Westmorland Heritage Walk 1993

Author: George Tod

This walk is illustrated with photographs. Click on small photo to enlarge in situ, or click caption to enlarge into new window.
Part 5 - Kendal to Kirkby Lonsdale

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Day 12 - Thursday 1st July - Kendal to Arnside - 21 miles via Grange-over-Sands

Accommodation - YHA, Arnside, 9.90 B&B plus 3.70 dinner

Being in the centre of town, there was quite a bit of noise from traffic early in the morning, especially with the windows open in the warm weather. I had breakfast at 8.15 a.m. and, after doing some shopping for lunch, got started at 9.30 a.m. The weather was rather overcast and misty, but was pleasant for walking except for the fact that visibility was down to a couple of miles. After a bit of climbing the walking became easy along the limestone scars, giving good views over the surrounding countryside, albeit restricted somewhat by the mist.

I stopped for a break at 11 a.m. on Scout Scar, having done 4 miles. The mist started to clear a bit with the sun trying to break through and I continued with more pleasant limestone walking. There were lots of interesting wild flowers, and one area is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest. I saw quite a few different types of orchid as well as several other flowers which are found only in limestone areas.

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Looking North from Scout Scar
North from Scout Scar
Whitbarrow Scar - Lord's Seat
Whitbarrow Scar - Lord's Seat

I made for Lord's Seat to stop for lunch, but then discovered that the cairn I had headed for was about three quarters of a mile off route. I stopped there anyway, as it was a pleasant spot and I had been making quite good progress over the easy terrain. I stopped at 1.20 p.m. and set off again at 2 p.m. with the sun shining more and more as the afternoon progressed. On the way I saw some deer in the woods and also two red squirrels. I made good progress for the rest of the way with the exception of one small error in direction near Lindale which only cost about a quarter of a mile. There were good views of Morecambe Bay and the surrounding area from Hampsfell with its viewing platform and shelter called Hampsfell Hospice, and then from Grange Fell, which stands above Grange-over-Sands. All in all, I was very pleasantly surprised by the day's walk, as I expected the interesting scenery to have finished, but the series of limestone ridges made for some very good walking with interesting, if not spectacular scenery.

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Arnside Knott from Hampsfell Hospice
View from Hampsfell Hospice
Clock Tower in Grange-over-Sands built in 1912
Clock Tower, Grange-over-Sands

A steady descent brought me down into the pleasant town of Grange, and the official end of the walk at Grange station. However, as I didn't start at Arnside, which is just across the estuary from Grange, I still had another day's walk to get me back to Kirkby Lonsdale. Starting and finishing at Morecambe Bay does seem a more logical and fitting termination of the walk, although it would have meant finding B&B in Kirkby Lonsdale and a bit more travelling to the start and finish.

Having arrived at Grange station at 6 p.m. with a train due in 5 minutes, I thought that I might be able to book an evening meal at the Youth Hostel by giving them a ring. I hadn't booked a meal in case I arrived late. It turned out that the evening meal was at 6.15 p.m. rather than the more usual 7 p.m., because they had a party of primary school children staying there. However, they had another party that was arriving later and eating later, so I could eat with them.

The train soon arrived and gave good views of the bay from the viaduct, at a cost of 90p single. I arrived at the hostel, which is a very imposing building on the hillside overlooking the bay, at 6.35 p.m. This just gave me time to have a shower before joining the other party, that was of sixth form students on a field course, at 7 p.m. for dinner of soup, quiche with boiled potatoes and salad, and sticky chocolate pudding with ice cream.

Later in the evening I took a stroll down to a pub in Arnside and sat outside watching the tide come in. It is quite an amazing sight to see the tidal bore, which is like a small tidal wave, come rushing up the narrow river channel at about 10 m.p.h. or more. When that has passed, the estuary begins to fill up, taking about three quarters of an hour to cover most of the sands. The tide rushes in so quickly that large sirens are sounded beforehand to warn people to get out of the way.

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Day 13 - Friday 2nd July - Arnside to Kirkby Lonsdale - 17.2 miles

I had breakfast at 8.30 a.m. and set off at 9.30 a.m. with the weather rather cloudy with a few brighter patches. The hostel drying room had no heating on, so I set off wearing rather damp shorts. The start of the walk was easy along the beach with the tide out, but it started to come in, though with a rather less impressive tidal bore than last night, as the channel was not as empty of water. Around Arnside Point it was necessary to scramble over the rocks as the tide had come in quite a way by then. After climbing Arnside Knott, I stopped for a short rest with a view overlooking the estuary and across to Grange.

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Arnside from Arnside Knott
Arnside from Arnside Knott
Arnside Tower
Arnside Tower

After passing Arnside Tower I went through Middlebarrow Wood and emerged at a slightly wrong point by the quarry. Rather than retrace my steps I thought that I could cut across the fields back to the railway line, only to find that some deep ditches blocked my way. I eventually managed to take a parallel route and rejoined the proper route at Hazelslack, where it heads up to Fairy Steps. I had quite a struggle getting myself plus rucksack up the steps and could only do so by taking off my rucksack. As far as getting up without touching the sides in order to make a wish, there was not a hope! The main route through the woods is well marked as part of the Limestone Way, but my book advocated taking a different route, which I tried to follow. I eventually realised that I had gone wrong and doubled back on myself along a forestry road and ended up three quarters of a mile from where I should have been when I emerged onto the road - not a very good day for map-reading!

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Holmepark Fell and Farleton Knott
Holmepark Fell & Farleton Knott
Hutton Roof from Hutton Roof Crag
Hutton Roof

I stopped for lunch at 1.15 p.m. near Pye Bridge Farm with the weather still rather cloudy and with a strong breeze blowing. After half an hour or so, I set off again heading for the limestone pavements of Holmepark Fell beside Farleton Knott, overlooking the M6 motorway. The pavements are quite extensive and spoiled only by the very large Holme Park Quarry at the bottom. Another pleasant limestone walk over Hutton Roof Crags gave good views of the Howgill Fells, Calf Top and Ingleborough before dropping down into Hutton Roof and eventually into Kirkby Lonsdale.

At 5 p.m. I arrived back at the car, which was fortunately still exactly as I has left it, without even a sticker from the police. After a couple of hours drive and a few hold-ups with roadworks on the M62 I arrived back to a fine welcome at home.

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Afterthoughts on the Walk

The thing that caused most of my problems was the trouble with my feet. If I had got some thick insoles bedded in to the shape of my feet before the start I would have saved myself a lot of pain and discomfort. As it was, my feet got very sore at the start and, even though I got some insoles after a few days, it took a long time for my feet to recover because I was not able to give them much rest. The walk itself took in some extremely fine scenery and I was fortunate enough with the weather to see much of it in near ideal conditions, and all but a very small amount in reasonable conditions. However, the enjoyment of all this was marred to a certain degree, by the aching from my feet.

This walk, especially taking in all the high level alternative routes, is probably better than either the Pennine Way or the Coast to Coast as far as the scenery is concerned, and manages quite well in avoiding too much road walking. There are some sections, as there inevitably are in all long distance walks, where the route is uninspiring, but these sections did not last for very long and were far outweighed by the many other sections with extremely good scenery.

One aspect of walking alone is that it is nice to meet up with others in the evenings for a chat and a drink. On the well known walks, one quickly meets up with a crowd of others who are doing the same thing and this gives rise to a lot of camaraderie and makes the whole walk a very sociable affair. Because this walk is virtually unknown, I found that I was walking entirely on my own and that, although I am quite happy walking on my own, it could be rather lonely in the evenings, particularly when staying in B&B accommodation. Most Youth Hostels have groups of walkers, and in some parts I was able to mix with long distance walkers on the Pennine Way or Coast to Coast walks, which was very pleasant. However, hostels that are not in popular walking areas tend to have a different character and a different cross section of people staying there.

In attempting to make as much use of Youth Hostels as possible, and in trying to minimise the duration of the walk, I had a schedule which, in some parts had too much walking for comfort. It is alright to have the occasional day with 20 miles or so but, if there are too many of them, it leaves too little time to relax and enjoy the scenery, as there is a constant need to clock up miles in order to finish in time for dinner. The other thing to bear in mind when planning daily mileage, is the sort of terrain that is being covered as it may be quite possible to average about 3 m.p.h. on easy, level ground but only 1 m.p.h. when tackling a steep climb of a couple of thousand feet.

My plan not to buy Y.H.A. packed lunches worked out quite well. I was able to buy a variety of things on the way which were cheaper and more substantial. They included such things as pies, pasties, yoghurts, fruit malt loaves, fruit, biscuits, crisps etc. I generally had a few things in reserve so that it was not desperate if I couldn't find a shop occasionally.

I found out on my travels that, from this year, the Y.H.A. no longer make a charge for the hire of sheet sleeping bags. Not realising this, I took my own, but could have saved myself a bit of weight and also had the advantage of a cleaner and more comfortable sleeping bag. My bag is narrower than the Y.H.A. ones making it harder to climb in and out and making it more difficult to turn over in the night without getting tangled up.

At the end of the walk I found that I had lost about 5 lbs in weight. A few days later I went down with a stomach bug and lost another 4 lbs, bringing my weight down to 10 stone 7 lbs, which is less than I weighed at the age of 18. However, I feel happier at a weight of about 11 stones, so I have not attempted to keep my weight much below that.

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