They were very well-behaved, standing quietly by the bench as their riders enjoyed a drink in the summer sunshine. Three horses standing beside their riders. They’d come out for a hack in the country lanes around Silverdale and Arnside and had stopped off at Wolf House Gallery Cafe for a rest. That’s what I love about this area – the unexpected randomness of horses at a cafe as if it’s the most normal thing in the world. I was on another #FollowPye Morecambe Bay Day Out, using the Seldom Seen Maps to explore a unique area of Cumbria and Lancashire. I’m an ambassador for Pye Motors, our local Ford dealership and have a very nippy, state-of-the-art Fiesta in which I zoom around the area.
I’d started out from home in Carnforth, on the A6 between Lancaster and Milnthorpe, just a mile from the coast. A small town which grew out of the railway boom, it’s well worth visiting Carnforth Railway Heritage Centre. There’s the excellent Brief Encounter Refreshment Room, recreated as it looked in the 1940s film, an exhibition of producer David Lean memorabilia and the Age Of Steam Galleries displaying enough steam stuff to satisfy any train buff. In the town, there’s also excellent Carnforth Book Shop, which stocks lots of local books as well as two floors of second-hand books.
I drove a few miles over to the pretty village of Silverdale where I picked up my good friend Liz McGillivray, who moved to this delightful village earlier this year. You may have seen Liz on our Electric Bike Ride around Furness Peninsula recently. First stop was Silverdale Beach, which was busy on this sunny summer’s day. When the tide’s out you can walk along the beach for quite a distance, but don’t go too far as the sands can be dangerous. From here we went to Gibralter Farm for ice cream (check opening times) and then wandered along a tree-shaded lane past Lindeth Tower. Victorian novelist Elizabeth Gaskell stayed at the four-storey tower in the 1840s and 50s and wrote her novel, Ruth, here. According to my Seldom Seen Map – Arnside & Silverdale, Jenny Brown’s Point was named after a local widow, daughter of John Walling, whose family still owns Gibralter Farm.
The view across Morecambe Bay was breathtaking, sands swirling through silvery seas, stretching out towards Heysham one way and the Furness Peninsula the other, the Isle of Man tantalisingly just out of sight.
RSPB Leighton Moss
The area around Morecambe Bay is a natural oasis for wildlife. Visitors from all over the country come to RSPB Leighton Moss, to see the vast array of wildlife that live in its reed beds, woodlands and ponds. These include otters, red deer, newts, toads and frogs, bitterns, bearded tits, avocets and much more. Unfortunately, the Sky Tower was closed when we visited, but we spent some time in Grisedale Hide and spotted a couple of marsh harriers twirling together in the cloud-strewn sky above us, as well as plenty of birds and ducks swimming about in the lake in front of the hide. There’s an excellent cafe at Leighton Moss so Liz and I had a healthy lunch before heading off on our quirky travels. Quirky Penguin enjoyed it too …
Not far from here lies lovely Leighton Hall, home to the Gillow Family, of quality furniture fame, and well worth a visit. They host a number of events in the summer including theatrical performances, a Classic Car Show and Wedding Fair.
We drove on to Arnside, renowned for its sunsets, bird life, railway viaduct and natural attractions; it’s within the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Arnside Knott, owned by the National Trust is a hill above the village with impressive views, home to rare butterflies and orchids. Liz and I bought a couple of pasties from The Old Bakehouse, an excellent bakery and cafe selling tasty pastries and bakes. Opposite is Arnside Pier where optimistic fishermen cast their lines and holiday-makers enjoy the scenery. We wandered along the beach, watching children playing on the sand, dogs running around in circles, seagulls squawked overhead as a train trundled over the viaduct.
There’s a vibrant artist community in Arnside and some of excellent art galleries plus many shops selling quirky crafts and unique artworks. The light here is very special and changes by the minute, a great inspiration for artists. We visited Pier Lane Gallery, up a little lane off the main street, and Gallery H in the old bank building on the promenade.
The late afternoon sun was shining down on us as we headed off down the road to Sandside, our last stop of the day.
Storth and Sandside
Driving on from Arnside, the River Kent was building up steam on its daily taks to flood the sands. Sometimes it goes so fast it creates one of the few natural tidal bores in the UK. Because of the potential danger of fast-flowing tidal waters, warning notices are posted at the pier, and a loud warning is sounded before every daylight high tide. We passed Storth, a quaint residential hamlet, whose Norse name means woody place; there are few woods to be seen in the area now. It was getting on for 5pm so we decided to have a final stop at the Ship Inn at Sandside.
There must have been a classic rally in the area (possibly the Vintage Car Show at Leighton Hall) because there were a number of vintage and classic cars in the car park. We got a drink and sat outside, enjoying the tranquil view of the river estuary and Lake District fells spread out before us. A perfect end to a lovely day out around Morecambe Bay.
Pye Motors and Morecambe Bay
With Ford Dealerships in Morecambe, Kendal and Barrow, family-run Pye Motors has a well-established local presence and has been here since the 1930s. MD Nick Payne is passionate about the area and it was his idea to do a series of days out around the Bay using the Seldom Seen Maps. “We’re proud to be here and have lots customers who have been coming to us for many years. I love taking the family out to explore the coast, the countryside and find hidden nooks and crannies. There are so many great places to eat and drink and the history of this region is fascinating. I’ve learn lots from the Seldom Seen Maps and it’s great that Zoe’s now going out and about to showcase the area to a wider audience.”
Photo taken in Liz’s back garden in Silverdale when I was plotting our route.
Read about my first Morecambe Day Out from Cockerham to Bolton-le-Sands via Morecambe and Heysham. Keep an eye out for more Morecambe Bay Days Out and #followpye.
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