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