“Anyone up for a walk on 16th?” came the message from Heather, a couple of weeks ago.
Sue and I were up for a walk, despite a pretty dire weather forecast. We’d have liked to go high, but post New Year Lassitude, not to mention the forecast, dictated a lower approach.
So it was that after some notable apologies Heather, Stu, Sue, JJ, Rick, Martin, Sue, Gayle and Mick, together with the canine trio of Trudy, Suzy and Molly, assembled for a leisurely coffee at Leighton Moss RSPB Centre.
Amazingly, it wasn’t raining, but we didn’t take any photos because “the weather will improve” someone quoted from a dodgy source – “BBC or MWIS?”
“Both” came the reply.
They were both wrong. It started to drizzle. The drizzle thickened. Waterproofs were donned by the non-Paramo contingent. Steady rain had been falling for a while before the cameras were finally brought out by the attractions of Gait Barrows (aspiring botanists should click that link), reached via Leighton Moss and a minor misplacement due to my poor navigation in Cringlebarrow Wood. (“I’ve never been here before” observed Sue O, the ‘local’.)
First a group photo, sort of.
Next a snap of Gait Barrow’s most impressive and extensive limestone pavement.
Then a poseur. Beside a large cairn declaring ‘Gait Barrows – National Nature Reserve – declared in commemoration of the Silver Jubilee of QE2 – 1952-1977’.
“The rain isn’t nearly as bad as yesterday” observed Sue O, who wanders these parts daily.
On exiting the Barrows a slightly more serious misplacement saw us walking up and down the road to Coldwell Farm, dodging a ‘boy racer’, and returning eventually to the relative safety of a footpath beside Leighton Beck, near Leighton House.
Our planned route being under water (did I mention, there’s been a bit of rain around here) we were tempted by a new footbridge over the beck. That was fine, but soon afterwards my chosen route came to a dead end against a fence in a marsh; clearly not a path. Here, Heather took over and led us over a broken wall, onto the track to Hazelslack.
Then I was in charge of route-finding again and we were soon confronted by some scary cows. (Actually, I thought they were remarkably docile.) With three dogs in our party, we skirted around the beasts. The path turned out to be the wrong one, as tactfully pointed out by Gayle, who by now had realised that navigation in this area is not my forté, and yet another retracing exercise was undertaken, faffter which I concluded that our circumperambulation of the cows had been completely unnecessary.
A straight route through boggy fields led inexorably to Arnside, where we stumbled along a bit of tarmac before pausing at a cul de sac from which I’d hoped to find a path up Arnside Knott. Sue O and Stu’s patience had been exhausted though, and they strode on up the lane from which I knew there was an easy route up the Knott. The rest of us reluctantly followed them, uneventfully ascended into a cool breeze, retreated from that, and settled down for a hard earned lunch. It was after all 1.30pm, and we’d been on the go since shortly after 10am.
We admired the view, such as it was. You can just see the splendid railway viaduct.
Since returning home, I’ve noticed that Gayle and Mick have revisited this spot. Here’s today’s view. And here’s one I took earlier.
Anyway, we carried on in the mist to bag the HuMP known as Arnside Knott.
The dogs got cold, so we rushed off down to Far Arnside, and in what seemed like just a jiffy we plunged into some deep Morecambe Bay mud.
“This is not a beach” observed Stu, “it’s quicksand”.
Heather and Trudy duly retreated.
In fact we nearly all retreated, leaving Sue B and Mick to brave the quicksand route to Silverdale, whilst the rest of us trudged over grassy fields with views down to the mud flats below.
Reunited with the survivors of the beach diversion, we toured the ginnels of Silverdale, passing this house, which if my memory serves me once looked quite smart.
…led to Woodwell, once Silverdale’s main water supply, and a drovers’ watering spot.
The pace increased as we hastened to meet a 4pm deadline at the RSPB centre. We rushed past Wolf House Gallery, shut for the month, and on along pleasant paths by Jack Scout, where the trees lean landwards – it’s clear where the wind prevails from here.
The sun came out as we rounded Jenny Brown’s Point!
The old smelt mill chimney glistened in the late afternoon sun.
Our party sloshed its was across and around the path that skirts the salt marsh as it heads back towards Leighton Moss. We’d exchanged all our TGO Challenge plans by now (seven ‘Challengers’ were present), and the attractions of either a pot of tea or a sighting of the starling roost at the RSPB centre were foremost in our minds.
Gayle disappeared to recover a dropped map case. Luckily, she found it. We made it back just after 4pm. The pot of tea was great, the starlings were not at their best – there had been 50,000 displaying their pre-roosting antics hereabouts last week; maybe many of them have now emigrated.
Here’s our route – 21km (20 without the diversions), 380 metres ascent, taking 6 hours.
That was an excellent day out. Thanks go to Heather for organising it and to Rick for doing the driving for the Timperley contingent. Just as well, as my keys disappeared during the course of the day, hence Gayle and Mick retracing our steps today. £75 for a new car key! Ouch!
Gayle’s take on the day, with some different images, is here.