The extensive mud flats and sand banks of the bay are important feeding grounds for migrating and overwintering birds, such as oystercatchers, shelduck and curlew, who feed on the array of lugworms, ragworms and shellfish hidden in the watery sands.
The limestone plateau of Hampsfell is one of the highest points on the Cartmel peninsula at 727 ft (221 m) high and commands extensive views in all directions. At the top is the Hospice, built in 1835 by George Remington (vicar of Cartmel) as a refuge for weary travellers. The outcropping limestone pavement shelters an assortment of ferns and lime-loving plants in the deep fissures. A nature trail over Hampsfell is available from Grange Tourist Information Centre.
Humphrey Head Nature Reserve (SD 388 746 - reserve entrance)
Jutting into Morecambe Bay is the promontory of Humphrey Head - a long tapering whaleback of Carboniferous limestone. The reserve covers the western cliffs and grasslands on top of the head, but excludes the woodland. Exposure to wind, rain and salt spray has created a diverse flora that includes rock samphire, Portland spurge and Lancastrian whitebeam. Access is from a layby near the Outdoor Centre (with information panel) or at the end of the beach road.
Brown Robin Nature Reserve (SD 411 791 - layby on Windermere Road)
Brown Robin is an area of woodland and calcareous grassland on an easterly facing limestone hill above Grange-over-Sands. Historically, the wood was coppiced - a form of woodland management that has been re-established in one section. A waymarked circular path can be followed around the reserve with information panels at intervals. A gate on the eastern boundary provides access to a circular woodland walk managed by Cumbria Grand Hotel. Here, different stages of coppice management can be seen at first hand, along with a charcoal kiln and traditional pole lathe. Parking is either at the Cumbria Grand Hotel (off B5277) or at Grange Railway Station with access on foot via the driveway to Netherwood Hotel. Alternatively, there is parking in a layby on the Windermere road towards Lindale.
A large area of Forestry Commission woodland sandwiched between Hampsfell and Brown Robin Nature Reserve. The woodland was formerly coppiced to provide bobbins for the textile mills and wood for charcoal burning. Evidence of old pitsteads can still be seen in the wood. A network of paths radiate through the wood, providing access to Hampsfell and other footpaths in the area.
Roudsea Wood and Mosses (SD 329 827 - reserve car park)
This National Nature Reserve (part of the Holker estate) comprises broadleaved woodland and raised peat bog. The woodland part lies on two ridges of contrasting rock - Carboniferous limestone and Bannisdale slate - supporting differing communities of plants and animals. Coppicing has been carried out here for centuries, the timber being used for charcoal making, bobbins, tanning and gunpowder production. The remains of many potash kilns, charcoal hearths and bark peelers' huts can still be seen. A circular trail can be followed through the wood. Access by permit only from Natural England. Tel: 015395 31604.
The Cartmel Peninsula has an extensive network of public footpaths and peaceful lanes that are ideal for walking and cycling. Many have been incorporated into popular long distance walks, such as the Cumbria Way and Cistercian Way, but others are relatively undiscovered byways inviting exploration on foot or by bicycle.
The Cumbria Coastal Way is a long-distance route (182 miles/298 km) between Morecambe Bay and the Solway Firth around the coastline of Cumbria. A journey of contrasts from the Victorian towns of Barrow and Millom to the Roman town of Carlisle; from the natural scenery of the Duddon estuary to the high tech of Sellafield. Tide tables can be purchased from local Tourist Information Centres.
The Cistercian Way, a 33-mile (53 km) walk through the Furness and Cartmel peninsulas, wanders through a landscape shaped by monks, merchants, miners, fishermen and shipbuilders. The walk starts/ends at Roa Island near Barrow-in-Furness and passes through Furness Abbey, Dalton-in-Furness, Ulverston, Cark, Cartmel and Grange-over-Sands.. At Ulverston a rail link connects with Cark or, alternatively, there is a longer detour via Greenodd on foot. The route links in with several railway stations and can be completed in several easy stages.
The Furness Way meanders 75 miles/121 km from Arnside on the eastern side of Morecambe Bay to Ravenglass on the Irish Sea, passing through Lindale, Cartmel and Haverthwaite.
Cross-Bay Walks are occasionally led by Cedric Robinson, the Queen's Official Guide to the Sands of Morecambe Bay. Pre-booking essential for the 8-mile (13 km) walk, which takes around 3 hours. For dates, contact Grange Tourist Information Centre.
The Promenade in Grange offers a delightful traffic-free walk for 1½ miles/2.4 km along the shore of the bay from the railway station towards Kent's Bank, with telescopic sights at intervals. The walk can be accessed from Grange railway station or via an underpass at Main Street car park.