Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Askam in Furness to Barrow in Furness - 5 Miles- 25 August 2012

Photograph Album

This outing was a case of completing unfinished business.  On my previous walk in this area in May, I was beaten by the clock and did not feel I could comfortably make the end of my intended route.  On an earlier 20 mile walk from Lancaster to Knott End in August 2004, I arrived at the ferry terminal too late to complete the return crossing and catch the bus back to Lancaster.  By achieving both objectives, I would complete the Cumbria / Lancashire / Cheshire section of my journey.

My journey North was exactly the same as my trips to this area in April and May of this year.  If you want to know the details, then you will have to read these blogs!  The journey was punctual and I alighted at Askam at 1021.  The weather was dull and overcast with a very slight drizzle and was to remain that way for the whole of the day except the occasional heavier outburst of precipitation.  The temperature, a little below 20C was ideal for walking.
Askam appeared dismal and run-down except for the occasional substantial stone built house as I walked along the main street from the station.  Turning right along a road of terraced houses leading to the beach, the original houses had been turned into a motley collection of pebble dashed frontages, each with a different texture of finish and each at a different level of decay.  The road was in poor condition and was in dire need of resurfacing.

Reaching the beach at Duddon Sands, things began to look up.  There were atmospheric views across the sands towards the hills beyond Millom and two barges were lying beached in the sands and appeared to be lived in as each could be accessed by a ladder.
Roanhead Crag
I passed under the old railway bridge that once served Askam Pier and was immediately onto a broad expanse of firm sand that made for easy walking past Roan Crag and beyond.  Inland there were spoil tips from previous industrial activity, but these were gradually being taken over by nature.  The ironstone that comprised much of Roan Crag indicated the nature of the industry.  Until the 1930's, Askam was an important iron making centre.
Near Sandscale Farm
My way left the beach and I crossed low sand dunes to the narrow lane near Roanhead Farm (1100 - 1.7 miles).  This attractive leafy lane still bore evidence of an industrial past with mounds of grass covered spoil and lakes where the ore had been extracted.  Onwards down the lane, I had to negotiate a flock of escaped sheep, before arriving at Oak Lea Farm where I encountered a stone house with dutch style gables.
House at Mill Wood
After Bouth Wood (1140 - 3 miles), the next part of the walk ran alongside a fairly busy road, but a footpath well separated from the road had been provided and there were excellent views of the surrounding countryside including the large, now disused quarry at Hagg Hills.  Another lane led me away from the busy road and past the beautiful residential conversion of Breast Mill to the Abbey House Hotel on the outskirts of Barrow.  It was here that my wife and I attended a friend's wedding a few years earlier.
Abbey House Hotel
I passed but did not see Furness Abbey to my left.  Since I had visited the Abbey on my trip from Ulverston to Barrow in 2008 and the rain was now intensifying, I continued until the two routes joined up and took the luxury of catching a bus to Barrow Station.  Here, I ate the remains of my sandwiches before catching the 1325 train, arriving at Lancaster at 1418.  A short walk to me to Common Garden Street where I waited and waited and waited for the 89 bus.  It eventually arrived a quarter of an hour late and took me along the lanes through the villages of Glasson, Cockerham and Pilling to the ferry landing at Knott End on Sea.  I had used this bus service during my trip during 2004 and rated that experience as more scary than any Blackpool Pleasure Beach ride.  On this occasion, the ride was much smoother albeit rather rapid.
Knott End to Fleetwood Ferry
After a short wait at the end of the pier in the bracing breeze, the ferry moved away from the opposite side of the river.  It appeared to be travelling sideways towards me, indicative of the strong current that was flowing down the River Wyre to the sea.  Once onboard, I was disappointed to find that there was no outside passenger  accommodation and all the travellers had to sit on wooden benches around the edge of the cabin staring at each other.  There was a strict notice instructing all passengers to remain seated throughout the crossing.  I was thinking this was odd and contrary to the practice in Venice where it is customary to stand even on the smallest gondola type ferry when, on entering the opposite habour / landing, the driver threw the craft into a violent 180 degree turn before docking and allowing the shaken passengers to leave the vessel.  Thus, I had completed my journey around the Northwest Coast under my own power from Gretna Green to Chester.
New Blackpool tram
At the pier I had to ask the way to the tram stop and the directions I was given took me to the wrong place.  Upon correcting this mistake, the heavens opened, but I had already reached my vehicle for the next part of the journey, a gleaming new Tram.  Better still, at my tender age, it cost me nothing to ride in this vehicle.  On previous visits it cost a lot to ride in a "heritage tram".  The journey to North Pier was swift and quiet.  On arrival, the drizzle had returned and the gloom was gathering.  I took a few pictures and took myself to Wetherspoons for a pint and some fish and chips.  The atmosphere was noisy, so I did not dwell there and made my way to Blackpool North Station where I boarded a crowded train to Preston.  I then caught the next Birmingham bound train towards the end of what was a satisfying day.

Photograph Album

Next Trip

Folkestone to Dover - Saturday 29 Sepember - 9 Miles

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