back to the carpark.

From the bridge I get a last view back up the Lune satisfied with today’s walk completing the loop around the ‘Crook’

*****

 

 

THE LUNE AT AUGHTON.

This was the first half of a walk from the Crook Of Lune Car park. There was so much of interest that I’m posting in two halves.

Feeling generous, I paid a pound to park all day at ‘The Crook of Lune Car Park and Picnic Site’.

I’ve a walk planned up the Lune to Aughton and then back on higher ground. I have to give Sir Hugh credit for suggesting this route and I’m doing it while he is ‘hors de combat’.

The Autumnal mist is just lifting from the valley as I set off through green fields. A couple of dog walkers have beaten me to it. The river flows gently beside me,

I pass a weir and in some places there is a rushing of water round eddy pools.

Ahead is the bridge carrying the Thirlmere Aqueduct in giant pipes on its way to Manchester, unusually for waterboard bridges it also provides a foot crossing. Next I’m in an ancient forest; oaks, beeches, birches and ash. It once provided charcoal for iron smelting but is now a nature reserve managed by the Lancashire Wildlife Trust. The path does a roller coaster through the trees before depositing me on a green beach. There is a gulch ahead which I don’t fancy jumping. Sir Hugh had already said the large loop of the Lune here was boring, so I decide to go straight across the neck of the isthmus.