The Cartmel peninsula juts for a considerable distance into the northern reaches of Morecambe Bay. With the exception of Humphrey Head, its shore is entirely made up of water, sand and marsh as well as dry land and so the coastline does change according to the tide
For many centuries the Bay has been the favoured route of all kinds of travellers such as those on horseback, in coaches or even on foot.
However, as the tragedy of the Chinese cockle pickers proves, this is not a place for the unprepared; the tide takes no prisoners and there is dangerous quicksand where you can easily get into trouble.
The only possible way to cross the Bay is by guided walk led by the Queen’s Guide (an of official post), based at Kents Bank.
Like most of the peninsula Flookburgh and Cark are well off the beaten track, but are where fishermen still make a living from fishing (mainly small fish called ‘ flukes’), shrimps and shell fish, caught by traditional methods. However, the horses and carts of yesteryear have given way to tractors and trailers.
This walk gives ample opportunity to savour the atmosphere of the wide open spaces, using the designated Cumbria Coastal Way. It is an easy walk, with no hills to climb, but there is a length of wet and muddy track, so waterproof footwear is advised.
If you start this route directly from Merlewood, you can leave the car behind. Follow either of the two routes from Merlewood to Grange railway station (walks 2 and 3) and then take the train to Barrow for two stops for two stops and get off at the Cark and Cartmel station before joining the circuit described here.
When you reach Cark, return by train to Grange station for the walk to Merlewood. This extension adds four kilometres (two and a half miles) and a steeper walk to the trail.
Start/car parking – Cark and Cartmel railway station, grid reference 366763. The official car park, at the side of the main road, is ‘for railway users only’. Behind the station is a cul de sac where there is plenty of parking space. From here, walk along the roadside towards the village where there is a general store, children’s play area and public conveniences.
1. Turn left at the junction by the side of the Engine Inn, then left again in about 20m. Cross the bridge over the railway line and go along the well-used track to the right until you reach a signposted junction. At this junction, follow the ‘Cumbria Coastal Way’ which lies straight ahead. You will walk with walls on either side of you and then hedges.
2. Take the access road leading to Sand Gate (Farm). Turn right and head uphill to the farm where you should turn left. At the junction with waymarks keep right and cross Strand Bridge.On a clear day, the view across much of Morecambe Bay is simply stunning. The town of Ulverston stands out in particular with the newly renovated Hoad Monument (modelled on a lighthouse) on the hill. Sections of the track are rough and wet as the trail is at the same height as the tidal high water mark.
3. Pass the large farmstead, Canon Winder and go past Cowpren Point. After the gate/stile, leave the broad muddy track and go along the grass path. There’s a path on the left which passes Raven Winder Farm to your left. On the right, you can see salt marshes and it’s here where the sheep are fattened up to produce the best quality Cumbrian lamb. As you pass through the village of Flookburgh to your left, the whole atmosphere seems to take on a very serene air. Pass the small pond on your right and continue to West Plain Farm, with a ‘pill box’ from World War II and a great barrier of huge stones.
4. Turn left, following the ‘Cumbria Coastal Way’ past a Morecambe Bay rescue depot and along the road to Flookburgh. Pass the Cartmel ‘Sticky Toffee Pudding’ shop (well if you can!) and head up towards Flookburgh village centre where there’s a market cross and a few small shops.
5. Bear left then immediately right to stay by the side of the road for the final section to Cark railway station. If you parked behind the station, you’ll need to go over the station footbridge to get back.
Nearest Train (or tube) Station(s):