The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Leighton Moss, Gait Barrows, Arnside, Silverdale and Leighton Moss

Thirty legs and three tails set out just after 10am on Sunday morning from Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve (Mick & I amongst them) to walk a circular route that Martin had devised.

It was under grey skies that we strode away (although not before pre-hydrating with cups of tea in the Visitor Centre cafe) but at least it wasn’t raining. Those local to the area described the vast quantities of rain that had fallen on Saturday, which explained all the flooded bits we had seen on our drive in, so we counted ourselves lucky that all we had to contend with was mud and puddles.

I’m not sure whether it was the greyness of the day or the chatting that meant that the camera came out neither as we walked through the RSPB reserve, nor as we walked through the lovely (if more than a tad muddy) Cringlebarrow Woods. And then it started to rain. The non-Paramo contingent tried to ignore it for a while until defeat had to be conceded and a waterproofs-faff was had.

Notwithstanding the dampness, I had to dig for the camera when we came to the big limestone pavement at Gait Barrows:

IMG_2041 It’s a pretty impressive feature even on a grey day, but I bet it looks even better when not viewed from under a hood (and maybe with a blue sky).

IMG_2042 A cheery bunch, in spite of the weather

Leaving Gait Barrows our intended path across fields was barred by some lake-sized puddles, but a route around was found, which deposited us in a lane. ‘Much better underfoot’ we thought, until we rounded a corner and came upon another water-obstacle. Single file was the way to attack it:


Minutes later Hazelslack Tower caused a little discussion as we wondered about its history (built late 14th century apparently, and thought to have been in ruin since the 17th century – information gained from a bit of Googling in the absence of an information board at the scene):

IMG_2045 Thence over to Arnside we headed, where a tiny bit of sploshing through floodedness was unavoidable as we crossed the fields, and a more considerable amount of sploshing was unavoidable when we got herded between two barbed-wire fences. I was verily impressed at this point that my boots were still keeping my feet dry; being five or six years old, I hadn’t had such high expectations for them after a couple of hours of regular dunkings.

The morning tea break had been omitted in the poor weather and there were hints that hunger was setting in for more than a couple of people as we headed up Arnside Knott at approaching 1.30. Happily, the rain had stopped, so at the top a reasonably sheltered spot was found for lunch:

IMG_2047Having been one of the first people offered some of Martin’s excellent brownies, I nearly cheekily scored a second piece when I quickly moved to re-position myself at the end of Martin’s brownie-offering route. He spotted the deception, although maybe it was the fact that I had a mouthful of brownie that gave me away!

It would have been a lunch-spot with a view (see the last posting) on a different day, but on Sunday the view was largely absent:

IMG_2046Back on our way once various flavours of sandwiches had been despatched and flasks emptied, a group photo call was had at the top of the Knott:

IMG_2050 L to R: Rick, Stu, Sue, Sue, Mick, Me, John and Heather

(Martin’s missing because he was taking the photos)

With Arnside Knott being the highpoint of the walk, ‘down’ was the theme for a while, as we made our way into completely different surroundings as we reached the beach at Silverdale.

IMG_2054 IMG_2053 The features were coming thick and fast as we passed by Woodwell:

IMG_2058 and Jack Scout lime kiln:

IMG_2060 before taking to the coast once again, where the sun very nearly made a proper appearance:

IMG_2062 Of course, being so close to the coast does lead to some dangers, but I think I would have struggled to come up with quite so many as this warning sign:


It’s a wonder we all made it back in one piece!

For some reason I failed to take a snap of the beach-dwelling chimney we passed, so I’ve nicked Martin’s:


Then it was just the short stroll back to Leighton Moss, except that I didn’t get to stroll all of it. I was bringing up the rear (being some distance to the rear) when I realised that my map was missing. The map wasn’t of particular concern, being just an A4 print out, but those Ortlieb map cases don’t come cheap, so back down the hill I trotted to find it, then back up I trotted trying to catch a glimpse of the rest of the group. The pace wasn’t slow at this point, so it was quite a while before I caught up (and then probably only because some had stopped to wait for me).

Just a hop, a skip and a jump it was from there back to the Visitor Centre and with it being still open another pot of tea was deemed in order to round off what had been an excellent day, before Mick and I headed up to Kendal to overnight and the others headed off home.

Here’s the route we took (also nicked from Martin, but I’m sure he won’t mind!):

image Followed without diversion it’s around 12.5 miles long and it’s well worth doing if you find yourself in that neck of the woods. It’s packed with features, and I imagine that it’s even better still if you do it on a slightly more clement day.

Another take on the day can be found here, together with some much better photos than the ones I snapped.


  1. I'm just rushing off to photograph the sign for MY folder labelled "signs". Why haven't I collected this one which is on my doorstep before?

  2. Very good, Gayle. Of course I don't mind you using any of my snaps, if you'd posted first I'd have probably used some of yours. It's surprising how different two sets of photos of the same day can be, though a number of ours are very similar. I like the sign - I missed that!
    Thanks again for returning to the Knott on Monday - the errant keys still haven't turned up.

  3. Shame about the weather, that's a lovely walk, full of interest, little consolation but since Monday the weathers improved no end. Come back when the sun shines and the wild flowers bloom!!

  4. Conrad - hope you were successful in your sign-bagging mission and that you didn't get hit by a breaking wave or stumble over a submerged object, never mind coming across a sudden drop...

    Al - I'm sure we will be back to walk the route (or some variation of it) again; I was rather taken with it. Must write up Monday's walk too, when the sun did shine (some of the time, anyway) even if the ground was still somewhat soggy.