Archive for the ‘Kent Estuary’ Tag

Takin’ it Easy   14 comments

Early summer has become a time of added pressure for the family over the past couple of years and will continue for a few years yet. As the junior members face up to GCSE’s and A-Levels, May and June are a time of revision and exams. TJS is now mid-A-Level and when he’s off to University the cycle begins again for TJF. The May Spring Bank Holiday was always a main holiday for us but for now we have to be content with weekend breaks that while a good chance to get away normally involve camping and all the hassle that goes with it.

We are therefore lucky indeed to have my good friend Mark, his better half and their kids who invited us up to stay for the weekend. As always it was superb time of walks, play, good fun and laughs aplenty. Just the ticket to break up the school pressures and for me, personally to wind down and just enjoy simpler pleasures

The weather seemed set fair but alas the glorious drive up in broad sunshine on the Friday was a farewell wave (or two fingers up, take your pick) from our fickle British summer.

Saturday was hot and humid and with a forecast of heavy thundery showers on the way. Time to take advantage of the joy of Silverdale with one of its many fine short walks.

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We went down to the cove where some sat and enjoyed the last of the warm sun, while me and the DBs explored the smelly beach caves

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From there we went across the Lots, a lovely open meadow overlooking Morecambe Bay and one of my favourite spots in these parts. We missed the best of the Orchids that flower here so compensated with a windy game of frisbee

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Alas the weather intervened and stopped outdoor play. A succession of heavy thunderstorms and its accompanying electric light show filled the rest of the day.

Sunday looked much better and we had a plan. A walk with a pub for lunch was in order. We had designs on a couple of spots but, rather unsurprisingly, most were fully booked with it being a Sunday on a BH weekend.

No matter, we had a resrve plan that included Garden Centres, cafes and a supermarket as a fail safe. Mark had a walk planned that ticked numerous boxes. After a visit to the Mill at Beetham (and an unsuccessful visit to the Garden Centre Cafe – packed out) we headed to Milnthorpe via Dallam Deer Park

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I like Deer Parks, something about their manicured pastures and woodland, here with some views to the Peaks of the Yorkshire Dales

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And of course Deer, although a little reticent and distant (the specks under the trees in the middle distance)

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Lunch was now becoming a matter of priority. We came across the Bulls Head in Milnthorpe. It wasn’t much to look at either inside or out, all flashing fruit machines and pool tables. We were assured the food was good so gave it a go. What a find, the menu was extensive, the food excellent and staff friendly and capable, coping well with a party of nine arriving mid afternoon expecting top fed unannounced. The prices were reasonable and we all left with happy burps and distended stomachs. Time to work off some of that acquired fat

We walked back through the edge of the deer park along the river Bela. It was exceedingly fine and under a warm sun the walk was a delight

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The river broadens and the path follows it out across the floodplain to where it joins the Kent

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Time for more contrasts as we headed back inland with a short climb up Haverbrack.

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The views across the Kent estuary to the distant Lake District fells was grand

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Even the butterflies looked happy

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Fairy steps was next on the tick list. A narrow passage with some old nonsense about fairies coming and giving you a blessing or doing the ironing for you or some-such if you manage to climb up without touching the sides. Here is Mark having a valiant attempt

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The kids making it look easy

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TBF seeming to enjoy the challenge

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After a pause on the top it was back down through the woods to the car, crossing this magnificent spread of buttercups on the way

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A fine walk and not an unsubstantial 6 miles in the end (a long way with a gang of restless kids I can tell you)

Fairy Steps

Mark had suggested we could walk back to the house and collect the car later. Seemed like a good idea in principle but when we reached the car the moment had gone. A much better idea was a late evening walk to the Pepper Pot.

On the way Mark showed us a Woodpecker nest he’d watched the previous week. We were sure the chicks would have flown by now but after a couple minutes one of the youngsters popped his head out and started squawking to be fed – boy are Woodpecker chicks noisy. We could hear the parents in the distance but they never appeared, clearly waiting for us to move before they returned

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As always the view from the top was superb and we sat watching the light fade in peace and quiet before returning in near darkness through the woods. A quite excellent day

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Monday was a washout but only in weather terms. Heavy rain kept us indoors but spirits were high as we filled the day playing a variety of board games of which the Silverdale gang have many. It was in its own way as fine a day as the previous one and it was with a heavy heart that we ate heartily again and bid our hosts farewell

A top notch weekend and as always a huge message of thanks to Mark and the family for putting us up and feeding us like kings and queens. We are an active family, a little too absorbed with doing stuff every minute of every day of holiday for our own good. Sometimes I forget that there is as much pleasure from timeless easy-paced wanders, games, play and just great company. I sometimes return from a holiday fulfilled yet needing a break to recover. A weekend in Silverdale sees me return fulfilled and relaxed in equal measure and isn’t that what a holiday should be

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The Annual Silverdale Gathering – Year 2   6 comments

Last year my mate Mark and his family, bless them, invited all of us, kids and all to his place for an autumn weekend. The weather was appalling, all low cloud and rain but we had a great time anyway. They were kind (or mad) enough to make the same offer again this year so I diligently asked if they could arrange for some better weather this time. Despite a spell of crappy weather that preceded (and followed) the agreed weekend they pulled out all the stops and the weather was glorious, warm and wonderfully sunny.

Morecambe Bay

Morecambe Bay

Their eldest A is now well into her maps and walking and was the nominated hike leader. The plan was a local classic, a wander around the coast to Arnside, returning to Silverdale via Arnside Knott.

7.8 miles, 1,000 feet of ascent

A had very thoughtfully included 4 play areas en-route to keep the younger ones entertained and the first of these was a few hundred yards from the house.

Silverdale

Small boys (and girls) in the park….

It was a stunning morning. The play area had a zip wire and we spent a good 30 minutes dragging and throwing the kids around at high speed and seeing how many could hang on at one time.

I think the kids would have stayed all day but the adults had seen enough. We pressed on through Holgates caravan site (and another play area!) and set out across the fields towards Far Arnside.

Silverdale, Far Arnside

Strolling towards Far Arnside

Morecambe Bay

Morecambe Bay

The meadows here are some of the finest I know and the views across Morecambe Bay were breathtaking. We hit the coast at a wide pebbly beach of white limestone that was dazzling in the autumn sunlight.

Silverdale, Far Arnside

Beach near Far Arnside

The kids were soon off playing in the rockpools and mud, searching for life. Me and Mark were looking at the fossils on the recently exposed rocks some of which were pretty decent in size.

Fossils

Fossils

It was far too nice a spot in the warm sun to ignore so despite the fact we’d only walked a mile or so it was time for a lunch stop and a cuppa, some us engaged in the usual banter, others taking the time to catch 40 winks.

Silverdale, Far Arnside

More Fossils

We watched as a large group of cross-bay walkers made the dangerous (but well-guided) walk across the Kent estuary. You can read about Mark’s experience on this walk here

The walk around the headland past the various coves towards Arnside is splendid and the views across the Kent to the low wooded hills of the south Lakes were marvellous.

Arnside, Kent Estuary

Coastal walk to Arnside

As the tide was out we dropped onto the sands and continued on the estuary. The flat expanse away from the cliffs gives a totally different perspective and the kids had limitless space to run around.

Arnside, Kent Estuary

On the Kent Estuary Sands

Arnside, Kent Estuary

ED & EWO

As we approached Arnside the sand turned to mud and we got a little taste of the cross-bay hazards as kids and adults alike, slipped and sank into the oozing silt. Funny and frustrating in equal measure and with little surprise that B and S managed to get muddier than everyone else put together.

Arnside, Kent Estuary

“We should be over there”

We paused in Arnside for a well-earned ice-cream and watched the Kent Bore as it surged under the railway bridge.

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Arnside Railway Bridge

D was pressing us to continue, a little frustrated at the general slow pace of the walk and keen to get back to house for some “Golden Time” whatever the hell that was. It was getting late so we started the climb through the town towards Arnside Knott (via the third play-area of the day). We reached the top to a truly superb view across the Kent to the Lake District Mountains and even as far as Snowdonia.

Arnside Knott

Lake District from Arnside Knott

The Knott is another to add to my list of “small hills with disproportionately good views” or “hills with a high reward to effort ratio”. The golden autumn colours contrasting against the deep blue sky were stunning. The adults played “name that peak” while the kids played in the trees.

Arnside Knott

Proper fun

Arnside Knott, Kent Estuary

Across the Kent Estuary from Arnside Knott

Arnside Knott, Kent Estuary

Rogues Gallery

The sun was starting to set so we continued home via Arnside Tower and the final play-area of the day at Holgates.

Arnside Knott, Kent Estuary, Morecambe Bay

Setting sun over Morecambe Bay

Arnside Knott, Arnside Tower

Arnside Tower

On a whim Mark asked if a few stragglers wanted to walk back via the Pepper Pot, a local obelisk and view point. An inspired decision as the view across the bay as the sun set was truly magnificent.

Morecambe Bay

Sunset over Morecambe Bay

Morecambe Bay

Sunset over EWO

Silverdale, Morecambe Bay

The Pepperpot

A fine finish to an awesome day with just one final piece of the jigsaw left. A stonking curry from the local takeaway, including the hottest Dhansak I’ve ever eaten. Life doesn’t get much better than this. You can read Marks version of events here

The next day started promisingly but it was colder and windier. We took a short stroll around the village starting at the cove. The kids played on the rocks and explored a somewhat dank and smelly cave.

Silverdale, The Cove

Cave at The Cove

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Across the Kent Estuary

We wandered across the local meadows and lanes and paths around the village but it was clear the weather was on the turn as the skies turned grey.

Silverdale, The Lots

The Lots

Silverdale, Woodwell

The cliff path at Woodwell

We took a look in the library window at the details of the hoard of treasure found by a local man. You can read some of the details in Mark’s post here.

After an enormous buffet lunch back at the house we took the kids out for a game of cricket in the park. It was a close and intense affair between the adults and the kids. Fortunes ebbed and flowed but it came down to the last ball. The scores were tied and all the Hard-man had to do was run a single. He buckled under the pressure and holed out to one of the kids. Still honours even and pride intact but he will forever rue the day he bottled it 🙂

A truly magnificent weekend to lighten up the onset of autumn and winter. Both kids and adults had a great time and a massive thanks to Mark and his family for hospitality and generosity

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