Trekking coast and countryside in Knott End

This six mile walk in Knott End, the village I was brought up in, really showcases why I love it – vast expanses of coast and countryside a stone’s throw away from one another.

You’ll traverse seafront, farmland, brine fields and woodland on a relatively flat route that is prone to muddy conditions in wet weather (which is most of the time!), and that takes in part of the legendary Wyre Way.

Kissing gate
Kissing gate

Start out at Hackensall Woods following the footpath at the bottom of Hackensall Road (in the centre of the village), through woodland and along the old railway line until you reach an iron kissing gate on the right. Go up the short, steep hill, over the stile and emerge onto farmland at Curwens Hill.

Pass through and follow the track through open countryside, bearing left and passing fishing lakes on both sides until you reach houses and a T junction (this is Town Foot).

Approaching Corcas Lane
Approaching Corcas Lane

Turn right onto Back Lane and follow the road past Cemetery Lane and over a bridge with white wrought iron railings until you reach Corcus Lane, approx. 400m beyond (signposted Public Bridleway).

Turn right, follow the road past some dilapidated farm buildings on your right and continue until you reach a signpost to join the Wyre Way.

The Wyre Way
The Wyre Way

Go right, over the stile and onto the embankment. Follow the path with marshes to your left and fields to your right. You’ll come to a T junction and a sign saying ‘Halite’ – go left and follow the path in a right angle until you reach the end of the embankment.

Go straight over onto a vehicle track signposted Hackensall. Follow the track passing the golf course (look out for golf balls!) until you reach Hackensall Hall and another T junction.

Hackensall Hall
Hackensall Hall

Turn left (signposted Wyre Way Knott End) passing the hall on your left and follow the track which swings left and crosses the golf course – head towards the green shelter on the sea side of the course.

Once you’ve reached the shelter follow the track, which runs parallel to the coastline.

Knott End seafront
Knott End seafront

After a short while you’ll bear left onto the seafront which you can follow to the ferry car park (which is a good point to start and end this walk if you’re travelling to Knott End by car or public transport) and back into the village.

At a brisk pace and with a young Labrador in tow, this walk takes me around two hours. Wrap up warm in the colder months – parts of this walk are exposed and guaranteed to blow the cobwebs away.

This walk can be found in the Pathfinder Guides Lancashire Walks book.

Hiking and al fresco dining at Nicky Nook

Nicky Nook and the Apple Store Cafe are regular destinations for family hikes followed by tea and cake in all weathers.

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The summit

Nicky Nook is located on the edge of the Forest of Bowland, overlooking the picturesque village of Scorton, just north of Garstang. One of the most beautiful spots in Wyre, this area demonstrates how Lancashire’s countryside rivals that of the Lake District or the Yorkshire Dales and is the perfect place to enjoy some very simple pleasures.

This circular walk is easy to follow – simply head through Scorton village, up Snowhill Lane and over the motorway bridge to the foot of Nicky Nook (where you can park). Go through the kissing gate and begin the climb up the hill.

The path to the summit, which is marked with a white pillar and sits 215m high, has recently been improved to reduce flooding and the views across Morecambe Bay and the Bowland Fells are well worth the effort involved in reaching the top.

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Woodland path

From the top, carry on along the path until you reach the dry stone wall. Don’t cross the ladder stile – take the path to the right of the wall and drop down a steep slope into the Grizedale Valley.

You’ll see steps and a signpost when you reach the foot of the hill at the other side of Nicky Nook; turn right and head along the woodland path. You’ll pass Grizedale Reservoir on your left and then pick up Grizedale Brook as you wind your way through the woods. Eventually you’ll reach a gate and a crossroads of sorts, with a signpost offering four directions and a little wooden bridge to your left. Go right, over the stile and up the short but steep hillside that brings you out onto the road at Slean End. Turn right and follow the road back to your starting point.

In contrast to the expansive, blustery, life-affirming landscape of Nicky Nook, the route back through the woods offers a more intimate environment with much of the path covered by a canopy of trees and an explosion of sound and colour all around you.

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Spring flowers in bloom

Wildlife is abundant; there are currently thousands of bluebells in bloom plus cowslip, buttercups, wild garlic to name just a few and even rhubarb along the roadside. And the sweet sounding chorus of birdsong offers a perfect soundtrack to an idyllic country amble.

My family (including two Labradors) manages this walk with ease – our ages range from 30 to 65 (although I’ve passed many children on this route too) – and it takes us around an hour and a half at a leisurely pace. The terrain is uneven throughout so I’d recommend sturdy footwear and after rain, expect plenty of mud – but don’t let it put you off. This walk is perfect for experiencing the changes in the seasons.

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The Apple Store Cafe

The only fitting end to a ramble of this nature (or any ramble) is tea and cake and the Apple Store Café and Walled Garden provides the perfect spot to indulge. Part of the Wyresdale Park Estate, the café lies a few hundred metres from the starting point of this walk (it’s very well signposted) and offers a delicious menu of homemade sandwiches, soups and lunchtime fare, delightful selection of cakes and charming setting to boot.

It welcomes walkers, cyclists and dogs and weather permitting, you can choose to eat al fresco in the tree-sheltered gardens or sit in the rustic conservatory complete with roaring fire. Food is served on pretty mismatched china and the service is warm and friendly. A bowl of soup with homemade bread, slice of cake and pot of tea will cost less than £10 – a well-earned treat. There’s also ample parking around the café.

There are longer walks in this area if you fancy more of a challenge and Scorton village is well worth taking a little time to explore, with some great alternative places to refuel.

Twilight relaxation at Ribby Hall Spa

DSC03514On a chilly February evening, my friend and I, feeling more than a little jaded following the Christmas and New Year come down, headed to Ribby Hall Spa in Wrea Green, near Blackpool in search of restorative relaxation.

We’d been planning it since before Christmas, after hearing lots of good reports and to give us something to look forward to during the bleak first couple of months of the year.

The Spa Hotel stands alone within Ribby Hall Village and offers an impressive range of day spa and overnight packages plus various beauty and relaxation treatments. It’s adult only and welcomes Ribby Hall guests and visitors alike.

We opted for a Twilight Aqua Thermal Journey, available from 6pm-8pm at a cost of £29 each. We arrived early at 5.30pm, were given robes, slippers and towels and shown into clean changing rooms with ample lockers, showers and dressing tables.

The idea is to follow the aqua journey in a special sequence, designed to ensure you get the most from each experience, with two hours being the recommended time to really feel the benefits: aroma room, aroma steam room, saunarium, Balinese salt inhalation room, herbal sauna, pedidarium (reflexology foot baths), outdoor rustic sauna, tepidarium (warm room with heated loungers), ice fountain, plunge bucket and rope shower and monsoon experience showers plus indoor hydrotherapy pool, terrace hot tub and a number of relaxation rooms. This mix of hot and cold experiences promise to detoxify, relax and revitalise. Yes please!

Thursday proved to be a quiet night to visit with only a few other women sharing the journey with us. One of the best things about a trip like this is the forced relaxation – there is nothing to be done but kick back, let go and immerse yourself in the experience. It also provided a welcome and uninterrupted opportunity for a good old fashioned chinwag.


For me, the steam rooms were a dream (I’m not a huge fan of dry heat but have impressive stamina for steam rooms) and the hydrotherapy pool with its overhead water jets provided a robust shoulder massage. We both approached the plunge bucket and rope shower – a suspended bucket of cold water released by pulling a rope – with trepidation and darted away on first contact of cold water on skin, screaming like little girls. But after ten minutes in the complementary sauna, we were racing each other to get underneath the bucket and cool down!

The piece de resistance for me was the outdoor, terrace hot tub. Under the night sky, with ice crunching underfoot we made our way into the heated tub and sat back under the night sky as the stars twinkled in the peace and quiet – bliss. We could have stayed there all night. I would like to return to experience the contrast of a summer’s evening.

By the end of the journey, as we laid back on heated loungers, our conversation dwindled and we both enjoyed a sleepy period of quiet before reluctantly making our way back to the changing rooms to shower and dress.

Finally, we were treated to a glass of bubbly in the bar (included in the package) which provided a tantalising peek into the restaurant, The Brasserie, with delicious smells wafting through. We spent three hours at the spa, and at £29, I felt it was great value for money. And mission was most definitely accomplished; I left feeling relaxed, cleansed and grateful for the time spent with my friend.

There are all sorts of spa packages and treatments you can add, to suit all budgets. And I’ve heard that the food in the restaurant is lovely too.

Heavenly eye treatment at Angel Cottage Beauty Room

I place myself in Sharon Turner’s hands fairly often, usually to have my eyebrows shaped and occasionally for something a little more luxurious and relaxing.


Sharon runs Angel Cottage Beauty Room from her home on Raikes Road in Thornton and it is more inviting (and cleaner) than any salon I’ve ever set foot in. She’s warm and friendly and instantly puts you at ease. You can chat away throughout your treatment but equally, she’ll happily leave you in wordless bliss while you relax. Once you enter the front door of her charming cottage and the fairy-light and candle lit treatment room, any stresses or strains you’re carrying simply melt away. It glows with warmth and cosiness.

On this occasion I tried a Repechage Opti-Firm Eye Contour Treatment, with the promise of reduced dark circles, puffiness and wrinkles, which was on offer for £25 (£5 off the normal price). I went straight after work on a Friday night, when I’m at my most frazzled state of the week, yet I went from 90-0 mph within about 10 seconds of arriving. Prone on the bed and wrapped in warm towels, the treatment started with a cleanse of my face and neck to wipe away the week. This was followed by gentle massage around my eyes to caress away crow’s feet and dark circles. Massage apparently has anti-ageing and rejuvenating effects on the face (yes please), improves circulation and tones facial muscles.

DSC03478A very thick and cooling sugar mask was then painted over my eyes and left to work its magic (or miracle in the case of my insomnia-induced bags), while I received a head massage. Finally, after the mask was removed, serum was applied to my face.

My eyes still betray my sleep deprivation (a good night’s sleep really is the only thing that can rectify this) but were left feeling soothed and fresh after this treatment.

And I’ve found the perfect way to unwind at the end of the week and head into the weekend feeling free and easy – I think any treatment at Angel Cottage would do!

Angel Cottage offers everything from gel nails, eyelash extensions and glitter tattoos to facials, hot stone massage and reflexology. The prices are reasonable, presumably because there aren’t the same overheads as with a salon, but you receive top-notch care and professionalism all the same. Sharon regularly posts offers on her Facebook page so like it and keep your eye out.