I WOULD describe this route as a heritage stroll - but not just any old stroll - but my own. My Grandfather was an iron ore miner. Hodbarrow iron ore mine operated from 1850 to 1968 and has now been flooded and landscaped to produce a super nature reserve. During the Second World War my father was based at RAF Millom, which was actually in Haverigg. This has now been converted to a the prison which became famous for the TV series Porridge.
How to get there. Take the A595 to reach Millom along the A5903. Look for the signs for Haverigg. There is a large car park on the very pleasant sea shore. Here there is very often a cafe open and there are toilets.
Map: OS Explorer OL6
Grid reference: 160 783
Length: 4 miles
1 Follow the route from the car park towards the village. Keep a little stream to the right and look for a mooring for small boats. Turn right and cross a bridge over the river. Turn right and follow a narrow but obvious footpath. Head along an embankment towards the seas and find a signpost which should be followed.
2 Bear left and pass several boulders which are part of a system to prevent erosion of the concrete. Take the time to explore the pretty little harbour which is on the right. Continue for a short distance to find a wooden directional post. Keep straight on a minor road to see Port Haverigg holiday village.
3 Look for a signpost to the left and marked to Steel Green. Follow the parallel road to reach a number of stone buildings that are part of Steet Green. This indicates just how important the iron and steel industries were to both Haverigg and Millom. Look out for another wooden signpost indicating a public byway on the left. Turn left at head towards the houses. Bend to the left and then right but be sure to ignore a footpath to the left. Follow an obvious tarmac footpath.
4 Approach the Commodore Hotel and then turn left, keeping the hostelry on the right. Ignore a road to the left and keep straight ahead. Find a sign indicating Hogbarrow Point, which leads towards what is now a lagoon and was once the old mine where my relations used to work. Iron ore mines differ from coal mines in the sense that there is no build up of explosive gases. This meant that the miners could use naked flames.
5 Continue on to reach the Civic Amenity site and spend some time reading the information boards giving the history of the mines. Keep following the track between two flooded areas.
6 Leave the tree-lined track and bear right along the more obvious track. To the right is a clear view of one of the ‘lakes’ and continue to follow the gravel trail. This leads towards the sea. There you get more information boards, this time covering the history of the Duddon estuary, which I remember well from my childhood.
7 The route now bears to the right to follow an area close to the outer barrier. This are is a haven for bird watchers. Continue to reach a lighthouse which has a fascinating history and is a real conservation plus point. The Hodbarrow lighthouse was built in 1905 to replace an even older tower. The local school helped to restore the lighthouse. We could do with more projects like these.
8 Continue towards Haverigg village. The name is old Norse and means Hafri (oats) and Riff (a ridge). This was therefore a little hill where oats were grown. There are also signs in the area of an old windmill which must have ground the grain. Follow the barrier area which keeps out the sea.
9 At the end of the barrier you reach a minor road, turn left and go through the gates of the holiday park and return to the starting point.
During my walk I had three sightings of brown hares which are easy to distinguished from rabbits. They are larger with much larger rear legs and have black tips to their ears. The brown hare is native to Britain and the rabbit was probably introduced by the Normans in the 12th Century.
NB: Restrictions on space mean that this article provides a general summary of the route. It is advisable for anyone who plans to follow the walk to take a copy of the relevant Ordnance Survey map.