Did the ancestors of two of the world’s most famous leaders have connections with the village of Warton, near Silverdale?

The huge parish church in the village is dedicated to St Oswald watched over by a sweeping limestone crag.

At the top of the hill is Washington House (which is now privately owned) and although it was largely rebuilt in the 18th century carries a datestone inscribed 1612. Visitors from America gaze in wonder at the house which has firm associations with their first president and also the church which proudly displays the stars and stripes.

They also frequent the grand old pub which carries the president’s name. Where did the stars and stripes come from? Robert Washington, who died in 1483 paid for the church tower to be constructed. His coat of arms resembled the stars and stripes and these were carved into an outside wall. In 1955 the carving was becoming weather worn and was removed to a safe place inside the church.

If one of the greatest Americans was George Washington then just as high on the British list has to be Winston Spencer Churchill. He is said to be related to the Kitson family of Warton Hall who had a daughter called Margaret who married John Washington in the 1480s. It would seem that George Washington and Winston Churchill were distantly related. Who’d a thought it?

My walk

An obvious narrow, steep and rocky track leads from the car park to an area always popular with rock climbers. At this time of the year the limestone crag abounds with flowers and butterflies.

The path climbs steadily and below this is a restored lime kiln.

Pass through a narrow gate and the still very obvious track leads to the Rocking Stones from which there are panoramic views over Carnforth Marsh.

This leads to Pinnacle Crag which presents a challenge even to serious rock climbers. The Rocking Stones are limestone blocks eroded by centuries of wind and rain.

Limestone is composed of the shells of sea creatures which lived in the warm shallowing seas which once covered the area.

The path is now shaded by trees. It soon reaches the beacon. This was erected in 1988 to celebrate the bonfire lit in 1588 to warn people of the Spanish Armada which was set to be the start of an invasion to get rid of the Protestant Queen Elizabeth I and replace her with a Catholic.

This track leads to the flat summit of Warton Crag which is 490 feet (150 metres) above sea level. During the Iron Age there was a fort from which enemies approaching could be seen and then dealt with. Look out for a sign to Crag Foot and follow a path downhill through trees and then bear right onto the coach road towards Warton.

Here is the Occupation Road but I prefer to call it the old Drovers Road. In the old days, long before refrigeration, cattle and other animals were driven to often distant markets and the drovers had fixed routes and favourite resting places. Turn right along this road and be sure to keep an eye open for horse riders and mountain bikers. This reaches the Kate Breakell Gate.

Through another gate on the left is a path to the Three Brothers which is a circular diversion along a permissive footpath and which is well worth a visit.

This splendid trio of rocks are the sort known as erratics of the geological type not usually present in this area.

They were carved from the Lake District by melting glaciers some 10,000 years ago and now stand in splendid isolation above the limestone.

After returning to the Occupation Road follow the undulating track which some describe as a green lane which is just what it is.

Pass Potts Wood and the sign for a local Nature Reserve which is also worth a short diversion. The obvious track leads back to the car park and the starting point.

Other Places to look out for

1) Warton Old Rectory. This is now looked after by English Heritage and dates to the 14th century.

It was built with defence very much in mind as invasion from Scotland remained a constant threat until James VI of Scotland and the I of England meant that the two countries were united.

2) The RSPB Nature Reserve at Silverdale. Here can be seen a wide variety of birds and the occasional otter.

The reserve is very close to the railway station and easily accessible to those without their own transport.