First published in: The Times Click here to view a map for this walk in a new window
A rich scent hung over Arnside, the smell of the sea and of new mown hay. They were raking the fields on one side of the station, while on the other the tide was going out along the Kent Estuary towards the sandy immensities of Morecambe Bay.
We climbed up a walled lane away from the little resort town, peaceful green paths leading into Red Hills Wood. ‘Beautiful bluebells here in spring,’ confided the dog-walking lady we met on the path, ‘and you should just see the wild daffodils down at Far Arnside.’
From the crest of Arnside Knott we got a most sensational view. Huge sprawling sands were uncovering themselves as they slid free of the sea’s grey blanket, the River Kent a sinuous coil of silver, its seaward movement seen as a writhing snake among the tan and mauve sandbanks. To the north and west, beyond a green apron of marshland fringing the estuary, stood the rugged profiles of the Furness Fells and the outlying fells of south Lakeland. The fingers of other peninsulas reached their long tips out into the margin of the great sands.
We crossed the grassy top of Arnside Knott among juniper, yew, gorse and brambles. A solitary walker inched like an ant far below, dwarfed by the sands he was striding on. A topograph gave further clues about the distant peaks and ridges to the north – Helvellyn and Striding Edge, Skiddaw and Bowfell, Coniston Old Man and the westward hump of Black Combe – all these in view from the Knott’s modest elevation of 770 ft.
Down at Park Point we found a slanting ledge of rock from which to scramble down onto the shore. Jane went barefoot on the ribbed sand while I clambered over the limestone rubble in boots, looking for fossils. Rounding Blackstone Point we found the outgoing Kent’s channel suddenly near at hand, with a fine view up the estuary to the centipede legs of Arnside’s railway viaduct.
We reached the resort in time for an ice cream with the tide still ebbing. Arnside was a busy port till the 1850s, when the building of the viaduct caused the harbour to silt up. Then tourism took over, a new source prosperity for the little town with the mighty views.
How hard is it? 6½ miles; moderate; woodland and shore paths
Start: Arnside railway station, Cumbria LA5 OHJ (OS ref SD 461788)
Getting there: Rail to Arnside. Bus 551 (Kirkby Lonsdale).
Road: Arnside (B5282) is signed from Milnthorpe on A6 (M6, Jct 36)
Walk (OS Explorer OL7): From station, left along road. Pass Milnthorpe turn; in 100m, right (‘Silverdale Road’ fingerpost). Right at Silverdale Road (459783). In 200m left (457784, ‘Arnside Knott’). In 150m, left (456784, ‘High Knott Road’); bend left by ‘Windrush’; in 250m, right (457783, ‘The Knott’) through Red Hills Wood. Through kissing gate onto open ground (456780); head uphill to bench and gate (456776). Follow main path to another bench and on, soon descending. Round sharp left bend (452772); down through gate in wall (452770). Ahead on path outside trees. At Hollins Farm, right (451766, ‘Far Arnside’). At road, right (450764, ‘Park Point’); ahead through holiday park. At Shore Close fork right (‘Bridleway); at Knott Drive fork left. Follow woodland path back to Arnside.
Low tide option: Descend to shore just north of Park Point (437769); shore path back to Arnside.
Conditions: Woodland path from holiday park is stony and stumbly; shore option is for low or falling tide.
Lunch/Accommodation: Fighting Cocks, The Promenade, Arnside LA5 0HD (01524-761203, fightingcocksarnside.co.uk)
Info: Arnside AONB Centre (01524-761034)