Heysham walk

Lancashire Telegraph: Heysham walk Heysham walk

I never believe in long-term weather forecasts and 2009 did not prove hot enough to kill off old fogies like me.

I did, however, almost boil over as I strolled around Heysham Head.

The village is around three miles south of Morecambe. It can be reached by taking the A683 from Lancaster and then following the obvious brown signs.

Alternatively there is a regular rail service to Morecambe from Lancaster and a regular bus service to the village.

There is also a large pay and display park at the entrance to the village, no shortage of food outlets to suit all pockets and places to picnic along the route of my walk.

Heysham is one of the least spoiled villages in the whole of Britain.

A single street leads down to the shore and two ancient Christian sites.

The route leads on to Heysham Head where there were once pleasure gardens and a Karting circuit which was a favourite haunt of former World Formula 1 champion Nigel Mansell.

The sound of engines is now replaced by birdsong and the stench of diesel by flowers and the scent of the sea.

Start at the Curiosity Corner teashop. Follow the main street and look out for the Heritage Centre on the right. The building was formerly a barn serving the adjoining 17th Century farmhouse. It is open, free of charge, and is staffed by local volunteers (telephone 01524-859517).

Books and local food products are on sale.

Continue along Main Street looking out for the Royal Hotel on the left. The Royal dates back to the 16th Century and was used as a corn store. To the left is a cottage, which was famous in the early 1900s for nettle beer brewed there by Granny Hutchinson. Nettle beer is still sold as a tonic made from ‘herbal extracts’, sugar, yeast, lemons and of course, nettles. It is said to stimulate the blood, help those who suffer from rheumatism and described as an ‘unconfirmed hair-restorer’.

Just before the road forks look for St Patrick’s Well, also called Church Well. It is set in an alcove and is reached by a set of steps. It was said to contain mineral salts and once popular with pilgrims.

Take the left fork and as the road ascends look out for St Peter’s Church on the right, one of the most attractive churches in Lancashire. Inside is a Viking hogsback tomb with Christian symbols on one side and pagan symbols on the other. Some 9th Century Viking decided to hedge his bets and not upset old and new religions!

Continue to ascend until the road runs out and is replaced by a footpath and a flight of stone steps. Here is St Patrick’s Chapel built around the 8th Century. By the side of the chapel are some graves cut out of solid rock. It is thought the graves and chapel were part of an old Irish religious focus.

Beyond the chapel, follow the track as it heads left towards Throbshaw Point. This area, now well managed by the National Trust, is a botanists’ and birdwatchers’ paradise. It is a walk for all seasons.

Follow the path as it loops around to the left and round to Barrons Field and from there climbs uphill to Vicarage Wood. Follow the winding footpath through the wood on through an old orchard. Descend a set of steep stone steps and back to the starting point.

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