Heysham Towers to Hest Bank (approx 6½ miles)

This walk is available to download as an e book in Kindle format from Amazon - take the route description with you on your mobile device.

There's lots of interest on this walk: Grade 1 listed buildings; fantastic views over Morecambe Bay (one of the most important areas in the UK for wading birds) along with the outdoor art of Morecambe's Tern Project. The route is mostly along the promenade with short sections along grassy footpaths around Heysham Head. There's also the option to walk some sections on the beach.

The recommended way to complete this walk would be to park on the foreshore at Hest Bank, catch a bus to Heysham Towers and then follow the walk back to your car. At the time of writing the Stagecoach number 5 bus (Carnforth to Overton service) operates once an hour, seven days per week.

There are plenty of alternative ways of completing the walk in sections using public transport or retracing your steps - a possible extension to the walk to Bolton-le-Sands provides wider public transport opportunities if you don't leave a car at Hest Bank. (the view - and the tides - will be different - though walking north provides the better views and usually has the wind at your back). Most of the directions are given for walking on the promenade - it may be possible to walk on the beach - but do beware quicksands and extremely fast moving tides (on the day that I photographed the Heysham to Sandylands section the emergency services were rescuing someone trapped on part of the beach by the incoming tide).

Maps: Explorer 296 - Lancaster, Morecambe and Fleetwood.. map
Start: SD 415 610 - Heysham Towers bus stop.
Finish: SD 467 665 - Hest Bank foreshore car park (if travelling by car, I would recomend parking here and using public transport to reach the start - there are plenty of places to park if you wish to shorten the walk and/or follow part of the route and retrace your steps).
Links to route files: .gpx (for many handheld devices) .kml (Google Earth - Google Earth must be installed on the device in order to open this file)
More info:
Refreshments: There's plenty of choice in Heysham village and in Morecambe and more at Hest Bank - far too many to list here, but I have included some of our favourites:
  • Half Moon Bay Café - Usually has a display of art work (including a selection of my post cards and Lin's driftwood pictures
  • The Royal - Heysham
  • Kerry's Coffee House - also displays some of Lin's driftwood. If you know you going to be passing between noon and 4 pm - the Seaside Afternoon Tea is great value - but has to be ordered in advance.
  • Stone Jetty Café - displays art from Morecambe Artist Colony (not open a great deal in winter)
  • Rotunda Bar at the Midland Hotel
  • Brucciani's Ice Cream Parlour - Facebook
  • 13 The Warehouse - on Queen Street in Morecambe, so not directly on the route - but their ChocaMocha is worth the diversion - also due to be displaying work from Morecambe Artist Colony members
Heysham Old Hall From Heysham Towers bus stop you will see the Old Hall pub across the road, originally an Elizabethan manor house - it's been a pub since 1958.

From the bus stop turn to walk away from the main road and follow …
Tower Cottages, Heysham … the short, narrow path towards the row of terraced houses on Middleton Road. The houses are Tower Cottages and are all that remains of the former Morecambe Bay Holiday Camp, most of which occupied the land behind them.

When you reach Middleton Road turn left. You will see an archway at the end of the row of cottages. This was the back entrance to Heysham Tower, built as a large residence around 1840, in 1896 it was bought by the Midland Railway Company and operated as the Midland Hotel. In 1925 it became Heysham Towers and was run as a holiday camp, later know as Morecambe Bay Holiday Camp.

Continue along Middleton Road and take the third turning on the right …
Smithy Lane, Heysham … into Smithy Lane. The footpath is separated from the road by a low stone wall. Follow the path up the hill. From the top …
Smithy Lane, Heysham … you obtain a first view of the sea, with the harbour and nuclear power stations to the left. Continue down the hill, crossing Cyprus Road and Moon Bay Wharf. The path bears to the right and emerges on the road at Barrows Lane. Turn left and then follow the road round to the right, back into Smithy Lane. Walk along the road …
Half Moon Bay Cafe … the short distance down to the Half Moon Bay Café (open every day of the week from 9 am weekdays and 10 at weekends - why not grab a bacon butty before you walk any further).
Heysham Harbour north wall In front of you is the north wall of the harbour, complete with the remains of 2 lighthouses. Turn to the right and …
Half Moon Bay … either walk along the beach or follow the path above.
Half Moon Bay If you have walked along the beach look out for the second set of steps up to join the footpath (they are in the shadow area at the right of the photograph).
Heysham Head Follow the path through the wooden kissing gate to enter the National Trust land.
Heysham Head Continue along the path ahead until …
Heysham Head … it divides - it really doesn't matter which you take as both lead through gaps in a stone wallwall and then meet at the Chapel (note - since this photograph was taken the National Trust have placed an interpretation board close to this junction of paths).

Part of this area was a go-cart track in the 1960s (where a young Nigel Mansell raced). On the other side of the stone wall at the top of the hill on the right were Heysham Head Pleasure Gardens, once home to a zoo, puppet theatre and other amusements - now a housing estate.
Heysham Head Walk along the heath to the ruins of St Patrick's Chapel on the headland (pictured here from the lower and slightly longer path).
St Patrick's Chapel, Heysham Head Steps lead up to the ruins and the ....
Stone cut graves, St Patrick's Chapel, Heysham Head … unique stone cut graves (there are more beyond the chapel). These have puzzled archaeologists and historians, who have proposed various theories as to their purpose. An information board provides details of archaeological findings - and there's more information to be had from Heysham Heritage Centre (open Easter - October - see website for more details - nd always worth a telephone call if making a special visit as openings depend on availability of volunteers).
St Patrick's Chapel, Heysham Head After exploring the ruins, follow the cobbled path down steps …
near St Patrick's Chapel, Heysham Head … and turn left to follow the cobbled track.
St Peter's Church, Heysham On your left you will pass St Peter's Church which dates back to the 7th century (similar to the chapel). The church is sometimes open to visitors, conducted around by volunteers - well worth going in if it's open. One of the treasures housed within is a Viking hogback stone.

Continue down the lane to meet …
Main Street, Heysham … Main Street. The route of the walk continues to the left, following Main Street down the hill. However, Heysham village is worth exploring: there are many interesting buildings and other features - a village trail map is available from the Heritage Centre, which is to the right (along with cafes, and pub).

If you do explore the village, return to this point and walk down the hill to the corner …
Bailey Lane, Heysham … bear right into Bailey Lane. After a few yards follow the footpath sign to the left (towards Whynnysty Lane). If it's summer and the weather is good you will be able to stop for refreshment at the last of Heysham's Tea Gardens (though not as scenic as the predecessors which have long since closed).
Cliff Walk, Heysham There's a choice again: either go straight on down the steps and follow the path along the promenade to the right; or turn right before the steps and follow the narrow path along the cliffs this latter is recommended if there's a high spring tide with the wind behind it).
Promenade, Heysham This is the view from the path along the prom just as a spring tide was going out - normally the tide is much further out, exposing rocks, pebbles and sand. From here, until near the end of the walk, navigation couldn't be simpler: just follow the prom. However the next pages will show some of the points of interest along the way.
trivia plaques, Sandylands Prom From where the path from Whynnysty Lane meets the promenade to the car park at the Battery there are steel plaques with inscriptions of local trivia - pictured are two of my favourite (not necessarily in the order that you'll come to them).
climbing wall at the foot of Sunny Slopes You walk past grassy slopes on your left (Heysham's Sunshine or Sunny Slopes) - these used to have shelters and a stream which emptied into a paddling pool. All that remains is a network of narrow tarmac paths and sets of steps. The paddling pool was situated below what is now a horizontal climbing wall.
shadowgraph, Sandylands Prom Also along this section of the prom are silhouettes of figures in various exercise/yoga poses.
Grosvenor breakwater, Sandylands You can walk to the end of the next of the stone armour breakwaters - though not perhaps advisable on a stormy day as pictured. The breakwater is used as a fishing platform (accessible to disabled fishermen). Opposite is the site of the Grovesnor Hotel - now a block of flats.
fountains, the Battery The prom bends to the east at the Battery. The fountains set in the concrete are a great place for children to cool down on (the few) hot days we have. A church, theatre and shops used to stand where there are now blocks of flats. The Victorian Battery Hotel still stands, and is in the process of being converted into flats.

The next section of the bay is the haunt of windsurfers (when the weather and tide conditions are right).

On the right of path are …
Framing the view, Morecambe Bay from west End Gardens … Beach Café and West End Gardens - this sculpture in the gardens frames the view. There are also more fountains and a children's playground. The former West End Pier was sited nearby.
Morecambe promenade and Midland Hotel As you continue along the prom you come to iconic, art deco Midland Hotel. Across the road (out of the picture on the right) is the Platform, once a railway station, now home to the Tourist Information centre and a venue for craft markets, concerts, etc. Behind this is the Festival Market (open Tuesdays, Thursdays Saturdays & Sundays).

On the left of the photograph is the RNLI hovercraft station and gift shop. Further left …
Cormorant sculptures at shore end of Stone Jetty, Morecambe … are some of the more noticeable sculptures of Tern Project - a trail of sculptures along the prom and inland. These are at the shore end of the Stone Jetty …
Stone Jetty, Morecambe … the only remaining pier in Morecambe. There are more art works along the pier, including many laid into the pavement. The building at the end, now a café, was originally a railway station, but has been used for other purposes, including a mini zoo.
Morecambe prom As you leave the pier you pass the site of the open air swimming pool. Notice the mural painted on the toilet block (one of a growing number of murals around the town, celebrating Morecambe's heritage).

Across the road is another iconic building: the Grade II listed Winter Gardens - this is being restored by volunteers and is sometimes open for viewing. Brucciani's Ice Cream parlour is on the same block.
Eric Morecambe sculpture The path by the beach passes the back of this statue, celebrating one of the town's most famous sons: comedian Eric Morecambe - a keen ornithologist, hence the binoculars and more bird sculptures nearby.
Morecambe prom A few yards further along is the clock tower and the site of Central Pier. Streets across the road lead to the shopping centre, where there are some real gems (along with the more expected discount stores).

On the left of the picture is edge of a sculpture identifying the Lake District fells which can be seen across the bay. There are other items from the Tern Project on the pavement near the clock tower and on walls by the car park beyond the hills sculpture. You will also pass the RNLI lifeboat house.
Arnside The next section of the prom is likely to be narrowed until mid 2017 as the crumbling sea wall is being replaced (after 2017 there are two phases planned further back along the prom).

The white building on stilts is the yacht race office. As you continue along the prom you will pass the entrance to Happy Mount Park on your right …
Venus and Cupid sculpture … and the Venus and Cupid sculpture by local artist Shane Johnstone. Continue past the sculpture …
Lancashire Coastal Way footpath Where the main road bears to the right, follow the narrower access road, signposted to a leisure centre, with a Lancashire Coastal Way footpath sign.
leisure centre car park Walk through the leisure centre car park …
the beach near Hest Bank … to the far end and then walk onto the stony beach. Follow the wall on your right …
the beach near Hest Bank … passing some houses. Continue along the beach until …
Hest Bank … you return to the car park at Hest Bank.

If you didn't leave a car at Hest Bank, and are intending to use public transport, there is the hourly service to Morecambe, Heysham (and Overton) along the Coastal Road (just the other side of the railway). There are frequent services to Lancaster from Morecambe - there is also the possibility of extending the walk to Bolton-le-Sands, from where there are buses directly to Lancaster.

If you choose the latter option, rather than continuing along the beach, cross the railway and the main road to walk up the road directly opposite the level crossing (Station Road). At the top of the road cross the Crescent and climb the steps to the canal towpath. Turn left. Follow the canal to under 4 bridges. Just before the 5th bridge, leave the towpath and turn left onto Main Road. Follow the road (passing Packet Bridge Fish & Chips) down to the A6, where there is a bus stop a few metres to the right (outside a doctors' surgery).

Other walks near here:

Back to:

© Graham Dean 2016