People just can't help falling in love with Arnside
PUBLISHED: 17:30 08 February 2013 | UPDATED: 12:04 23 May 2017
People just can't help falling in love with Arnside. Roger Borrell succumbs to its charms
The team making the Coast programme for BBC2 popped in with the intention of making a quick stop but they were so enchanted they spent the whole day. Trippers come just once and are so smitten, they start feverishly checking estate agents for property to buy.
Just what is it about Arnside that turns the heads of normally rational folk? Pam Houghton, of Gallery-H on the Promenade, doesn’t even both to answer the question. She simply holds up her hand and guides your eyes through picture windows to the extraordinary view. Navy blue skies, the viaduct across the spectacular Kent estuary, the distant snow-capped Lakeland peaks. It doesn’t require words.
Victoria Sedgwick stood on the pier with her daughter, releasing a paper lantern marking the fact her eldest was leaving home and going to college.
‘I turned to her and said: “I could live here.” That was a year ago and here I am,’ says the mum-of-two who runs the Bubble Photo studio in Bolton and now has a new home in Arnside.
‘The first time I saw the house we had rented here was the day we moved in. It’s one of those places you fall in love with. You just want to be here.’ Newsagent Ian Bullough, who has been running his business on the Promenade for around 20 years, estimates that incomers now outnumber those born and bred here.
But they can’t just come for the view. After all, this is the north west so the sky isn’t always blue. One of the village’s greatest advocates is Lesley Hornsby, who runs a luxurious, award-winning guest house, No 43.
‘It’s a very friendly place and there’s a real community spirit,’ she says. ‘And it’s Trail blazer Arnside and its sister community of Silverdale have become renown as an artists’ colony. The art and craft trail, running for nine years, is a weekend event when artists open their homes and allow the public in to see and buy their work.
One regular exhibitor is Arnside landscape painter Tracy Levine (pictured above right), who was born in Preston but moved here seven years ago.
Her studio window looks over the estuary providing a constant source of inspiration. ‘I feel very privileged to work here with this amazing view,’ she says. ‘It’s so inspiring – it gives you a sense of freedom and tranquillity.
‘I travel to a lot of wonderful places to paint but when you come back to Arnside you realise this is pretty fantastic too.’a paradise for people who like getting involved in clubs, great for older people. There’s a club for everything from mushroom collecting to chess.’ Victoria adds: ‘There’s even a club for belly dancing – in a place like Arnside. How bonkers is that?’
A quick look at the Arnside Broadsheet (in a handy tabloid size) confirms the view with column after column of 1940s tea dances, choir groups, a natural history society, snooker, table tennis, scramblers, ramblers and amblers. There’s even a ‘Writers & Thinkers’ group – not activities that always go hand-in-hand.
Arnside will be getting a wider audience this month when Lesley’s B&B features in the ITV favourite, May the Best House Win. Four people snoop around each other’s homes and the owner of the one deemed to be the best gets £1,000.
Meanwhile, an international audience could be on the cards with plans to have a webcam on the front and visitor numbers could rocket further if another plan to have a walkway beside the rail line on the viaduct gets funding. This is already a hugely popular area for walkers – being able to cross the estuary to Grange would be a big boost.
‘Arnside is one of the country’s best kept secrets,’ says another newcomer, Tony Keats, who is running the historic Fighting Cocks pub with partner Jeanette Hamer. ‘It gets 70,000 visitors a year but it could be 700,000.’
It’s one of two good pubs – the Albion is further along the Prom – and the couple moving from Westhoughton have been busy redecorating the bar and upgrading the letting rooms. There has been a pub on the site here at least as far back as 1660 and floorboards in one area cover up the original cockpit.
‘The strong sense of community is great because locals are our lifeblood,’ adds Tony. ‘The Albion is a fine pub but we want the Fighting Cocks to be the Queen Vic, the Rover’s Return, the community hub.’
Jeanette adds: ‘The view here is breathtaking. I want to stay here until
they carry me out in a box.’
‘Another big plus point is the standard of the schools – they’re fantastic,’ says Pam Houghton, who fell it love with the old bank building after being shown it by her businessman husband, Mike.
Liz McGonagle, another relative newcomer, runs The Little Shop which
sells gifts and cards. She came from Burnley and her partner from Ulverston.
‘Arnside was sort of in the middle,’ she says.
‘We so much wanted to move here but property was then really sought after. We had to sell up and live in rented accommodation so we were ready to pounce when the right place came on the market.
‘The village has so much going for it, not least the fact it has a railway station. You can do a day’s frantic shopping in Manchester, then step off the train at Arnside and appreciate that wonderful first breath of fresh air.’
Arnside and its sister community of Silverdale have become renown as an artists’ colony. The art and craft trail, running for nine years, is a weekend event when artists open their homes and allow the public in to see and buy their work.
One regular exhibitor is Arnside landscape painter Tracy Levine, who was born in Preston but moved here seven years ago.
Her studio window looks over the estuary providing a constant source of inspiration. ‘I feel very privileged to work here with this amazing view,’ she says. ‘It’s so inspiring – it gives you a sense of freedom and tranquillity. ‘I travel to a lot of wonderful places to paint but when you come back to Arnside you realise this is pretty fantastic too.’
Where is it? Leave the A6 at Milnthorpe heading west on the B5682. Programme LA5 0AA into your satnav and you should find it.
Can I park? Mostly roadside. There’s plenty of it but remember this is a small, popular
Where can I eat? There’s the Albion, the Fighting Cocks, the Posh Sardine tearooms and the Bakehouse.
What is there to do? For a small place, there are quite a few independent retailers
selling art, clothes, gifts and jewellery.
However, it’s a haven for walkers. There are some good hikes around the coast and across
the famous Arnside Knott.