In the ‘summer’ of 2012 when I see sunshine I grab a dog a pack of sandwiches and move quickly. I was literally going to make ‘hiking’ when the sun shone!
From Kendal follow the A6 from Carnforth towards Lancaster. Look out for a set of traffic lights. Turn right and follow the A5105 towards Morecambe to reach Hest Bank. Turn right to the railway and cross level crossing controlled by traffic lights. There is parking on the shoreline.
Map: OL41 Forest of Bowland and Ribblesdale
Grid reference: 468667
Length: 4.5 miles
1 From the car park follow the line of the coast through an extreme area of salt marsh. It took me half an hour walk just a few yards because my labrador found a huge strand of washed up rope and did its level best to ‘kill’ it. This gave me a chance to enjoy a wonderful bird watch with redshanks, curlews and shellduck very promininent as their breeding season opproaches its end and there were young birds everywhere. Pass a caravan park to the right and look for small birds among the gorse bushes.
2 Walk along a grassy foothpath between attractive houses and pass a limestone knoll on the right which has lots of ledges which are ideal for picnics. This is covered by trees and ferns which are of great interest to botanists.
3 Approach the building, which is a long disused mile close to a very minor road. Turn right and pass under the railway to reach the A6. Turn right along the wide footpath, but you need to take care especially if you are with children or have a dog.
4 Cross the road and look for a set of steps leading onto the Lancaster canal. Turn right along the footpath. How good it would be in the future if the canal was operative along its whole length from Preston to Kendal. Work began on this initially lockless canal in 1796 but the whole length was only perfected in 1819. At this time the canal was of vital importance because it allowed cheap coal to be brought in from Lancashire to power industries around Lancaster, Carnforth and Kendal. The boon days were short-lived, however, because by the 1850s the railways were beginning to dominate the transport system.
5 Follow the towpath until you reach a set of stone steps indicating Hest Bank. Descend the steps to reach the railway, the level crossing and the starting point along the shore. Note, nearby there are chip shops, good cafes and pubs. The shore cafe welcomes dogs and their owners are also welcome providing they behave themselves. Do not rush this walk especially in good weather. Just soak in the sunshine and smell the ozone.
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.