HEATON with OXCLIFFE & LANCASTER/MORECAMBE CYCLEWAY

 


Summary

Date - 14th January 2010 Distance - 8.5 miles
Map - 296 Start point - Hayfell Ave, Morecambe (SD 440633)

 

The Walk

Shaun with Little Eric hitching a ride on his back wandered in with Tetley, to find Allen and Grizzly looking very glum and unhappy.

"Whatever is the matter?", asked Shaun.

Allen responded, "You know we were supposed to be walking with Uncle Eric today. Well, he has just phoned Dad to say that it has had to be cancelled, as there is snow in Kendal, and the road from his house is so icy, that he cannot get his car up the hill."

"I know it is disappointing, but it is better to be safe than sorry", said Tetley, trying to console him.

Just then Dad came in to the room. "I guess you heard about Uncle Eric having to cancel, but never fear there is still time for us to do a walk, and I have decided to redo the one that we can start from home. It will save time in not having to drive anywhere, especially as before we set off I have to do some errands for Uncle Brian."

Allen and Grizzly's expressions brightened visibly, and they both shouted out "hooray", in unison.

Once the errands were done, Dad got the rucksack out and we jumped in ready for the off. He soon had his boots and coat on and was ready to go. We all called out goodbyes to Uncle Brian and our other Hug pals and off we went, Dad marching up the drive of the house and along the street. The house is called Atlow-Fowey after favourite places of Uncle Brian and Dad, but we just refer to it as the Bears Den!

On to Westgate, where we went left and walked along to the bridge and on to the cycle path, going left towards Morecambe. There had been a light dusting of snow overnight so the paths were white.

Yes, the path is very level and straight, and some readers might comment that it looks like the track bed of a railway line, and indeed you would be correct. The "Little" North Western Railway (NWR) line between Morecambe and Lancaster was opened on Whit Monday 1848. When the North Western Railway was absorbed by the Midland Railway in 1874, they then set about on a scheme to build a grand new station on the Promenade, which opened in 1907, and the following year the Heysham - Morecambe - Lancaster service was electrified. In 1957 the only intermediate station was opened to serve a new housing estate at Scale Hall on the approach to Lancaster but was short lived. In 1958 a section of the line either side of this station was used for experiments in connection with the subsequent electrification of the West Coast Main Line. The Lancaster terminus was Green Ayre station on the south bank of the River Lune and remained open until the passenger services were withdrawn. Also from Green Ayre there was a service to Leeds. The line ran initially beside the river Lune to Caton and Claughton then joining the line from Carnforth at Wennington. Electric services between Heysham - Morecambe - Lancaster were withdrawn in 1966 and, at the same time Morecambe - Leeds services were re-routed via Carnforth.

Well after the history lesson, we had better get on with the walk. Striding along the path we soon came to a junction where a path curved off left, which was the route we took.

"Does this have any significance in connection with the old railway?", asked Grizzly.

Dad explained, "this was where the spur went off to Heysham for direct trains to and from Lancaster. It then joined with another track to and from Morecambe, which incidentally still exists, effectively forming a triangular junction."

"Thanks", replied Grizzly

The path brought us to a t-junction. It was left, then immediately right along another path, passing the school, to Westgate again. Crossed over and walked right, to then take a signed footpath on the left between caravan sites, that eventually led out on to Oxcliffe Road. This was followed almost to the bridge, under which runs the railway line to Heysham. Just before, it was left along a track out into open country. This was followed for about three quarters mile. Where it turned right, we walked on a few yards to climb a stile on the left and cross pastures to Downlands Farm. Each time Dad had done this walk before, he had had to paddle across, so wet and boggy are they. Today the ground was thankfully deeply frozen, so progress was easier.

Strolling the access track we then passed North Farm and Moss Side Farm. Just before the Heysham bypass, a gate on the left gave access to a track and tunnel underneath. From here a broad track led to steps over the sea wall and to a road. The steps seemed to us a good place to pose for our picture and Dad obliged.

Walking left along the road, this almost Turner like view of the wide sweeping River Lune, opened up before us. Behind the large building on the opposite bank, can be seen the tower of the Priory Church and Lancaster Castle.

Just a few yards further on we reached the Golden Ball pub. The road and pub are frequently cut off by the tide. Another pint please......

This area of Morecambe is known as Snatchems. Dad thinks that the origin of this maybe to do with the naval times in the 18th century, when raiding parties would come ashore and snatch people to bolster their crews. The poor unwilling men would wake up to find that they had been forced into a hard life on the ocean wave.

There were birds and wildfowl on the river including these three geese marching in line,

We continued along the road to the traffic island then on ahead to walk through the car park of Asda and on to the cycleway once again, turning left in the direction of Morecambe. This part of the old railway track passes the large industrial estate called White Lund. The section from here to Lancaster was the last to close, retained until 2nd February 1970. There is little to indicate that this was ever a railway, although the concrete posts in the dilapidated fence are contemporary. These old gateposts too we thought could be relics from an unmanned crossing.

Eventually we arrived at Westgate Bridge, where we had initially joined the track earlier. The scene had changed the light covering of snow having melted away in just a couple of hours.

Shaun looking up said, "that bridge is quite interesting in that at some time the road has been widened"

"You're right" replied Tetley. "The original is an arched bridge in stone, but the later addition a less stylish metal construction."

Now we were on the last lap of our adventure, repeating the route along the track at the beginning. However before reaching the school, Dad turned left on to Hampsfell Drive, which led to Hayfell Ave and home. It made our day that we had done this walk, after the initial disappointment of not walking with Uncle Eric.

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