We did a bit more exploring around the Furness peninsular on Saturday, during a rare break from the rain. Our new National Trust handbook had just turned up (four months late, but that’s another story) and we spotted a reference to the nature reserve at Sandscale Haws, just north of Barrow-in-Furness, and decided to head over there.
And it was well worth the trip. Rather like Gleaston Water Mill the other week, it’s tucked away down a narrow lane which bounces and weaves its way to a small car park, a few information signs, a boardwalk, and swathes of open dunes, heathland and ponds which lead down to a stunning beach. As you can see from the photo I took (above), it’s unspoilt, covered in wild flowers, and very pretty.
We had a good mooch round the ponds, which are used for breeding by the rare Natterjack Toad, and then crossed the dunes for a walk along the beach. This runs alongside the Duddon Estuary so it’s not perhaps ‘true’ seaside, and the tide was very much out, but it was still lovely marching along with the dunes on one side, amazing views of the fells across the estuary, and a range of sea pebbles and jellyfish at our feet. At one point there’s a small area fenced off, and a helpful sign to tell us that this is where a dead minke whale washed up a while back. There’s almost nothing to see now as most of the remains have quickly been covered by the shifting sand, but there was a vertebra the size of a man’s fist protruding out amongst the other stones.
This is a wild, beautiful and little-known corner of Furness and one we’ll definitely be heading back to for more walks in the coming months.