Salt marsh, Kents Bank

View over the salt marshes from near Kents Bank, at the start of the walk.

Date completed: 8th July 2013

Weather conditions: Very warm and muggy, as hot as on any of these walks except perhaps walk 14. Also the most allergenic walk of all. Trudging through grass in shorts in the height of hay fever season was not necessarily a joyful experience.

tractor

Hay! Pictured near Grange Fell golf course.

Summits bagged: Humphrey Head (172’), Hampsfell (727’), Newton Fell (South) (585’). Numbers 8-10 of the 116 Outlying Fells, or numbers 222-224 of the 330.

Start and end point: Started at Kents Bank railway station, having reached that on the 08.38 service from Preston, arriving 09.25 approx. Finished at Grange-over-Sands railway station, in time to catch the 14.51 back to Lancaster. There are more-or-less hourly trains at Grange in each direction, some going as far as Manchester. Kents Bank is not served by all Grange trains.

Distance walked: 11.4 miles approximately. Some of this walk was outside the National Park so at the moment I can’t accurately Memory-Map it, but this figure is near enough.

Total ascent:  1200 feet approx (see above). Easily the flattest walk I have done (feet ascended divided by miles walked). It’s also the first walk to never get above 1000′ at any point.

Road near Wraysthorne crossing

This photo shows two characteristics of the walk – it’s pretty flat, and a lot’s on tarmac. Not a ‘fell walk’ today.

Pub at end: The Commodore Inn, Grange-over-Sands. Was only there for 15 minutes or so, formed no impression of it inside, but the beer (from a local Ulverston brewery) was absolutely delicious.

Route Card: None available at the moment.

Route: Two things first. One, though this is a walk with great views (this time of Morecambe Bay and, on Hampsfell, the Coniston fells), this is not a ‘fellwalk’. It bears no resemblance to mountain climbing. There are no steep slopes of any kind, up or down. It is more of a countryside ramble, which even gets close to being suburban in a couple of places. Your biggest danger is being squashed by a car, not falling off a cliff: there is quite a lot of walking on roads.

Secondly, including Newton Fell South is only worth doing if you are on a bagging run. In other ways this summit adds little except five or so extra miles of walking, much of it on tarmac. Humphrey Head and Hampsfell together would be a perfectly good walk and worth making the trip to Grange for.

Kent estuary

View of the Kent estuary, from Hampsfell.

If you arrive at Kents Bank station (the stop after Grange; but check you are on a train that does stop there) from Preston or Lancaster, stay on that side of the line, as you can walk all the way round to Humphrey Head by sticking close to the rail embankment. But this is a salt marsh, so there are a couple of muddy bits, and one bit where the ground risks disappearing into unseen bog beneath you. This trap is right near where you can almost touch the barn of Wyke Farm, just at the point where you bear left away from the train line – tread very carefully at this point. Other than that, the only problem I had was rampant field grass, which thoroughly provoked my histamines.

Leave the edge of the salt marsh by a clearly signposted path (rather overgrown), which takes you up and over the miniature ridge of Humphrey Head and onto a road on the other side. Turn left to reach the bottom of the lane to the ‘TQ Outdoor Centre’.

Looking back to Humphrey Head

Looking south from Hampsfell. Humphrey Head is the low eminence to the right.

The path that heads to the summit I eventually found by going up the drive of the Outdoor Centre and bearing right over open ground before the gate marked ‘Private’, but there is a seriously misleading sign at the bottom of this drive; the path which leads into the undergrowth at this point is a dead end, and not the one you want. The route over open ground leads gently upwards to the summit of Humphrey Head – low altitude, but a great view. Go a hundred yards past the trig point for the full effect. Return the way you came.

I did not fancy facing the bog of Wyke Farm again so stuck to the roads from this point, taking me away from Humphrey Head and then turning right, over the level crossing and past Wraysholme, an old fortified farm.

Grange station

Grange-over-Sands station, pictured at the end of the walk

Taking this route is OK, but it does lead to a few miles of road walking, with the aim being to go up through the fairly sizeable village of Allithwaite and round to Grange Fell golf club (the club house at SD394779 what’s this?). As you will see on the OS map, there are some paths along the way but to be honest I tried a couple and I doubt they save any time. These are not particularly busy roads (unlike around Newton Fell – see below). Look out, incidentally, for the outrageously twee cottage of Crag End in Allithwaite, like a full-size Lilliput Lane product. The road to leave Allithwaite by is also — I am sure I have remembered this correctly — called ‘Wart Bottom Lane’, which is worth noting.

Assuming that you are capable of following maps and signposts sufficient to get you to the club house of the golf club: go just beyond their car park, follow the sign to Spring Bank, and then turn left just past the reservoir to ascend Hampsfell. You will, of course, ascend to the top of the Hospice by its precarious-looking steps and check the view — but I suspect this building does not stand on quite the highest point of the fell.

The Hospice

The Hospice: the building on top of Hampsfell’s limestone pavement

Leave the hospice eastwards, at right angles to the way you came, and slope down to the byway that runs along the edge of the woods. At this point, as noted earlier, I would now turn right, which after a walk of under a mile will return you to Grange, with some great views of the Kent Estuary along the way.

However. if you do want to follow the rest of my route, turn left instead, and follow footpath signs to Lindale. Keep the Royal Oak pub on your right as you walk up the exit road of the dual carriageway as far as it will take you, then carefully cross said dual carriageway to reach the driveway of Eller How. The path up Newton Fell swings to the left slightly and then takes you round to the top.

Whitbarrow

View of Whitbarrow from Newton Fell South. Note the group of horses.

Despite appearances, you have to go back the same way: a path looking like it offers an alternative route back (past the ‘eco-housing’ near the summit) gets into problems with rights-of-way. Which means you then have to cross the dual carriageway again, trudge down the road back into Lindale and then follow the B5271 for another couple of miles, and it’s quite a busy road. At least it has the virtue of leading you straight back to Grange station. The Commodore Inn is about 5 minutes’ walk away on the right, whether along the main road, or the promenade.

Allergy city commentary: After the rain and chill of 2012, my two walks so far in summer 2013 have both taken place in blue skies and sun, without even the afternoon cloudiness that has been so typical of the District in my experience. The last walk, round Potter Fell in early June, had near-perfect weather; today was hot though, quite muggy too, I would say 25ºC at least and quite high humidity. I did all the things I was supposed to do, sunscreen, lots of water, something to cover my head with, so no problems coping with that aspect of the day.

Salt marsh near Grange

Another view of the salt marsh, near Grange station

The worst aspect of the local South Cumbrian environment today was not the heat, but frequent brushes with long field grass, a plant that I have long been convinced has contributed largely to my hay fever down the years. I’m not so bad in the nose these days but doing the walk in shorts and T-shirt, thanks to the heat, led to me having vibrantly red arms and legs by the time I came off Humphrey Head at 10.30am. Before noon some lady passed me and made some comment about getting into the shade, I knew I wasn’t sunburned so wondered what she was talking about, until I realised she’d just misidentified the source of my pinkness.

Despite these tribulations I did enjoy the walk as far as the summit of Hampsfell. Wainwright calls Humphrey Head a ‘change of scene’ for the fellwalker and he’s right. It’s only 172 feet high, that’s 5.3% of the height of Scafell Pike. But it’s worth climbing, an airy little limestone ridge stuck out into the mixed-up salt marshes and sands and waters of Morecambe Bay.

Humphrey Head

Another view of Humphrey Head

The limestone pavements of Hampsfell were also a pleasant change. There isn’t any limestone in the main walking centres of the Lake District so this, at least, is a new experience gained from starting on the Outlying Fells. Today also had views of Morecambe Bay that were simultaneously broad and intimate, and it’s always nice to have an excuse to use the Cumbrian Coast line. Closer to home, I note; after nearly eleven and a half miles’ walking, I was still back in Hebden Bridge by 5pm.

My plans are to do a couple more of these over the next few weeks but I will also revisit some of the more significant fells, particularly those I only saw in teeming rain last year, like Crinkle Crags and Great Gable. The point of these walks has now become as much photography as anything else, so if this weather keeps up it’ll be a good opportunity — although to be honest there was, if anything, too much light today, and quite a few photos looked kind of washed out; but never mind. Good walk – as far as Hampsfell.

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3 Responses to “Walk 72: Round Grange-over-Sands”

  1. […] for around 7 years, and certainly the hottest since I started on this walking project in 2009. Walk 72, then, was an inevitably hot and sweaty one, as I made my way round the very southernmost parts of […]

  2. mbc1955 said

    Welcome back, and I’m delighted to follow your ‘extended’ project. I only managed a handful of the OFs myself, so most of this will be new ground for me. And I’m glad you’re getting some good weather walks out of it too.

  3. […] it a wintry melancholy that was quite different from when I came here three and a half years ago (walk 72), a hot summer’s day. Part of the point of doing this second round is to experience variety […]

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