Not many people would make a round trip of over 100 miles for fish and chips, but that’s exactly what me and Mum – along with our lovely friends from Red Bus Days Out – did recently.
Setting off from our village in the late afternoon, we knew what our final destination would be. Our journey there and back again promised to be a bit of a mystery tour, however, as there are many routes to choose from, though they all start with the A65 from Skipton towards the north-west.
Although this is a main road and very busy, it passes through some lovely countryside and pretty villages. The first of these is Gargrave where the river Aire runs alongside the road and the Leeds and Liverpool canal reaches its furthest point north. There was also a Roman settlement there. Mum says this was before she was born, but I’m not so sure about that as I’ve seen her first thing in a morning!
Another interesting place we went past was Ingleton. Today it’s known as a tourist centre with lovely walks around the waterfalls.
People also climb up Ingleborough which overlooks the town and is part of the Three Peaks Hike.
Mum says there’s also a big cave up there, called Gaping Gill, and the first man to go down it was a Frenchman called Edouard Martel. I wanted to know if we could down there as well, with having nearly the same surname, but Mum said it was too far for me to walk, which I think meant that it was too far for her…
What many people these days don’t realise about Ingleton, however, is that it was a busy coal-mining town until the 1930s. Three of Mum’s friends wrote a book about this and also erected this memorial to everyone who had worked on the Ingleton coalfield. It features a set of wheels from a coal-tub which were found locally and stands on a grassed area at the side of the main road.
From Ingleton we headed towards Kirkby Lonsdale with its beautiful Devil’s Bridge over the river Lune and the famous view, painted by Turner and which the artist and critic John Ruskin declared was “one of the loveliest in England, therefore in the world”.
On this trip, however, we just skirted around the edge of the town and headed towards the junction with the M6 after which we headed towards the coast, going through the little town of Milnthorpe and then along the estuary of the river Kent which is really part of Morecambe Bay.
I got a bit excited then as the tide was out and I could see there was lots of sand. I’d visions of sitting on it and enjoying the sun and maybe building a sandcastle, going fishing or even going for a quick paddle.
But Mum said I couldn’t as the sands had areas of something called quicksand which could swallow a little bear like me – even though I don’t weigh much more than a bunch of feathers – and the tide could suddenly sneak in and make it impossible to reach dry land again.
Then she cheered me up by reminding me that my Number One Fan, Moira – who used to work with Mum many years ago – lived in Arnside and, if we had enough time after we’d eaten our fish and chips, we were going to pay her a surprise visit.
We were both really looking forward to that, as Mum hasn’t seen Moira for a long time and I’ve never met her. Once we got to the Arnside Chip Shop, however, we realised that we weren’t going to manage it as there was such a long queue and we only had just over an hour to get served, eat our food and get back to the bus.
That was more disappointing than not being able to make a sandcastle, but Mum’s promised me we’ll try and go by ourselves another day, just to see Moira as they’ve a lot to catch up on. And I have to admit that the fish and chips were good – though, as we’d to eat them outside, I was a bit wary of all the gulls flying about and watching us enviously.
By the time we’d finished eating then, there was just time to walk along the promenade to where the bus was parked. The tide was coming in and the sun was starting to set which meant Mum could make this little video for you, which also shows the railway viaduct which crosses the estuary to connect Arnside with Grange-over-Sands. First built in 1857, it was rebuilt in 1915 and its 51 arches span a distance of 522 yards/503 metres.
After that, we were on our way back home, but by a different route.
This time we came down to Carnforth – famous as the setting for the 1945 film Brief Encounter – and then through Bolton-le-Sands to Lancaster, where we crossed the River Lune again and caught a distant view of the castle, where the Lancashire Witches were tried and sentenced to death in 1612.
From Lancaster, we headed back towards Ingleton, passing some interesting places along the way. One of these was the village of Claughton, whose brickworks has this amazing aerial ropeway. I thought it would be good fun to have a ride on it, but Mum said it wasn’t part of an amusement park, but a way of transporting clay from a quarry at the top of the hill to the brickworks at the bottom, and a little bear like me would get very dirty if he rode in it.
Not long after Claughton, we went through the village of Hornby, with its privately-owned castle set back from the main road, and its lovely parish church of St Margaret. A church has been on this site since at least the 14th century, but has been rebuilt since, with the oldest part now being the octagonal tower. This dates back to 1514 when Sir Edward Stanley, Lord Mounteagle, had it built in thanksgiving for his safe return from the battle of Flodden, against the Scots, in 1512.
After Hornby we passed through Burton-in-Lonsdale, now another quiet village with a pretty church and the earthworks of a castle. But, like many other villages in the dales, it had a surprisingly busy industrial past. Between 1670 and 1944 it was home to no fewer than 13 potteries and the smoke from the kilns earned it the nickname “Black Burton”.
A couple of miles from Burton-in-Lonsdale and we were back on the A65, heading towards home and, though me and Mum were disappointed not to have had time to see Moira, it’d had been a good trip and the fish and chips had been well worth travelling to the seaside for.
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