I emerged from the RSPB café at Leighton Moss to find lots of people milling about in the car park. ‘There must be another group walking from here today’ I thought. Wrong. They were all there for my East Lancs LDWA ‘Plodders’ walk around Silverdale. There were 19 of us plus Millie (not to be confused with the other Millie, who joined us on Sunday).
We set off bang on time up Storrs Lane before turning confidently into Leighton Moss Nature Reserve, down a narrow lane fringed with reeds. Norman reckoned we’d see bitterns. We didn’t, of course.
Luckily, the public hide was big enough to accommodate all 19 of us, plus some rather shocked passers-by. We observed gulls and ducks and swans. Norman gleefully pointed out an otter (we’d been told they had been seen this morning). On closer inspection it revealed itself as a coot. [Had he been looking in a mirror?]
We left the twitchers to their peace and quiet and continued along the path, emerging at Grisedale, with views towards the snow capped peaks of the Lake District.
We passed Leighton Hall, which apparently is the stately home of the Gillow part of the Waring and Gillow furniture clan. Norman waxed lyrical about it being a fine place to visit. Apparently he got lost in the maze, and one of the birds of prey that they exhibit mistook him for a coot.
Alan and John, ‘The Calendar Boys’, happily brought up the rear as we plodded up the hill towards Yealand Conyers.
This was the steepest slope (the only slope) of the day, and warranted a long rest at the benches on the summit.
There were 19 of us, plus Millie, including Peter Balshaw, who came cunningly disguised as an anonymous hill walker.
We then wandered across a small plateau from which all the stones seemed to have been piled into a rocky mound in past millennia. There’s no photo of that mound. I was standing on it.
It was then a slithery descent towards Yealand Conyers, from where there were fine views towards Ingleborough.
Peter Lane kiln supplied lime for a variety of uses for hundreds of years. Now it has been restored for admiration by ramblers.
A cunningly concealed waymark fooled me into a considerable diversion past an errant lamb to a spot for elevenses with a fine view. After plying everyone with cake (thanks to Alan R’s penknife that facilitated a ‘loaves and fishes’ event) I admitted that I hadn’t the foggiest idea where we were.
The Chief Scout was therefore enrolled to head a recovery operation to extricate us from the unscheduled meadow and return us, aided by Alan R’s Satmap gadget, to the known world, aka Crag Foot.
Hugely indebted to said ‘Chief Scout’ (doesn’t he look smug?) we soon found ourselves on a marked route with good views across the reed beds of the Moss.
We passed Moss House Farm and a smelting chimney before arriving at the coast road at Crag Foot.
The Lancashire Coastal Path then led us inexorably towards Jenny Brown's Point for lunch beside the old smelting chimney.
After a pleasurable half hour in the sunshine, we wandered off into the area around Jack Scout, where we came across another renovated lime kiln.
Past the Wolf House Gallery, we descended on a pleasant path to Woodwell, which used to provide Silverdale’s water supply.
Still dizzy from the glory of rescuing the entire group from the black hole of Warton Crag, Norman embarked on 'Shallow Water Adventure'...
After dragging him out and rubbing him down, we guided the bedraggled Chief Scout to Red Rake, at the edge of Morecambe Bay, where he narrowly avoided a mishap with the quicksand.
Grange-over-Sands is in the distance, but we wouldn't be walking further than The Cave today.
This is the view of Red Rake from The Cave, on a sunny March afternoon.
Leaving the coast, the road to Elmslack revealed some residents who were ideally equipped for cold weather.
Below King William's Hill, we didn't venture up to the Pepper Pot, instead taking the pleasant path beside more evidence of Silverdale's historic water storage issues (concrete water tanks), to Waterslack, where the concerns of any parched residents were assuaged as it started to rain.
After a rainy circuit of Hawes Water, we came across a locked gate on a ‘permissive path’. We took the gate off its hinges and went through, but then doubts about the ongoing path led us to reverse the exercise and set off down the road towards Silverdale. An alternative route then appeared, and we strolled down to what appeared to be a very dangerous railway crossing.
We didn’t expect to be rushed, but Norman nearly got crushed. Many of our elderly group are a little hard of hearing and simply followed me across without realising they were about to be run over! It was a close miss, but the ‘Massacre of Red Bridge’ was narrowly averted.
We joined the public footpath about twenty metres away from the previously mentioned locked gate….!
We were told there is a Facebook page relating to the closed footpath/locked gate, but I can’t find it. I think the issue relates to the use of the path by the public over a long period, and certainly a number of those present had been using it for up to thirty years, so perhaps it should be designated as ‘public’ rather than ‘permissive’ (aka ‘closed’). *
By now the rain had stopped, so we enjoyed a pheasant amble over the greener than green golf course to rejoin Storrs Lane and wander back to the RSPB Visitor Centre, where some of the 19 Plodders breathed sighs of relief at having managed to complete the circuit in spite of my navigational blunders, and zoomed off. Meanwhile, the Elite Plodders enjoyed some welcome pots of tea before heading home.
Here's our route - about 20 km with up to 500 metres ascent, taking us 5.5 hours; note the scenic diversion to our elevenses stop!
There’s a 35 image slideshow with a few different images, here. Click on the first picture, then click slideshow.
Thanks to everyone for attending, and to Norman for pouncing on the frailties of my navigation skills and rescuing the entire group from the Black Hole of Warton Crag.
[There’s nothing like a good ‘plod’ for a bit of fun!]
* – I now see that Alan R has found the Facebook page, here, and I’ve added a comment there.