The first working day in October is the anniversary of my giving up full time work. 3 October 2011 is the eighth anniversary. Curious, then, that I shall be breaking off writing this posting (Friday morning) to visit the office and enjoy lunch with an old team mate, who despite being the same age as me continues with the daily ’grind’ (albeit on a part-time basis). Unlike Sue, who this week went back to work full time for six months!
Coincidentally, 1 October was the fourth anniversary of this blog, which I still enjoy compiling, but I’ve felt no urgency to record this week’s wanderings, (this morning has been spent catching up with other blogs on ‘Google Reader’ – apologies for the paucity of comments, time is the enemy as always), and I don’t feel compelled to quote any statistics, gear review policies, political statements, or anything much else (just now) outside the usual ‘what we got up to this week’ sort of postings.
On my first ‘day off’ when I went part time all those years ago I chose the Snowdon Horseshoe for a day out, and ever since then I’ve tried to celebrate by doing something active and interesting:
Year 0: Snowdon Horseshoe
Year 1: The ‘Missing Link’ trip to Cornwall
Year 2: Snowdon Horseshoe
Year 3: Half Dome
Year 4: The Altrincham Circular (my first blog posting)
Year 5: Eccles Pike (a bit short, that one!)
Year 7: South West Coast Path, and a Half Marathon
Year 8: Trips to the Southern Uplands, and Shropshire
This year I wasn’t in the middle of any ‘trip’. It was Sue’s first day back at work, so it would be unfair for me not to be home in time to cook tea, and the cloud was going to be down over both the Lakes and Snowdonia.
So a day out in the Peak District was in order…
Think again. I’d had my eye on Norman Thomas’s ‘A Breath of Fresh Air’ walk for a while. It’s not far from home to the starting point at Conder Green, and at 35km (22 miles) it’s a good distance for a brisk walk on an autumn day. Anquet mapping on my computer told me that it reached the dizzying maximum height of 35 metres, so barring a bout of sea fret I’d have a cloud free day out.
So I enjoyed a lie in and was further delayed by someone crashing into the back of my car* at the traffic lights in Galgate, before reaching the car park at Conder Green at 9.30.
The walk is described on the Breath of Fresh Air website, and has been waymarked, so it’s easy to follow. But the text on the website is currently ‘out of order’ with the description from Lancaster to Conder Green having been inserted immediately after Cockerham. So I’ve copied and pasted it in the correct order in blue italics below – I hope nobody minds, and that also saves me some writing…. though I’ve added my own observations and map as well as the website’s map. I’m sure the publicity of this excellent walk will be appreciated anyway.
Would you believe that during the course of the walk I took over 200 photos! My Canon Ixus 105 is sadly far inferior to the broken G10, so most of them truly reflect the standard of my snapping – very average. But they do provide a pictorial essay by way of a Picasa slide show (123 images) – click here.
To arrive at the start, go past the front of the Stork Inn in Conder Green, down the narrow lane to the car park (free parking). This is the site of Conder Green station, opened in 1883 by the London & North West Railway Company on its line from Lancaster to Glasson Dock. The station closed in 1930, but freight traffic continued to ply the single track line until 1964.
From Conder Green car park entrance, by the cafe – the Café d’Lune, closed from 31 October, closed on this morning at 9.30 - follow the coastal path over the river to Glasson Dock. Turn left at Lancashire Coastal Way (LCW) finger post, right past the public conveniences and left again at the Victoria Inn to cross over the road.
Go past the large anchor and cross the bridge over the dock entrance and turn right at the cafe. Go left through The Dalton Arms car park and at the far end turn right and then immediately left at the anchor to go up Bodie Hill.
Continue left onto the main road, joining it by an orientation point in memory of local historian John Hayhurst OBE. Helvellyn is noted as being 36.5 miles away, but was engulfed in cloud today. Continue to the right, then when this road bears left, turn right into Marsh Lane (farm track).
By now, you’ve encountered several of the many markers that decorate the route, with the top of the lighthouse pointing the way.
Follow the LCW passing Old Glasson Caravan Park, through the gate and continue on the track across fields, with hedge on your right to Crook Farm. Turn left at the farm following LCW signs.
At this time of year you can expect to see a variety of wild flowers, including Sea Campion, Wild Cabbage, Sea Mayweed, Dandelion, Red Clover, Hedgerow Cranesbill, Creeping Thistle, Ribwort Plantain and Thrift. You may also encounter unpleasant slurry at Crook Farm, and a series of old stone (boundary?) posts at intervals along the beach, where Lapwings, Curlew, Oyster Catchers, and a variety of ducks and other shore birds today vied for space in the feeding grounds with a large flock of Carrion Crows.
Follow the coastal path past Abbey Lighthouse Cottage, round Plover Hill (Plover Scar Lighthouse to your right) and on beyond the remains of Cockersand Abbey to Bank Houses.
The Chapter House pictured below dates from 1230. It was more recently used as a mausoleum for the Dalton family. There’s more about its history here.
Continue past Cockerham Sands and Bank End Caravan parks.
Fellow blogger Alan Rayner is having to take it easy in his bid to recover from shingles. I hope the next picture doesn’t set his heart racing out of control…
Walk along the embankment top in the company of wheatears and plump sheep and turn right at the T-junction towards Patty's Farm Barn. Follow the wide track towards farm buildings, before reaching them take the marked footpath to left, up steps across the embankment. Bare right over two stiles and a footbridge, to head across in front of the parachuting club, with runway on the left.
Keep straight across fields with ditch and fence to your left, over two footbridges to meet 'A' road by a very slurrified stile. Turn left and then right up a path to Cockerham Church.
Walk through the churchyard or the path to the left of the wall and on up the driveway past the village hall to Main Street (B5272). Turn left into Cockerham Village (public conveniences on car park). Beyond the public house turn right up Willey Lane. Follow the lane past dwellings. The track bears left at a pond, then turn right at Uptown Barn conversions and go through a gate into the field. Head for the electricity pylon and pass through gate. Bear north east towards distant church spire. Pass to the right of a small pond and go through another gate. As the fence bears right, head across the field towards the distant hall.
The church spire is shown below on the right, and the farmer is to be congratulated on preserving a five foot pathway through the sweetcorn.
Go over the footbridge and stile.
Head towards line of old trees and a second footbridge. After crossing footbridge, turn immediately left and head for trees, crossing fields. Look for a gate on right with public footpath sign (I missed this and had to re-trace – there are ‘beware of the bull’ signs but no sign of any bull when I was there), go through two gates alongside disused outbuildings. Pass to the left of Ellel Grange Hall, currently a religious retreat, and head for the old stables. Go through gate, cross driveway and over a stile to follow path with wall on the left and fence on right. Cross stile and continue with fence on left.
Cross another stile and bear left to pass just right of five large trees, down the field. Go past first canal bridge on the right, and follow elevated path with fence on right, to emerge at the junction of the Glasson Branch and the Lancaster Canal. Cross the bridge and follow canal towpath for approximately five miles, passing Galgate and into Lancaster City centre.
It’s a picturesque section of canal, though not quite so pristine just north of the city centre.
Workmen were rebuilding the banks of the canal hereabouts, and at a spot to the south of Lancaster, and the steep steps referred to below are being reconstructed.
After viewing the aqueduct descend steep steps immediately before the bridge to a disused railway line on the banks of the River Lune. Follow the pathway back through Riverside Park and past Skerton Bridge into the city centre.
Staying on the riverside path pass under a subway next to Greyhound Bridge and proceed to the Millennium Bridge (pedestrian), known locally as the 'swearing bridge' due to its two masts resembling that of 'V sign'. Follow the road along St. George's Quay, under Carlisle Railway Bridge and beyond along New Quay Road. After passing the end of warehouses on the industrial estate, take the riverbank footpath (LCW), follow this along the flood embankment to reach a stile near Aldcliffe Crossing. Cross the stile to follow the disused railway track back to Conder Green.
By now, at this time of year, you should have spotted goldfinches in the hedgerows and numerous further wild flowers, including Parsleys, Clovers, Himalayan Balsam (thankfully on the wane), Red Campion, Bramble, Bush Vetch, Hedge Bindweed (pictured below), Yarrow, Meadow Cranesbill, and several varieties of Aster. There’s also a plethora of berries.
The final section of the walk, after the rigours of the flood embankment (see slide show for more) is a gentle 4km stroll down this lovely disused railway line, where there was a steady flow of commuters on bicycles whilst I strolled along, reaching the end of a very pleasant day’s walking at about 5.15 pm.
Here’s the map from the website.
Here’s the route according to Anquet:
And here it is according to the Garmin gadget that recorded all my errors and extra wanderings – 37km but only 133 metres ascent.
Thanks go to Norman for devising this fine route.
* It was an almighty crash. The VW Polo’s rear bumper must be very flexible, as it seems to have survived with only a scratch!