A glorious walk around shore at Askam-in Furness

First published in What's On by

This is a glorious level walk. It is essential to take the OS map with you and to read the tide tables carefully. The first part is nearly all on sand. The stroll through the dunes is a joy with sea holly and dune pansies beside the narrow paths. The return path is not nearly as clear as the map shows, but it is a very pleasant walk through pasture to Roanhead car park. Finally, you follow your outward route back to Askam.

Park in the car park at the end of the road leading to the shore at Askam-in Furness, grid ref 210783. Once in the village, access this by crossing the railway line, opposite the car salesroom, and go straight ahead, ignoring the main road winding left, and continue towards the shore. The car park lies to the left.

1 From the car park turn left down steps to the shore and turn left again. The shore here is beginning to be colonised by spartina, which holds pools from the last tide, so weave between them and carry on. Go past much erosion control of the banks to the left and stride on towards Askam Pier. This stretches out to sea and is composed of slag from the old haematite mines. If you have time, you can enjoy a good, but often windy, walk along the pier. If not pass under the pier archway to continue on the shore until well past the village houses away to the left. Go past several dramatic red spoil heaps clustered together. When you can spot a second group of red spoil heaps, take a little path, left, through the low vegetation to the edge of Black’s Pond. The spoil heaps, the pond water, the young leaves of the woodland and bright yellow flags make this a very attractive corner.

2 Soon you wind around the very high Roanhead Crag, where there are more pools of water left by the tide - the reason why you must venture on this walk at low tide. Head on, with shallow dunes rising to the left. Here you might meet more gusty wind. Soon the dunes are much higher to the left. After two miles winding south, then west and then south again from the Crag, look for a narrow way, inland, with the dunes stretching high up on either side. The way climbs steadily into a ‘sea’ of lower dunes. Here take a narrow path heading half right, edged with dune pansies, sea holly and rest harrow. Keep always in the same general direction where the path wanders a bit, to cut off Lowsy Point. Eventually you arrive at a fence with a stile, which you cross. If this path through the dunes sounds too daunting, continue on round the coast until you can spot the fence heading inland and walk up beside it, to your left, to reach the stile.

3 Bear left and join a grassy trod, which soon reaches a wide sandy road. Walk left for a short way and turn left at a waymark to spot a stile in a fence, on your right. Once over you have sand dunes away to the left and salt marsh and the stream, Red Gutter, to your right. Bear left, up beside the fence, on your left, to reach higher ground below the dunes. Pick up a path here that leads off right across the Nature Reserve. Keep roughly parallel with the dunes, walking well-cropped turf, passing some very low dunes and then heading towards much higher ones. Soon you can spot, in the distance, the cottages at Roanhead and then the tops of cars in the car park. Follow the tractor marked tracks that continue in the right direction. The route across the reserve is a mile long and brings you to fenced woodland. Turn right to walk beside it to the second stile over the fence and carry on to the car park.

4 Follow the boardwalk out of the parking area as it swings towards the shore. Climb left on another boardwalk to reach a small hillock where there is a splendid panoramic view. Then descend the slope, past a small pool full of tadpoles, and on down to the beach. Turn right to retrace your steps to Askam.

Information

Distance: 8 miles

Time: 4-5 hours

Terrain: Level walking for most of the way

Map: OS Explorer OL6

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.

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