Morecambe And Heysham
MORECAMBE is a classic English seaside town and in some ways a ‘mini Blackpool’ but the spectacular views of the Lakeland mountains seen across the sands of Morecambe Bay make it a beautiful location, and well worth visiting. The extensive Morecambe promenade is home to a great many family-run hotels. The ERIC MORECAMBE STATUE and comedy script ‘stage’ surround are a welcome and touching addition to the town. The walk along the STONE JETTY, which my family calls ‘The Bird Walk’ is one of the greatest pleasures to be had in Morecambe. The ‘Tern Project’ built a series of imaginative artworks into the Stone Jetty and they will delight young and old alike. The MIDLAND HOTEL is situated at the beginning of this walk and is a classic piece of 1930’s architecture which has recently been expertly restored to be one of the best hotels in the town. The railway station is right opposite the Midland hotel and the beginning of the Stone Jetty walk. Morecambe is famous for its often amazing sunsets, which are a photographer’s dream. There used to be two piers in the town but the smaller West End Pier was washed away in a storm in 1978 and the larger Central Pier was demolished due to structural unsoundness and general neglect in 1992.
If you would like to buy some of the famous Morecambe Bay POTTED SHRIMPS, or a variety of fresh fish, I can recommend Edmondson’s Fish Shop in Yorkshire Street, Morecambe. Ray Edmondson is a well known local shrimp fisherman.
HEYSHAM used to be a fishing village and is notable for the arched ruins of ST PATRICK’S CHAPEL, dating to the 8th or 9th century and its striking nearby GRAVES cut into solid rock. The small and charming church of ST PETER’S next to the chapel ruins, is worth a visit and displays an ancient and rare ‘hog back stone’ inside. The chancel of this church was built in the 14th century, although there has been a church on the site since Saxon times. Heysham is a large and important port and sizable ships, including car ferries, regularly sail to the Isle Of Man.
Lancaster And Glasson Dock
The city of LANCASTER is steeped in history and its must-see attractions include LANCASTER CASTLE, the LANCASTER MARITIME MUSEUM and the ASHTON MEMORIAL. This memorial stands in WILLIAMSON’S PARK which also features the BUTTERFLY HOUSE. The Butterfly House is a large Victorian conservatory housing tropical plants and free flying butterflies from around the world and will delight every child. The Ashton Memorial was built on top of a hill in white stone with a green dome, in Victorian times and is clearly visible from most of Lancaster. It offers visitors spectacular views of Morecambe Bay on a clear day and the surrounding park is a good location for picnics. Lancaster Castle is on a hilltop which was the site of three successive Roman forts. The castle keep was built in the 12th century and the gatehouse built in the 14th century. For much of its life, Lancaster Castle was a prison and contained a court. The historical JUDGES’ LODGINGS are also a notable attraction and were in use between 1776 and 1975 by judges visiting Lancaster to preside at the court within Lancaster Castle. The Lancaster Maritime Museum is housed within the imposing columed building of the 18th century 'Port Of Lancaster' Customs House on St Georges Quay next to the River Lune. The Port Of Lancaster was once one of the most important ports in England, trading in cotton, spices and sadly, many thousands of black slaves. One of my personal favourites is ATKINSON’S COFFEE SHOP in China Street, which roasts and grinds its own coffee. Walking into the shop is like instantly stepping back in time and the accompanying aroma of roasting coffee is unforgettable. In my opinion one of the best restaurants in Lancaster is the ‘SULTAN OF LANCASTER’ Indian Restaurant, in Brock Street – near the Town Hall. This restaurant, with its friendly staff and outstanding food, is charmingly located in a converted chapel and I have dined there many dozens of times. The attractive interior decor features various Islamic motifs. Don’t expect to be served alcohol in this restaurant though – their sparkling grape juice is a good alternative. A lively and atmospheric pub I can recommend is The’ WATER WITCH’ situated right on the Lancaster canal, just across the foot bridge from Portland Place. This is very popular with students, particularly in spring and summer. The centrally located LANCASTER CITY MUSEUM is always worth a visit. THE DUKES THEATRE in Moor Lane is one of two theatres in Lancaster and is my personal favourite after having spent many happy hours there.
GLASSON DOCK was important as Lancaster’s second port. The dock itself was constructed around the year 1782. It is notable for having one of the smallest lighthouses in the country, and its fish smoke-house businesses, which sell their produce right around the UK. There is a lock connecting the River Lune with the canal basin which is the beginning of the Lancaster Canal. Glasson dock also has an extensive marina.
The GOLDEN BALL PUB, known by the locals as ‘Snatchems’- was once reputedly a smuggler’s pub. It is situated on the River Lune estuary - not far from Lancaster - serves good pub food and is particularly pleasant to sit outside, in the early evening during the summer months.
For much of the 18th century, SUNDERLAND POINT was a small but important port trading mainly in raw cotton, but closed after Glasson Dock became established as a larger port after the year 1782. When visiting Sunderland Point, please be aware thet the one access road is very often covered by the tide, so don't get cut-off while you are there and park your car on high ground to avoid the sea lapping around it when you return! It is therefore best to check the current tide tables before your visit.
Arnside, Silverdale, Carnforth And Leighton Hall
ARNSIDE and SILVERDALE have been officially designated as an ‘Area Of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ - an accolade which is well deserved. On a summer’s afternoon there is no greater pleasure than sitting outside the ALBION PUB in Arnside and eating an excellent meal, while looking down the beautiful estuary of the River Kent. For walkers, ARNSIDE KNOTT is a prominent hill offering magnificent views across Morecambe Bay. ‘Gallery H’ on the promenade sells high quality original paintings and gifts – including my book ‘Cherry’s Morecambe Bay’. The row of cottages on the Silverdale shore are a notable local feature. When I am in Silverdale, I never miss a visit to the ’Wolf House Gallery’ which sells a variety of gifts and paintings and also has an excellent cafe. You will not be surprised to learn that it also sells copies of ‘Cherry’s Morecambe Bay’! JENNY BROWN’S POINT is within easy walking distance from The Wolf House Gallery, and makes a pleasant family outing, giving views across the bay. Both Arnside and Silverdale have railway stations. The one in Arnside is near the promenade, but the one in Silverdale is over a mile from the village centre. Arnside promenade is the starting point for Cedric Robinson's famous Morecambe Bay Walks - please see my 'Bay Walks' page for more information.
CARNFORTH is famous for its railway station in which ‘Brief Encounter’ was partly filmed – My grandmother was actually a film ‘extra’ sitting in one of the train carriages! Part of the station building is now a visitor attraction with an exhibition area and includes a real working cafe re-created as it appeared in the film. Certainly well worth a visit – and don’t forget to see the famous station clock. The railway station itself is still fully operational.
WARTON is a village just outside Carnforth and is famous as the birthplace of the medieval ancestors of GEORGE WASHINGTON, the first President of the United States of America. Warton Crag is a large white limestone cliff in a hill behind Warton, created by mining operations, and is visible from miles around.
LEIGHTON MOSS RSPB RESERVE is a must for bird watchers and all nature lovers. It contains the largest reedbed in north west England and is home to many types of rare birds including bitterns. Their main entrance is only a couple of hundred yards from Silverdale railway station.
LEIGHTON HALL is a prominent stately home near Silverdale, and is open to visitors. There was a fortified manor on the site dating back to the year 1246. The Gillow Reynolds family still regularly use the house. I have been to one of the ‘Last Night Of The Proms’ concerts at night in their park and the evening was highly enjoyable and memorable, accompanied by hundreds of candle lit lanterns, brought along by the audience.
Not far from Arnside is the FAIRY STEPS which is a narrow natural passageway between limestone rocks, popular with walkers. Near the fairy steps is the PEPPERPOT which is a small cylindrical tower with a coned roof - hence the name - on a hill overlooking Morecambe Bay.
BEETHAM NURSERIES in Beetham village is one of the best garden centres you will ever find and has an excellent cafe.
Grange Over Sands, Cartmel And Levens Hall
GRANGE OVER SANDS is best described as a ’very genteel’ seaside resort, popular with people who have retired. Grange became a tourist attraction from the late 1870’s onwards, when the railway arrived in the town. If you like tea shops and gift shops, this is the place for you! One of the best hotels in Grange is the magnificent NETHERWOOD HOTEL which is worth visiting in order to have a drink while enjoying views across the bay. The compact but attractive park, with its lake, next to the railway station is a delight on a summer’s day. Next to Grange promenade there is a small but beautifully presented garden centre. The Grange bandstand is one of the main venues for the well known ‘Flookburgh Band’ ( a brass band ) in which two of Cedric Robinson’s step sons play.
KENTS BANK, immediately to the west of Grange has a useful railway station next to the shore and is the finishing point of Cedric Robinson’s famous Morecambe Bay Walks – Please see my ‘Bay Walks’ page for more information.
CARTMEL is a charming village just inland of Grange and is most notable for its ancient and impressive CARTMEL PRIORY – which is very much like a cathedral in appearance. If you have ever enjoyed visiting churches or cathedrals, you will not be disappointed with Cartmel Priory, which is open to visitors. Cartmel is famous for its racecourse, which must be one of the most beautiful in the country. Even for non-racegoers, a visit to a race meeting in spring or summer makes a tremendous day out for the whole family. The attractive village square contains a pub and several gift shops and cafes and is only a very short walk from the racecourse and Priory.
HUMPHREY HEAD is a prominent grassed limestone outcrop to the west of Grange and is said to be the place where the last wild wolf in England was shot. It offers walkers panoramic views of Morecambe Bay.
LEVENS HALL was originally a medieval pele tower, but is now a substantial stately home which is open to the public. The Bellingham family chose Levens as their main residence in the 1590’s. The beautiful gardens are famous throughout the country for their impressive and extensive topiary.
Ulverston, Flookburgh And Holker Hall
When you approach ULVERSTON, the first thing you will notice is the HOAD MONUMENT on a hill, which was built to resemble a full sized lighthouse. One of Ulverston’s main claims to fame is that it was the birthplace of Arthur Stanley Jefferson, in 3 Argyle Street in 1890, who became to be known as the comic actor, STAN LAUREL. The LAUREL AND HARDY MUSEUM in Brogden Street is a must-see attraction for fans of the world famous double act.
FLOOKBURGH is an ancient fishing village which is famous for its shrimp fishermen, who used to trawl with horses and carts but now use tractors. Despite being a small place, it has two pubs - the Crown Inn and the Hope And Anchor - just a couple of hundred yards apart. Look out for hand-written signs which will tell you where you can buy the famous Morecambe Bay Potted Shrimps, or loose cooked and peeled shrimps, if you prefer.
HOLKER HALL is one of the main stately homes in the Morecambe Bay Area and is lived in by Lord and Lady Cavendish. The hall building, on a site dating back over 400 years, is a gem, and the surrounding park and gardens are outstandingly beautiful. The Hall and grounds are open to visitors. Notable events held during the year are the Horse Trials, the Carriage Driving Trials and the Flower Show.
The village of CARK right next to Flookburgh, is useful for visitors and walkers because it has a small railway station. The village of ALLITHWAITE, between Grange and Flookburgh, is well known for its annual summer carnival, which attracts a great many visitors from miles around.
Barrow In Furness And Walney Island
BARROW IN FURNESS is a large town at the end of the Furness Peninsular, with a proud industrial heritage. It is most famous for its massive shipyard – easily visible from Fleetwood, on the other side of the bay - which still builds nuclear submarines. It was once in the county of Lancashire but is now officially part of Cumbria. THE DOCK MUSEUM in North Road is essentially the town’s maritime museum, housed in a striking modern building. I have visited it recently, and can certainly recommend it – entrance is free.
WALNEY ISLAND is a narrow strip of land on the western edge of Morecambe Bay which is eleven miles long. The Island is well known for its two extensive coastal nature reserves which are home to a great many different types of birds, in particular. It is now connected to the town of Barrow In Furness by the ‘Jubilee’ road bridge.
PIEL ISLAND is tiny and located near the southern tip of Walney Island. The ruins of PIEL CASTLE stand prominently on it and are visible from miles around, even from Morecambe, at sunset. It is believed that Piel Castle was built in the early 14th century. Visiting it requires a trip in a small boat out from Roa Island – which is connected via a causeway to the mainland – and I do not know of any regular boat service. You would need to ask local people in Roa Island during the summer months, about who can provide a boat trip to and from Piel Island.
Fleetwood And Knott End
FLEETWOOD stands on the mouth of the River Wyre and is a ferry port as well a fishing port. Large ferries regularly sail to Ireland. It also has a very small and charming foot passenger ferry which travels across the River Wyre estuary to Knott End every half hour. Fleetwood is the only town in the UK to have three lighthouses, two of which are still operational.
KNOTT END is a small village with several shops, a couple of restaurants and the Bourne Arms pub. I have found that visiting this pub in summer is a good ‘excuse’ for taking a return trip on the little ferry, which charges a modest fee and will also delight any children who are passengers.
There is a very beautiful and touching bronze statue of a young lady waving out to sea, on the Fleetwood promenade, to commemorate all of the sailors - in particular fishermen - sailing out from Fleetwood, who have been sadly lost at sea. There used to be a small pier in Fleetwood, but this burnt down, just a few years ago and I do not know of any plans to rebuild it.
Just Beyond The Bay Area
The town of KENDAL is geographically close to the bay, and in fact the River Kent flows through Kendal and eventually into Morecambe Bay at Arnside. Kendal is, however, more closely associated with the Lake District as it is only one mile outside the boundary of the Lake District National Park. Kendal is a must-see historical town which features an incredible number of alleyways – you will see what I mean if you visit it. My favourite restaurant in Kendal is Paulo Gianni's Italian restaurant, in the street called Stramongate.
The small town of KIRKBY LONSDALE also stands on a major river flowing into Morecambe Bay: the River Lune. It is famous for its impressive 800 year old 'Devils Bridge' and also 'Ruskin's View' on an elevated position, which provides exceptionally beautiful views down the River Lune valley.
The LAKESIDE AND HAVERTHWAITE RAILWAY is a full-sized steam heritage railway based in Haverthwaite, which runs steam trains to and from Lakeside, on the south western shore of Lake Windermere.
About three quarter’s of an hour’s drive from Greenodd near Ulverston, is one of my all time favourite attractions, which I travel on between two and four times every year. This is the RAVENGLASS AND ESKDALE RAILWAY which runs a 40 minute service to Dalegarth, with its smaller than full-sized steam locomotives ( but definitely not classed as a ‘model railway’ ). The journey, especially in one of the open carriages, is astonishingly beautiful and will, almost certainly, transport you back to your childhood days! Visit their website for a timetable and prices. There are two pubs serving good food, just a few hundred yards from the Dalegarth station at the end of the line - the Brock House Inn and the Boot Inn - and some very scenic walks available, starting from this station. You can conveniently reach the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway station in Ravenglass village by the regular train service, as there is a main line railway station within a few yards of the Ravenglass and Eskdale station.
Please Note: The above guide was written by me, Peter Cherry. All of the attractions or establishments I have recommended in this guide are my personal favourites and none of them have been approached for, or given me, any payment or any favours, for their inclusion.
Above Photograph by Peter Cherry: Sunset over Heysham's shoreline.