A Circuit from Milnthorpe including Dallam Park, Slack Head and the Kent Estuary.

Start. Milnthorpe.

Route. Milnthorpe - Old Bridge - Dallam Park - Beetham - Beetham Hall - Beetham Park - Slack Head Marble Quarry - Slack Head - Dollywood Lane - Hazelslack - Arnside Moss - Arnside - Arnside/Hincaster Railway - Sandside - Dallam Park - Old Bridge - Milnthorpe.

Notes. Another day another bag of changeable weather, the forecast promised a morning of heavy rain followed by an afternoon of thunderstorms, that was more or less what we got, but in between, not forecast a window of light cloud and sunshine. When the blue stuff appeared I jumped in the car, pointed it west and headed to Milnthorpe, a walk with plenty of bolt holes if and when the weather changed.

I left Milnthorpe a rough route in mind, the only thing I was clear about, if the weather held it would be Arnside for lunch. Old Bridge over the River Bela allowed access to Dallam Park, way-marked paths then ushered me through the man made landscape, the path climbed cutting under the earthworks on Castle Hill, once the site of a motte and bailey castle. Passed the 18th century Deer House I wandered before ascending another hill to access a ha-ha, a dyke and wall designed to preserve the lines of the park land. From the ha-ha I descended to the Heron Corn Mill, ignoring the 16th century mill I continued along the lane into Beetham. A delightful village of grey limestone cottages with cobbled forecourts, gothic church and historic inn, it's very own theatre and a set of stocks on the small village green.

I wandered passed the inn turned left at the stocks before reaching a finger-post inviting me to Hale, I obliged traversing a large field to access a narrow path cutting behind Beetham Hall, a 14th century fortified manor house, a ruin since it was taken from the Royalists by Thomas Fairfax in 1644. I continued passed said ruin to be greeted by another finger-post, apart from Hale this welcome piece of pine invited me to the Marble Quarry and Slack Head. Ignoring the path to Hale I wandered into the woodland on Hale Fell, yellow arrows guided me through dense tree cover eventually depositing me on a small plane of limestone scars, this was the marble quarry. Stone from this unlikely spot, after polishing adorns many a fine building throughout the land. After traversing the limestone slabs woodland paths ushered me to a narrow tarmac lane, I turned right then wandered into Slack Head.

The boring bit next, ¾ of a mile strolling over tarmac, passed some fine properties well out of my price bracket. When I started to loose height I turned into Dollywood Lane, this ancient track guided me down hill between dry stone walls and mature vegetation spitting me out at Hazelslack. After wandering through the farm Hazelslack Tower loomed grey and foreboding above an orchard on the right, another 14th century fortification, a finger-post to my left promised passage to Arnside. I stepped into fields to start the short walk to Arnside Moss., the moss was fairly dry, a green trod guided me through two large fields, wooden foot-bridges aided my crossing of drainage dykes. I crossed the railway line looking and listening, as the warning sign suggested before stepping onto the tarmac of Black Dyke Road, a short wander west saw me in Arnside heading for a pub lunch.

The sound of thunder rolling up the estuary greeted me as I left the pub, dark clouds bubbling up from the south, another crack of thunder rattled across the sky, this time from the direction I was heading, I may be in for a wet end to what had been a pleasant outing. Back to Arnside Railway Station I wandered, crossed the foot-bridge to gain access to the track bed of the Arnside/Hincaster rail link, an excellent foot-path. North I strolled the song of the estuary mooted by the fast approaching storm, lightning forked across the sky almost above my head, still no rain, I continued to Sandside, wandered along the sea front as the first drops of the wet stuff started to fall. Where the road leaves the estuary a flight of steps descends back onto the track bed of the old railway, I descended re-joined the railway path, this deposited me in Dallam Park, all that remained to follow the banks of the River Bela through increasingly heavy rain, back through Dallam Park to Old Bridge and the sanctuary of Milnthorpe.

view route map.


Milnthorpe Bridge over the River Bela, as seen from the foot-path through Dallam Park.

The Wheatsheaf, Beetham.

The aforementioned path behind Beetham Hall.

The impressive pile of Beetham Hall, a 14th century fortified manor house.

Farleton Fell seen over the valley of the River Bela.

Slack Head Marble Quarry, unique limestone pavements once used for building stone now protected.

At the foot of Dollywood Lane, guarding the coffin route to Beetham, 14th century Hazelslack Tower.

With a full stomach, the result of a pub lunch, a lot of static in the air, the result of the impending storm, I'm wandering along the edge of the estuary with views over Milnthorpe Sands to Whitbarrow and the mouth of Lyth Valley.

Views over the salt marsh to the north of Arnside.

Arnside Knott seen from the track bed of the Arnside/Hincaster rail link.

The Kent Channel at Sandside, looking to Hampsfell and the Kent Viaduct.

Sandside under darkening skies.

Bad weather creeping in from the west, it's noisy, the lightning's spectacular and it's heading my way.

The River Bela near Summerhouse Point.

Views down the estuary from the southern end of Dallam Park.

Milnthorpe Bridge, reflections.

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