A Loop from Arnside including Sandside, Fairy Steps and Gait Barrows.

Start. Arnside.

Route. Arnside - Sandside - Storth Back Lane - Yans Lane - Storth - Haverbrack Wood - Cockshot Lane - Longtail Wood - Beetham Fell - Whin Scar - Fairy Steps - Underlaid Wood - Hazelslack - Leighton beck - Challan Hall Allotment - Gait Barrows - Challan Hall - Waterslack - Middlebarrow - Arndale - Hagg Wood - Black Dyke Road - Arnside.

Notes. It feels like I haven’t been out in ages, so today I checked the weather, grim, well this is the North-west of England. With rain and grey skies forecast I decided on a woodland walk from just down the road, from Arnside, and a cracking good walk it turned out to be. A pleasing circuit taking in quite a mix of estuary, moss covered limestone and woodland both coppice and natural with a good assembly of tall matured trees.

My morning started in Arnside crossing the railway tracks, a newly painted footbridge safely deposited me to the rear of the tiny railway station bang on the track bed of the closed Arnside/Hincaster Railway. With a good path under foot and views across the estuary for company I strolled to Sandside, continuing along the sea front until just passed the Ship Inn, next to the car park a narrow ginnel links to Storth Back Lane, I wandered through said ginnel before turning left, a hundred yards further on a finger-post greeted me promising passage to Yans Lane.

This path I followed through woodland yellow arrows kept me on track, after the lane turned to tarmac, on a steep right hand bend another finger-post greeted me, Haverbrack Bank or Cockshot Lane, it was the latter for me. The path climbed through moss covered limestone scars, under giant Ash trees and gnarly old Yews, ferns and fungi thrived along the path edges. I emerged from the woods onto Cockshot Lane, swung right then continued walking to the next finger-post.

The wooden arrow etched with the words Slackhead and Hazelslack made no mention of the Fairy Steps, which are also accessed from this path. As I was heading for said steps I followed this trod, a good path under foot, fences and stone walls guided me over polished limestone through yet more woodland, the next finger-post promising passage to the Fairy Steps, I ignored it, continuing over Beetham Fell yellow arrows yet again keeping me on track. On reaching a wide path I turned right, crossed the fell to emerge above the Whin Scar cliffs, directly below my feet the Fairy Steps.

A narrow cleft zig-zags down the cliff face, a highly polished fissure on the Arnside-Beetham coffin route, of course now just a footpath, and a delightful one to walk. I descended the fissure giving it a bit of a buff as I squeezed through, once down the coffin route guided me west through coppice woodland followed by sheep pastures, I escaped the fields at Hazelslack, home to a large farm and the squat remains of a pele tower built sometime in the fourteenth century.

Opposite the tower a path passes through a small field terminating at the narrowest of stiles, squeeze stile by name and squeeze stile by nature, and a hell of a job I had squeezing through. Once through the path guided me through a narrow tract of scrub land, I wandered between gorse and brambles soon to be ejected onto Black Dyke Road. With the weather on the turn, I weighed up my options, back to Arnside along said road or in the opposite direction to another finger-post, as it hadn’t started raining the latter won.

The finger-post promised passage to Challan Hall Allotment, not safe passage the field was full of bovine lawnmowers, I ignored them, they ignored me, a couple of fields further on I entered the woodland of Challan Hall Allotment. With a good path under foot I strolled on to a tarmac road, crossed to enter Gait Barrows National Nature Reserve, graded paths then guided me through the northern edge of the reserve, a green trod took over guiding me passed Challan Hall, I swung right crossing these fields to access a narrow trod between wire fencing descending to a tarmac lane leading to Middlebarrow.

A brisk walk was needed along the edge of Silverdale Moss, with tarmac under foot, flies eating me alive relief came when I crossed the railway lines, facing me the massive scar of Middlebarrow Quarry, fenced now nature slowly healing the wound. As I left the quarry the first spots of rain started to fall, by the time I’d traversed the fields of Arndale it was a bit heavier. The path followed the edge of the railway embankment, it cut along the boundary of Hagg Wood before spitting me out onto Black Dyke Road, the short walk back into Arnside was wet, heavy drizzle sweeping in across the estuary, by the time I reached the car I was soaked, the streets of Arnside were deserted and I was ready for a pint.

view route map.


The Newton Fells as seen from the salt marsh just north of Arnside.

Viewing Hampsfell with the seaside village of Arnside to the left and sylvan Meathop Fell the right.

Sunlight on the dramatic cliffs of the White Scar face of Whitbarrow.

Seen from Sandside wooded Arnside Knott.

Striding out through mature woodland the surface of Yans Lane under foot.

Footpath over Beetham Fell.

The Fairy Steps a highly polished fissure up the Whin Scar cliffs.

The Arnside to Beetham coffin route cuts through the coppice woodland of Underlaid Wood.

Still on the corps road looking over Hazelslack to Hampsfell, the hill across the horizon.

Sylvan Arnside Knott seen from the cow pastures at Black Dyke.

The tastefully restored summer house in Gait Barrows, a close inspection reveals opportunities for bats and amphibians, re-pointing has been done leaving holes for bats to access the rubble filled walls and under the slates, slits in doors and above windows are evident again access for bats. Due to covid it is closed but will soon be open to the public.

Near Challan Hall viewing Gait Barrows National Nature Reserve.

Fly infested Silverdale Moss.

Over Arndale, Arnside Knott.

En route through Arndale.

Middlebarrow Wood seen from the edge of Hagg Wood.

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