Lancashire’s wildlife-rich Limestone Coast
DAY 1: Arrive by train | Walk 7 miles
DAY 2: Walk 6 miles | Depart by train
This two-day itinerary starts amid the rugged limestone coastline of Silverdale and explores the woodlands and nature reserves of the National Landscape whilst winding its way south over the gnarly outcrop of Warton Crag to depart from Carnforth Station
Arrive by train at Silverdale Station
Hourly service from Barrow in Furness and Lancaster. Timetables at www.northernrailway.co.uk
Walk 200m to RSPB Leighton Moss. Explore Leighton Moss reserve. You’ll get half-price entry if you arrive on foot, by bike or by public transport!
Look out for bearded tits and marsh harriers and in spring, listen out for the unmistakable call of the bittern booming across the wetlands.
Pause for a light lunch at the Leighton Moss Visitor Centre Cafe.
Explore the woodlands and limestone coastline of Silverdale. Look out for rare wild flowers among the limestone grasslands and spot butterflies flitting through the glades. Visit the many wells which once supplied water to the villages before watching the sun set over Morecambe from the Giant’s Seat at Jack Scout National Trust reserve.
In the summer months, stride in search of bats and moths or, in winter, head back to Leighton Moss late afternoon for the chance to spot a spectacular murmuration as tens of thousands of starlings swoop and wheel over the reedbeds before suddenly descending en masse to roost among the reeds.
Stay at the Silverdale Hotel.
Total distance walked day 1: 9.6 km
Stop for coffee and cake at Wolf and Us – the lovely cafe attached to Wolf House Gallery – just a short walk from Silverdale.
Walk over the crag to Warton. Look out for colourful wildflowers, such as early purple orchids, harebells and cowslips. See if you can spot peregrines soaring over the craggy outcrops and slow worms and lizards basking in the sun on warm summer days. You might even see some rare butterflies, including the northern brown argus.
Stop for lunch and refreshment at the Old School Brewery – and take an optional tour of this quirky microbrewery nestling beneath the crag. Continue on the footpath from Warton to Carnforth Station.
Total distance walked day 2: 11.2 km
Don’t want to walk all the way?
The 51 Bus provides a regular service between Silverdale, the Yealands, Warton and Carnforth: Click here for timetables.
The Arnside and Silverdale National Landscape has funded a Tramper all-terrain access vehicle for use by people with restricted mobility. The Tramper is based at Leighton Moss RSPB reserve and is free to use. For more details, visit the website.
There’s plenty more to see and do in the area to extend your break a while. The entire Arnside and Silverdale National Landscape is criss-crossed with footpaths. Walk over the Knott to the bustling little promenade at Arnside and catch the train back to Silverdale or visit historic Leighton Hall and the medieval manor house of Warton Rectory – both of which are within a couple of hours’ walk of Silverdale or Carnforth rail stations.
Leave a bit of time to visit the Heritage Centre and Refreshment Room at Carnforth station and take a step back in time. Opened in 2003 following an extensive renovation project, the centre attracts visitors from all over the world who come to experience the 1940s’ atmosphere of David Lean’s film ‘Brief Encounter’ which was filmed here. www.carnforthstation.co.uk
Visit Trowbarrow & May Gait Barrows Nature Reserves. Gait Barrows is one of England’s most important limestone pavements, and is home to many rare species of wildflowers and butterflies – including the Dark Red helleborine and the Duke of Burgundy. At nearby Trowbarrow, the former limestone workings are a geological Site of Special Sceintific Interest (SSSI) where you might spot bee orchids, dragonflies and the fast-moving Green Tiger Beetle.
Want a bespoke itinerary accompanied by a knowledgeable local guide? Get in touch with Nature’s Gems Tours for details of their guided tours of Arnside and Silverdale and Morecambe Bay.
The Morecambe Bay Partnership also has some excellent walking and cycling routes around the coast and inland – including the spectacular Bay Cycleway – an epic route stretching from Glasson Dock to Barrow in Furness. Take a look at the Partnership’s Website for further details.