Tucked away on the north-east side of Morecambe Bay, the small picturesque village of Arnside sits within an area of outstanding natural beauty with its copses, hedgerows, and pasture land adding a lovely contrast to its rich, brackish marshes.
Arnside, with its stunning long distance views of the Lakeland mountains has a mild climate that makes it a haven for many rare butterflies, flowers, and alpine plants. Large numbers of wading birds and wildfowl reside in or visit the estuary, much of which is owned by the RSPB, including the Leighton Moss Nature Reserve. Leighton Moss is a reed-swamp that makes it an attractive home to marshland birds. Although in Cumbria, Arnside is close to the border with Lancashire and historically was in the ancient county of Westmorland.
In fact, historically Arnside was the only seaside resort in Westmorland! Although this quiet and peaceful corner of Morecambe Bay is teaming with wildlife, Arnside has more secrets to uncover, with places of interest that you might not have heard about…
Arnside Viaduct – so good they built it three times!
Impressive by anyone’s standards, at over 552 yards (505 m) long, with 50 piers Arnside Viaduct majestically straddles the tidal part of the River Kent as it empties into Morecambe Bay.
Forming part of the Cumbrian Coast Line the viaduct carries the line which connects Barrow-in-Furness, Ulverston, Grange-over-Sands to Carnforth and Lancaster it was originally built in 1857, being the first viaduct in the country to use water jets in the construction of the footings for the piers.
At the height of the First World War, in 1915 the viaduct was rebuilt so it could carry the heavy munitions trains coming from Barrow south and onwards to the front line.
More recently, the deck and upper portion of the viaduct was completely replaced in 2011 making trains noticeably quieter as they crossed the estuary.
Arnside Knott – not a Munro, it’s a Marilyn!
Arnside Knott is an impressive local beauty spot and hill with a summit elevation of 159 metres which looks down over the tidal extremes of Morecambe Bay. As it is higher than 150 metres it has earned the classification of ‘Marilyn’. The name ‘Marilyn’ was originally coined as a witty pun contrasting with the Scottish term ‘Munro’ (which is a Scottish mountain with a height of more than 3,000 feet (914.4 m).
Although significantly lower than it’s Munro cousins north of the border, what this little Marilyn lacks in height it more than makes up for with beauty and location, the views from Arnside Knott are memorably stunning and well worth the climb!
Ancient Grubbins Wood is really old!
Grubbins Woods is a tract of an ancient rare British woodland. Woodland has probably been present at Grubbins Wood, a Cumbria Wildlife Trust reserve, since medieval times and throughout history it has provided wood for local communities who have coppiced its trees for fuel and shelter.
But although old, whatever time of year you visit the woods there is something interesting and lively to see and experience. In late spring and early summer, fragrant Bluebells and Wild Garlic carpet the woodland floor followed by Greater Butterfly and Spotted Orchids. Summer time sees legions of Southern Wood ants busy carrying food to their large nest mounds, stocking up their larders. In autumn, the ancient copses are full of vibrant bright red berries on the Lancastrian Whitebeam. And as the trees lay bare of leaf, enjoy the waders and wildfowl down on the foreshore in the depths of winter.
Arnside Tower was once the first line of defence of the realm against marauding northern invaders. The Tower is one of a number of 15th century Pele towers built in a ring around Morecambe Bay. In a time of border raids by the Scots the Pele Towers were the ancient equivalent of RADAR!
Arnside Tower is the only Pele accessible to the public though, for public safety reasons, entering the building is not allowed. Please check before you visit.
Surf up the River Kent on the Arnside Tidal Bore!
At various times of the year it might just be possible to surf up the River Kent on the Arnside Tidal Bore which is actually a tidal wave! The Arnside Bore is a rare tidal phenomenon which occurs in relatively few locations across the globe. It is caused by the leading edge of the incoming tide being forced through a narrowing bay causing a wave against the direction of the bay’s current.
The highest bores coincide with the highest tides and those generally occur in spring time. But if you want to see are really impressive tidal wave it would be better to choose springtime, and a day when the River Kent is swollen from a lot of rainfall and when there is a strong westerly wind!
Lakeland District Council provide a seasonal siren to warn of the incoming tide at Arnside. The siren is sounded twice before each daylight high tide, the first time roughly 15 to 20 minutes before the tidal bore is due and the second siren is sounded just as the bore reaches Blackstone Point (New Barns), which is just further down the bay.
Lakeland Coast Statesman
Saturday 16 September 2017 DEPARTING FROM: Milton Keynes, Northampton, Rugby, Coventry, Birmingham International, Tame Bridge Parkway, Walsall, Cannock, Rugeley Town , Stafford, Crewe, Warrington Bank Quay Enjoy a memorable day on board ‘The Statesman’ as we travel around the Cumbrian Coast, probably the most stunningly beautiful scenic coastal line in England through an area steeped in maritime history with spectacular views of the Lake District Mountains and the wide panoramic expanse of Morecambe Bay as we journey to Ravenglass, where there is the opportunity to ride the legendary Ravenglass & Eskdale railway into the Fells. Why not make a visit to this beautiful area, there is more to Arnside than meets the eye!
By Rob Bullock