HEATON with OXCLIFFE, HEYSHAM & MORECAMBE

 


Summary

Date - 17th January 2021 & 5th February 2021 Distance - 8.75 miles (8 miles-Feb 2021)
Ascent - 200 ft
Map - 296 Start point - Hayfell Ave, Morecambe (SD 4406 6328)

 

Summits Achieved

No summits were reached on this walk

 

Preface

It was Saturday, and all was well as the tea and cakes had arrived.

"Super", cheered Allen, "I'm..

"gasping for a cuppa", finished Tetley, letting out a belly laugh.

"I know", said Allen. "I'm a tea belly and cake stuffer, just like Dad. Nothing wrong in that. We all need some comfort to keep us happy in these difficult times."

Southey meanwhile had got the plates and mugs, passing then round as Shaun filled them with steaming tea.

"What are the cakes?, asked Tetley.

"Chorley cakes from me", replied Grizzly.

"And chocolate caramel shortbread from me", added Little Eric. "Oh and Southey has done some scones again. Cherry and ginger I think."

"Correct pal", replied Southey. "There is butter jam and cream too.

"Wow", said Allen, "we are being truly spoilt now. Well done Southey. Seems you are getting a dab paw at the baking."

So there was quiet while we all tucked in.

Then after a few minutes, Allen said, "they are all scrumptious."

"So I see", replied Grizzly. "That's two scones, two Chorley cakes and three pieces of caramel shortbread. I am sure you must have hollow legs."

"I've not been counting but Shaun and Tetley have had a lot too."

"They're just so delicious", said Tetley in his defence.

Little Eric changed the topic. "What are the prospects for walking this week."

"Not good", said Allen. "I know that Dad wants to go shopping on Monday, and then Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are just rain all the time."

"So tomorrow then?", queried Southey.

"Yes provided Dad feels like going", replied Shaun. "But we need an idea, and perhaps one from home so that Dad does not have to drive and we do not need to set off very early."

"There are a few we have done before a few times due to the restrictions, but I have been looking to see if we can change the route in some way", said Tetley. "With that in mind, I have an idea. The beginning and end we will have done, but there are new paths in the middle. So, we start via Westgate and Oxcliffe and along that tarmac track. Then at the junction go right, and ignore the stile and keep on to the end into Heysham. Then make our way to the shore and follow the cliff path to the ruined chapel that we have not visited before, although Dad has. Then along the promenade to the Midland Hotel and the cycleway home."

"Sounds great pal. I like it", cheered Allen. "I have the route in my mind, so will go and see what Dad thinks." Then as he trotted out of the room, he called out, "could I have another mug of tea, and another of your lovely scones please Southey."

"He's incorrigible", laughed Shaun, as he made to fill Allen's mug.

Soon back and with a smile on his face, we knew that the news would be good. "Thanks pal", he said to Shaun, accepting the mug of tea. "Dad likes the idea and says he cannot recall ever walking the cliff path. In view of the forecast for the week ahead it's on for tomorrow."

"Great", cheered Little Eric, "here's to the best Dad in the world."

5th February 2021
This week there had been rain most of the time, so we decided that for a day or so at least we should avoid the fields that would be even boggier now! So it was decided to repeat this walk, saving Dad the need to drive. The day was dry with occasional sun and although there was a breeze it was quite mild. No pictures, as we were happy to let Dad leave the camera at home. With no deviations to take shots, and a shorter route from the promenade to the cycleway, resulted in the shorter overall distance today. Thank you Dad, as always.

 

The Walk

A grey but dry winter day with a cold breeze at times. "Not the best for photography", commented Tetley.

"No lad", replied Dad, "but I'll do my best to get some reasonable shots."

We waited patiently while Dad got ready then jumped in the rucksack and snuggled down, and just before 11:00 we called goodbye to the rest of our many pals.

"Take care", called out Fred.

"We will", Grizzly called back.

So from Hayfell Ave, it was right then left along Hampsfell Drive towards the cycle path.

So familiar Shaun did not need to give Dad any directions. We went left along the cycleway to Westgate. Here it was right past the caravan park to then turn left down Westcliffe Drive.

"Look, a post box", called out Little Eric. "A bright picture for our story on a grey day."

Nearing the junction with Oxcliffe Road, Shaun prompted Dad. "It's right along the soil footpath between the caravan parks."

Straight, it then bent left to exit onto Oxcliffe Road. Dad crossed the road to gain the pavement, and then went right.

Coming to Whittam House, Little Eric pointed, "there's an old post box now just ornamental." Peering close he then said, "it dates from the reign of King George VI".

"A slim design", commented Tetley. "I don't think we have seen one of those before."

Soon after passing Fanny House Farm, we took the long straight track left, accessed via a metal kissing gate."

Allen said, "the kissing gate is a recent addition to allow access, as previously the gate was never padlocked."

"I wonder if the vehicle access is restricted now as the track gives access to the wind turbines and solar panel farm", mused Southey.

After about half a mile or so, a junction was reached. "It's right", said Shaun, as Dad walked on past.

"Yes lad, but I want to get a picture of that wind turbine and see if I can get one of the blades in line with the support column.

He did pretty well, don't you think?

Turning back, we now took the track left at the junction, by this tree.

The tarmac track soon went left. "We continue ahead", advised Shaun.

Now a muddy track this soon narrowed between hedges, passing right of Heysham Moss nature reserve.

A gate gave access. Grizzly said, "if you were considering taking us on an exploration Dad, I think it would be better to leave that for another time, looking at the extremely muddy paths."

"Aye lad, you are right. Something to do in the spring or summer."

To find out more about the site click this link. Heysham Moss

Beyond a gate we crossed the bridge over the railway to a residential street. "Take that rising path opposite", pointed Shaun.

This brought us to Charlbury Grove, Dad continuing to its end. Here seeing a footpath sign, Allen said, "must be that grassy footpath between fences."

We were in a large housing estate, and the path led to a street. "Ok", said Southey. "We go left the short way to that mini roundabout, then right onto Heysham Mossgate Road that leads to Heysham Road, and there turn left."

"Passing Douglas Avenue, Little Eric said, "there's another pillar box." Knowing what he was going to say, Dad went to line up the shot. Little Eric went on, "this one is even older dating from the reign of King George V."

As we walked on Dad said, "I know where we are. Just a little way along is the Heysham Medical Centre." Then sighing, "I came here many times with Uncle Brian, when he was having treatment for the ulcer on his foot. Not easy times for him, yet he never complained."

Allen teared up. "It can't have been easy for you either Dad. You certainly did your best to care for him. Oh how I miss him."

"I know", said Tetley, putting a comforting paw on his shoulder.

Shaun issued his next instruction. "We need to cross the road and then go right along Middleton Road."

At the corner stands The Old Hall Inn.

"There's a plaque by the door. Let's go and have a look", suggested Allen.

This gave the history of the building, Grizzly reading it out to us. "This is the oldest building in the borough of Morecambe and Heysham for it was built in 1598 by Robert Edmondson Senior and his son Robert Edmondson Junior. The old Manor House, Heysham Hall, was once part of the Hornby Castle Estate. The Edmondson family held the Hall until the latter part of the 17th century, the next tenant being Sam Bailey of the 9th Light Dragoons. Eventually, after many changes of ownership Reverend C T Royds took the Hall in 1888 and carried out the much needed renovations. During the alterations a Priest Hole was discovered with a passage between the inner walls and beneath the floor. A secret opening was also discovered in the floor of the West wing. It communicated with the left chimney breast of the huge fireplace and also with the interior of a buttress outside the home. This gave a hidden stairway up into attics and it also afforded entrance to an underground passage leading out of the grounds. The fine Elizabethan house was sold to Mitchell Barker, a brewer of Lancaster, who remodelled the interior and converted the premises into a hotel. All alterations, purchase and transfer of the license covered a period of three years and was eventually opened in September 1958."

"Wow", said Southey. "How interesting. If only walls could talk."

As Dad strolled on, Shaun, looking up from the map said, "this road is a loop off the main road. About halfway we go right down towards the shore."

There were two turns that were just narrow residential streets. Then Tetley said, "The next is Smithy Lane. That looks more like it."

It was and we followed this on and on coming to a junction. "Keep ahead", called out Shaun.

However Southey said, "look there's a seat. How about we sit her for our picture for this story."

"Yes", agreed Little Eric, "but the seat is wet. Can we sit on the map cover Dad."

"Sure lads. Now get settled."

Snugged in the rucksack again, Dad continued ahead with Heysham Harbour to the left, to shortly reach Half Moon Bay.

"Ok", said Southey. "Now walk the concrete path and then join the grassy cliff top path."

"Wow, look at that dramatic sculpture", pointed Allen. "A must picture for our story."

This is 'Ship' by renowned artist Anna Gillespie and was installed in March 2019. The following is an extract drawn from the Morecambebay.org.uk website -

Providing new focus on Morecambe Bay's landscape and maritime heritage, the artwork reflects the importance of seaborne trade in bringing news, innovation and shaping the character of the area. Symbolically positioned on the boundary between land and sea, benefitting from dramatic backdrops of the tides, horizon and stunning coastal sunsets, the latest in the celebrated run of Headlands To Headspace artworks and cultural event commissions, led by the Morecambe Bay Partnership, is cast in durable bronze and steel from a Welsh foundry. Residents and visitors will encounter the outline of a ship’s hull mounted with two opposing figures at each end, one facing ‘the new’ of Heysham Nuclear Power Station and the other facing ‘the old’ of the ancient monument of St Patrick’s Chapel.

Shortly the path began to climb, and we paused to look back. "There's the new", said Tetley. "Heysham Nuclear Power Station."

"I did some research", said Grizzly. "Heysham 1 is to the right. Construction started in 1970 with the first reactor commencing operations in 1983 and the second in 1984. Initial production levels were low, and full commercial operation was only declared in 1989. It is expected to continue operation until about 2024. The construction of Heysham 2 began in 1979 and opened in 1988. This station is likely to keep operating into the 2030's."

"During my early years living here, I recall seeing the buses taking the construction workers home in the evening after their days' work."

Cresting the rise the view opened up ahead and we could see the route to Morecambe. Little Eric said, "there's the cafe building on the Stone Jetty in the distance. Phew Dad, you have some way to walk yet today."

The cliff path led to the ruins of St Patrick's Chapel, situated in its dramatic location high on the headland.

Grizzly said, "the ruin dates from the 8th or 9th century, and is built of sandstone rubble. The plan is a plain slightly tapering rectangle measuring 27 feet 6 inches (8 m) by 9 feet (3 m).  The stone tiles are as a result of consolidation work carried out in 1903. As we can see, most of the south wall, the east gable wall, and the east part of the north wall are still present. The doorway in the south wall has long-and-short jambs and an arch with concentric grooves. In 1977 an excavation took place in and to the south of the chapel, which dated the site to the late 6th or early 7th century. The buried skeletons uncovered were dated as no earlier than the 10th century. The ruin is designated as a Grade 1 listed building and is a Scheduled Ancient Monument."

He then pointed us to the group of six rock-cut tombs and a separate group of two rock-cut tombs, saying, "each tomb has an associated socket probably intended for a timber cross. Originally the tombs would have had stone covers. These too carry a Grade 1 listing. A further excavation took place in April 1993 on land below the stone coffins. No human bones were found but more than 1,200 artefacts were recovered, which showed that the site had been occupied about 12,000 years ago."

"Thank you pal, that was fascinating", said Southey. "We are certainly seeing the ancient and modern in close proximity today."

Following the path down, we saw to our left the current church of St Peter's, where we noted that a christening had just taken place.

"Right", said Grizzly, "I have some more notes somewhere that I have taken from Wikipedia." Shuffling his papers he said, "ah here they are. It is believed that a church was founded on this site in the 7th or 8th century. In 1080 it was recorded that the location was the site of an old Anglo-Saxon church. Some of the fabric of that church remains in the present church. The chancel was built around 1340–50 and the south aisle was added in the 15th century. The north aisle was added in 1864 and other extensions and restorations were carried out by the Lancaster  architect E.G. Paley.  At that time an Anglo-Saxon doorway was moved and rebuilt in the churchyard, and two galleries which had served as private pews with their own entrances were taken down. The church is stone built with slate roof. Like the chapel ruins is has Grade 1 listed status."

So, properly educated once more, we followed the road, before walking left to join the coastal path to and then along Sandylands Promenade. Here there are plaques fixed in the ground that give some interesting information.

"Look at that one", said Tetley with a laugh. "It really does show how large and extensive Morecambe Bay is."

Originally the settlements on the Bay were just a collection of villages, Poulton-le-Sands, Heysham etc. It was during Victorian times and with the coming of the railways that people started to visit the coast for leisure and recreation, prompting the development of the resort. It was in 1886 that the name Morecambe was formerly adopted.

Seeing this plaque, Dad said, "other coastal resorts developed in a similar manner, like Southport where I originally come from. Before the Victorian times there were just the villages of Crossens, Marshside, Churchtown, Birkdale and Ainsdale."

Two more gave us information about the materials that formed the Bay and what they are locally referred to.

Later we studied the map. Just off Heysham lie, Bank Side Skear, Great Out Skear, Jacky John Skear, Knot End Skear, Little Out Skear & Low Skear. Off Sandylands is Old Skear and Reap Skear. Further north off Bolton le Sands is Priest Skear.

Past Sandylands we continued along Morecambe promenade, coming to West End Gardens. Grizzly told us, "they were that were redeveloped in 2007 incorporating a number of artworks, including this huge picture frame that can capture the amazing sunsets across Morecambe Bay."

Pointing he said, "that is the beacon sited at the Regent Road end of the gardens, welcoming the town into the garden."

He went on, "using the theme of fishing the design is entitled 'Hook', and depicts a stylized fishing rod casting out to sea. The Hook of the rod is attached to a bronze fish, designed and modelled by the pupils of West End Primary School, their names being inscribed round the edge."

Later Grizzly said, "there are other artworks in the gardens, so if as I suspect the lockdown is prolonged and we repeat this walk, we can explore the gardens more fully."

"Sounds like a plan", replied Tetley.

The promenade was followed until we reached the iconic Art Deco Midland Hotel. "Under normal circumstances the car park would be full", commented Shaun. "Who knows when it will be allowed to reopen."

Here we joined the cycleway towards Lancaster, crossing the railway, and then on until reaching the Trimpell Sports and Social Club...

...where Dad turned right and then via Grayrigg Drive, Altham Road and Parkside to Hayfell Ave and home.

"I know we have done lots of this before", said Little Eric, "but your idea was super Tetley. So much of interest round Heysham and on the promenade."

"I agree", added Dad. "But I am glad to take the weight off my feet now as the pavements were hard on my feet."

"I'm ready for cake and tea", said Allen.

"As am I" added Dad.

"Cake stuffers and tea bellies the pair of you", laughed Tetley.

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