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Merlewood

Cumbria, England

Cark and the Cumbria Coastal Way walking and hiking route

8.5km/5.25mi
Total distance
20m
Total ascent

Start Point - 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 road with plenty of parking space, a sharp right turn after passing the station when approached from Grange over Sands.

The Cartmel peninsula juts for a considerable distance into the northern reaches of Morecambe Bay. With the exception of Humphrey Head (see walk 5), its shore is entirely flat, water, sand, marsh and dry land merging almost imperceptibly over a wide area, the boundaries changing hugely according to the state of the tide.

For many centuries the Bay has been crossed by established routes, used at their peril by travellers on horse, in coach or on foot. As the disaster of the Chinese cockle pickers just a few years ago emphasised, this is not a place for the unprepared; the tide moves with immense speed the there are areas of unstable sand ('quicksand') to trap the unwary.

The only acceptable way to cross the Bay is by guided walk led by the Queen's Guide (an official post), based at Kents Bank.

Like most of the peninsula Flookburgh and Cark are well off the beaten track, largely unspoilt settlements of fishermen making a living from fish (mainly small flat fish - 'flukes'), shrimps and shellfish, caught by traditional methods although the horses and carts driven on to sands from access points such as Sand Gate 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 for much of its length. It is an easy walk, with no hills to climb, but there is a length of wet and muddy track, requiring waterproof footwear.

To provide a longer walk and to obviate the need for a vehicle, this route can be started direct from Merlewood. Follow one or other of the two routes from Merlewood to Grange railway station (walks 2 and 3). Take the train towards Barrow for two stops to Cark and Cartmel station then follow the circuit described here.

On finishing at Cark, return by train to Grange station for the walk to Merlewood. This extension adds four kilometres (two and a half miles) and some ascent to the figures set out.

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Walk Instructions

From the parking area on either side of Cark railway station, walk along the roadside towards the centre of the village, which has a general store, children's play area and public conveniences.

1) Turn left at a junction by the side of the Engine Inn, then left again in a further 20m., rising to cross over the railway line on a high bridge. A well-used track bears right, soon reaching a signposted junction; go straight ahead, along the 'Cumbria Coastal Way'. For some distance the track is between walls, then hedges.

2) Reach the access road leading to Sand Gate (Farm). Turn right, gently uphill, to pass the farm, then bear left. At a junction with waymarks keep right to cross Strand Bridge, over a watercourse. The views across much of Morecambe Bay are immense on a clear day. Particularly evident is the town of Ulverston, with the newly renovated Hoad Monument (modelled on a lighthouse) on its hill beside the town. In this area sections of the track are rough and wet, but the route is no doubt, very much at the tidal high water mark, with occasional gates/stiles along the way.

3) Pass the large farmstead, Canon Winder. The track continues past the barely distinguishable Cowpren Point. After a gate/stile, leave the broad muddy track to take a grass path ahead. For some distance there is a wall close on the left and the path bears left to continue along the top of an 'old embankment', with Raven Winder Farm prominent across the fields to the left. To the right are salt marshes fringing the bay, providing grazing for sheep - a final fattening which produces best quality Cumbrian lamb. Along this section, although the village of Flookburgh is in view to the left, there is a feeling of great solitude. Pass a small pond on the right and continue to West Plain Farm, with World War II 'pill box' and a great barrier of huge stones.

4) Turn left, following the 'Cumbria Coastal Way' signpost to join a tarmac road. Pass a Morecambe Bay rescue depot; the road to Flookburgh is straight and quiet, with grass roadside verge, eventually giving way to a tarmac pavement. Pass the factory/shop of the noted Cartmel 'Sticky Toffee Pudding' enterprise before rising very gently to Flookburgh village centre, with 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 parked on the informal area behind the station, go over the station footbridge to return.

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Disclaimer: This route was correct at time of writing. However, alterations can happen if development or boundary changes occur, and there is no guarantee of permanent access. These walks have been published for use by site visitors on the understanding that neither HPB Management Limited nor any other person connected with Holiday Property Bond is responsible for the safety or wellbeing of those following the routes as described. It is walkers' own responsibility to be adequately prepared and equipped for the ‎level of walk and the weather conditions and to assess the safety and accessibility of the walk.

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