A walk through woods and over open fell above a charming seaside resort.
Distance 4 miles (6.4km)
Minimum time 2hrs
Ascent/gradient 790ft (241m)
Level of difficulty Medium
Paths Paths and tracks, can be muddy in places, 7 stiles
Landscape Town, woods and open fell, extensive seascapes
Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer OL 7 The English Lakes (SE)
Start/finish SD 410780
Dog friendliness Busy lanes and open fell grazed by sheep
Parking Car park below road and tourist office in central Grange
Public toilets At Ornamental Gardens, north end of car park
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1 Join the main road through Grange and go right (north), to pass the ornamental gardens. Cross the road and continue along the pavement to the roundabout. Go left along Windermere Road rising to round the bend, and find steps up to a squeeze stile on the left, signed 'Routen Well/Hampsfield'.
2 Take the path rising through Eggerslack Wood. Cross directly over a surfaced track and continue to pass a house on the left. Steps lead on to a track. Cross this diagonally to follow a track, signed 'Hampsfell'. The track zig-zags to the right (with a house to the left) and continues up through the woods to a stile over the wall.
3 Cross the stile to leave the wood and follow the path directly up the hillside. Pass sections of limestone pavement and little craggy outcrops until the path levels and bears left to a stile over a stone wall. Cross the stile and go right along the wall. Continue in the same direction, following a grassy track, to pass ancient stone cairns and up to the obvious square tower landmark of the Hospice of Hampsfell.
4 Leave the tower, head south and follow the path over the edge of a little limestone escarpment (take care here). Continue over another escarpment and descend to find a stile over the wall. Descend to the bottom of the dip and rise directly up the green hill beyond. Cross over the top and descend to find a stile over the wall. Although the path bears diagonally left at this point it is usual to continue directly to the little cairn marking Fell End, with fine views over the estuary. Go down left and pick up the grassy track, which leads left round a little valley of thorn bushes to a gate leading out on to a road.
5 Cross the road, take the squeeze stile and descend diagonally left across the field to a gate on to a road by the front door of Springbank Cottage. Descend the surfaced track to enter a farmyard and continue left over a stone stile. Go over the hill, following the path which is parallel to the wall and then take the stile into a narrow ginnel. Follow this down, with a high garden wall to the right, round the corner and descend to a junction of roads. Go left on a private road/public footpath, and then bear right at the fork. At the next junction turn right to descend the track and at the following junction go left down Charney Well Lane. When you get to another junction, turn left below the woods of Eden Mount to a junction with Hampsfell Road near the bottom of the hill. At the junction with a larger road go left (toilets to the right) and pass the church before descending to pass the clock tower and junction with the main road (B5277). Go left and then right to the car park.
So reads one of the panels inside the peculiar Hospice of Hampsfell at the high point of this walk. Its tone matches that of Grange-over-Sands, with its neat and tidy white limestone buildings, colourful gardens, sunny aspect and seaside disposition. It has long been a popular seaside resort, particularly since the arrival of the Furness Railway in the town in 1857. Day trippers would also arrived by steamer via the waters of Morecambe Bay. They would disembark at the Claire House Pier, which was dramatically blown away by a storm in 1928.
Today the sea is somewhat distanced from the sea wall and the town, despite past popularity, has fallen from grace with mainstream holiday-makers and now retains a refined air of quiet dignity. Grange has many fine and interesting buildings and its ornamental gardens, complete with ponds, provide suitable solitude in which to relax and enjoy a picnic. The gardens rise to the open airy spaces of Hampsfell (Hampsfield Fell on the map) via the charming mixed woods of Eggerslack, which add yet another dimension to this pleasant area.
Built of dressed limestone blocks the neat square tower, around 20ft (6m) high, which adorns the top of Hampsfield Fell is known as the Hospice of Hampsfell. It was apparently built by a minister from nearby Cartmell Priory over a century ago for 'the shelter and entertainment of travellers over the fell'. Enclosed by a fence of chains supported by small stone pillars to keep cattle out, and with an entrance door and three windows, it provides a convenient shelter should the weather take a turn for the worse. On its north face stone steps guarded by an iron handrail provide access to the top of the tower and a resplendent view.
On the top, a novel direction indicator, which consists of a wooden sighting arrow mounted on a rotating circular table, lets you know which distant point of interest you are looking at. Simply align the arrow to the chosen subject, read the angle created by the arrow and locate it on the list on the east rail.
Rising skyward above the main street and below the church, the clock tower is noted as one of the finest buildings in Grange. It was financed by Mrs Sophia Deardon and built in 1912 from local limestone, probably from the quarry at Eden Mount, and the lovely chocolate-brown St Bees sandstone.
Grange-over-Sands has many excellent cafés and inns catering for a wide range of tastes. On the route, of particular merit are the Commodore Inn and Hazelmere Café.
If you look up the Fell Road out of Grange you will see an impressive white limestone building. Hardcragg Hall is the oldest house in Grange and is dated 1563. John Wilkinson, ironmaster, once lived here. His first iron boat was launched some 2 miles (3.2km) away at Castlehead on the River Winster.