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Arnside Knott, Humphrey Head and Hampsfell

Arnside Knott, Humphrey Head and Hampsfell

Postby nigheandonn » Wed Jan 25, 2017 12:28 am

Date walked: 22/01/2017

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It was obvious from the start that Sunday was going to be very different from the day before - the window of the hostel dorm looked out over the sands, but there wasn't much to be seen other than grey mist. Still, Arnside by daylight turned out to be quite a nice place, and even in winter there was not just one but two cafes open by 9 for breakfast.

Arnside viaduct

I'd taken the long way round by the road from the station to hostel the night before, not wanting to get lost on odd paths in the dark, but now I could follow a nice slanting path from the shore to just past the hostel, with an old signpost at the bottom.

Old signpost

The first train back across the estuary wasn't until 12, so I had a couple of hours to play with. At first I hadn't definitely planned to climb Arnside Knott, thinking it was just an odd local viewpoint (it's not an Outlying Fell, which is possibly a good thing, as although they're scattered enough that each day has to be its own walk, rather than the one weekend one walk of the main hills, taking a train from one hill to the next on the same day might be too much for me...).

But it turns out that it's the lowest Marilyn in England, which was intriguing enough that I had to do it - it's just 159m tall, only 9m taller than the required prominence, but it happens to be the highest point on a promontary surrounded on three sides by the sea and sands, and on the fourth by low lying marshes.

So I left the hostel again, along the street which it's on until a rougher road runs uphill and then swings along to a car park, but before I got there I turned uphill again to follow a little stony path straight to the viewpoint.

Climbing Arnside Knott

Even as a local viewpoint it must be well worth visiting on a clear day, with views running round the whole Lake District to the Howgills. But there wasn't very much to be seen today, except a tiny goldcrest playing hide and seek in a juniper bush.

Even so, what I could see of the sands was fascinating - when I was little I had a book which told you how oxbow lakes were made, and this seemed to have happened to the Kent, with the loop still holding some water, and acting as the channel of the river Winster from the far shore, but the main channel now running much closer to the eastern shore.

The viewpoint

From the viewpoint I passed through the wall on the top of the hill and followed the main path along towards the summit. The right of way doesn't pass the trig point, but as I wondered where to turn off a runner darted past me and off on a smaller path to the right, so I decided to follow him, which brought me to the summit quite soon.

Arnside Knott summit

The trig point is obviously not quite on the highest point, but it's a matter of inches - I stood on slightly higher ground beside a tree, but although there may have been some slightly higher still in the middle of a hawthorn tree I wasn't dedicated enough to try to get to it.

Downhill a bit I found a bench at the top of a large field - I'd been able to hear an eastbound train for a while hooting occasionally as it headed up the coast but hadn't seen it, but now it came into view and I sat and watched it crossing the viaduct.

Train on the viaduct

A path crosses the field into a wood, and down onto roads which wiggle back down to the seafront, and I walked along to the station to catch the train to Kents Bank for the main part of today's adventure - thereby crossing at least one of the viaducts by daylight!

Although the village lies just inland, from the station there really did seem to be nothing except flat marsh, and the thin line of the path along the embankment leading away.

Kent's Bank path

The path was very muddy in places once the concrete ran out, but I still enjoyed it - there was something almost otherworldly about the very flat places. The path runs round a little rocky headland and then joins the railway line again in a little bay heading towards Wyke Farm. After the farm things got very muddy again, until I finally reached the edge of the woods.

The place where there was no barbed wire is gone, and I ended up climbing first the wrong barbed wire fence and then a gate (I should have gone straight into the woods, not into the field) - but the path through the woods is broad and well trodden, and has a map showing where it runs, so there must be an easier way in somewhere.

Out of the woods again the path runs along the edge of the grassy headland.

Salt marsh

At the point of the headland the rocks show throught - with the tide out it's not obvious how much of this is ever water, but the map seems to show that it does just touch the rocks.

Humphrey Head Point

Turning back towards the land this side of the headland rises more sharply, with the limestone showing through the spine of the hill.


It was quite calm while I was there, but the trees says that this must not often be the case!

Bent trees

The trig point is in a flat grassy place, and not very obvious coming at it from this side - looking back at it from the other side it does sit on more of a rise.

Humphrey Head summit

By now the this side of the headland has become quite a high cliff, dropping down to the marshes and embanked fields below, with their odd almost-island.

Cliffs and marshes

The path leads over a grassy field to the outdoor centre, where there's no way onto the right of way - in theory you can go down the drive to the road and turn back onto it, but as it was doing its best to turn into a lake I decided to go round by the road instead - a break on the new flat wall of a bridge to eat my lunch, and then over the level crossing, where a train came through just as I was walking away, up past the tower at Wraysholme, over another confusing footpath, and through Allithwaite and up to High Fell Gate.

A track turns off the road to Grange and leads along beside Fell End, to the various paths leading onto Hampsfell.

Fell End

From the gate in the wall I turned back to the beacon on Fell End, which would probably be quite a nice viewpoint if there had been any view.

Fell End beacon

Back through the wall the first half of Hampsfell was mainly grass, and the second half more scattered with trees and rocks - the roof of the hospice sneaks into the view without being very obvious at first.


Around the summit there are proper limestone outcrops, which I have always thought of as a Yorkshire kind of thing, but I suppose if Yorkshire has some Lancashire would need to as well. (I was hopelessly confused by the idea that Arnside could be Westmorland if Coniston was Lancashire, so I now know all about Lonsdale North of the Sands!)

The hospice is an odd little building, obviously still visited quite a bit.

The hospice

The steps up the side are very narrow and look quite precarious but feel solid, and the roof has a very ingenious view indicator, which you turn to the number you want as identified on the chart - again, a good place for a clearer day.

Ingenious viewfinder

I did go clambering about on the limestone paving to try to find the true summit, but it wasn't obvious to me that any one inch of it was higher than the rest - close enough, anyway. I then followed the path which touches the corner of the wall through an odd lumpy landscape down the track along the edge of the woods, and back onto my track from earlier down into Grange, where it was time to head to the station

Descending the hill

And so over my last new bit of railway line in the dark again, and home via Lancaster, where the castle seemed to have on its pyjamas.

Hampsfell.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

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Re: Arnside Knott, Humphrey Head and Hampsfell

Postby ChrisW » Fri Feb 03, 2017 12:02 am

Lovely interesting wander Nighe, the lowest Marilyn in England should be more of a tourist draw I think, definitely right up my street anyway :lol: :lol: Love the old striped sign and the viaduct. Shame it was such a gray day overall but it does make for cooler walking conditions I guess :clap:
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Re: Arnside Knott, Humphrey Head and Hampsfell

Postby Alteknacker » Fri Feb 03, 2017 12:22 am

My late dad lived in Arnside, so I've walked up to the Knott many many times, and done many a run in this general area. It's a brilliant little hill. A real pity that you had a greyish day for it: on a good day the views are really spectacular.

Isn't the sound of the train crossing that viaduct magical..???
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Re: Arnside Knott, Humphrey Head and Hampsfell

Postby Broggy1 » Fri Feb 03, 2017 5:04 pm

Very interesting and nice pics. :clap:

Arnside and Silverdale is a lovely little area - ideal for one of those days when the wind is too bad to attempt higher ground.

You can make a longer walk in the area by climbing Warton Crag and King William's Hill first and then returning along the coast. It's a nice place to be.
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Re: Arnside Knott, Humphrey Head and Hampsfell

Postby nigheandonn » Fri Feb 03, 2017 9:29 pm

ChrisW: It should, I think :) It fascinated me, anyway - I'm surprised it's not the lowest Marilyn anywhere, but I'd forgotten about the tiny Scottish islands, and it turns out that North Uist has an even lower 'mainland' one.

Alteknacker: If I keep on with the Outlying Fells I'll be back in Arnside, so hopefully I'll get a clear day some time! It was a real shame after the views of Eskdale I'd had the day before, though.

Broggy1: Thanks. It was fairly calm, but I like short walks in winter anyway!
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