Lancashire Walk - Morecambe Bay and Hest Bank
Wed Jan 09 00:00:00 GMT 2013
- Start: Morecambe Bay from Hest Bank
- End: Morecambe Bay from Hest Bank
- Country: England
- County: Lancashire
- Type: Beach
- Nearest pub: Café at Hest Bank, Royal pub at Bolton-le-Sands
- Ordnance Survey: OS Explorer 296 Lancaster Morecambe and Fleetwood
- Difficulty: Medium
Keith Carter retraces his footsteps to Morecambe Bay and leads a walk around Hest Bankto
Hest Bank gets its name from the Old English ‘haest’ meaning undergrowth while Slyne derives from a word meaning slope. Neither is much in evidence now. The shore is bordered by a wide grassy marsh cut by channels and pools only rarely covered by the tide, ideal for rearing lambs for the famous salt-marsh lamb to be found in butchers’ shops locally.
At one time you could take the car down onto the sand at low tide which I remember doing when we lived in Morecambe, back in the day. It was fun to drive around on the hardened sand, if a bit risky as some daredevils found on going too far out and getting themselves bogged down. It is no longer possible to get onto the sands due to the grassy marsh intervening. The Bay must be silting up slowly. Morecambe Bay became headline news in 2004 when more than 20 cockle pickers lost their lives.
Local people knew how treacherous the tides can be, the tide coming in faster than a man can run. Those doing the Cross Bay Walk can see for themselves that without a guide they would be in serious trouble if they had misjudged the tide. Cockling is now strictly controlled and the Bay has been closed to cockling until the spring of 2013.
I believe most of the cockles go abroad since there is not much demand for them here. Shrimps are a different matter. Morecambe Bay shrimps are a delicacy, greatly appreciated by foodies everywhere. I remember when we lived in Morecambe buying freshly caught shrimps from the back door of a fisherman’s house and spending hours picking them. An hour or two would get you enough for a decent sandwich. Better to buy them already potted from somewhere like the Smokehouse in Glasson Dock.
For this month’s walk park by the shore reached across the level crossing from the A6 between Carnforth and Lancaster. There’s a café here for a brew before setting off along the shore on a trail designated as the Lancashire Coastal Way, a 137-mile walk that links Freckleton with Silverdale and passes through Morecambe, Fleetwood, Blackpool, St Annes and Lytham, as well as the estuaries of the Lune, the Wyre and the Ribble. It is not a particularly well sign posted route, but as a general rule if you keep close to the shore you won’t go far wrong.
The view across the Bay to Grange over Sands with the Lakeland hills beyond is one that visitors to the area never forget and brings folk back to live or retire here with a magic that is irresistible.
Looking ahead we can see Warton Crag and the limestone shoreline around Silverdale with the single chimney at Jenny Brown’s Point just visible.
Beyond Red Bank the footpath goes along an embankment and then meets a lane where we keep left past a large restored property with the evocative name of Wild Duck Hall.
Just beyond it leave the surfaced lane at a sign to Bolton Holmes Farm and take to a faint path across the marshes, easy enough if you pick your way but quite wet underfoot, no problem if you’re wearing decent boots.
The going improves when you reach a sign for Black Dike Outfall where farm vehicles use the edge of the shore and we use this path as far as the point where a gate and stile bring us to a lane. The marsh beyond is used by youths on trial bikes, their silencers long since disabled.
We turn right and take to the tarmac past the concrete buildings of a sewage works and at a junction turn left onto Longfield Drive, soon finding ourselves in a built-up area known as Crag Bank.
The road leads to the A6 at a T junction and by crossing it we can go up steps to the towpath of the Lancaster Canal.
Turn right on a path that allows cycling, contrary to many towpaths which require a permit to use. Most cyclists ignore this requirement and I wonder just how many actually have one? I have no objection to people cycling on canal towpaths but they are narrow and consideration should be shown to walkers who to my mind have first call.
Incidentally for anyone wanting to obtain a permit, they are free from www.canalrivertrust.org.uk.
As we pass Bolton-le-Sands, the Royal pub can be accessed by steps down from the towpath should you fancy a pint. Remain on the towpath admiring the carefully tended houses whose gardens come down to the canal on the other side. On reaching bridge no. 118 leave the canal and turn right then right again down station road to where you will see the level crossing directly across the A6.
Area of walk : Morecambe Bay from Hest Bank
Distance: 8 ½ miles
Time to allow: Four hours
Map: OS Explorer 296 Lancaster Morecambe and Fleetwood
Refreshments: Café at Hest Bank, Royal pub at Bolton-le-Sands
Access for wheelchairs: The canal towpath between Carnforth and Hest Bank is suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs.