A Circuit from Milnthorpe including Dallam Park and the Fairy Steps.

Start. Milnthorpe.

Route. Milnthorpe - Old Bridge - Dallam Park - Heron Corn Mill - Church Street - Beetham - Whin Scar - Fairy Steps - Underlaid Wood - Beetham Fell - Longtail Wood - Cockshot Lane - Haverbrack Wood - Haverbrack Fell - Hollins Wood - Arnside/Hincaster railway - Dallam Park - Milnthorpe Bridge - Dallam Park - Old Bridge - Milnthorpe.

Notes. Whilst perusing the web the other day, I dredged up some legends and ghost stories connected with the Silverdale/Arnside area. It turns out there's witches, fairies, various phantoms with varied intentions, ghostly boats crossing the estuary and demonic dogs hiding behind every tree. Well I’ve walked this area at all times of the day and night and seen sod all, but just in case I took Sue with me today, she’ll scare anything off.

We had a lunchtime start so grabbed some food at Sue’s Cumbria Snack Bar in Milnthorpe, it’s a burger van but serves jolly good fare. From Milnthorpe we made our way to Dallam Park, entered via Old Bridge once part of the main road to the port at Sandside. From the twin arched bridge way-marked paths ushered us through the 18th century deer park, the path, well marked eventually deposited us at the Heron Corn Mill, the mill was closed.

From the car park a narrow way headed west, this we followed, after guiding us past a smart white washed house it ejected us onto a country lane, we turned left towards Beetham. Next to the first house on the right a signed path ascends a large field, this guided us into the woodland cloaking Beetham Fell. The path across the fell is well marked and well trod, we ascended through woodland between moss covered limestone scars. Passed a ruined cottage we walked, now I have it on good authority this was a spooky old place, once occupied by a friends aunt, she used to stay there in the school holidays.

Once passed the cottage we stepped onto a corps road one of many in the North-west of England, corps roads criss-cross vast tracts of Northern England and Scotland most dating back to medieval times, a means of transporting corpses from outlying villages for internment in land with burial rights. These roads of the dead often crossed water, it was thought the spirit was unable to return over rivers or streams, in this case Arnside Moss, often hazards such as the Whin Scar cliffs were thought to stop ghosts returning, on it's final journey the feet of the corps had to be kept facing away from the family home, again to stop it returning. In 1866 the church at Arnside was consecrated, the corpse road became redundant.

Now a good footpath it guided us to the Fairy Steps into folklore and legend. It is said if you can ascend or descend the narrow fissure in the Whin Scar cliffs the fairies will grant you a wish, in the late 19th century tourists flocked in droves drawn by this romantic notion. The fairies escaped from a witches caldron running and dancing up the steps to freedom, if you posses second sight you may see them dancing up the steps. We opted not to descend the fissure, not wanting to tread on any fairy folk. We wandered round the south end of the cliffs where yew trees grow large casting dark shadows over the path, here another legend, that of a Cappel, a hell-hound said to haunt the cliffs at dusk, I sent Sue first.

From the foot of the Fairy Steps we turned right at an obvious path junction, through the coppice woodland of Underlaid Wood we wandered, over Beetham Fell to a gate and stile allowing access to Cockshot Lane. After a few yards of tarmac walking we entered Haverbrack Wood, the start of a ridge walk, unfortunately dense tree cover hides the views, it wasn't until we stepped into sheep pastures on Haverbrack Fell the views opened out and, stunning views they were, Over upper Morecambe Bay to the hills of the Lake District, the massive limestone cliffs of Whitbarrow and the timeless beauty of Lyth Valley.

After soaking them up we descended to a narrow lane, we crossed entering yet more woodland, guided by a decent path we continued descending to emerge on the busy road to Arnside. Safely across a flight of steps allowing access to the track bed of the disused Arnside/Hincaster branch line. The stoney surface guided us to the edge of the estuary and the banks of the River Bela. It was this sleepy waterway that guided us back through Dallam Park to Old Bridge and the streets of Milnthorpe.

view route map.


Old Bridge across the River Bela.

One of the delectable lesser heights of Lakeland Whitbarrow, seen from Dallam Park.

Striding out through Dallam Park.

Viewing Crow Wood.

A manorial corn mill has existed on or close to the present site of the Heron Corn Mill since 1096, some Saxon place names suggest this part of Westmorland (South Cumbria) was used to cultivate corn well before that.

Ravaged by time the ruined cottage on Beetham Fell.

Storm damage on Beetham Fell.

Viewing Arnside Knott from Whin Scar.

The Fairy Steps, ascend or descend without touching the sides the fairies will grant you a wish.

Heversham Head seen from sheep pastures on Haverbrack Fell.

Under a dusting of snow, rising above the Newton Fells the Coniston massif.

The bones of the landscape, limestone scars on Haverbrack Fell.

Stunning views up the Kent Estuary, with the much smaller Bela channel to the right.

Milnthorpe Sands with Sandside to the left seen from the edge of the estuary below Dallam Park.

The River Bela spills into the estuary in the shadow of Whitbarrow.

Sheep graze the salt marsh.

Striking views to the snow capped mountains of South Lakeland.

The River Bela looking to the majestic single arch of Milnthorpe Bridge.

Above the weir in Dallam Park enjoying some final views to white capped Lakeland mountains.

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