CCP09:  Ulverston to Bardsea

Wednesday 10th February

After a three month winter break, thoughts returned to the Cumbria Coastal Path.  It was a beautiful winter's day- bright sun but bitterly cold easterly wind.  Refreshed by a week's skiing in my case, worn out by a morning's hoovering in Margaret's, we headed off to Great Urswick with a cunning plan to use the local transport.

I don't recall ever having been to Great Urswick before but Margaret remembers it well as her cousin Ian lived there until he tragically met his doom falling from Lingmell.  It is easy to see why Ian loved it there.  It is a lovely village, clustered around quite a large tarn.

Urswick Tarn

The bus arrived on time at 13:04 and took us to the Ulverston terminus.  Here my plan was to catch the Kendal bus and hope that it would stop for us at Newland where the Cumbria Coastal Path leaves the A590 and heads down to the estuary.

Margaret, however, didn't fancy the prospect of standing around getting cold waiting for the bus and preferred to walk.  I was quite happy to concur, as I didn't fancy the prospect of standing around waiting for the bus with about twenty teenage oiks.  

Also, there was a purity about starting here as it was where we had finished our last section CCP08 (apart from the post-bus walk in the dark).

We set off at a good pace.  Ulverston, like Kendal, was having its roads dug up and the lighthouse was still wrapped in its protective shroud for renovation.

Roadworks and renovation

Canal Head, Ulverston

It was a bit of a blow to see the bus overtake us as we passed the Canal Head, but had we caught it, we could not have enjoyed Margaret's inspirational diversion.  After the grand total of 0.4 miles she called for a lunch break- at Booth's café.  An excellent call.


Booths Cafe

Canal Foot

The Hoad Monument Lighthouse

Refuelled, we took a sneaky short cut under the disused railway, through the intriguingly titled hamlet of Next Ness to rejoin the official path at the ancient looking Plumpton Hall, right by the railway viaduct.  The Path now headed south, with excellent views in all directions, including our old friend(?), Heysham nuclear power station!

Reaching the Leven Estuary

Canal Foot was a revelation.  Once upon a time it must have been a tiny fishing village. Later it became more important as the mouth of the canal into Ulverston.  Now the wide canal is not navigable and the houses and Bay Horse pub form a pleasant little hamlet which must get rather busy in summer.  The houses have superb views at the front.  Less so at the rears- Glaxo!!!  Note the view behind one of the less successful washing photos.

Canal Foot washing with Glaxo

The Canal

We took our team photo on the little pier and then gazed down at the wading birds, disagreeing about what they were.

Team photo


Team photo

Unwary walkers following the footpath sign will find themselves at best rather wet and, more likely, rather dead.

For some reason that I cannot fathom, some idiot somewhere must have decreed that all the public rights of way must be signposted even if they go directly across a very dangerous estuary.  

What sort of brain is it that wastes public money with that sort of nonsense?  

To be fair there is a tiny sign on the post saying "This Route Has Natural Hazards".  

The idiot that ordered that the sign be put up is the biggest hazard.

In fact, although unmarked, The Path turns inland, between the huge Glaxo factory and the rather fine playing fields opposite.


... and the playing fields!

Cutting through a field of horses, that was a bizarre looking outcrop.  We passed a farm with a huge old brick chimney that served no apparent purpose plus a self build bungalow that looked as if it was halfway through a twelve year build plan.

The strange outcrop, with horses

The strange chimney, with lighthouse

Reaching the cost again we could look back and get quite a different perspective on the outcrop and the Leven estuary.

River Leven estuary with outcrop

In the distance we could see the spires and chimneys of the Victorian gothic structure that is Conishead Priory.  The sheep thought it was the subject of the picture.  Then a friendly robin encouraged me to take its photograph!

Conishead Priory and friendly sheep

Friendly robin

When we stopped for a coffee near Bardsea we started talking to a lady from Connecticut who was walking her dachshund which had a fetching pink sweater.   She told us that it was ok to walk round the grounds of the Priory and that it was open regularly to visitors. It sounds worth visiting.

The original Augustinian Priory building dated back to 1160.  Henry VIII seized it and it remained in private hands for generations.  Colonel Braddyll rebuilt it in 1821/36 with the profits from Durham Coal mines but when they went bust it was sold and eventually became a hotel.  Later it was the Durham Miner's convalescent home, being used as a military hospital in World War II.  In 1976 it once again became a religious establishment but this time for Buddhists and it remains the Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre.  

What a shame we were unable to see anymore of this building on our walk.

Seascape near Bardsea

Holy Trinity Church, Bardsea

By now, the sun was getting low in the sky and there was less than an hour of daylight left.  We decided to cut up into Bardsea, another lovely little village, the distant view of which is dominated by its fine Holy Trinity Church standing like a rocket ready for takeoff.. This left us with a 2¼ mile road trek back to Great Urswick.  Climbing up the hill, we had the day's best washing view.

Bardsea main street

Bardsea washing

Looking back over Bardsea to the estuary

On the hill to the right, we could see a monument but had no idea what it was.  A google search later established that it is a mausoleum for the members of a family named Wilson.

The Wilson Mausoleum

The long walk back to Great Urswick

Ulverston, with Lakeland hills behind in the evening sun

The sun set as we climbed the hill, although it briefly reappeared as we crossed Birkrigg Common.  A surprise was the quarry which looked a good rock climbing training area.

The sun reappears, briefly

The climbing wall

The final stretch to the car was in much better light than on CCP08 but it was a relief when Urswick tarn came into view followed by some really attractive old property.

Backlit clouds over Great Urswick

The tarn appears

Now I have a confession to make.  When we were in Bardsea, we spotted a bus stop. If only I had done my homework properly and checked if busses ran along the coast, I would have discovered that only five minutes after we caught the bus at Great Urswick, there was one at Bardsea also on its way to Ulverston.  

Sorry, Margaret, I could have saved you that last, cold, 2¼ miles.  But then we wouldn't have had the pleasure of getting to know that lovely little village, Great Urswick, would we?

Don, 10th February 2010


The 8.3 miles covered brings our CCP total to 63.4 miles. 
There was also 510 feet of climbing.

If you want to comment on this report, click on .



Afternote:  We seem to have missed Chapel Island!  I remember seeing it when taking the photo of Canal Foot- when blown up you can see it between the end of the pier and Heysham Power Station- after which we paid it no attention.  Yet it has an interesting history

Chapel Island

To quote from Wapaedia:

Chapel Island, known as Harlesyde Isle in 1593, got its present name in 1795. The name was coined by Mrs. Radcliffe in her book "Tour of the Lakes".

In the 14th century Cistercian monks from nearby Conishead Priory built a small chapel on the island to serve the needs of travellers and fishermen working in the Leven fisheries. The Island lies on the path of the ancient crossing from Cartmel to Conishead and would have been a place of haven to travelers caught out by the tide. Tradition describes its purpose to be the meeting for prayers with the travellers who cross the bay.

Nothing remains of the original chapel. In 1821 Colonel Thomas Richard Gale Braddyll commenced building the modern-day Conishead Priory and to enhance the view from the priory he had a mock pseudo-classical ruin built on the island. This chapel ruin is now sometimes mistaken for the remains of the original




E-mail addresses on this web site are protected by

 Spam Trawlers will be further frustrated by
Spam Blocker: help fight spam e-mail!  


 These pages log
the progress of
Don and Margaret
along the
Cumbria Coastal Path.


 Click on the photos
for an enlargement or related large picture.



CCP01: Arnside to
Levens Bridge


CCP02: Levens Bridge to
Gilpin Bridge


CCP03: Gilpin Bridge to


CCP04: Grange-over-Sands
to Cark


CCP05: Flookburgh
and back to Cark


CCP06: Cark to Speel Bank
(plus a Cistercian Way sampler)


CCP07: Speel Bank to
Low Wood via Bigland Tarn


CCP08: Low Wood
to Ulverston


Ulverston to Bardsea


Bardsea to Newbiggin


Newbiggin to Roa Island




The Washing Lines

as seen by Margaret:

will appear here!









BOOT boys

Home Page

The Cumbria Way