136. Ulverston to Askam-in-Furness

Today I was back in Cumbria continuing my walk around the Cumbrian Coast. However, there was a problem about what to do with the Isle of Walney, which barely an island at low tide is connected to the main land by the Jubilee Bridge. From my starting point in Ulverston, the distance to Barrow would be roughly 15 miles, if I were to continue to round the Isle of Walney, I would be stuck in the south part of the island without public transport. I therefore decided to bypass Walney and continue around the mainland to Askam-in-Furness. I would circumnavigate the Isle of Walney on my next visit.

Dawn over Morecambe Bay
Heading for Maskel Point

I wanted a very early start because I had a prior engagement in the early evening back in Telford. I parked in Ulverston and I started walking at 5:30. of course it was quite dark as I made my way down lanes towards the coast with head torch on. It was a lovely still and quiet start to the day. By the time I reached the coast I had no need of the head torch. The sun would not be up for another 45 minutes, but the light was good. I headed onto the beach and found a good medium of gravel and wet sand to walk on. The tide was ebbing as I continued along the beach. I could see Morecambe and the Heysham Power Station across the Bay.

The Needle or Rampside Lighthouse

I continued about 100-200m offshore and the sand was quite firm. I rounded Maskel Point and Moat Scar. At Newbiggin a small stream outlet had me coming inland to get over it. Closer to the shoreline there was a lot more mud/silt which was not pleasant too walk. I stayed on the road from this point on. I walked along a very wide footpath which ran along the main road through Roosebeck and on to Rampside. At Rampside I pass The Needle, a slender and tall square tower, made from bricks and was built as a lighthouse. It has long been disused. I look offshore into the Bay to see Roa Island which is a tiny piece of land having a few houses and connected by a small tarmac road. At Rampside I take the cycle path which weaves its way around Natural Gas terminals, before passing derelict buildings and then going underneath the railway. On the cycle path I get a quick glimpse of a stoat/weasel about 10m away, I second in the last 7 days! I am now in Barrow and it is a pretty dull, bland and a dirty sort of town.

Walney Channel

I take the High Level bridge, which is a road bridge that goes over to Barrow Island (which is not really an island at all) and passes above the Docks, which have locks to retain a good water level, as the tide is well out by now. I notice an awful lot of BAE buildings. Most of the work here is maritime for the Mod, submarines refit’s are still carried out here.

Looking across to Walney – note the small wooden bridge

I reach the Jubilee Bridge which continues across to the Isle of Walney. I head north along a cycle track and footpath which takes me out of the town. The path passes through the Dock Museum, which is free to enter, but holds no particular interest to me. The Northern channel separating the Walney from the mainland is virtually devoid of water and would be quite easy to cross at a number of points. I had passed a small wooden bridge (covered by high tide) which crossed a small channel about 400m from Jubilee Bridge, but as I move to the outskirts of Barrow I decide to get back on the beach which again is easy walking. There are occasional patches of sticky mud, but the ground is firm and at these points I could easily walk across to Walney Island.

Heading for Askam-in-Furness
Askam’s waiting room and it’s door!

I enter Sandscale Haws Nature Reserve and continue north. It’s quite difficult to tell at this point what is the mainland and what is Walney Isle. As I pass the NT car park I can see Askam across the empty Bay. I walk in a virtual straight line to the start of Askam Pier. Askam Pier is not a pretty sight, having been constructed by dumping slag from the local Iron works (long since gone). I speak to a local chap back on the shoreline, he tells me the town was based on the Ironworks due to the local supply of iron ore. The spoil tips and large pools are a testament to this previous industry. I reach the observation point and walk back the short distance into the small town to catch the train back to Ulverston. The waiting room at Askam station is………..different. Its a bit like an old barn, with a single continuous bench down one wall and has a huge swinging door ( a bit like a barn door), the place stinks of urine.

It takes me about 7 hours to complete the walk.

Distance today =  22.5 miles
Total distance =   2228 miles



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