Two great contrasting Morecambe Bay locations to explore for the intrepid walker and/or photographer are, Arnside Knott and nearby (as the crow flies) and just across the Bay, Humphrey Head.
I start my strolls at Arnside Knott and what better a way to begin than with the glorious sighting of a pair of young Tawny Owls watching me pass by?! These curious creatures actually followed me for the first few minutes flapping from tree to tree and close enough and (briefly) still enough for me to snap a reasonable shot. What a rewarding start and that was before I hiked up to admire the views!
The majority of people arrive at Arnside Knott via the small (and pothole-filled) road from the village. I however parked in a layby on the far side of the hill and ascended a footpath opposite from there. A short steep climb through picturesque woodland brings you to this viewpoint looking south west over Silverdale and along the coast towards Morecambe. A wonderful peaceful post for a picnic too, thanks to this perfectly placed bench. Just don’t let your drink can roll away as the slope in front of your feet bis extremely steep!
The view (left) from the same spot turning to your left is equally if not more striking. In my case, I particularly liked the sunlight making the handsome trees in the foreground stand out nicely. At a mere 500 feet or so this view seems to exaggerate the drop into the valley below. And directly below in the valley is the unmistakable ruin of Arnside Tower a late-medieval tower house (or Pele tower).
One more view to show you from this side of Arnside Knott zooming in on the lovely coastline around Silverdale, with Morecambe appearing through the haze in the background.
For anyone who hasn’t guessed, not all of these photos were taken at the same time, alternating between summer to autumn on a total of three different walks.
With the aid of a bit of a clear day and a modest touch of photo editing, the delightful coastal resort of Grange-over-Sands, four miles away across the Kent Estuary comes into sharp focus between the trees, as you round the summit to face north west.
The view looking north east is probably the one most familiar to most walker of the Knott, as the dramatic Arnside Viaduct catches the eye, as well as the wonderful view of the fells of the Lake District‘s south- eastern corner.
That said, it was the quirky wooden gate in the foreground which almost appealed to me even more.
Similarly to my earlier shot of the sun highlighting the foreground, the same applied here on the other side of the hill, taken at a different time of day. I loved the colour contrasts between the warm yellow of the dry grass and the dark green of the trees and background.
I’ve also succeeded nicely in avoiding the level central horizon that most landscape photographers try to avoid. That in itself can be a challenge when you have equally great sky and land!
A perhaps less visited but nonetheless deserving location to visit is Humphrey Head. A little ‘out of the way’ perhaps, not far from Grange and close to the village of Allithwaite (five miles east of Arnside Knott, but a lengthier trek by road).
My first shot displays where the land meets the sea, but it was the sky that I particularly liked, giving my view across Morecambe Bay a sense of space and isolation. The grey speck neat the centre of the horizon, for those with sharp eyes is Heysham Nuclear power Station.
A cover of trees on the approach by road do their best to head the imposing narrow limestone outcrop of land that is Hunphrey Head.
At high tide you won’t get much further than this (left), which is why I explored the top rather than the sides on my visit, alas missing out on the intriguing Holy Well, a cave and little stone arch that I read about and would like to see on another visit.
The shape of the hawthorn trees on the top of Humphrey Head are good illustrations of how exposed to strong prevailing westerly winds it is up there and make for some interesting photo subject matter.
The view back inland towards the green rolling hills of Furness is also rewarding and worthy of a snap or two.
A brief look at wildlife again and for the quick photographer, butterflies in the summer months are wonderful subject matter. My first is a Red Admiral with the next a very familiar beautiful visitor the Painted Lady.
Not forgetting flora as well as fauna, Humphrey Head also offers a profusion of harebells in the summer.
Given the windy conditions, these tiny delicate-looking wild flowers seem tougher than you might think. On a breezy day you need a pretty high shutter speed to capture them sharply. The same of course could be said for butterflies, unless you are lucky enough to catch one basking in the sun.
After heavy rain, I wished that I had stuck to the in places muddy fields, on my return to Allithwaite where I had left my car. The Humphrey Head road was badly flooded and this was the view across fields beside the road. I was only thankful that I had dry feet for most of my journey!
I hope you have enjoyed my trail over a couple of my favourite local hills and it has inspired you to get out and about in our rich countryside.
More Photographer’s Ramblings Coming Soon…