Thursday 1 October 2015
Barrow-in-Furness to Grange-Over-Sands
Colin Mortlock’s house
After breakfast Nicola offered to drive me the first part of today’s walk, out of Barrow town, past the docks (where the submarines are launched from) and along the road to Roa Island. From here it is possible to get a ferry to Piel Island, the tiny island in Piel Channel between the mainland and Walney Island.
This is the island with not much more than a castle and a pub, and the pub landlord is the King of Piel. Unfortunately the ferries stop running at the end of September and, despite my best efforts, I could not find anyone to give me a lift over, nor could I get hold of anyone at the pub. It would have been nice to have camped there for a night but it wasn’t to be. According to Conrad, people around here are a bit funny and he wasn’t surprised the pub didn’t answer its phone. I was regaled with many stories last night of people from Walney not mixing with people from Barrow; apparently it is common for locals never to leave their own patch. In their whole life. A strange place.
Nicola dropped me off at Aldingham, where the road leaves the coast a bit. From here I picked up the coast path and had a very enjoyable walk along the shoreline of Morecambe Bay.
The tide was out and the sand/mud stretched for miles. The sun was shining and the sky was brilliant blue; this meant that there was a bit of a haze so, unusually, it was not possible to see Morecambe and Heysham across the Bay.
I walked past a wonderful house next to the beach (called Beach House) that was the site of a landscape arts project. There were lots of sculptures arranged in a garden made on the stony beach. It looked incredible.
Just after Conishead Priory Buddhist Temple I turned inland to Ulverston, the birth place of Stan Laurel and home of Sir John Barrow, famous Arctic explorer.
There is a huge monument to Sir John on the hill overlooking the town.
I caught the train from Ulverston, one stop across the Leven Viaduct, to Cark. Around here the train lines are the most coastal routes across the rivers.
Several people had recommended that I visit Cartmel, a rather quaint village built around a mediaeval Priory. So instead of walking the coastal way I headed inland slightly, along the Cistercian Way, to Cartmel. The Priory was indeed quite magnificent; it was built by William Marshall who is generally thought to have been instrumental in enforcing the Magna Carta after King John died.
I stopped for a quick ice cream on a hot, sunny day and headed over Hampsfell into Grange-Over-Sands. The views from the top were excellent, all across Morecambe Bay from one end to the other and of the Lake District mountains inland.
As I descended the hill into Grange I was debating whether to stop at a campsite here or carry on. My thoughts were interrupted by an older gentleman (he’s almost 80) who was walking (shuffling) up the hill and was using walking poles. He informed me I had the wrong poles. This started a conversation, the outcome of which was an invite to stay in his flat, albeit I would have to camp on the living room floor. I accepted the invite on the basis that it would be warmer and easier than camping and I was intrigued by Colin. It hadn’t taken him long to tell me he was a world authority on nature, an adventurer and published author. All of this from a man who despises ego! It was an interesting evening. I have genuine admiration for Colin’s desire to change the world, starting with Grange-Over-Sands; however, it seems a little unlikely. (Grange is known for being a retirement town.) His flat was littered with books and papers, and he was very interesting to talk to. He has spent a lifetime as an adventurer, working in the industry and completing his own (mainly solo) expeditions. He is a highly accomplished climber and kayaker.
I bought us both takeaway fish and chips and had one of the stranger evenings of my trip.