Arnside and the Fairy Steps.

Start. Arnside.

Route. Arnside - Arnside Railway Station - Arnside/Hincaster Railway - Sandside Road - Crag Cottage - Storth - Storth Road - Shaw Lane - Yans Lane - Throughs Wood - Cockshot Lane - Longtail Wood - Beetham Fell - Underlaid Wood - Whin Scar - Fairy Steps - Slack Head - Dollywood Lane - Hazelslack - Arnside Moss - Sandside Road - Arnside/Hincaster Railway - Arnside Railway Station - Arnside.

Notes. I'm here again, not bad considering I'd no intention of dirtying my boots today, the weather gods duped me, promising wet and windy weather. Imagine my surprise when awoken by rays of sunlight cutting through a gap in the curtains, the long fingers of a higher authority digging me in the ribs, “get up you idle sod”, so I did. It was late, too late to head into the Lakes, so I went to the seaside instead.

I set out from an unspoilt Victorian holiday resort on the estuary of the River Kent, lets just call it Arnside. It was a tad overcast and wet when I wandered out of the village to join the Arnside/Hincaster Railway at Arnside Station, now a super footpath. Normally I'd follow this trod as it arcs round the salt marsh to Sandside, not today, I left at the second access point, (not sure if this is a right of way, but the gates were unlocked), a short stretch of tarmac walking followed. Crag Cottage marked the point I left the road, a finger-post promised passage to Storth, I followed this path behind the cottage then through woodland, after a few minutes I popped out into the streets of Storth.

Storth's a lovely village, a mix of old and new, quaint cottages and modern bungalows, I turned down Shaw Lane, wandered passed some quaint cottages followed by modern bungalows, the lane looped round the school playing field to join Yans Lane, I turned right letting the lane guide me to a stile and finger-post promising access to Cockshot Lane.

After passing through said stile, muddy woodland paths guided me through ancient woodland, over limestone scars painted with mosses and lichens, wonderful specimen trees reached over the path, all the way time-warn yews watched over me. The woodland eventual spat me out onto Cockshot Lane near a finger-post guaranteeing passage to Beetham, Hazelslack and the Fairy Steps.

A good track then guided me through Longtail Wood onto Beetham Fell, at an obvious path junction overlooked by yet another finger-post I joined the path signed Hazelslack, this wide well used trod ushered me through coppice woodland, to my left the Whin Scar cliffs, a long limestone scar containing a real gem, the Fairy Steps. This narrow passage ascends the cliffs squeezing the walker between limestone walls, folk law tells us if you can ascend without touching the sides the fairies will grant you a wish, I wished I was thinner, so walked round the edge of the cliffs.

Once above the Whin Scar cliffs I turned to head over the fell, descending the other side a cairn greeted me, a polished metal plate on its top promised access to Slack Head amongst other places, I turned to head to the village. After picking my way over the muddy surface of a wide path I emerged into Slack Head, stepping onto tarmac was a delight after the muddy ways over Beetham Fell. Wandering through Slack Head always seems to take ages, it was only ¾ of a mile before I stepped between the dry stone walls of Dollywood Lane, it seemed further.

With the trees of Dolly Wood to my right I descended the lane, dry stone walls gave way to hedge rows, woodland gave way to sheep pastures before reaching Hazelslack and it's medieval pele tower. Opposite the pele tower a path crosses a field depositing the unlucky walker at the entrance to Arnside Moss. I questioned my sanity attempting to traverse these fields after a week of heavy rain, I bit the bullet then instantly regretted my decision. Once committed I carried on, attempting to bypass the mire was impossible, in the end I just bulldozed through the bloody lot, to my amazement I emerged at the other side with dry feet.

The final section was a narrow stretch of path squeezed between fencing topped with barbed wire, the water looked deep, the mud deeper still, to my right a finger-post invited me to Milnthorpe Road, I weighed up my options, then decided the Milnthorpe route looked a darn site more inviting. It turned out to be wet but not boot sucking wet. I exited the moss opposite a small car park, a path allowed access to the Arnside/Hincaster Railway, now all I had to do was re-trace my steps before all the dirty black cloud drifting in from the west overtook me. You guessed right I finished in driving rain, but rain and sunshine produce some amazing light, it was worth the soaking, Arnside never disappoints.

view route map.


From the track bed of the Arnside/Hincaster Railway views back to Arnside and rain washed Hampsfell.

Brighter to the north, views over upper Morecambe Bay to the mouth of Lyth Valley, across the horizon the snow capped mountains of the Lake District.

Looking to Whitbarrow across the salt marsh north of Arnside.

Striding out over woodland paths above Storth.

Wandering through a landscape laid down at the bottom of a warm tropical sea 350 million years ago.

Underlaid Wood and the path to the foot of the Fairy Steps.

The Fairy Steps, take a deep breath and go for it, kids love them, adults find them a mild inconvenience but folk law tells us if you possess second sight, you can see the Fairies running and jumping up the fissure before of you.

Like me if you avoid the embarrassing squeeze you may come across this, a slice of 19th century graffiti, William Hutton was the vicar of Beetham Church.

Above the Fairy Steps looking to Arnside Knott.

The route over Beetham Fell, fenced now, by the owners of Dallam Estate to keep us rebellious ramblers in check.

Arnside Moss looking to Beetham Fell.

Wandering over Arnside Moss between the drainage ditches attempting to drain the mire.

The threat of a storm creeping in from the west.

Whitbarrow under darkening cloud.

Wonderful play of light across the upper reaches of Morecambe Bay, and it gets better.

Just soaking up the scene.

It's raining quite heavy now, but what an end to the day.

The salt marsh north of Arnside, the rain's on my back and the view is stunning.

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