Lancashire coastal walk - Middleton and Sunderland Point
PUBLISHED: 00:00 16 July 2019
John Lenehan guides us on a walk through a remote and historic stretch of Lancashire’s coastline
The last time I went to Sunderland Point it was a very short visit indeed as due to the incoming tide that floods the only road into Sunderland I had to leave rather quickly. That was one of the reasons I chose to start this walk at Middleton.
The only other time I had been near Middleton was as a boy when as a family went to the now demolished Middleton Towers Holiday Camp. I remember the main building was designed as a ship called SS Berengaria but that's about all. That aside, this visit and the walk proved to be a lovely experience and one to be really enjoyed by fellow walkers.
1. Leave the green and walk down Hallam Lane passing a lovely 16th century house on the right, then cross the road and follow the footpath sign to the right of a house drive with a garage with white doors. The footpath goes to the right of the garage and leads to a stile. Cross and there is a double footpath sign. Follow the one that says 'Carr Lane' and keep the hedgerow on the right and follow this passing a big gap into the next field to the corner of the field and a very hidden stile.
Cross the stile and keep on with the hedgerow on the right then bear diagonally left to a metal gate behind a cottage on the right. Follow a wooden fence on the right and carry on to a ladder stile straight ahead. Cross the stile and then bear diagonally right to a stile at the corner of a caravan site. Cross the stile and turn left and with the hedgerow on the left carry straight on. Go through a metal gate stile and then a wooden gate stile keeping the hedgerow to the left and then onto a stile in a fence. Cross this and then keeping the hedgerow now on the right carry straight on to a ladder stile by a gate on the right. Cross the stile and keep right following the sign post that says Middleton 2/3 mile. Keep the fence on the left and pass some buildings and caravans on the left to a wooden gate stile. Cross this and enter the yard of a garage C and R Autos and keep straight on and join a tarmac track then follow this.
2. Join Carr Lane and turn left and follow the road all the way until it reaches the shore at Potts Corner.
Note: If parking is not possible at Middleton then the walk could start here but just do not go back up the path from the first stile to Hallam Lane and do section one last.
3. Turn left and follow the sign that says public bridleway. The bridleway looks as if it goes up a concrete road but it doesn't, it forks right just before this then follows the shore with the sea on the right. Follow this to a point where a concrete ramp goes left up to a metal gate. At the foot of it there are a series of huge limestone boulders and on one of them there is a sign saying No Motor Vehicles Bridleway Only. Follow the bridleway keeping a wire fence on the left and the sea on the right. Keep on until a new stone walled visitors' area appears on the left.
Note: Just prior to this on the left is 'The Lane' with a gate and stile, go through this to the visitor area. At high tide this lane will lead you to Sunderland.
4. Reach Sambo's grave, the Horizon Line Chamber and birdwatching hide visitor area.
Note: This is an almost new project, in fact the birdwatching hide was still being completed when I went. The chamber is designed to look like an upturned boat but to me it looks like an ancient burial mound or barrow. It is worth looking inside and so I will leave the surprise to the visitor. Sambo's grave has been here for years but is seamlessly joined into the new area.
The flower and trinket-strewn gravestone has fixed to it an inscription worth reading. Sambo was apparently an African slave boy who was abandoned by his master who was on his way to Lancaster. He died of disease at Sunderland and was buried in the unconsecrated grave. Lancaster was a major slave port and Sunderland was quite an important subsidiary port of the city. There is a story that the first imported raw cotton arrived here and was sent to be woven in Lancashire. If true, this would make it one of the major stepping stones of the Industrial Revolution.
Carry on, following the shore on the left and the sea on the right but now walk along the shingle as the shoreline is strewn with huge anti-erosion boulders and there is no path above these. There are signs saying Keep off the Rocks hence why it is a low tide walk. The view out to sea is splendid and on a clear day the massive marine windfarm near Barrow is clearly visible as are the many ships heading in and out of Heysham. Keep on the shingles to reach Sunderland Point itself and a view out to Plover Scar Lighthouse.
Note: The lighthouse marks the mouth of the River Lune and safe passage up it. It was built in 1847 but was damaged in 2016, ironically by being struck by a ship! It has since been repaired and restored during the process.
Carry on now with the Lune on the right then climb up the shoreline to reach Sunderland Hall and join the road that leads in front of it and follow this into Sunderland.
Note: The hall here was built by Robert and Elizabeth Pearson and has a stone inscribed REP 1683.
Pass Cotton Tree Cottage on the left where apparently a Cotton Tree stood for over 200 years and enter the quayside of Sunderland.
Note: There are some very fine buildings in the village indicating that this was once a very wealthy place. The quay was possibly built using stone from the ruined Cockersand Abbey on the opposite side of the Lune that can still be seen looking directly south from Sunderland Point. Ironically one reason for the demise of the port can be seen directly across the Lune at Glasson Dock. When this was built it allowed ships to berth and stay afloat until the tide was high enough to sail into Lancaster. This could not be done at the tide-dependant Sunderland.
The views over the Lune from Sunderland are particularly good.
Walk along the quayside and pass the public toilets on the left to reach where the main and only road enters the village.
5. At this point turn left passing the side of a house called The Anchorage and follow the track. The track starts to rise up what looks like concrete flagstones and at this point keep right and follow a small path along the grass to a footpath sign and ladder stile on the left.
Cross the stile and then bear diagonally right towards a footbridge. If you look from the ladder stile directly at Heysham Power Station you will see a telegraph pole and next to it the footbridge. Cross the footbridge and carry on to another footbridge and cross that and then keeping an irrigation ditch on the right keep on to another footbridge and cross that. Cross yet another footbridge then, bear diagonally left to a ladder stile in a wire fence, cross this and keep slightly diagonally left to another ladder stile to the left of a metal gate. Cross the stile and keep on the banking to the left of a track to a ladder stile on the left over a barbed wire fence. Cross this and turn right along a raised banking that bypasses some small farm buildings on the right then drop off left from the banking and cross a ladder stile in a wire fence and turn right and with the wire fence on the right keep on to join a track then turn left. Follow the track until a stile in the hedgerow on the right, cross this and turn left along a concrete lane paralleling the track you just left.
6. Reach a 'Public Footpath Low Road' sign pointing left and Sunderland Point right. Cross the stile and follow Low Road then keep straight on towards some farm buildings. The track forks with the left fork going to Trumley Farm and the right to Marsh Lea, keep right and follow the track into the farmyard then keeping to the right of the buildings and a log store cross the stile straight in front and turn left. Reach a footpath 4 way signpost and follow the sign and track to Low Road to reach a metal gate.
Here the OS map shows the footpath going through the gate and across the field. In actual fact it bears right at the gate and follows the track until a metal gate with a small footpath to the right of it. Follow the footpath with a wire fence on the left and a stream on the right to a stile, cross the stile and bear right and follow the path to a footbridge on the right. Cross this and then head diagonally left towards a stile that is the first stile in the walk past the twin garage. Cross the stile and go straight on and up Hallam Lane.
Start/finish: I started near the green in Middleton but parking is limited. Note: This walk is best enjoyed at low tide
Terrain: Easy walking. Boots or walking shoes are fine.
Time: 3 hours
Facilities: Public toilets in Sunderland.
Map: OS Explorer 296
Watering holes: The Stork at Thurnham and The Dalton Arms in Glasson are good but sometimes a walk needs real fish and chips. Hodgson's in Lancaster is a must visit. They have a sign saying the type of potatoes they are frying and the name of the boat the fish were caught on. Excellent in every way.