Here I am looking into a flood on the cycle track to Glasson. Did it all happen two weeks ago? What am I doing here again? I ask myself, I curse myself. I’ve been impatient and obviously unrealistic. I’m not thinking straight. The water has not had a chance to recede. We’ve had snow melt loading the Lune. This time I don’t put a wheel into the water but just turn around and pedal back with my tail well and truly tucked.
I’d only come out on this fairly grim day for some exercise to build up the knee muscles. There is a limit to what you achieve on the static bike in front of the telly. And my limit is almost zero. There is nobody about, I long for the Spring when the friendly tea van will be once again parked up at Halton Station.
Loneliness of the long distance cyclist…
Let’s make the best of it, cross the Millennium Bridge and head back to Morecambe. I come in at the west end, considered the most run down part of town, for a good reason. But last week the government has given £50 million towards the Eden Project, levelling up. Planning permission has been granted, so now it is a matter of securing all the finances and starting the scheme on site. Our Prime Minister has been up here, controversially by plane, to try and spin the occasion. Unfortunately a simple seat belt error has put him into deeper waters. I try to envisage the site but think I am on the wrong side of the Stone Jetty. The Midland Hotel will be close by and benefit from the investment as I am sure the rest of Morecambe will. Shame about the present rail non-station. Wouldn’t it have been great if they could have reused the Victorian Station and have visitors arriving in style. Car parking will become a problem.
Change of plan, the other side of the Lune.
West End of Morecambe.
Will I ever see it like this?
I’ve a splitting headache developing and go in search of painkillers. I’ve had problems since my blackout and injury a few weeks ago and don’t feel with it. Morrisons Petrol outlet serves me well. I enjoy another tasty cheese and onion slice from Kennedy’s bakery in the Festival Market. A combination of Brufen and pastry get me going again. But the pain gets worse and worse on the right side of my scalp. Glad to be back at the car, bike packed into the boot , I cancel my planned visit to Sir Hugh, fasten my seat belt and head home. It is only then that I realise since removing my cycle helmet that the pain has gone. Must have been localised pressure on my skull all along. Numbskull!
Not all my outings go to plan. Is it the bang to my head that has affected my judgement?
Despite the forecast for rain most of the day my judgement was to get some exercise anyhow and hope the skies would clear. Some hope. I set off cycling from the usual Halton on Lune parking. Full waterproofs from the word go. The only respite was when I could shelter from the worst downpours under the many bridges in Lancaster. There weren’t many people about and once out of the city there was suspiciously nobody coming the other way on the usually busy cycle track. After a mile or so there was flooding across the path, my judgement told me it wouldn’t be very deep. Only after about 50 yards as the water came well above my bottom bracket ( a cycling term not connected to my anatomy) and my feet were soaked did I stop to ponder. Would it become deeper, what if I fall off into the icy water, and do I have to return the same way? That ditch on my left looked awfully deep. Yes I did the only sensible thing and turned gingerly round. Glasson, its coffee and pastries, can wait for another day.
End of the line.
I tried to rescue the day by cycling another way on the northern side of the Lune through Skerton to Halton. I was unimpressed. Even the ride out to the Crook of Lune lacked enthusiasm, though the river at the Halton weir was in good form, (header photo) I suspect that the flood I encountered was due to the heavy rain combined with a high tide.
I called it a day and went for a welcome coffee and biscuits with Sir Hugh in Arnside, thank you. The sun was shining when I set off for home.
We are on the cusp, one day distinctly chilly the next balmy sunshine. I’m confused, already having titled posts the ‘End of Summer’ and ‘Autumn Calling’. But Summer is putting up a good fight with Autumn this year. Today was certainly on the side of Summer.
The bike is in the back of the car so why not go up to the Lune Valley, yet again you may say, but I do discover a few more gems.
Halton old station. Alas, the tea van is no longer here, probably finished for the season, hopefully she will return next year with that life giving coffee. The slipway is busy with university oarsmen and women out on the river for morning training. The old Station is now the center for the boat crews from the University.
I pedal a short distance to the magnificent Lune Aqueduct carrying the Lancaster Canal over the river. A steep ramp takes me up to it, and immediately I’m in a different environment. Interpretation boards detail the history of the aqueduct. Find it on Google. There is a metal plaque commemorating the building of the aqueduct, designed in collaboration between Central Lancaster High School and the artist, Rachel Midgley which I hadn’t spotted before. All the hustle and bustle below has disappeared, and I’m off along the towpath into quiet Lancashire countryside. A few miles of riding to where I know there is a link to the Coastal Bay Way.
I’ve not done this ride in this direction before despite scores in the opposite way. It all looks different, and it gives me different perspectives of the canal and then of the Bay. I should have looked behind me on previous trips. The views across the bay to the Midland Hotel and pier and the distant Lakeland Hills are always quality.
Bracing is the term for Morecambe promenade today. There are white horses in the bay. But the sun is shining and the wind, though fresh, not a great hindrance to cycling. Hardy souls, mostly elderly and well wrapped, are out with their dogs.
I take a trip down the old stone jetty with its Cormorant motifs, but decide against a coffee there as the café is in the shade. Fortuitously I have come at the right tide as the Tidal Bell is tolling its mournful note. I have not heard this before. See here for more information.
Past the Midland yet again without visiting! Heading inland I venture into the wonders of the covered Festival Market and amidst the varied stalls, full of cost of living bargains, I find a bakery – time for my favourite – a cheese and onion slice. This one was top class, hence I will give them a plug.
I pedalled back to Lancaster, not in the panic mode of last time when I feared I had lost my phone and money. Over the Millennium Bridge and back to Halton. A lone canoeist is braving his way through the centre of town.
To lengthen the ride and enjoy the weather I continued to the Crook of Lune where the river does a U turn spanned by the two bridges of the old railway. Here is the lovely view up the Lune towards Hornby Castle and Ingleborough, immortalised by Turner who painted the scene from higher up.
I’m home early in time for a bit of bouldering up at Craig Y Longridge whilst the sun was keeping the rock warm. An invigorating day amongst those of lassitude and hospital appointments.
Lastly here is one more statue installation on the Bay that took my eye, I’ve not noticed before, and I can’t find anything about it.
It is that sort of day; no wind, sun shining, rural Lancashire, the bike cruising effortlessly, no traffic, virtually no sounds. What more could you want. I’m on a linear canal ride where time has stood still, almost a parallel universe. The canal takes you along without you realising where you are in relation to familiar roads and settlements. I could be in Rotterdam or anywhere – sorry that is a link to a recent post. But I meet people, interesting people in this parallel universe.
At the start I chat to an elderly cyclist who is setting off on his electric bike admitting it is heavy, and you can’t pedal it if the battery dies on you. He suggests that if you are over eighty then this is for you – well I have a few years of proper pedalling ahead of me. He speeds off and I never catch up.
There was the lady by the swans, they are here every year she says, using the canal towpath as a route to and from her shops. How lucky she is and I think she knew. There were seven cygnets, all strengthening their wings ready for a first flight, enchanting.
I pass, incognito, through Lancaster City at times elevated above the streets and housing. I have a picture in my mind of what would happen if the banks broke. That must be linked to my childhood stories of the little Dutch guy with his thumb in the leaking dam. Lots of the converted canal warehouses are now student accommodations, how lucky are they. There are some iconic canal features along here where the horses could cross from one side of the towpath to the other side without unhitching. I’ll leave that to your imagination.
Now in the countryside I chat to a houseboat owner, probably a former dropout but now elevated in my esteem to an interesting canal dweller. He may have the advantage over the rest of us in our current cost of living crisis. How the worm turns. Drifter.
A dog walker talks of his previous life as a travelling rep. No more motorway hold-ups for him.
The towpath takes me through shady cuttings and open fields. I don’t look at my phone to see where I am, preferring to let things happen. I can’t get lost. A southerner recently moved to these parts is interested in my route, but I have the feeling he won’t be tackling anything more than a gentle walk to the pub. How judgemental is that?
It seems to take an age on rather overgrown and awkward paths, I’m not as agile on the bike as before, talking decades here, and I’m very wary of skidding off the path head first into the canal. I walk some of the way. Picking ripe sweet blackberries was a joy. I was in no rush.
Eventually I reach the junction with the Glasson canal built to link the port of Glasson with Lancaster. And then the railway came. More of that later.
I’m still in that peaceful easy feeling as I continue without meeting a soul through fields towards the coast. It was along here that I witnessed a heron trying to swallow a wriggly eel earlier this year.
Glasson is as busy as ever with motorcyclists and tourists of a certain age, so I head across the bridge to the little shop where I’m in time for one of their freshly baked cheese and onion slices. Sat in the sunshine with a coffee – perfect. It must be high tide as the lock gates to the ocean are open.
I’ve taken a long time to cycle 12 miles to Glasson, what with all the stops and awkward sections, but now it is head down on the old railway, which superceded the canal I’ve just been following. Back into Lancaster and on to Halton Station. That has set me up for autumn and thoughts of trans Pennine trails.
I switch the radio on when I’m in my car, but this time there is no déjà vu link to the Eagles from way back then. Here it is nonetheless. I may have played this before in other contexts, but it is a favourite of mine and perfectly reflected this sunny day’s ride. California dreaming.
I highly recommend this 20 mile off-road circuit, after a short ascent to reach the Lancaster Canal on the period Aqueduct it is flat all the way even if a little rough towards Galgate. The section to Glasson is totally rural and as peaceful as you could wish.
My bike has lain in the back of my estate car since early June when the day after a ride in Morecambe Covid eventually caught up with me, but that’s another story. Today was my first ride since then. I was pleased with my progress to Glasson Dock along the Lancaster Cycleway on the old railway track. A cheese and onion slice at the wonderful village shop went down a treat. Forget the touristy snack bar on the marina. I watched the children ( and their Dads) catching crabs from the dockside. All I had to do was cycle back the 10 miles to Halton.
Lunch at the village shop.
The motor cyclists hang out.
Down a side street – do you remember these?
The only excitement along the way was a lady cyclist who came past me remarkably quickly. Of course, she was on an electric bike and disappeared into the distance. That set me thinking.
Would it be worth buying one, how long does the battery last, how heavy are they? For me, one would only be useful for that extra push up the hills that I find increasingly difficult.
How legal are they on cycleways shared by pedestrians? One would not be allowed a motorcycle on a cycle/pedestrian route. Apparently in cities they are becoming the transport of choice for muggers snatching valuables – silent assassins.
I pedalled sedately along into Lancaster. How many times have I been past the Maritime Museum and never visited it? I was in no rush so decided there and then to rectify that omission. They kindly allowed me to take my bike inside as I didn’t have a lock. £2 admission fee seemed very reasonable, if I had carried my Art Fund Card with me, it would have been cheaper.
One and a half hours later I emerged from the museum well satisfied. It is based in the original Lancaster Docks C18th Custom House and an enjoining warehouse overlooking the Lune on St. George’s Quay. (header photo)
Before Lancaster Port and Glasson Dock were established Sunderland Point was the main port on the Lune.
The harbour front Sunderland Point.
Unloading cargo at Sunderland Point, c1890
There were extensive and informative displays on the history of the port of Lancaster, focused on the transatlantic trade which made the city prosperous. This obviously involved the slave trade picking up Africans cheaply and transporting them inhumanly to the West Indies for profit and then the goods that then came back to Britain – sugar, rum, cotton, timber, tobacco. Ship building became a significant industry in the area and a furniture making firm Gillow’s established itself in the C18th. Felt hats were manufactured in Lancaster which I didn’t know. All these facets of life in Lancaster were thoroughly explained with a great selection of artefacts and photographs.
The price of a slave.
Cotton and rum in the warehouse.
There was detailed information on the history of the local fishing industries. Salmon from the Lune, Shrimps, cockles and mussels from Morecambe Bay.
Cockling, Morecambe Bay.
Salmon fishing in the Lune with haaf nets.
A fisherman’s cottage.
The perilous sands of Morecambe Bay were explored with mentions of the ancient crossing routes, still possible today with a local guide. The many deaths though were highlighted.
From a gravestone in Ulverston.
Morecambe had its own history from a minor fishing port, to a passenger port for the Isle of Man and Ireland, a bustling early and mid C20th holiday resort (Bradford by the Sea) and the development of the port of Heysham not forgetting its nuclear power stations. All presented with excellent interpretation and original artefacts.
The ‘super’ lido.
Painting by Norman Wilkinson.
The coming of the canals and the railways was well documented. Included were the original plans for an Aqueduct over the Ribble at Preston to connect to the Leeds Liverpool Canal, this never was materialised, and instead the tram bridge was constructed. The latter is currently closed due to safety issues and one wonders whether there is the will or the finance to repair this historic structure. I was impressed with the ‘express’ passenger canal barge preserved in an upper room, these, with regularly changed horses, reduced the time of travel on the Lancaster Canal when coach travel on rutted roads was slow and uncomfortable.
Inside an express canal barge.
A lot of the exhibits were to attract children with interactive features, but this didn’t distract from the amount of serious, learned and well presented history throughout.
In a room in the warehouse section I watched a video detailing the history of Lancaster since Roman times. Well worth the time. By then the café had closed, and they were ready to throw me out at 4pm closing time. Highly recommended, and you need a couple of hours in there to appreciate all the exhibits.
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. Shame about the ensuing Covid.
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.
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’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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.