#21 Carnforth

25 03 2011
25th March 2011
8.8 miles
Explorer OL296 (Lancaster, Morecambe & Fleetwood)
Sunny, cool
This walk starts from Hest Bank car park right on the edge of Morecambe Bay, just to the north of Morecambe and Lancaster. The car park is just on the shore-side of the West Coast mainline. the walk starts by heading north along the foreshore, darting inland every now and again to avoid impassable or problematic areas of rocks, or more frequently water filled channels and what may well be quicksand. Warton Crag to the north provides the bearing and I quickly pass the rather nice looking cafe at Red Bank Farm, and the picturesque ‘front’ that follows it (but I bet it’s bleak in winter). The path cuts inland a bit and then back towards the coast at The Old Mill where I follow a track to the rather curious Bolton Holmes Farm holiday park. Here I leave the drive and navigate a rather difficult section, the sand to the West is far too wet to walk on so I end up partly scrambling on the rocky embankment to the east, and partly jumping over the water-filled channels in the centre. Considering this is officially designated as  the Lancashire Coastal Way I was expecting an easier time of it, however, it takes a while, and the hard work means I have to strip off to my t-shirt – and it’s only March!
After this section  there is a little inlet for Black Dike and then I set off around another headland,, again there is no usable path so I resort to picking my way carefully over a number of boulders before finding the flotsam strewn high tide mark and using that as a path. After passing a delapidated campsite and farm I find a way out to the path as it cuts north-east towards the mouth of the River Keer.
I follow the Keer until I reach a lane, and then follow that as it curves east to the main Carnforth Road. I pass Carnforth train station which was the setting for the classic film: Brief Encounter. After this I called in at Greggs for sustenance before crossing the A6 and heading uphill until I got to a bridge just before which I took a small path down to the western towpath of the Lancaster canal. The canal heads back towards the A6 where there is a rather well-placed pub and Carnforth marina. The canal winds along an embankment alongside the A6 before leaving it to skirt around Bolton-le-Sands, here the character of the canal changes as many gardens back onto the canal; the houses tot he west of the canal (downhill) often have little access gates, but the houses to the east (uphill) are noticeable larger, and most have small wharfs and/or decking. Towards the south of the village the houses get even bigger, and most have a boat or evidence of a boat, one or two even have double aspect driveways – so that the cars can reverse from the road to the east, down the drive which turns into a slipway to deliver a boat tot he canal.
At Hest Bank I leave the canal at a bridge near the Hest bank pub and head downhill to the carpark, as I cross the main road the level crossing barrier descends so I use the bridge. Just as I’m crossing the track a Virgin Pendolino thunders down the line. I reach the front again and wander gingerly back to the car. The three-mile return journey along the towpath has really taken it out of my feet, the subsequent inspection reveals no blisters – just worn out feet!



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