• Start: Flookburgh
  • End: Flookburgh
  • Country: England
  • County: Lancashire
  • Type: Country
  • Nearest pub: Southern Lakeland Nurseries, Flookburgh, Howie’s Café in the Square, pubs in Flookburgh and Cark.
  • Ordnance Survey: OS Explorer OL7 The English Lakes SE
  • Difficulty: Medium
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The marshes near Cark and Flookburgh are the location for Keith Carter's latest walk

The further you go west from Newby Bridge the grittier the villages become, standing as if in defiance of the sea, the people resilient and hard-working as though shaped by the wind and waves. Cartmel, Allithwaite, Cark and Flookburgh have a character that seems carved by their proximity to the sea, the very name Flookburgh deriving from the flukes or flat-fish once plentiful in the estuary of the rivers flowing into Morecambe Bay.

Certainly the village has been involved with fishing for centuries with the current harvest being that of shrimps, the small brown Morecambe Bay variety often sold potted in butter and regarded quite rightly as a delicacy by gourmet chefs. You can buy them fresh caught in the village to this day and have them on toast for tea, their light, delicate taste melting in the mouth. Delicious.

You need to be a little opportunistic when parking, since the square in the centre of the village is usually full and roadside parking may be the only option. There is a broad lay-by opposite the church by the cemetery which has the advantage of being close to Southern Lakeland Nurseries where there’s a coffee shop, convenient for a drink before starting or after finishing.

Take the pavement away from the village as far as Cark and turn left at the Engine Inn here and left again on a narrow lane just before Caton Lane House. This walled lane rises to cross the railway, turning right and dwindling to an enclosed path beside the fence and keeping pace with the line before breaking away towards the sea on a path designated ‘Unsuitable for motor vehicles’.

It leads to a lane where we turn right and walk down to the shore past a farm called Lodge Park. At the shore there is a wide turning area where cars are left in spite of a sign against getting overtaken by the tide.

Turn left along the edge of the salt marsh on a good path that crosses dikes in places, goes through two gates and soon approaches the rather forbidding gables of a shore-side farm, Canon Winder, the sea at some tides reaching right up to the very walls. Behind the farm house is a triangulation column on what must be the only high point for miles, all of 24 metres.

Looking across the estuary we can see Ulverston, with the prominent monument to John Barrow above the town on Hoad Hill clearly visible. We seem to have left all trace of commerce behind with only the lonely sea and the sky for company. What a perfect place for a water-colourist to set up their easel, although it would take someone of rare talent to capture the contrast between the limitless sands and the low shoreline with the misty vision of the Lakeland hills in the distance.

Our walk continues along the shore and at the next gate with a fence line heading out into the shallows we meet a stone wall parallel with the shore which we stay with for about a mile. Avoid following one of the sheep tracks leading towards the marshes which seem to suggest a practical short cut but are inadvisable.

After passing an area of thick gorse bushes, the path takes to an embankment shown on the map as the Old Embankment which seems to suggest there will be a New one somewhere. Remain on it, the view to land-ward soon revealing the roofs of the village but we don’t make a bee-line for it yet.

We are approaching Cark Airfield and will almost certainly see planes taking off, some of them taking parachutists up for their jump. They can be seen floating down, their colourful canopies billowing. You can enrol for a parachute jump from Cark, either solo or strapped to an instructor tandem fashion. Such a jump will cost you about £200 if you really won’t be persuaded not to do it.

The Old Embankment ends and at right angles to it, reinforced by a line of boulders, is the New Embankment we speculated about. Don’t take it but at the gate go left to join a road just by the entrance to the Lakeland Leisure Park.

We now start the mile-long dead straight road back to our starting point where the verge is our only option. It’s surprisingly busy with traffic but you can’t go wrong since it heads straight for the village, its only highlight the Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding factory. There was I thinking they made it on somebody’s kitchen table.

Back in Flookburgh you might like to buy some shrimps to take home. There are a number of places where they have them for sale from the fishermen’s back door, freshly caught, a chance purchase not to be missed.

From the square, take the Cark road and it takes you back to where the car was parked. Our walk has followed part of the Cumbria Coastal Way which runs from Silverdale to Gretna, a distance of 190 miles linking Morecambe Bay with the Solway Firth. I’m not suggesting you tackle the whole distance but this walk gives us a good taster, showing some of the best of it and sampling one of the Lake District peninsulas.

Compass points

Area of walk: Flookburgh

Distance: 5.5m

Time to allow: 3 hours

Map: OS Explorer OL7 The English Lakes SE

Refreshments: Southern Lakeland Nurseries, Flookburgh, Howie’s Café in the Square, pubs in Flookburgh and Cark.

Wheelchair/pushchair friendly: Only around the villages.

Toilets: Public conveniences in Cark.

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