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!

At the main road, Westgate, Shaun said, "go left to the bridge but do not cross, rather drop left below onto the the cycle path, and turn 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.

Dad having done some research explained, "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."

"Thank you Dad", said Little Eric. "It's good that I now know about the history of this railway line."

Striding along we soon came to a junction where a path curved off left. Seeing a sign Tetley said, "this is called Duckpond Corner, although there is no sign of a pond."

"Our route is left", said Shaun.

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

"Yes lad", replied Dad. "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. "Turn left, then immediately right", said Shaun.

Along here, Allen said, "that's Hampsfell Drive that leads to our road Hayfell Ave. We have come in a circle."

"You're right", agreed Shaun. "It would have been much quicker to just walk down Hampsfell, but we would have missed a section of the walk. In fact the route starts in Lancaster, so to pick up as much of the route it was necessary to walk to Westgate Bridge."

The path led past the school and out to Westgate again. "We go right past the caravan park, then take the footpath left", said Shaun

At the road, Shaun then said, "we cross and follow that path out to Oxcliffe Road. There go right almost to the bridge, under which runs the railway line to Heysham."

There seeing a sign high on a lamppost Little Eric said, "I presume that is our route."

"Yes", replied Shaun.

The wide surfaced track led out into open country and this was followed for about three quarters mile.

Where it turned right, Shaun said, "we go ahead a few yards, then its over the stile on the left."

Now crossing pastures we came to Downlands Farm. "Thank goodness the ground is frozen", said Dad. "Each time I have walked across here before, I had to paddle across, as they are normally so wet and boggy."

Strolling the access track we then passed North Farm and Moss Side Farm.

Just before the Heysham bypass, Shaun advised, "we go through that gate on the left and walk to and under the tunnel."

Here going left through a gate the broad track led to steps over the sea wall and to a road. "Let's sit on the steps to have our picture taken", suggested Tetley. "We have to appear in every story."

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 said, "I think 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. "Talk about getting your ducks in a row", laughed Tetley.

The road led to a roundabout. "Keep ahead to Asda, then use the car park to get onto the cycleway again", said Shaun.

This section of the old railway trackbed runs past a large industrial estate called White Lund. "This part of the line to Lancaster was the last to close, being retained until 2nd February 1970", Dad informed us.

There is little to indicate that this was ever a railway, although the concrete posts in the dilapidated fence are contemporary.

Allen said, "these old gateposts could be relics from an unmanned crossing."

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

Shaun looking up said, "the 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 is a less stylish steel construction."

Now we were on the last lap of our adventure. "We repeat the section going left at the fork and then on towards the school", said Shaun.

"But", said Allen, "this time we will turn left onto Hampsfell Drive to our home."

"It's made our day doing this walk, after the initial disappointment of not walking with Uncle Eric", said Grizzly.

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