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High Arnside Knott

This tree-clad knoll offers astonishing views and a special ambiance.

Distance 5.5 miles (8.8km)

Minimum time 3hrs

Ascent/gradient 560t (170m)

Level of difficulty Medium

Paths Foreshore, paths, some surfaced road, 2 stiles

Landscape Estuary and foreshore, mixed woods, limestone knoll

Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer OL 7 The English Lakes (SE)

Start/finish SD 454786

Dog friendliness Generally a good walk for energetic dogs

Parking Free parking along promenade

Public toilets Above road located centrally along Arnside's sea front

Notes Parts of foreshore impassable at high tide, beware of rapidly incoming tides and quicksand; some unguarded little crags

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1 Walk along the promenade until, at the end of the surfaced road, by the entrance to Ash Meadow House, a walkway to the right continues above the sands. Continue along the path until it joins the foreshore. Continuing beneath Grubbins Wood, the path crosses mud, pebbles and a polished limestone outcrop, before it rounds a little headland to join a track. Bear right to New Barns. Leave the track and pass the buildings on the right following the foreshore, signed 'Public footpath subject to tides'. Round Frith Wood, following the path beneath the trees, high on the pebble beach. Keep on to rocky Blackstone Point. If the tide is high it's possible to climb to the path above the little cliffs and continue along the edge of the wood. Round the point and enter the little bay to walk along its brilliant white pebbles. It is usual to ascend here to follow the path above the little edge along the fringe of the woods of Arnside Park. Depending on the tide, it may seem attractive to walk along the sands beneath the cliffs. This isn't recommended as quicksands are prevalent here and are undetectable until you sink.

2 Round Park Point and continue along the edge. At a junction with a ruined stone wall, a track leads steeply up to the left to join another track in the woods, signed 'Far Arnside, Silverdale'. Go right and continue, to join a road and a caravan site. Keep left along a high road and continue, to exit the site. Go along the road until a squeeze stile and gate lead through the wall on the left, signed 'Public footpath Arnside via The Knott'. Walk through the fields to Hollins Farm, go through a stile gate on to a lane.

3 Go left up the lane and exit by a gate. Bear right following the path up the hillside of Heathwaite. A gate leads through the wall and out on to a track in the woods. Go straight across and ascend the stony track, continuing up into Arnside Knott Wood. Where the path levels at a junction of tracks, go left to emerge from the trees and make a slight descent to a toposcope. Return to the junction and continue along the shoulder to ascend to a bench near the summit. A path rising to the right leads to the trig point.

4 Go left, descend the path to a gate leading through the wall and continue straight down the field of Red Hills. Bear right to the bottom right corner of the field where a gate enters the woods. Descend the track through the woods to emerge on a road. Keep left until a road bears sharp right to descend to a larger road. Go right along this for a short way to join the Silverdale road. Bear left down to the seafront.

Rising from the Kent Estuary to form a defiant outpost of resilient limestone, the heights of Arnside Knott are deservedly classed as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Bedecked with magnificent oak and mixed woods, rocky scree, hummocky grass, scattered bushes and the airy delights of steep open hillside, they also have the salty tang of the Kent Estuary which floods out into Morecambe Bay. Above the trees, to the north, the panoramic view of the high fells of Lakeland is nothing short of spectacular.

The little town of Arnside, with its station, viaduct crossing the estuary and elegant white limestone buildings, exudes a quiet feeling of Victorian affluence. As a child I was always thrilled by the tales of 'treading for fluke', literally fishing for the flatfish of that name, using your feet to hold them in place before scooping them out with your hands, and the terrors of the Arnside Bore. The former has been replaced by lines of conventional anglers equipped with modern tackle. The latter, a wave which runs in at the front of a rising tide, still presents a dramatic sight plus great danger out on the sands here, as the tide floods in at a gallop. A warning siren is sounded at the start of an incoming tide - heed its call.

Where to eat and drink

Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, a traditional inn whose name tells its own tale about the history of the region, is situated centrally on the sea front and offers bar meals and real ales. Also on the front, near the end of the walk, is the Bay View Bakery and Café.

What to look for

The oak woods, open tussocky grassland and scrub of this high limestone knoll are noted for their butterflies, and some 27 species are regularly seen here. Of particular interest are Scotch argus, on the wing between July and early August and the high brown fritillary in late June or early July. The latter, which has suffered decline elsewhere, still holds strong here.

While you're there

Arnside Tower, remarkably intact considering its antiquity, is an ancient pele tower, built originally to shelter the locals against the marauding Scots. The danger was real. In 1322 during the 'Great Raid', Robert the Bruce ravaged Cartmel and burned down Lancaster. Reacting to these events the Harrington family built this tower in 1375. It burned down in 1602. Though rebuilt and reoccupied it was finally abandoned to its fate sometime after 1684. In 1884 a further portion fell during heavy winds.

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