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Circular around Humphrey Head from Kents Bank Railway Station

   

An out and back walk from Kents Bank Railway Station and out along Humphrey Head in Morecambe Bay. Humphrey Head is a low rocky promontory extending for about one mile into Morecambe Bay and affords excellent views out to sea.


 

Parking: Roadside parking outside Kents Bank railway station (grid reference SD 396 756), or for the shorter walk (see description below) at the end of the lane which passes the Outdoor Centre on Humphrey Head (grid ref 391741).
Directions: Nearest post code for Sat Nav: LA11 7BG - get directions here
Walk distance: 4.25 miles (6.8 Km)
Estimated walk time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Height climbed: 90 metres
Grade: 1-A: A short walk that is generally very flat
Peaks / summits: None
Wainwrights: None
Map: Ordnance Survey - Explorer OL7 (The English Lakes - South-eastern Area)
Buy this map from Ordnance Survey
Walk features: Birds, Flowers, Hills or Fells, Stream or River, Views, Wildlife
Facilities / refreshments: Many pubs and cafes in nearby Grange-over-Sands
Nearest town: Walk starts just outside Grange-over-Sands
Walk Tags: Walk, Cumbria walk, Kent's Bank railway station, Humphrey Head, Humphrey Head walk, Flookbourough, Kent estuary

 


Kents Bank railway station


View along the concrete parapet

Enter onto the platform at Kents Bank railway station and cross over tracks using the wooden boards of the passenger walkway and go through the white wooden gate. Go through the gap in the wall about 4 metres to the right and out on to the parapet. Walk along this concrete parapet that runs parallel to the railway line, a few metres to the left of it, until its end on a concrete outflow casing. Drop down from here onto the path that continues on in the same direction heading for the trees ahead. The path skirts around the left-hand edge of Kirkhead End, a small rocky outcrop. The path from hereon, until Humphrey Head is itself reached, can sometimes be a little wet underfoot. The path bends back around the headland and pulls back in close to the railway line, and continues in the direction of the farmhouses, now a few hundred metres ahead.

On reaching the outer wall of the farm buildings, turn left following the seaward side of the wall, which now is heading towards Humphrey Head itself, and out to sea. Over to the right of the wall, can now be seen the buildings of an Outdoor Centre. A few metres further on at the end of the wall, go though the wooden kissing gate on the right, and keep on the enclosed grassy path that leads to the right of the outdoor centre. The path climbs up to the right of the centre, then drops down to meet a road on the other side. Turn left here, and follow the road round for a few metres, where the Humphrey Head Outdoor Centre access lane, signed "private drive - access vehicles only" leaves it to the left.

Humphrey Head is a low rocky promontory extending for about one mile into Morecambe Bay. It is 57 acres in extent and reaches 152 feet (52 metres) at its highest point. The limestone of which the head is made was deposited over 300 million years ago when the area was covered by a warm shallow sea. Since then the rock has been lifted, folded and greatly weathered by the elements. The ridges that we see today of Whitbarrow, Hampsfell and Humphrey Head are all the eroded remainders of such folds. Each of these ridges shares a characteristic of a steep western face and a more gentle eastern side. Humphrey Head is the only coastal limestone sea cliff of any height in Cumbria.

Humphrey Head, the only true sea cliff in North Lonsdale, is famous for its rich variety of flora. The head is a limestone peninsula which is home to orange lichen hoary, rock rose, maiden hair fern and many other wild plants. In the woodlands around atropia belladonna, better known as deadly nightshade, grows in abundance. In 1281 Edward I commissioned Peter Covert to kill every wolf in the Kingdom and legend has it that the last English wolf lived on Humphrey Head. To the west of Humphrey Head are major earth embankments. These were built to protect large areas of low lying land from being inundated by the sea. These embankments are covered by heavy stone facings on the leeward side to prevent erosion by the wind and the waves. Out in the bay itself, fishing remains an important activity. Salmon and trout are caught in the shallows by fisherman armed with Lave nets.

Either head up the lane over the cattle grid, or go through the kissing gate at the side of it, before carrying on up the lane for a few more metres, until the boundary fence of the centre itself is reached. Do not enter the centre, but turn right here and follow the path to head sign, which initially keeps close to the fence, and then, maintaining the same line, splits the field that forms the top of the headland. The path, as it approaches a fence which crosses the headland, veers to the right to pass through a gate at the top right-hand corner of the field. The path then follows the left-hand side of a wire fence which runs parallel to the cliff edge.


Another light aircraft on its final run in to Cark airfield

Over to the right, light aircraft, especially on Saturdays and Sundays, can be seen using Cark airfield, many of which carry those brave (or simply stupid) souls wanting to perfect their parachuting techniques. Alongside stretches of this wire fence are exposed plateaus of limestone pavements. The triangulation point is now directly ahead. From here there are excellent panoramic views all around of the Lakeland Fells, the Kent estuary, Whitbarrow Scar and Arnside Knott.


Triangulation point with Arnside Knott in the distance


Triangulation point on Humphrey Head with the sands behind


The route off the end of Humphrey Head


Humphrey Head from the sands

From the triangulation point, head on in the same direction following the path downhill towards the end of the headland. Pass through the kissing gate in the bottom corner of the field, then negotiate the way across the rocks investigating the rock pools along the way, to end up on the sandy beach. Head right around the headland and pull in close to the base of it. At certain times of the day, depending on the tide, this part of the walk may not be possible and the return path will then have to be back over the headland. Always be on the lookout for the fast moving tide.


One of the rocks now fragmented from Humphrey Head


The path and water channel around Humphrey Head


Signs of the seafood industry - A tractor ready with baskets and nets to go out onto the sands

Follow the path around the cliff edge for a further eight hundred metres where a lane is joined. At this point parking is also available, and a shorter walk can be found by parking here following the lane on to the Outdoor Centre and circling around the headland as described above back to the car, thus omitting the start of this walk. Once on the lane cross over the cattle grid and continue for a few hundred metres before passing the entrance to the Outdoor Centre. A further 10 metres on, turn right at the footpath sign for Cumbria Coastal Way. Follow the enclosed path back as it rises past the Outdoor Centre before dropping back down to the wooden kissing gate.

Turn left, and follow the reverse of the initial part of the walk by taking the path back around the shoreline, before returning to Kents Bank railway station on the concrete parapet.

 

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