LANCASHIRE COASTAL PATH, BOLTON HOMES FARM, CRAG BANK & LANCASTER CANAL from HEST BANK

 


Summary

Date - 18th January 2015 Distance - 7.25 miles
Ascent -
285ft
Map - 296/OL7 Start point - Hest Bank railway crossing (SD 4684 6658)

 

Summits Achieved

No summits were reached on this walk

 

Preface

"Well, we certainly are getting winter this year", remarked Allen, as he looked out of the window on another cold day.

"Nice to be in the warm of home", replied Southey, "and warm inside with tea", raising his steaming mug to take another drink.

"I know you realise that we do not take it for granted, but it really is so good of you, Grizzly and Little Eric, to make the cake for us to have with the tea", said Shaun.

"You're most welcome", replied Little Eric. "I enjoy baking, it is so therapeutic."

"Quite", agreed Grizzly. "This apricot and cherry slice you have made is quite delicious."

"As are the fruit scones you have made, Grizzly", said Tetley.

"I agree is it nice to be in the warm, but let's hope that Dad will be able to take us for a walk this weekend", said Shaun.

"I hope so too", said Allen, getting the iPad and checking on the weather. "Sunday looks to be OK. There maybe some snow showers mid morning, but it then brightens up considerably"

"A local walk then looks best", said Tetley.

"I was thinking the same", said Shaun. "I was rummaging in the map drawer, and found this book that Dad bought in the early 1980s, long before any of us were adopted. It cost the princely sum of 25p and was produced by members of the Bolton le Sands Fire Station the proceeds going to The Fire Services National Benevolent Fund. It details walks around Bolton le Sands and Hest Bank."

"Sounds interesting", agreed Grizzly. "Let's have a look."

There were a number of walks, and after perusing them for a while, Tetley suggested. "How about we combine parts of route 4 and 2. Start from Hest Bank by the railway crossing, then walk the shore to the caravan park and on the Crag Bank, returning via the canal."

"I think that is excellent", replied Little Eric. "I for one have not done much of that."

"I think that goes for the rest of us too", agreed Shaun.

"Certainly completely new to me", said Southey. "It will be interesting walking along the shore, and then a complete contrast with the return by the canal."

"OK", said Allen, picking the book up, "I'll go and see what Dad thinks."

As he trotted out of the room, Tetley said, "you had better pour him a fresh mug of tea, he's bound to want another."

Eyeing the cake tin, Little Eric took another piece, after which Grizzly, firmly shut the lid. "That's your fourth piece", he chided. "You must leave some for Allen and the rest of us."

"Sorry", he mumbled in reply, through a mouthful of cake."

Allen was soon back. "Thanks", he said, accepting the refilled mug. "Dad thinks it is a good idea. He seems to recall walking the shore before, but not for a long time and certainly some of it will be new."

"Yippee", called out Southey, "here's to Sunday."

 

The Walk

We woke up to another cold winter day. As Dad was getting ready, Allen looked up the weather on the iPad. "According to the forecast there may a little snow between 10:00 and 11:00.

By the time Dad was ready at 10:30, it had not snowed so we set off thinking that it was not coming after all. However the forecast was right, because as we drove along the promenade the snow started to fall.

A short way further was the level crossing on the West Coast Mainline that we went over to reach the foreshore and the parking area.

"That's one point to Uncle Brian", called out Tetley, as we crossed.

Just to explain, Dad and Uncle Brian have this game, for won't of a better word. They do not actually keep a score, but notionally Uncle Brian scores a point if the barriers are up, and Dad if they are down. See, it bears out what we think, that neither of them really ever grew up!

We sat in the car for a little while to allow the snow to pass over. About 15 minutes later Dad took the above shot and this below looking back to Morecambe. A very bleak outlook under the lowering sky.

Dad soon got ready and we snuggled as deeply as possible in the rucksack.

"Look Dad", said Tetley, "the building opposite is a cafe, and even in the depths of winter it is open."

"Oh great, that's where I'll be going for a snack afterwards."

"We have brought a picnic, which we will have in the car, while you are at the cafe", Allen then said.

Dad now shouldered the rucksack and strode off, and after about 50 yards the warning lights and sirens sounded as the barriers came down heralding the impending arrival of a train.

"Let's wait and see what comes", said Southey.

Because the passenger trains on this line go very fast the barriers come down well before it arrives to prevent anyone attempting to cross. So, we had quite a few minutes wait, before this diesel hauled freight train trundled through.

By no means were we the only walkers today, and it is a popular place for people to bring their dogs. The views were to improve as the day went on and the seat in the picture was one of number here, all empty today though.

"It would be a nice place to bring Uncle Brian in the summer", remarked Allen. "He would love to sit here looking out over the sea."

"Quite, agreed Dad. "I must make a point of doing it too."

A few hundred yards along the road forked, Shaun saying, "We should keep left by the shore. The other leads only to the houses."

A narrow path led along an low embankment, with distantly the headland of Red Bank that we were to cross.

Nearing the headland, Shaun said, "the path goes over it through the fields to to Red Bank Farm."

"I can see a gate", replied Grizzly.

Rising up the first, Dad then climbed the stile into a second field. "Look" cried Allen, "there is a trig point over to the right by the fence. I know we cannot really count this as a summit, but nevertheless it is the highest point around here, so we will have to have our picture taken sitting on top."

"Absolutely", agreed Little Eric.

Rather wet on top, we sat on the map case so we kept dry. The trig point is numbered S5333 and stands on top of Red Bank at 69ft (21m) above sea level.

Some sheep were grazing in the field and while we were snuggling into the rucksack again, Dad snapped off this shot.

"Darn", called out Allen. "Failed again, to have a sheep picture free story."

Beyond a further stile the path dropped down to Red Bank Farm. Through the yard we joined another embankment passing the row of houses called The Shore, and joined the road at Wild Duck Hall a large white building that is part of a livery stables.

Shaun said, "this is where the public road from the main A6 in Bolton le Sands ends. We now continue along the tarmac to the left of Wild Duck Hall."

This we did the road being marked 'Private Road to Bolton Homes Farm'.

Reaching a gate, Shaun now said, "We follow the footpath sign, bearing left off the road over the rough ground that will bring us in about 100 yards to a small wooden gate."

By now the clouds had lifted and looking back we could see the houses of The Shore, Red Bank and distantly Morecambe. Just discernible are the towers of Heysham Nuclear Power Station, and to the right the Stone Jetty, thrusting out into the bay.

Under a still dark sky, in the direction of the Lake District the snowcapped Coniston Fells, glimmered. "What a lovely sight", said Southey.

"Yes let's hope we get on to those again this year as I have a few still to bag", replied Little Eric.

Through the gate we entered the large caravan park owned by Holgates. Like the one we had seen at Far Arnside there were many many permanent caravans here! Passing the entrance barrier the access led up towards the A6.

"Where now?", asked Allen.

"We take the that signed path on the left just before the railway bridge", instructed Shaun.

As can be seen this is a wide grassy hedged track, where nearing a gate the hedge had been laid in traditional fashion.

"That has been done very neatly", commented Tetley. "There is some skill involved and in fact farmers compete in competitions for this."

"Why exactly is it done?", asked Southey, who had not seen anything like it before.

"Well hedges can get tall and straggly, and holes can appear at the bottom. The branches are cut through leaving just a thin sliver to keep it connected, as they are laid down, so allowing new growth from the bottom so thickening the hedge", explained Grizzly.

After the gate the track became open on the left. Dad got a bit disorientated here, as he kept up on the path by the fence to the right, then dropping down and through a gate into a very boggy field.

As he started to struggle across Shaun suddenly said, "I am sorry Dad. I should have read out that we needed to drop left sooner and take the gate on the opposite side by the stream."

"Never mind, lad. I think it would be best to go back through the gate, rather than try to cross, as the ground is much drier there."

On the correct path, the field was much drier on this side and led to the footbridge over Black Dike and into a field where a large pool lay across the path. Dad skirted round to the left and walked on. Ahead were some trees where in fact we should have gone to the left side but the path was not obvious. It seemed clearer to keep right through a gateless gap and on to a gate to the road at Crag Bank. Turning right along the streets and then left, eventually we came to the busy A6. Dad crossed carefully and then climbed the steps to the canal bank.

So now we had exchanged foreshore and country footpaths for the towpath of the canal, that just here with the cold had a thin covering of ice.

A bridge can be seen ahead, and reaching it, Allen said, "just look at the lovely reflections. A picture for the story I am sure."

Like the shore we passed many walkers along here on our way to Hest Bank. By one of the bridges was some information that a short way further on the opposite side of the canal we would see some stonework that was nearly lost in the trees that had taken root. This was all that remains of the Carnforth Coke Ovens. A group has been formed to try to preserve the remains by removing the undergrowth and stabilising the walls. We hope that they are successful.

A few minutes later, Allen whispered, "look there is a grey squirrel on the far side taking a drink from the canal."

For quite a distance the canal hugged the A6, but in Bolton le Sands it then swung left away from the road, Crawstone Wood providing a nice backdrop.

As can be seen the canal shortly swung right and we came upon these barges tied up for the winter we presumed. "They make a nice splash of colour for a picture", remarked Little Eric.

For the most part now the towpath ran along by the gardens of houses, all of which had gates from them on to the towpath. On one was this sign.

"I don't think we will go in there, then", said Tetley.

Continuing through Bolton le Sands, the imposing church was passed on the far side, and shortly coming to the next bridge. "That is rather fancy with the balustrades, compared to the others", said Southey.

"I guess the reason is because it carries the A6", responded Grizzly.

Leaving Bolton le Sands the canal now weaved its way through Hest Bank the houses being on the opposite side from the towpath. They sloped down to the canal, and a number had landing stages for boats.

Suddenly Allen let out a laugh and said , "look at that sign."

"There aren't really crocodiles in the canal?", said Southey worriedly.

"No of course not", replied Tetley.

Soon now we came to the Hest Bank Hotel, where we left the canal and walked down to the car.

"Thanks Dad, that has been a lovely walk", said Little Eric.

"Glad you have enjoyed it", said Dad. "Some of the canal towpath I had not walked before, nor the path from the caravan site to Crag Bank. It just goes to show that there is still places to explore that are close to home."

We now settled in the warmth of the car to have our picnic and warming mugs of tea. Dad as expected went the few yards across to the Shore Cafe. He had a beef burger with onions and relish and side salad, followed by a fruit scone with butter and all washed down with a pot of tea with extra hot water. The food was nice and for a winter day the cafe was very busy.

A number of trains passed by at high speed and on coming out Dad got this shot of a Voyager passenger train.

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