A view of Lakeland
Saturday 23 November 1996
But enough of views - a salient fact is that the Albion is a Thwaites pub. Thwaites of Blackburn is one of the reasons beer drinkers in this corner of the North West are still well off for choice, although it's a lot less than it used to be. Once, the white-washed inn, shabbily comfortable inside, looked over the water to Ulverston, home of the great Lake District brewer Hartley's.
It's from the dinky promenade in front of the Albion, with plenty of parking space, that our walk starts. Arnside was once a railhead. Coal steamers unloaded on the pier for rail connections inland via Carnforth. Trains still stop but the pier, washed away and rebuilt several times, is now just a small jetty.
It's a quiet place. Excitement is provided by tourists who have ignored the hooter and all the signs, and have got themselves into danger from the fast-rising tides that daily transform the Kent estuary from a sandy haunt of gulls and guillemots into a wide and choppy inlet of the sea.
We are going in a circle - so you can do this walk in reverse order if you like. With the Albion at your back, dodge the anglers' rods and tack along the water's edge; first follow a path, then walk along the high water line. (If the water really is high you will need to clamber up the bank and walk parallel to the shore, through the oak and beech.)
Half a mile or so round the shore - it's fun for twitchers, since the sea fowl are various - you reach New Barns. Either follow the coast, though the path can be muddy, or take a track on the left which seems to be leading into a caravan park. It does, but the saving grace is the way the caravans are screened by trees. The path soon leads into dense woods and, bearing right, a hundred yards or so on from the edge of the caravanserai, you open out at the shore again at White Creek and pick up the path along the coast.
For a mile or so the walk is a delight: wide seascapes on one side, views across to Walney Island to the north west and as far as Heysham to the south. Consult the tide tables. When the water is up, it laps at the foot of the low cliffs. When it is low, it reveals acres of sand and furrowed marsh seeming to stretch across Morecambe Bay to the northern shore. (Yes, there is a path, but the local papers lovingly record the deaths of those who failed to follow it in the company of the accredited guides.)
Over the cliff edge, the pine boughs twist and curl. Once they were handholds for marauding Scots who were raiding this coast for cattle as late as the mid 17th century.
Blow, another caravan park (at Far Arnside) - a vista of flounced curtain and chintz suites prompting the unoriginal reflection that to some people a holiday consists of attempting to recreate the minutiae of the circumstances of home.
Continue through the Far Arnside hamlet, cross the road and cut diagonally across the next two fields to join a path running under Middlebarrow to the old piel (or peel, the local spelling is various) tower - an anti- Scots device erected in the 14th century. From the farm at the foot of the tower, the track leads up to the road running between Silverdale and Arnside that you crossed half a mile back.
A hundred or so yards along in the Arnside direction, overlooked on the left by a steep cliff, a footpath sign directs you up and over a stile into the pretty woodland that surrounds the Knott. It's National Trust land, well cared for.
It is a fair climb up to the top of the Knott, just over 500ft inside 400 yards, but it is worth the effort, for it offers a magnificent view across southern Lakeland. Once a fat wedge of Lancashire stretched all the way up over the River Kent into southern Lakeland and across to Barrow- in-Furness. Nowadays, part of Cumbria, it lies before you - the villas of Ulverston, the meadows at the foot of Backbarrow, the Kent narrowing on the way to Kendal. To your right the heights of Yorkshire, and ahead a glimpse of the crags around Scafell.
A path leads to the left, down into Arnside, hitting the road just above a big residential home. Either follow the road back down to the Albion, or a steepish path back to the water's edge. Hungry? The baker's next to the pub on its commanding corner site has a small cafe attached - their home-baked pies are much recommended.
l From the Albion car park walk along the water's edge (if tide is too high clamber up the bank) to New Barns.
l Proceed to White Creek either round coastal path or inland through caravan park.
l Take coastal path to Far Arnside - and consult tide timtables first.
l Once through the hamlet, cross road and take path diagonally through two fields to the old piel tower.
l Join road to Arnside and after a hundred yards veer off on footpath to the Knott. A path leads down left on to road to Arnside. Follow this road back to the Albion.
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