Sandside and the Fairy Steps

TAKE a short walk from the Ship Inn at Sandside, writes JOHN EDMONDSON. From the modernised 17th century inn, beside the B5282 between Milnthorpe and Arnside, you can enjoy wonderful views over the Kent estuary, including on a clear day the Langdales and Coniston Old Man. The walk goes through woodland paths ascending gently to the Fairy Steps, legendarily used by fairies escaping from a witch’s cauldron.

Start from the Ship Inn, Sandside, map ref SD 478 807 postcode LA7 7HW.


Distance: 4 miles with 500 feet of feet

Time: 2 hours

Terrain: good footpaths, quiet lanes and tracks.

Map: OS Explorer OL7


1 From the Ship Inn turn right onto the B5282 then right after the pumping station onto a signed footpath. Turn left along the lane, bear right after 100 yards and right again after a further 50 yards. Go up a couple of concrete steps onto a waymarked path through woods. At the top of some steps turn right onto the path signed Yans Lane, Storth. Storth is an old Norse name meaning a woody place. At a T-junction turn right, pass Fell End Cottage and the green garage door of Bouskill. Turn left onto Throughs Lane, which goes between two small cliffs known as The Trough. This trench-like geological feature is a faulted and tilted shale and limestone sequence. On meeting Cockshott Lane turn left past the speed delimiter sign and after 75 yards, right through a squeeze stile onto the path signed Hazelslack (once known as Holslack; slack being an old word meaning a gully or ravine). Walk down the right edge of the field to a squeeze stile and gate in the corner and descend a walled stony track to another squeeze stile. Bear right to the edge of a wood. Go through a metal gate and turn right at the end of the wood. Cross a stile and turn left to a stony track then right beside the wall on the left to a narrow road. Turn left and after 220 yards, by Hazelslack Tower farm’s water tower, turn left onto the path signed Limestone Link, Beetham via Fairy Steps.

2 Walk ahead alongside a wall on the right and through a gate in the corner into Underlaid Wood. The gently ascending path leads to steps between rock faces and continues uphill through the woods. Pass the fingerpost for Fairy Steps and Beetham to visit the Fairy Steps. Legend has it that fairies used the steps to escape from a witch’s cauldron. Folklore says that if you climb the steps without touching the sides (this is practically impossible), you will see a fairy!

3 Return to the fingerpost and follow the path signed Cockshott Lane. At a beehive-shaped waymarker take the left fork (both go to Cockshott Lane). The path merges with a track. Just before meeting a gate (near log stacks) follow the waymarked path to the left that goes parallel to the road on the right. Enter the field that was crossed earlier and walk to the stile in the right corner onto Cockshott Lane. The return route is now a reverse of that followed earlier. Turn left, then right onto Throughs Lane and right at Yans Lane to pass the garage at Bouskill. Keep left in the woods, turn left before a metal gate, left at the bottom of the slope, left at the lane and right onto the signed footpath leading back to the B5282. Turn left and return to the Ship Inn.

Next week: Aye Gill Pike and Garsdale

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.