It’s been a long long time since I have seen the sea. It’s also been a long time since I could spend some quality time with my mother. Lockdown rules meant I could not spend her birthday with her, so today we made up for it with a trip to Heysham.
I discovered Heysham several years ago when we had a dog and were looking for beaches that allowed dogs during the summer. We found Heysham just a few miles along the coast from Morecombe. Heysham boasts a ferry port, where you can take a trip to the Isle of Man, a Nuclear Power Station, a small bay named Half Moon Bay, with a cafe of the same name, and a lovely clifftop walk out to the ruins of St Patrick’s Chapel with views out towards Cumbria and the Lake District, and across to Morecombe itself.
Of course there is more to it than that, but it is hardly a bustling sea front with a promenade and pier. This is why we fell in love with it. Usually, the beach consists of locals and dog walkers and is never very busy.
After collecting my mother we set off through Skipton and the Yorkshire Dales towards Lancaster for our first stop; lunch at a vegetarian/vegan cafe I had sourced on the interwebs.
In my excitement to be day tripping to the beach, I had forgotten to check out the parking situation at the cafe and we ended up parking on a side street near to Lancaster Police Station, unaware that the cafe had a car park to the rear. Whale Tail Cafe is not only brilliantly named, but is such an adorable place, with the only problem being what to choose from their delicious menu. As a lifetime vegetarian and now living an 80% plant-based lifestyle, I am very used to having only 2 or 3 options to choose from, which makes ordering food very easy. Faced with a menu covering two whole chalk boards, I found myself staring at it for a good five minutes wandering how everyone else manages to choose what to have when they eat out!
My mother and I went with a tofu BLT and Mr C. had a spicy bean burger. The food arrived quickly (which was great as we only had an hour on the street parking) and was amazing. I would definitely make the trip again just to come back. Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, their card machine had broken and between us we did not have enough cash to splash out on a cake for afters, so we were soon back on our way.
Half Moon Bay was only another 15 minutes away and I let out an audible gasp as we reached the top of a hill to see the sea sparkling below us. It has been so long! Heysham has obviously grown in popularity since we last visited as the little car park had been extended and it was still hard to find a spot.
The tide was going out as we approached the cliff side walk that leads to the chapel ruins, but was still quite close. There were plenty of families and dog walkers about, many, many more than we are used to seeing, but it was still nowhere close to being called “packed”.
We made our way along the path and found a new sculpture had been erected since our last visit.
SHIP by artist Anna Gillespie, depicts a boat with two men sitting at either side, looking out to sea and contemplating life. It is made from Corten Steel with a Longridge sandstone block in the middle and took 18 months to complete and was unveiled in March 2019.
After a brief pause here we continued along the cliff top until we reached St Patrick’s Chapel.
Views across to Cumbria and The Lake District, and towards Morecombe.
St Patrick’s Chapel is dated at around 750 AD and it is still unclear what the purpose of the now long-ruined chapel was. The ruins are now a Scheduled Ancient Monument and Grade I listed and owned by the National Trust.
Near to the chapel are also some rock hewn graves, which I have always passed by and never paid much attention to. However, on reading up about the chapel for this blog, I have learned that they are the only ones of their kind in England, so I shall definitely check them out more closely on my next visit.
After spending some time wandering around the ruins and admiring the views, we reluctantly made our way back through the nearby woods. By this time the tide was well on its way out and the sea was much too distant for us to take a paddle, so we made our way back to the car for our third and final stop of the day, The Old Hall.
The Old Hall is the oldest house in Heysham and was built in 1598 by Robert Edmondson Senior and his son (Robert Edmondson Junior no less). It is now a beautiful old pub and was a welcome stop off for a drink and bathroom break before heading back home.
We drove home a slightly different way, missing out the motorways to take advantage of the beautiful scenery of the Yorkshire Dales, and all too soon the day was over and we arrived home, happy but exhausted.