|Businesses in Grange-Over-Sands||Towns and Villages of Cumbria|
Grange-Over-Sands sits in a salubrious spot seven miles south of Lake Windermere, in South Cumbria. Looking over Morecambe Bay's sands to the south, the town is more sheltered than much of the Lake District.
Once an important headquarters for the walk across the tidal sands from Hest Bank to Lancaster, the crossing is now a tourist attraction rather than a necessary travelling shortcut. Stagecoaches even plied the route, cutting an hour off the dangerous road travel time-highwaymen were notorious in this area. In 1778 Thomas West wrote, “On a fine day there is not a more pleasant seaside ride in the kingdom.” Now, as then, a guide is required to cross the sands. The tide changes swiftly, and there are many areas of quicksand. It was the responsibility of the Cartmel monks to provide a guide before the dissolution of the abbeys in 1536.
To enhance Grange for seaside worshippers, a mile-long promenade, stretching from Blawith Point to the Victorian railway station, was built in 1904. Original cast iron seats adorn the walkway, now planted with flowers and shrubs. Next to it are the Ornamental Gardens with rare trees and plants. Waterfowl enjoy the artificial lakes. One of the tallest Christmas trees in the British Isles, the 100-ft. high Wellingtonia, blossoms with lights during the holiday season. It's easy to see why
Grange was a runner-up in the Cumbria in Bloom contest.
Gray limestone houses and Victorian hotels (once the homes of wealthy industrialists) line the seafront, adding to the ambience of this traffic free area. A Victorian bandstand (concerts in the summer) is located at Park Road Gardens.
A canopied shopping area, Yewbarrow Terrace, was constructed in the early part of the 20th century and still stands ready to serve tourist and resident alike. Specialist shops abound. Higginsons, a butcher shop, won a “best butchers in Britain” award. There is a large range of eating establishments where local specialties such as Cumberland sausage, Holker venison, Morecambe Bay shrimps, and Flookburgh flukes are on offer.
The town's history dates to at least the early 1500's when Cartmel Priory used it as a storage area for grain. Its name derives from “graunge”, a French word for “grain storage area”. Originally called “the Granary-over-the-sands” because of the flour from the granary building, the name was shortened to its present form. Sea freight was also stored in the priory buildings.
In spite of its long history Grange-over-Sands now reflects mostly its Victorian heyday when it was touted as the “Torquay of the North” and the “Riviera of Cumbria”. With the building of the railroad in 1857, this small fishing village saw trainloads of tourists arrive from Lancashire's industrial towns (Grange was once part of Lancashire) to enjoy the sun and sand-miles of it at low tide. Wealthy Yorkshire families found its climate made resettling here a conscious choice.
Even the parish church, St Paul's, is Victorian, dating to 1852. The native limestone and St Bee's stone clock tower was built in 1913. Hampsfell Hospice, a small stone tower, sited on a hill above the town was built in 1834. The 30-minute walk to it leads through limestone woodlands that, in the spring, are full of wildflowers. A climb to the roof of the building affords views to Black Combe, the Langdale Pikes, Scawfell, and Bowfell. Doreen Wallace wrote in English Lakeland: “. . .far mountains look like cut jewels, astonishingly clear in the rarified air of that region.”
This particular spot is noted not just for its views but for the supposed military activities that took place in the area: a battle between the king of Cumbria and the king of the Saxons in AD 946 and a later engagement in 1745 when the Jacobite rebels invaded the area.
The starting point for the 37-mile Cistercian Way path is at Grange. The path leads through Furness to Barrow. Birdwatchers flock to the area with its variety of habitats-salt marsh, peat moss, limestone, and slate rocks-that encourage a number of different species to winter here.
Each June Grange-over-Sands, on the Cartmel peninsula, celebrates its heritage with an Edwardian festival. The town has the mildest climate in the northwest thanks to its location by the Gulf Stream and the sheltering mountains. It's a pleasant out-of-the-way seaside town, both a holiday and retirement destination.
Photos courtesy of Graeme Dougal and Tony Richards
Grange-over-Sands two miles southeast of Cartmel on the B5277 or south of the A590, off junction 36 of the M6.
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