Woodland Walks and Winter Picnics around Morecambe Bay
Just because it’s winter that’s no excuse to pack away the picnic gear and hide away indoors. On a crisp, clear, late winter day there is nothing more lovely than packing a picnic, with a flask of hot tea or soup, and heading out into the sunshine. The cool air may nip at your nose but the early rays of the sun will warm your face making you feel a whole lot better than if you’d stayed cooped up inside. There are some spectacular spots to explore around the bay and some excellent local shops from which to get your picnic – don’t settle for a soggy sandwich, get some fresh rolls from the local baker and some meats or pies from the local deli and enjoy a proper Morecambe Bay experience.
Grange is such a wonderfully unspoilt spot and the prom is its crowning glory. Stretching for over a mile from beyond the railway station at one end to the tennis courts at the other this is an ideal walk for the entire family. It’s flat, fully accessible and there are plenty of benches to sit and enjoy the views and the sunshine. From mid January the first flowers begin to appear in the flower beds and there’s the park and attractions at the far end of the prom for the more energetic members of the family.
If you fancy something a little more adventurous leave the prom and head up into Brown Robin Nature Reserve behind the Netherwood Hotel. It’s owned and managed by Cumbria Wildlife Trust and there are a variety of woodland paths to explore and guided walks throughout the year – take a look at their website for more information.
It’s almost impossible to describe a specific route to take around Arnside Knott as there are so many paths criss-crossing up through the woods and around the hillside. The views from the top are spectacular, especially if there’s a dusting of snow on the distant fells and if you don’t feel like a full on hike, there’s a car park half way up – just follow the signs out of Arnside.
As well as the Knott there’s an interesting walk all around the headland – take the train to Silverdale then follow the paths leading to the coast (or hop on the Silverdale Shuttle into the village) then follow the coastal path all the way around the headland to Arnside. There are plenty of spots along the way where you could enjoy your picnic – you could even enjoy an hour or two on the beach near Blackstone Point where boats used to dock after the building of the railway bridge prevented access into Arnside port. When you’re done just hop back onto the train at Arnside.
For the perfect winter walk to blow the cobwebs away head for Walney Island – there are the glorious sand dunes of North Walney to explore where you can tuck yourself away out of the wind and enjoy a picnic with magnificent views of Black Combe (surely one of the most underrated fells in Cumbria). Then there are the immense beaches at Sandy Gap where winter tides will bring the waves crashing in and you can taste the salt in the air as you stroll along the shore.
Down at South Walney there are a number of walks around the Nature Reserve with fabulous views of the lighthouse, Piel Island and the whole of Morecambe Bay stretching away into the distance – there’s even a cabin near the car park with an interesting display of the curious assortment of things the tide brings in. If you’re lucky maybe you’ll find a new treasure to add to their collection.
For a nice circular walk with a mix of terrains and views it’s hard to beat Hest Bank – plus it has a lovely cafe at the start/finish where you can enjoy a well earned coffee and cake; they have seats outside all year round so wrap up warm and order the hot chocolate! From the car park on the sea front wander north along the coast for as far as you feel comfortable then cut inland along one of the many footpaths or quiet lanes to pick up the canal for the return journey. The views from the coastal section are superb but the canal is elevated and offers spectacular views right across the bay.
This walk has it all; plenty of wildlife, amazing views and fascinating histories. The information boards along the shoreline will fill you in on the jetty which first emerged from the sands in 2004 and the canal, known as the Black and White canal as it transported coal one way and limestone the other, can be explored for miles either on foot or by bike.
Article credit: Beth and Steve Pipe, Cumbrian Rambler.