One of the things we have always wanted to do is to travel from Arnside on the train across the viaduct. For various reasons it has never worked out in the past (bad weather, lack of time, the viaduct being closed for repairs), but we were determined this holiday that we would do it.
Luckily for us, we awoke to a lovely summers morning on Tuesday, and after another great breakfast we checked out of the hostel and went to catch the 9.19 train. The journey is short (only six minutes) but spectacular. We all sat with our noses pressed against the window, drinking in the changing view as our train rather miraculously felt like it was flying across the water.
The huge expanse of sand gradually became grassed over, and to our surprise there were sheep grazing! It was such an unexpected sight, one minute beach and sand and literally the very next minute grassy pasture.
The train was heading all the way to Barrow-in-Furness, but we were getting off after our exciting six minute journey at Grange-over-Sands. Like many small stations in the North of England (my own town included), the little station at Grange is very quaint and pretty I think.
I especially loved the view out of the station windows and couldn't wait to get out and be amongst it.
We have been to Grange-over-Sands before, a few years ago when we brought Connievan here, do you remember? So we knew how lovely this promenade is, and also how perfectly suited to wheels it is. All three Little People had brought their scooters on the train and as soon as we were out of the station, they were off......
....zooming down the prom at energetic speed.
It was as lovely as I had remembered it in my mind. The planting all along the right hand side is so beautifully done....
....and there were some surprises to be found too, carved out of the old tree stumps.
After about twenty minutes of promenading, we came to the first of the "recreational facilities". The scooters were abandoned and climbing and sliding commenced. I know I've said it before (many times I suspect) but I just absolutely love to watch my Little People play in this sort of environment. I love that Little Man (almost 11 years old now) can still throw himself back into the simple childhood business of imaginative physical play with his little sister and brother.
When the playground games came to a convenient pause, we ushered the LP out and along a little bit further, to the next Recreational Facility. Which conveniently happened to be a very delightful café. I wish now that I had taken some photos of the café itself, it was run by two very charismatic ladies and was very cute and homely with plenty of outdoor tables and chairs. It was an absolute pleasure to sit outside on this hot summer's morning and watch the fluffy clouds whilst sipping a mug of fresh coffee and eating the most divine hunk of homemade lemon cake.
The Little People all had ice creams and went off to explore the third Recreational Facility which was just next door to the café :: the Outdoor Gymnasium. Oh my, such fun! I never thought I'd actually say that huffing and puffing away on a cross trainer would be classified as fun, but it seriously was! I probably looked a complete eejit doing it, but I did enjoy myself and the view was amazing. And I was (of course) doing it purely for Little Lady's benefit as she had begged me to join her (two people face each other on it and she wouldn't do it on her own).
The third and final Recreation Facility was especially good for our Little Man :: a skate park full of sweeping ramps, jumps and all manner of heart-lurching things to do with a set of wheels. He is very, very good on his scooter and took it all in his stride, zooming and jumping and quite honestly making me want to puke up my lemon cake with nerves. I found I couldn't actually watch him in the end, so I took Little B on his sweet little three-wheeled Lightening McQueen scooter and went off to do some slow scootering on a level that I could cope with. There was a super sweet moment when he went chasing after a sugar stealer, caught it in his grubby little hands, scrunched up his eyes (and his whole sweet face) and wished very, very hard. He immediately told me his wish, which was "for a Spiderman Bike of mine very own, with pedals and brakes that really work". I guess that the rusty old second hand balance bike that we inherited from my neighbour (with no pedals and a broken brake) just isn't cutting the mustard any more. A new set of wheels is required for our growing Little One.
The stroll/scoot back along the promenade gave us a second go on the outdoor gym (I tried the leg press this time!) and the playground, before we finally arrived back at the train station. It had been a lovely, lovely morning, a very simple outing really, but something good in it for everyone.
I wished the train journey was longer (I do love train journeys with gorgeous views attached)....
....but all too soon we were trundling over the viaduct and back into Arnside.
It was lunch time when we arrived, and on the the way back from the station we found ourselves completely seduced by the smell of fish and chips being served in a nearby café. We were powerless to resist, but instead of eating them inside the café we had them wrapped up in paper and we took them out to picnic on the grass with a splendid view to accompany them.
It's an age since I had fish and chips (with loads of salt and vinegar) eaten out of paper in the open air, and they tasted absolutely, completely divine.
After that rather naughty lunch, we rounded it off with another naughty paper bag on the pier (treacle tart this time). I just couldn't get enough of the fresh salty air and the wide sweeping views. I really love Arnside and hope it won't be too long before we return. I can imagine wrapping up in warm woolly layers and taking brisk walks in the chill autumn air, then cosying up in the café for mugs of hot chocolate......
....but back to the heat of a summer's afternoon, and one last adventure before heading home :o)
After lunch, I suggested a little trip to the nearby town of Silverdale further round the coast. We have been there briefly once before to visit the Wolfhouse Gallery, but this time I wanted to see if we could get to the coast at Silverdale, which is known to be pretty spectacular. We parked the car near the gallery, then on foot we started walking down this small, quiet, leafy lane, following the signs marked "Jenny Browns Point".
We walked past some really beautiful houses and farms down this lane, with enticing views of the estuary appearing every now and then. About half way down the lane, we came to a green painted wrought iron gate leading into a meadow. It was signposted with a National Trust sign marked "Jack Scout" and it seemed like a good idea to go explore.
We walked down a rough track through the grassy meadow dotted with gorse bushes, until suddenly, we saw this..............
.....oh! It's the coast!
Just look at all that sand! And all that sky! I honestly just stood and gawped with my mouth open at the sheer beauty of it all. The light was very bright and intense, and I loved the way that the cloud shadows constantly moved across the sands.
The Little People did not stand still for an instant and immediately began the gentle scramble down the rocky path to the shore.
It was a wonderful place to explore, and deserted as you can see. During the afternoon there, we saw a couple of other people walking along the shore, but mostly we had the whole place to ourselves.
The Little People loved scrambling around on these rocks, climbing up to explore the small cave, and (much to my delight) heading straight into beachcomber mode.
They began to present me with an array of pebbles, sea glass, feathers and bits of dead crab, the latter of which I had mixed feelings about to be honest.
When you are pootling around this part of the coast, you do have to be very mindful of the tides and very aware of what stage they are at as the sea does move at quite an alarming rate. It was just after 3pm when we arrived at this little beach and the tide was right out with miles and miles of exposed sands.
But we knew the incoming tide would be imminent. So after we had finished exploring the rocky shore, we retreated back to a point of safety to make a little camp and eat a punnet of fresh strawberries and some chocolate that I had brought with us.
The boys set up a target practice game (something they always do at the beach), and I did what I always do and lay down to gaze at the clouds.
Little Lady and Little B continued to play on the sand. They marked out a line with stones to use as a marker for the rising tide.....
.....and sure enough, about an hour after we had arrived, it was like a tap had been switched on. The sea literally comes rushing in as if from nowhere, swirling and pooling it's way across the beach, eating up the sand at a staggering rate. It is quite something to watch.
You can see how far back we chose to sit and make camp, we weren't taking any chances!
Within twenty minutes, most of the open sand had been covered by water, and all of a sudden it seemed like the right time to say goodbye to the coast and head back.
It was a really magical day, the sort that lodges itself deep in the memory banks.
Such a wonderful, relaxing, happy summer holiday.....we were only away for 2 nights and days, yet it felt as if we had been away for much longer. I came back feeling more energised and refreshed than I have felt in ages, and ready for some concentrated stay-at-home time now. Bring it on.