The Copper Trail Day 3

Summer returns but for one day only.

Starting point for catching the first bus of two was the attractive village of St Neot. Note the large branch hanging off the left hand side of the church tower. All will be explained below.

After two gruelling days walking the Copper Trail, day three would by something a bit easier. It would also be the shortest of the four days walking but it would mean a late start due to the infrequent bus services.The earliest bus I could catch from St Neot was 10.10am and this only went to Liskeard which was quite convenient for my second bus to Upton Cross.
I arrived in St Neot with plenty of time to spare and so had time to wander around the village and take a look at the church. At the top of the church tower there is something rather unusual whereby there is a branch of an oak tree hanging over the edge as if blown there by some gale. It transpires that a oak branch is placed there each year on Oak Apple Day which is the 29th May. During the English Civil War St Neot was staunchly Royalist, and this symbolises the historical allegiance.

Bus number 283 arrived on time and initially I was the only passenger. At Liskeard, I had a forty minute wait before the next bus so I had a wander around the town and had my morning break in the churchyard. Bus number 236 took me to Upton Cross but rather than making the expected turn towards Rilla Mill as on the previous day, it went ahead at the crossroads taking me by surprise and I had to hurriedly ask the driver to stop. These rural bus services go different ways each day and some communities get only one or two services a week and hence careful planning on the internet prior was essential.

The Hurlers Stone Circles date from the late Neolithic or early Bronze Age and now used by moorland ponies at itching posts.

From Upton Cross I decided to walk up to Minions via a different route and headed south first along a short section of the B3254 before taking a good path which soon contoured along the lower northern slope of Caradon Hill. I later joined the road into Minions which surprisingly doesn’t have a bus service but is a popular spot with tourists as the Cheesewring and Hurlers Stone Circle are nearby. I headed off to the latter which consist of three stone circles located on a grassy slope. Dating from the late Neolithic or early Bronze Age, these stone circles arranged in a line are unique in England. A local legend says that the stones are remains of men petrified for playing hurling on a Sunday. Today however, the stones are a useful itching post for the moorland ponies. The Cheesewring is a curious natural rock feature consisting of smooth weathered granite rocks perched on top of one another. On this occasion I didn’t make the diversion to it.

Heading south out of Minions my route follows these ancient stone railway sleepers for some distance.

There is much evidence of the former mine workings around Minions.

Rain was again in the air but thankfully it didn’t come to anything. I backtracked into Minions then followed the Copper Trail south following a disused railway track bed with stone sleepers. This area was the most industrialised I had seen this week with numerous spoil heaps and old mine buildings and chimneys. I reached a lane prior to Crow’s Nest and turned left then right in the hamlet. It was a welcome change to have some reasonable sunshine. At Trenough I headed west on a very narrow lane and soon came across something that I had long been expecting. What happens when you meet a large vehicle in a very narrow lane? It was only a Mercedes Sprinter but the driver had to stop as I squeezed alongside the vehicle, ducking under the wing mirror. I was soon at Trethevy Quoit, a ancient monument dating from about 4,500 BC. It was quite an impressive sight and as it was sunny I visited this first before resigning to a nearby seat for a late lunch. It was most pleasant in the sunshine and this is how Cornwall should be in August. A tractor was cutting the hedge in the lane nearby and repeatably returned to the road junction to turn around.

A highlight of the walk was a visit to the impressive Trethevy Quoit which dates from 4500BC.

Farm yard at West Draynes was one of many such attractive farms past where life doesn’t appear to have changed for centuries.

For the afternoon leg of my walk, I took a narrow enclosed path west to reach a road which I crossed to join a road and soon I turned right on a narrow lane and later path ascending to Higher Tremarcoombe. Once over a road I followed a farm drive then path and now it was time to get the secateurs out to clear a few brambles. Heading west next I now followed a farm track then path across level meadows which I could imagine could be wet in winter. Reaching Common Moor, I walked between a cluster of small holdings and little cottages tucked away and for now, way finding was quite easy. The path later ran beside a small stream and was well wooded and enclosed. I crossed the road from Siblyback Reservoir and continued west and was glad of the large scale map and instructions from my guide as so called stiles were not clear, just stones projecting from walls. Bulland Down was next crossed and was full of bracken but there did seem to be a right of way or perhaps I was just lucky that I chose the right route. I emerged by the popular car park at Golitha Falls and it was the first time I had seen any tourists since leaving Minions. Rather than divert and visit the falls, I instead followed the narrow and often busy lane via Draynes to Lower Tranant. Here I turned right to take a woodland track and later path ascending towards Lower Bowden. Emerging from the woods I had a field of restless cows and calves to contend with. Why do they seem so scared? A right turn at Lower Bowden took me along a lane before I turned left to cross the very rough moorland which forms Berry Down. I wanted to visit the trig point which meant ploughing through bracken and uneven ground to reach the top. I couldn’t see anything much of the ancient hill fort under the thick overgrown vegetation. The sunshine had all but gone so there wasn’t much point resting on this cold breezy summit. I now should have retraced my steps but instead headed south with the aim of rejoining my path. This was easier said than done as the vegetation was nearly head high bracken mixed with gorse and bouldery ground. It took awhile to force my way through but eventually I spotted a way-marker and so headed for that. I soon reached a lane which I crossed but had to clear brambles from the stile on the other side. Field walking followed which for once was easy as I descended towards St Neot. This was followed by a mucky lane frequented by cows moving between fields and the milking parlour. Finally a track was taken on the left which later made a rough descent into St Neot. It was now time to head to Morrison’s in Bodmin to get an early evening meal in their cafe.

WALKING THE COPPER TRAIL IN FOUR DAYS;- DAY 2

A ambitious plan indeed

A typical view of the Copper Trail – muddy paths, and this is August.

This would be a day of two half and a very long one at that. In planning my walk around Bodmin Moor I had come up with a major problem insomuch that around the eastern side of the moor there were simply no buses. The only way to walk this section would be to park halfway along my route at Five Lanes and get an early start to walk the second part of my day’s walk first to Upton Cross where I hope to catch a lunchtime bus to Launceston. I would then have around three hours to kill in the town where I could have a hot lunch and visit the castle before catching an afternoon bus to Camelford and walking over twelve miles back to the car but could I do this before nightfall?

Starting out early from Wadebridge the weather was poor with plenty of showers around and with the early morning drive across Bodmin Moor on the A30, the skies now took on an angry look to the northwest. I was parked up at Five Lanes just off the A30 by 7.15am as the heavens opened and with no sign of any clearance in the near future. I sat in the car wandering what to do as to start the walk after 8am was really out of the question and I needed to get to Upton Cross prior to the 11.45am bus. This would mean a ten mile long leg of the walk but with this rain could this be the end of my adventure I thought?

By 07.30am there were signs of a clearance and so I donned full waterproof gear still wandering if I was doing the right thing. In five minutes I was off walking along a very wet road. Once under the A30 I followed a lane then a field path which was well signed, but I soon encountered a restless herd of cattle and a black bull. I diverted to follow the edge of the field to the next lane where I headed through the hamlet of Trenilk. Here I had problems with dogs but thankfully I was through the farm and heading out across the next field only to find another herd of restless cows. Escaping into the next field I came face to face with another herd of heifers that immediately took off to stampede up and down the field. I kept them at bay with under arm movements and shouting. I had hardly done a mile and I hoped this wasn’t the norm on this walk. Why was it that Cornish cattle seemed to stampede as soon as a walker entered a field? I put it down to the fact that the cattle hardly ever saw anyone. I was glad to join the lane at Tregenna, however I had more fields to cross and thankfully only horses grazing peacefully. With all the recent rain the ground was so wet and waterlogged and with the frequent showers I often had to get the map out at a spot with shelter then memorize the route. It wasn’t that easy today as I crossed several small fields. The route through Treberland wasn’t that clear and I soon entered a forested area which was overgrown with wet bracken which virtually hid the path. Thankfully I reached Newton at the right spot.

Careful reading of the map and my guide book instructions kept me on course as I followed a path through to open moorland but I mistook the track as a rivulet. Continuing on the watery way, I ascended to higher ground along a stony track ducking and diving around many gorse bushes. I walked through Clitters Plantation but the route wasn’t that clear and the track in places had been heavily churned up by cattle. At the end I paused for my morning break where there was a bit of cover as a heavy shower set in for awhile. I now planned out the rest of my mornings’ walk. I was still in good time but I couldn’t afford to take shelter during the heavy downpours which seemed to be the norm. The next bit of the walk beyond Tolcarne would be road walking and so I could keep up a steady pace. Indeed it rained through the hamlets of Tolcarne, Stonaford, and Trebartha and only really went off as I reached North Hill. The church was locked but I decided to stop for a brief break and here I planned and timed out the next part of my walk. I was still making good time and much of the route was along roads. If I did lose time, I could break off early at Henwood and cut down to Upton Cross meaning a longer walk the following day.

The Phoenix United Mine, is one of several such mines around Minions.

From North Hill I dropped down into a deep valley, soon joining a field path then crossed the River Lynher before a steep ascent. With all my waterproof gear on it felt quite warm. Reaching a road I turned left to descend to Berriowbridge before making a steep ascent on a narrow sunken lane to get to Henwood. With another break here I was happy that I was still making good progress and time to do my intended route via Minions. I continued following quiet lanes to Higher Stanbear before taking a path through a area of many disused mines and later veered around to the right before turning left on the road to Minions. Another shower was passing close by and for once this deluge missed me. At Minions it was a sharp left for the long descent down to Upton Cross. I estimated that I had ten minutes to spare to catch the bus to Launceston. On my descent I was stopped by a foreigner in a car who uttered the words ‘Cheesewring’ I gave him directions the best I could and continued on my way.

At Upton Cross I had ten minutes to spare and time to get out of those waterproofs. I wasn’t sure of the precise location of the bus stop as nowhere was marked as a bus stop but on instinct felt that the road towards Rilla Mill would be my best bet despite the B3254 running north towards Launceston. I asked several locals who didn’t have a clue where the bus stopped. Thankfully I chose correctly and was soon on my way to Launceston.

Launceston Castle – a diversion to the day after lunch.

I had some time to kill in the town so dived into the first cafe out of the rain for a hot lunch before visiting the town church, the castle and the Lawrence House Museum plus an ice cream to boot. At least by now the weather had improved somewhat with a few appearances of that round yellow disc in the sky.

Another rainbow, another shower. By now I was living in waterproofs.

 

Now for the second walk of the day but first I had to catch the bus from Launceston to Camelford which was running around a quarter of an hour late.
Alighting at Camelford I was behind schedule. My main concern was would I complete this twelve mile walk before nightfall. In theory I should, but what if I met problems or fields of restless cattle and bulls where I might have to divert. One thing in my favour was that much of this section was on quiet roads and only the latter part was across fields. It seemed a long drag out of Camelford to Higher Park Walls then left via a longer open road to Davidstow Woods. At least it was dry but there were big showers around and very little in the way of shelter. I did think of cutting the corner to walk through Davidstow Woods, and despite it being shown as open access on the map, there were stout barbwire fences bordering the wood. Turning east across the old airfield at Davidstow, a shower was bearing down and here was possibly the worse place to get caught in a rain storm. I donned waterproof gear prior to it starting but being late in the afternoon this was a dying shower and so for once didn’t come to much. The road walking was a bit tedious and I was glad to be on a track leading to the ruinous farm at Oldpark. A left turn took me across field back to a lane and cattle were grazing in these fields many which became restless as I passed through. Walking narrow but empty lanes took me through to the deserted hamlet of Bowithick. Beyond I entered open moorland and with time on my side I decided on a detour to visit the trig point on Bray Down. Despite showers around, it was the best part of the day with bright early evening sunshine. The ascent was up through areas of gorse and rough grazing and I was rewarded by good views at the top. With a visit to the trig point and summit cairn I made my way to a nearby tor to find some shelter to have a late tea. Was this really August! It felt more like the end of October. It was a lovely spot to sit to observe the deep blue sky and towering shower clouds all around. It was time to calculate how much longer it would take to complete the walk. Would I have time to visit Alternun Church at its ancient crosses towards the end of my walk?

A sheltered spot for tea on Bray Down. The best part of the day to watch all the shower clouds around you.

Some pleasant walking towards the end of the day, but it called for careful navigation across several small fields.

I had the company of’Bambi’ towards the end of the walk who bounded on ahead of me through several fields.

From Bray Down, I almost retraced my steps down to the lane where once more I set off eastwards through Trebray to West Carne. No one was around in this remote corner of Cornwall. At West Carne I had some field walking with no real issues except for cows in the first field that didn’t really notice me. Beyond, I rejoined a narrow lane to reach the deserted hamlet at South Carne where I took a muddy enclosed track before crossing several small fields. This was proving most pleasant and for a few fields I followed a solitary deer that kept bounding off on the sight of me only to reappear in the next small field. At last the hamlet of Trewint was in sight but in the final small field contained a lone cow and lone bull so I stuck around the edge before they took any interest in me. I was now virtually back at the car, but I had just enough daylight left to make the detour into Alternun. This meant a walk along a field path and later lane into this attractive village. Light was going quickly as I reached the church and it was too dark for any decent photographs. I wandered around the churchyard looking at the ancient crosses and all was peaceful except for the crows in the trees, and in the fading light this really did feel like a late October afternoon. All that remained now was a walk back along the lane to Five Lanes to reach the car. It had been an ambitious day to say the least and a good twenty two miles of walking completing a large chunk of the Copper Trail. What would await day three? The adventure continues…..

WALKING THE COPPER TRAIL IN FOUR DAYS

Bodmin – It looks like the makings of a fine day as I set out through the town.

DAY 1;- RAIN STORMS, RESTLESS CATTLE AND SOME AWKWARD FENCES

A few years ago I bought a walking guide entitled ‘The Copper Trail’. A sixty five mile walk around Bodmin Moor with an emphasis on visiting sites of industrial archaeology. The route is not marked on the ground with symbols but the trail is described with pencil map sketches which can make it a bit of a challenge to say the least. As I was to find out, inland paths in Cornwall are not all that well walked, if at all. I set to work on seeing if it was feasible to walk it by using local buses as I wasn’t keen on backpacking. As you can imagine, buses in rural Cornwall aren’t that thick on the ground. First of all I needed a base with easy access to buses and in the end opted for Wadebridge and used the Travelodge on the edge of the town where there was a bus stop nearby.

Now for planning the walk. I would be walking the route in August so I was expecting a fair bit of good weather, and days where it was light into the evening, but good weather was not on the agenda on this holiday, and I so timed it with the aftermath of Hurricane Bertha which gave Britain a spell of very unseasonable weather. To do this walk in four days would mean trekking some fairly big daily distances but with buses thin on the ground it seemed the only way to undertake such a walk.

My first leg of the walk was to catch the bus from Wadebridge to the start of the walk at Bodmin where it would be almost a twenty mile walk to Camelford. Here I could catch an afternoon bus back to Wadebridge and hence this would be a car free day.

The day started with all the hallmarks of an autumnal day including a cold wind and showers driving in off the Atlantic.

The first shower of the day and the first of many as I walk alongside Helland Wood.

I was keen to get an early start but even before the bus arrived, a shower complete with rainbow was steaming in towards me across the Cornish coast. With the rain just starting to pour down and no shelter I was glad to see my bus arriving. I alighted at Bodmin and set off in earnest on the first leg of the Copper Trail to Camelford. I needed to be in Camelford by late afternoon as buses were few and far between.

Leaving Bodmin it was an ascent along a road of little interest and what traffic there was, sped past me at high speed. I was glad to leave this road at Racecourse Farm and head west on a farm drive then track. At Holton I had to take shelter during the first of several downpours, and backed with a strong wind, the rain lasted only a few minutes. On I went on a little used path and the wet vegetation now met in the middle so it wasn’t long before my legs were getting wet. I had brought along secateurs for the first time and it wasn’t long before I put them to use cutting back long brambles which periodically crossed the path. For now I was walking in bright sunshine but showers were around. Nearing Clerkenwater House I walked past a field of solar power panels with high security and a man stationed in a van. It was a shame to see that vandals had smashed some of the panels with rocks even in this very rural location. A descent now led me down through East Woods to the densely wooded valley of the River Camel and here a right turn took me onto the Camel Trail where a cycle route runs along an old disused railway line. At this time of the day there was no one about. I made good progress along the wooded valley but there was little of interest and virtually no views.

Now this is quite pleasant. A track through East Wood.

Nearing Hellandbridge I started seeing several cyclists most of which sped by without speaking and beyond this spot I found a seat for my morning break. The sunshine was still out but it wasn’t to last. Reaching Tresarrett I left the Camel Trail and doubled back on a lane before veering south east. I was aiming for Blisland Church for lunch but now the rain was starting. Eager to get out of another downpour I scaled a gate and sought shelter in a field and was really lucky to find a new wooden horse stable minus its horse and on the plus side it had the bonus of a view across the rainy countryside. It was a perfect dry shelter for an early lunch. With the weather clearing I now set off for Blisland Church and village.

Walking through pleasant pastures near Blisland after a heavy shower of rain.

I was looking forward to visiting the church at blisland but I found it locked.

A delightful path led across a valley with views to the historic house of Lavethan, which was a house used in an early ‘Poldark’ film series. Blisland Church was a disappointment and was locked. I had read that the inside was worth a visit but it wasn’t to be. Blisland itself is a pleasant village, set around a large green. Following a lane, I headed north to the next hamlet of Pendrift. Beyond, I had Pendrift Down to cross, an area of open access with bracken and scrubby trees and a crossing of the De Lank River which unsurprisingly was running high and thankfully there was a footbridge. I had been keeping an eye on stormy weather to the northwest and was keen to get through this area with tall vegetation before the heavens opened. I didn’t quite make it and now there wasn’t a lot of good shelter. In the end I took shelter under a small oak tree whilst the heavens opened. Setting off towards St Breward I wasn’t sure of the route. The paths existed but were very overgrown and without looking at the guide instructions I opted for the easiest route and headed to Penvorder Cottages. A short lane walk then path walk took me to St Breward, a large straggling village and thankfully by now the rain had eased somewhat. I stopped frequently to read the map before taking a path between walls towards Churchtown and in the process had to take shelter again due to a brief deluge. The church at Churchtown was also locked and so I planned out the next section of the walk before putting the map away and remembering the route due to the frequent rain showers. Several fields were crossed to reach Treswallock Farm but now shelter was becoming a rarity. I didn’t quite reach the farm before the next downpour and this time I sought shelter under a solitary ash tree. The ground seemed to be coming so wet and boggy and by Trewallock Farm, I planned out the next section of the walk under an archway to a cottage. Entering the next overgrown field I somehow lost the path and ended up scaling walls topped by fencing with drops into squelchy ditches. On one such crossing the fence snapped which sent me into a ditch much quicker than expected but luckily landing on my feet. Crossing a lane I headed for Corgelly Farm but here a path diversion sent me a stray. The problem was exacerbated by a herd of restless cows and one rather large bull. Back tracking I decided to do a wider sweep to get to Newton but failed to get across a boggy overgrown valley and had to almost return to the point where I started my detour and thankfully by now the cattle had gone. Beyond Newton, I took stock of my dishevelled self. It was clear now that I had missed the first bus at 16.30pm. The next was at 17.27pm which I had to get as the following one was mid evening. I calculated how long it would take to finish the walk and now I could do it comfortably by 16.45pm. Luckily, the walking was easy as I headed across the open Harpur’s Down followed by a good path with way-markers to join the lane to Watergate. On the way, I even made a short detour to visit a trig point.

A very showery afternoon as I near the end of my walk.

At Watergate I returned to field walking but now the problem was the lack of shelter and another shower was bearing down. I had removed waterproofs a while back and now I donned them in preparation for the next downpour. As I hurried across the open hilltop I encountered more restless cattle so it was time to cut corners and headed generally across pasture fields. The downside was the walls and barbwire fences I had to cross, and finally a drop into a sunken lane which I slide into from a high grassy bank clad in waterproofs and holding an umbrella to boot. One thing in my favour was that the showers were getting lighter and I now marched down the lane to the hamlet of Pencarrow and along a path beside the infant River Camel into the small town of Camelford. I had a good fifty minutes before the next bus and so it was time for an ice cream and a wander around the place before heading to the bus stop with plenty of time to spare. The bus driver who had few passengers for the journey back to Wadebridge drove at break neck speed and I was glad to be on terra firma at the end of the ride. Well that was an adventurous day one, now what would day two throw at me? Day two would be even more ambitious so watch this space!

A Rhymney Ridgeway Ramble

Ponies in a snowy field near Rudry.

If you didn’t live in Cardiff or Newport you would probably not consider walking in this area but as you know, I am always looking for different areas to walk and a few years ago I chose to explore that wedge of hilly land which is hemmed in between Cardiff and Caerphilly.
It is a glorious sunny February morning when I set off across the Severn Bridge and leaving the M4 near Newport I take back roads to reach the tiny village of Rudry. The hilly areas are snow clad and look most inviting, but this is beginning to melt in the morning sunshine.

Parking in the deserted car park on Rudry Common I take a path eastwards across the common before crossing the road I had driven on to get here. I later attempt to turn right on a path to reach Rudry. This is easier said than done as the path running to Rudry simply doesn’t exist despite the area being close to the Welsh capital. I cross a fence and walk down through some woodland but this becomes more and more difficult and in the end I have to cross another fence and then a second fence to gain the hamlet of Rudry. I now make a small diversion to visit St James’s Church at Rudry. Founded about 1254AD, this attractive grade II listed church started out as a wayside shrine used by pilgrims. There is a unproven myth that Oliver Cromwell sought refuge in the building during the English Civil War.

St James’s Church at Rudry dates from around 1254AD.

A Christmas card scene on the Rhymney Valley Ridgeway Walk.

Winter delight. On the Rhymney Valley Ridgeway Walk near Thornhill.

Leaving the hamlet I take a path south to a wooded ridge. At the top I turn right to follow the Rhymney Valley Ridgeway Walk westwards. This 28 mile long recreational path runs largely along the skyline around Caerphilly. On this hilly stretch there is snow cover on the ground and with the bright sunshine, it makes for some very pleasant walking. For the next mile I continue through woodland before crossing a snow covered minor road which is hardly recognisable as a road. Ahead I walk along the ridge known as Cefn Onn and meet several other walkers and this is a good spot to stop for my morning break. I press on westwards and skirt an old quarry on its the north side and continue through more attractive woodland with the trees coated in snow although much of this is falling off in big lumps as I passed. At Thornhill I cross the busy A469 and soon reach a snow covered golf course. It is lucky that there is no play today as I find way finding here a bit of a problem and now have to search around to find my intended path. I have to deviate again later as the path towards Caerphilly Common doesn’t exist. I head further west before crossing Watford Road and making for the summit of Caerphilly Common on thankfully a good path. The summit is crowned by a trig point 271 metres and today there are good views and worthy of a few photographs and furthermore, this spot is popular with other walkers. It is a bit too cold for lunch on top and so I set off on what I think is the path which will lead me down to Caerphilly. I find that the paths in the area, and what is shown on the map don’t agree and I in trying to follow my route, I find myself on another golf course. Luckily again due to the snow cover the place is deserted and I skirted around the lower hillside to join my intended route.

On a snowy Caerphilly Common before descending towards Caerphilly.

It is now road walking into Caerphilly and down the main shopping street towards the castle. I find a seat overlooking the moat for a picnic lunch a bit away from the crowds but by now it has largely clouded up. Think of Caerphilly and you are likely to think of its castle or its cheese. The castle is impressive to say the least and is the second largest in area in Britain, and has the most elaborate moat system of any such castle. The present building dates mostly from the 13th century and was constructed by Gilbert de Clare in an effort to control the area called Glamorgan from his rivals. Over the centuries the castle saw several sieges and finally fell in to decay around the 15th century. Its famous listing Southeast Tower was caused by subsidence but made worse by the damage caused by Oliver Cromwell during the English Civil War. The lean is greater than that at Pisa.
Caerphilly is also synonymous for its cheese which consists of a hard crumbly white cheese originally produced at local farms around the town to provide food for local coal miners. Production of the cheese stopped during World War II but has since made a comeback.
Comedian Tommy Cooper was born in Caerphilly and a statue to him complete with Fez overlooks the castle. Before I leave this interesting town I make a quick visit to the Tourist Information Centre.

Impressive Caerphilly Castle, the second largest castle in Britain.

I head east from the town, initially following the Van Road before branching left to pass the impressive Castell y Fan and its nearby dovecote. The building dates back to Norman times and was for many centuries the home of the Lewis family, who were vast land owners in Wales. The house is noted for its adjacent dovecote which is said to be one of the finest in Britain and has one thousand nesting boxes.

The dovecote at Castell y Fan on the edge of Caerphilly is said to be one of the best of its kind in the country.

I now follow a track eastwards towards Gwern-y-domen and on the way I branch right across fields however in the third field the going proves impassable due to the waterlogged ground. Like previous walkers on this path, there is an easy way through an adjacent field. Once over the Nant Gwernybara via a new footbridge I am soon on common ground and I shortly veer up to the right before a long steady ascent to bracken covered Mynydd Rudry 222 metres. Much of the snow cover from earlier has gone by now and from the top of this modest summit it was only a short walk back to the car after a walk with more than its fair share of path issues.

Turning a foggy day to your advantage

Even on a foggy day, the woodlands take on an interesting and somewhat mysterious view.

Autumn is a good time of the year for a trip to the Delamere Forest and is high on the list of places to go and so with a fine sunny day in Macclesfield we head off west for a family walk. As so often with an autumn morning, what starts out with a fine sunny day in Macclesfield, the Cheshire Plain is engulfed in thick fog. It becomes a bit of a disappointment as we head west through Knutsford and into the gloom of a very grey day hving left the sunshine behind but despite the fog you can make the day into an advantage givien the right conditions as so happened on this walk.

The sun is trying to break through the mist near Eddisbury Lodge in the Delamere Forest.

Again not far from Eddisbury Lodge in Delamere Fores,t the contrast of mist and shafts of sunlight make for a interesting picture.

We set off in poor visibility from the village of Norley. It’s a real disappointment and if anything the fog is at its thickest here with visibility down to forty yards. Well, we are here now and so we better get on with it. My route is open ended so I can vary it throughout the walk. Paths are initially followed before joining a lane towards Flaxmere. It is then into the woodland to reach the lake at Hatchmere. It is so foggy here that you could only see a few yards out into the lake. We take a waterlogged path on the north side before cutting up to higher and drier ground with pine trees but here it is obvious that something is on, as everyone is running with maps in their hands. It appears to be some sort of massive orienteering exercise. We follow tracks around to Barns Bridge Gates and then continue south towards Eddisbury Lodge and passing crowds of people on the way. At Eddisbury Lodge I decide on a detour, not only to get away from the crowds but to find somewhere to have lunch. With the cloud overhead looking thinner, there is just that chance that the weather on Pale Heights might just about to be in sunshine. Following the Sandstone Trail southwards and ascending we are rewarded with excellent photographic opportunities in that the sun is filtering through the top layer of mist. Walking along a tree lined track there are so many opportunities and we stop time and time again to take pictures. Pale Heights come into view and indeed it is in sunshine. A short ascent to the top of the hill reveals a fine sunny day. This will be our lunch stop and once more it is pleasantly warm. Over a leisurely lunch stop we watch the mist below drift by, with the landscape disappearing into the mist then out again. It is time to set off but not before a quick visit to the trig point which stands at 176 metres above sea level. Setting off eastwards then north east on a winding woodland path, we descend into the afternoon gloom once more but by now the mist is beginning to lift. We make our way through to Delamere Station then towards the small lake named Dead Lake on some old maps. With the mist almost gone, it makes a lovely peaceful spot for more photographs with the low sunlight. Heading north east again we meet several people but we still have time to pause for some pictures of the autumn colours. Finally, we turn north and cross some fields, then east to a minor road before entering Norley. It is then just a short walk in fading light along the village street back to the car after a most rewarding walk.

A still autumn day at Dead Lake in Delamere Forest.

Autumn colours in beech woods in Delamere Forest in late afternoon sunlight.

Exploring the ‘island hills’

A panoramic view from Collard Hill on the Polden Hills. An excellent view despite its modest height.

Somerset is a county I know well and for many years was my childhood home prior to the days of the 1974 boundary changes when a northern chunk of it became overnight part of the new county of Avon. Even though I’ve been away from the area for near on forty years, I love going back.
The northern edge of the county is dominated by the Mendip Hills whilst to the south rise the Blackdown Hills. The west is dominated by the Quantock Hills with Exmoor forming the westernmost part of the county. Between these areas is the Somerset Levels which I find a fascinating area. This part of the county may be low lying but is pierced by countless ‘island’ hills which often rise abruptly from the surrounding flat countryside. One such string of little hills dissect the Somerset Levels and rise no higher than around 120 metres and taper towards the west near Bridgwater and this little ridge is known as the Polden Hills. A little while ago I picked up a leaflet detailing a walk along the Polden Way. As trails go, this is a short one at a mere six miles, but to walk its entire length in a day I will need to tag a bit on either end so that I can catch a bus to the start of the walk. So now let’s set off to explore this little known part of Somerset.

It’s a real summer’s day with a bit of warmth and all too rare this year. I have earmarked this walk for some time to walk the short Polden Way and use Somerton as the start point and the finishing point in Street. This was the only feasible way to walk this path as I can catch a bus.
I reach Street in good time and have time to wander around the town which is famed for the Clarks Retail Outlet Village before catching bus number 77 to Somerton.

The Buttercross in the centre of Somerton dates from 1673.

St Michael All Angels Church in Somerton has an unusual octagonal tower.

Alighting Somerton by the Buttercross which dates from 1673, I first decide to take a look at the parish church. Its tower is unusual in that it is octagonal. The building dates from the mid 15th century with later alterations carried out in 1889. Somerton itself has a long history and was possibly the capital of Wessex for a time. In 949AD records show it was the site of the Witan, which was a form of Anglo-Saxon Parliament. Furthermore, the town gives its name to the present day county of Somerset.

Striding out along the lane towards Hurcot with the Polden Hills beyond on a perfect late summers day.

I walk east from the town and soon descend via a lane to reach the busy B3151 where I have a surprisingly long wait to cross. I am just glad to get onto the quiet lane towards Hurcott.
I pass beneath the railway line and soon see my first Polden Way logo sign.
The Polden Way is not marked on any Ordnance Survey Map but it is signed on the ground with fairly regular way-markers. The path which was opened a few years ago runs through an area which until prior to its creation was out of bounds.

The path initially leads uphill through pastures including passing through one field of bellowing cows. At the top I enter the extensive Copley Woods but with no path being marked on the map, and only a basic map leaflet to follow, it is essential that I keep an eye out for way-markers. At New Hill the path briefly leaves the wood to give an excellent view west over the Somerset Levels which here are dotted with little hills which rise above the levels like islands. It is a good spot to stop for my first break of the day.

A tantalising glimpse through the trees towards Castley Hill.

A view towards Dundon Hill which rises above the Somerset Levels, and like so many other hills in the area has a hill fort.

Back in the woodland, the path runs northeast towards Wickham’s Cross to avoid a deep wooded valley known as Combe Hollow. The path then continues along the crest of the well wooded Polden Hills with the occasional tantalising glimpse of the wide views beyond. I have some views at Hatch Hill before reaching the tall monument on Windmill Hill. This is the elaborate Hood Monument, which is a 110 foot Tuscan column and is now a grade two listed structure. The doorway at the base was sealed up in 1990. The monument was paid for by public subscription and designed by the architect Henry Goodridge. It was originally linked to the Hood family home at Butleigh by a mile long avenue of cedar trees.

The Hood Monument on Windmill Hill is a prominent feature in this area.

After crossing a minor road, I soon walk over the more open Collard Hill which is an excellent spot to stop for lunch and probably one of the best places I’ve stopped for a picnic lunch this year. There are wide views all round on this pleasant sunny day and the outline of hills over in South Wales is just visible.

One of many wild flower meadows passed en route and this one overlooks the village of Compton Dundon.

Time for a lunch stop and with a view like this on such a fine and warm day you are reluctant to move on. Brent Knoll which rises above the M5 motorway can be seen in the far distance. (centre right)

Setting off again, the B3151 is not easy to cross once more, as it is so busy. Walking along Ivy Thorn Hill I pass Street Youth Hostel where during my youth I spent a free weekend there on a YHA work party painting the gents toilets. I just wonder if the deep blue paint still graces the walls! The next section is well wooded again then becomes more open as I transverse Walton Hill. The western end has an old windmill which is now converted into a private dwelling and out of bounds. At a field corner I reach the end of the Polden Way but my walk isn’t over yet. I have done the easy bit, but now I have to negotiate several fields back to Street. The path north towards Walton is to say the least poorly signed and overgrown and in the first field I have to push my way through a crop of maize and with some relief find the wobbly wooden stile at the far end. Here, I do find a good hedge full of blackberries and find time to fill my sandwich box in a few minutes. A little beyond I have to squeeze through a hole in a hedge to take the path running east to reach Veal Lane. At the end I turn right and later left to continue on little used field paths to reach Street, but thankfully I have no more path issues. I walk through a quiet residential area to get back to the car and I still have time to walk up Nyland Hill, another so called ‘island hill’ near Cheddar which rises steeply on all sides to a modest 249 feet and crowned with a trig point on my return to base.

Nyland Hill rises to just 249 feet and has steep slopes on all sides. It is a spectacular place to view the Somerset Levels.

WHEN TIME STANDS STILL

One of many tracks that cross The Burren. Almost a stone desert but a superb day to undertake such a walk.

I wanted a fine day to explore The Burren in depth and to soak up the atmosphere of this unique landscape. The Burren is an area of north western County Clare and covering around 250 square miles and is the best area of karst landscape in the British Isles. The place is almost unique in the British Isles and is almost a stone desert. With very poor soils, the area is criss-crossed with stone walls where farmers eke a meagre living off the land. I had briefly visited the area before many years ago, but not to walk. Many pre-historic monoliths litter the landscape the most famous being the Poulnabrone Dolmen which has up to 200,000 visitors a year. Today however, I shall be nowhere near that location and will have the place almost to myself.

No sign of ‘Father Ted’ this morning, or come to that Mrs Doyle! The Parochial House near Corofin and the setting for the BBC Comedy series, ‘Father Ted’.

I’m staying in Ennis, and with an early start I’m off towards the coast of County Clare where I intend parking at Fanore Beach. On the way I want to make a diversion to visit the ‘Parochial House’ near Corofin, famed as the setting for the BBC comedy series ‘Father Ted’. With some research I’ve tracked the place down which is down a long lane in the middle of nowhere. The ‘Parochial House’ looks much the same as on the TV series minus its characters. Leaving, the weather now takes on a showery theme for awhile but thankfully this clears well before I reached Fanore Beach.

Its a glorious sunny day on the west coast of Ireland. I’ve set off from the car park at Fanore Beach as seen here in the distance.

Today I will be following the way-marked Black Head Loop for much of the way.
Parking up I set off south on foot along the road with a view out over a deep blue Atlantic dotted with the Aran Islands. I soon manage to leave the R477 and take a track parallel to this road and later continue on a lane uphill giving wider views. After a long gradual ascent I turn sharp left onto a stony track running between low limestone walls. My pace is steady and after nearly a mile I leave the main track where my intention is to get to the summit of Slieve Elva. Following a side track for a short distance I head across to a holy well which is marked by a simple cross. It is hard to believe that there is water in the well in this arid limestone countryside.

Its a steady ascent to around 1000 feet on the lane (left) before joining the track on the right to get onto The Burren plateau.

I manage to find the Holy Well marked on my map, made much easier as there was a cross.

I am expecting an easy walk to the summit of Slieve Elva but I am wrong. The area around Slieve Elva is unlike the rest of The Burren. To my surprise, an area of blanket bog and thigh deep tussocky grass sits on top of the limestone and covers a large area around the summit and so it is slow progress as I toil towards this rather flat and featureless summit. The trig point only comes into view from a couple of hundred yards from the top and is located on a low man made bank deep in tussocky grass. The trig point on Slieve Elva which at 344 metres marks the highest point of The Burren but frankly it isn’t worth the effort getting to this featureless top. I retrace my way back before cutting off a corner to join the main track once more and soon the karst scenery is becoming more pronounced. Now this is more like it! I pass a few other walkers coming the opposite way and we speak briefly. Later I begin a descent into the silent valley of the Caher River and this is The Burren scenery at its best. With deep blue skies and fair weather clouds, the day is turning out perfect. The landscape hasn’t changed for centuries and without the sound of any internal combustion engine or manmade noise it feels as if I could be walking in the 18th century. I join a minor lane in the Caher Valley where the crystal clear waters of the shallow Caher River trickled over the rocks.

It is now an ascent up another stony track in this silent landscape. Nearing the crest of the ridge a troop of pony trekkers came over the hill. Several people were walking with their horses and it really seems that I had stepped back in time. Another descent leads me into another almost deserted valley albeit one or two farms. Turning left I soon stop for my picnic lunch and observe a small herd of feral goats grazing and resting on the opposite side of the valley in the warm sunshine. Not a sound can be heard on this fine summer’s day as if time had stood still.

Stony tracks between limestone walls crisscross The Burren and this leads west from the Caher Valley. I followed this one from the top of the photograph down into this silent valley.

Pony trekkers appear on the horizon as I make my way east over The Burren. Its the only sign of human activity I’ve seen for some time on this walk and somehow you think that it is the only form of transport in a land where time has stood still.

Reminders of ancient field systems means that man has farmed this landscape for thousands of years.

A winding track leads up towards Poulenegh Hill and I contour along the hillside northwards. Ancient field systems can be made out across the valley to my left, and later I emerged onto open ground. Ahead Galway Bay is an emerald blue with a backcloth of the mountains of Connemara on the horizon.
It is a rocky descent towards the coast through rocky countryside with thickets which would have been near on impossible had there not been a path. At the foot, the path contours along the hillside but proves to be very overgrown and uneven and now my progress is slow. It seems to go for ever and nearing the end I meet some walkers coming the other way. I am glad to join an engineered track further on, which again contours along the hillside and now with good open views. I disturb a herd of cattle which now follow me at a distance for the next mile until they lose interest. I contour around Black Head and continue southwest with a new view, now towards the Aran Islands on this perfect afternoon. It is a gradual descent towards the R477 once more and there is a little road walking at the end to reach the car.

An engineered path contours high above the coast with the main road far below. To my north across a deep blue Galway Bay I can see the mountains of Connemara. What a lovely way to finish the last few miles of this walk.

There are times when you forget the outside world and travel back in time to a different century and on much of this walk I felt that I was a traveller walking through a landscape in a completely different time. For several hours, the only sounds were the natural ones around me, from skylarks overhead, to the sound of the hoofs of ‘pack horses’ if you can call it that, coming over the hill each being pulled by their rider. Sitting having lunch in a remote valley, and in the warm sunshine, I watched a small herd of feral goats just on the valley side opposite me, grazing and resting, and it is at times like this when you got to pinch yourself that this is the twenty first century. It’s on a day like today that you really appreciate that you have the ability to walk to these remote locations and savour these magical moments.

Conquering the tower

The climb looks impossible from the path towards Galmisdale Farm but there is a chink in its rocky armour on the hidden northern side.

Lying off the west coast of Scotland between Arisaig and Mallaig are four islands which form the group known as the Small Isles. These four islands have quite an unusual cocktail of names and comprise of Rum, Eigg, Muck and Canna. For this walk I am heading for the second largest which goes by the name of Eigg. The name Eigg is Viking in origin and means notched island. Dominating the island is An Sgurr, which looks impossible to climb without ropes but it is easier than you think.

Its a fine sunny summers morning as the MV Sheerwater arrives at the Old Quay on Eigg.

My plan is to visit Eigg on the day prior to going to Knoydart but the weather forecast for that day seems not to be wonderful so I decide to bring the trip forward by one day despite having a half hour less to explore the island. I commit myself to the trip on the Sunday by booking the ferry and ensuring a place on the MV Sheerwater which plies out of Arisaig.

The day is starting out a bit cloudy but the forecast is good and sure enough having arrived at Arisaig, blue skies are much in evidence. The boat doesn’t leave until 11am so I have plenty of time to spare. It’s a smooth crossing on the boat which is only partly full and I disembark at the old quay. It has been many years since my last visit to the island and now a new jetty had been built nearby for the Caledonian Macbraynes Ferry. Many day trippers are heading to the tea room and probably won’t venture much further but I have a schedule to keep to. I want to get to the top of An Sgurr, the highest and most spectacular summit on the island and despite the fact that the summit is only 393 metres high, it will be a tough climb.

The daunting route ahead. These vertical cliffs rise sheer up to four hundred feet on three sides.

I’m setting off at a steady pace soon entering woodland before taking a track towards Galmisdale Farm which is located at the top end of some pastures. Beyond, the distinct outline of An Sgurr dominates the scene. From this angle the climb looks impossible with all sides forming sheer smooth cliffs. An Sgurr is formed of pitchstone lava which is harder than the surrounding basalt. It was formed around 58 million years ago by lava filling an old river bed. The surrounding rock has been worn away to leave is mile long rock ridge with sheer cliffs rising four hundred feet and in places overhanging on three of its four sides.

After taking a few photographs I reach the heather moorland and I take a path leaving the track to ascend the hillside. There are plenty of people making the ascent and a few descending and one man who has been to the top says it is the first good day of several to climb to the summit. The path ahead is heavily eroded with watery peaty areas. On my previous visit some forty years earlier I didn’t recall that there was even a path. With so many people climbing An Sgurr it is easy to see how the path has become eroded and I wasn’t looking forward to the return descent via this route. I toil onwards and upwards before finding the obvious chink in the armour on the north facing side of the ridge. A steep narrow scramble soon takes me to the crest of the ridge where I turn left to double back along the rocky ridge to the summit. It is lunchtime before I am on the lofty top and many other people are having lunch including a group who are on a ‘Wilderness Scotland’ holiday. I get chatting with them, and as they were staying on Knoydart, it was likely that I will bump into them during my visit there later in the week. I offer to take a group photograph of them on the summit before they leave. I find a spot to have lunch on this perfect day and the view takes my breath away. To the south is the tiny island of Muck with the view beyond to Ardnamurchan and Mull whilst to the northwest, Rum and Skye dominate the view whilst to the east, the horizon is dotted by many peaks. I have certainly picked a good day to this walk.
Time is ticking away and I really only had time to visit Massacre Cave on the way back. I would have liked to have visited the Bay of Laig and its ‘singing sands’ but this will be an excuse to come back. The famous ‘singing sands’ is the sound emitted when walking across the white shell sands.

A view from the top towards the Bay of Laig with Skye beyond.

This view is taken from the eastern end of An Sgurr where there is a sheer drop of four hundred feet on three sides. The peaty path I ascended via can be seen on the left of the picture.

The summit trig point on one of those rare moments when no one was there. The view looks towards Knoydart on the Scottish mainland.

I set off back along the narrow ridge and soon catch up the ‘Wilderness Scotland’ group but instead of staying with them, I opt to descend south from An Sgurr which proves a very steep option but feasible if I want to visit Massacre Cave. I edge my way down slowly through the deep heather before the vegetation changes to bracken and the gradient eases. From this side there are spectacular close up views of the rock structure of An Sgurr with basaltic columns at all angles which is rarely seen. I eventually reach the deserted settlement of Grulin above Eigg’s south coast where I good track leads east. It is now a good mile of walking with views up to An Sgurr on my left. Reaching the new wind farm which now generates most of Eigg’s power, I turn right and head down across easy ground towards the coast. I spot a path leading down the steep coastal cliffs which will lead me to Massacre Cave. The cave was once a secret hiding place for the islanders but in 1577 after a lengthy feud between the Macloed and resident MacDonald clans, the islanders took refuge in the hidden cave with a small entrance when they saw the MacLeods sailing towards their island. All the islanders went to hide in the cave and after a lengthy search by the MacLeods clan, the Macdonalds were only spotted when the Macleods were departing. The Macloeds clan returned to lit a fire at the entrance of the cave which resulted in the suffocated of the whole island’s population with the deaths of three hundred and ninety five people. Nearby is Cathedral Cave but today, time is too short to venture along the foreshore to this.

The less known southern side of An Sgurr. I descended via the steep slope on the extreme left of the picture. It is difficult to appreciate the scale.

Massacre Cave on the southern shore of the Island of Eigg is where the island’s population were suffocated in 1577 by the raiding MacLoed clan.

I have just time to visit The Lodge, the former home of the Laird on the island before heading back to the ferry.

I start out on my return walk to the jetty as the boat is departing at 16.30pm but I do have time to venture up to take a look at The Lodge on the island. Built in the 1920’s this house was once the home of the Laird but is now in a rather sorry state of repair and much funding is required to bring it back into use. With a loop around to the north I join the road back towards the quay. The high cloud in the south has turned the sunshine milky by now. I reach the ferry with around ten minutes to spare and I am last to board a much more crowded vessel for the return to Arisaig. It has been a day well spent but there is just not enough time to explore the island in more depth. Well it’s an excuse for another visit and perhaps a stay of a few days.

Walking in the land of Gingerbread.

Audley’s Cross stands in a middle of a field and marks the spot where Lord Audley fell during the battle of Blore Heath. There is no public path to this location.

Why waste a fine day I thought! It’s time to go off for a walk and so it is a later than usual start for this walk. I have decided to walk from the Shropshire market town of Market Drayton which is synonymous with the making of gingerbread but why?
Gingerbread was introduced into Britain during the 14th century but the earliest record of gingerbread in Market Drayton comes from the late seventeen hundreds. By the early nineteen hundreds there were several bakers making gingerbread in the town and today, Billington’s is the only brand with a connection with the town.
The town was originally known as Drayton before Henry III granted a charter for a market in 1245 which still exists today.

I’m setting out from the large free but almost full car park close to the leisure centre on the southern edge of the town and first follow lanes to Broomhall Grange before taking a good

field path to Almington. I briefly follow the road through the village before taking an equally good path towards Blore Heath. I want to see if I can get to the cross at Blore Heath which does mean a trespass across a field. For a short distance I have to follow the A53 and with no pavements it means frequently leaping up and down onto the narrow verge. I chose a quiet moment in the passing traffic to scale a fence then to over a field to the cross marking the site where Lord Audley who was in command of the Lancastrian forces fell in the Battle of Blore Heath during the War of the Roses. The battle was fought on the 23rd of September 1459 and was one of the first major battles during this conflict which lasted more than thirty years. Despite the Yorkists being heavily outnumbered, and after a long standoff, their tack ticks won the day by falsely retreating to coax the Lancasterian forces across an overgrown valley where the Yorkists then counter attacked and won the day. Afterwards the Yorkist army pursued the Lancastrian forces across several miles of countryside.

Hales Church stands in a prominent position on a embankment.

I head south next via quiet lanes to the village of Hales where I opted to have lunch on a seat in the elevated churchyard. There has been a church on this site since Anglo-Saxon times but the prominent church here today dates from 13th century and the tower itself is 16th century. The path south from the village crosses the wide and peaceful valley of Coal Brook but somehow I lose the path as I near Wood Farm and end up on the main farm drive instead of crossing a field further west. Nearing the next lane, I hear a rustling noise behind me and on turning I now witness a dust devil or mini tornado which picks up straw and light material as it whorls across the field behind me. It is little more than ten feet wide but is picking up light material to a height of around thirty feet. At the end of the field it suddenly fizzles out but the event is far too quick for me to capture it on my camera. I now follow a quiet lane south in the warm spring sunshine before taking a good field track onto Cheswardine. The name of the village in Old English probably means ‘cheese producing settlement’. In Norman times there stood a moated manor house at the northern end of the village which later was rebuilt as a castle but today only earthworks remain in a wooded area. The village church of St Swithun’s just south of the original castle overlooks the village street and is the third church to stand on this site and the present building dates from late Victorian times.

The field path leading from Hales towards Cheswardine makes fine walking on a sunny spring day.

St Swithun’s Church, Cheswardine is the third church to stand on this site. It commands a fine view over the village.

Stonehenge in miniature. These stones are located on a residential road in Cheswardine.

I pause awhile here before taking a minor road to the west and passing a miniature stone circle on the roadside. At the back of some houses I take a path up to Haywood Lane which I now follow west from the village for a short distance. I soon branch left to take a field path down to the Shropshire Union Canal. The canal was once one of the main transport arteries across England prior to the coming of the railways. Today it is popular with leisure craft..

The Shropshire Union Canal close to Goldstone Bridge near Cheswardine.

I next follow the towpath the short distance along to Goldtstone Bridge then take the road west for about a half mile. A track then field paths are followed northwest next to reach Woodseaves Manor Farm and just beyond here I cross the A529. A short lane walk follows before I take a path across a field then it is along another lane southwest to Lower Sydnall. Branching right and following what is shown on the map as a road used as a public path I expect a well defined route but as it turns out it is just a faint path along a field boundary. The next path north is not defined and crosses large fields and for much of the way it is mostly guesswork. I eventually reach Sutton Farm and here turn right then left to follow a very uneven path along the edge of a recently ploughed field. I am thankful at the end to turn left on the quiet Sandy Lane. A good track runs north towards Market Drayton next and this is marked as a right of way of later maps. Entering the town I cross Walkmill Bridge which spans the infant river tern and afterwards I turned right to follow the residential road back to the car.

A walk along the prom

Walking along Morecambe seafront gives many fine views towards the Lake District.

It’s a wet miserable autumn morning and so for the start of this two day family break we end up in the Carnforth Tea Rooms and Heritage Centre on Carnforth Station. It’s a good place to while away a couple of hours as the heritage centre is full of railway history and memorabilia. The tea room is the setting for the 1945film by David Lean ‘Brief encounter’ starring Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson. The premises have been tastefully restored to how it was in the film and Carnforth Station was referred to Milford Junction. On the platform stands the famous clock which played a symbolic role in this 1945 British cinema classic. In some respects a visit to the cafe today it is quite easy to re live the past and forget about the present day outside which tucking into a freshly baked scone and a cup of tea.
So much for this nostalgia, it’s time to get back to the present day as I have an afternoon walk planned. With a picnic in the car at nearby Hest Bank the brighter weather is edging in from the west with the promise of a fine October afternoon.
It’s a bus journey first from Hest Bank to Heysham and despite it being a Sunday, the number five bus runs quite regularly. We are leaving the bus at Heysham for the walk back along the seafront, a distance of just over six miles.

A hidden gem. The old part of Heysham makes a pleasant historic diversion.

I have never explored Heysham before and the old part of the town still has the feel of a village atmosphere. The small Heritage Centre is open which is well worth a visit for its local history. A wooded path from the main street leads us up to a promontory on which stand the ruins of St Patrick’s Chapel and the unique rock cut graves nearby. This is the best example of this type of grave in this country and six graves have been cut out of the sandstone. The chapel dates from the 8th and 9th centuries and we have timed it just right on this now sunny afternoon with a good view across Morecambe Bay towards the outline of the Lake District hills.

Unique rock cut graves cut out of the sandstone are the best example of any such graves in the British Isles.

The ruins of St Patrick’s Chapel commands excellent views across Morecambe Bay towards the Lake District.

A richly carved cross shaft in the churchyard of St Peter’s at Heysham.

Just inland and sheltered in woodland is St Peter’s Chapel and despite the church being closed the graveyard has some ancient crosses.

The Stone Jetty mid way along Morecambe Promenade makes a welcome diversion.

The Eric Morecambe Statue on Morecambe Promenade is a popular spot to pause for a photograph.

It’s now time to set out along the lengthy promenade into Morecambe. Many people are out walking on this fine afternoon and there was always plenty to see along this stretch of the coast. The tide was well out insomuch you can’t really see the sea. This reminds me of the saying about Morecambe that ‘on a good day you can see the sea and on a bad day you’re in it’. Well today was a fine day and you can just about see the sea!
The town of Morecambe really only came into fruition quite late in the 19th century. The arrival of the railway in 1850 to the new dock at Heysham began the influx of visitors mostly from Yorkshire to this part of the coast and the town for awhile was nicknamed ‘Bradford on Sea’. It became a thriving resort in the mid 20th century but since then a long decline has set in but money is now being spent again on sprucing the place up.
Walking the promenade we stop from time to time for photographs and a stop is made at the new and impressive lifeboat station. The Eric Morecambe Statue just beyond is a popular spot to have your photograph taken alongside the statue. Eric Morecambe was born in the town and changed his surname from Bartholomew.
Leaving Morecambe the promenade is quieter and small boats are beached on the silty shore. Heading towards Hest Bank the promenade finally runs out and we have about a half mile of rough upper foreshore to walk along to reach the car.

At the quieter northern end of Morecambe Promenade, boats are stranded in the mud at low tide.