For many, Lancashire’s coastline conjures up images of candyfloss, ‘kiss me quick’ hats and Blackpool Tower, but the Red Rose county is also home to some outstandingly beautiful rural scenery and unique landscapes.


Tucked away in a secluded corner of Morecambe Bay – where the foothills of the Lakeland Fells meet the rugged limestone coastline of North Lancashire – lies Arnside and Silverdale AONB. This undiscovered enclave is home to dense native woodland, wildflower meadows and extensive nature-rich wetlands.

Warton Crag in autumn
Leave Silverdale and climb up to Warton Crag for views across the surrounding countryside/Credit: Getty

Reaching Silverdale by train

The Forest of Bowland and Arnside and Silverdale AONBs have joined forces with Lancashire County Council to promote sustainable tourism across the county this summer. Their Eco Escapes campaign encourages visitors to arrive by train and explore the two AONBs on foot, by bike or on e-bike.

The pretty little station of Silverdale sits at the sylvan heart of the AONB and is the perfect starting point for coast and countryside walks, as well as visiting one of England’s best-loved nature reserves: RSPB Leighton Moss.

If you’re on foot (after arriving by train), entry to this expanse of lagoons, wetlands and reedbeds is half price. It’s one of the best places in Britain to hear the secretive bittern – a shy, brown heron that skulks around the water margins, making a resonant ‘booming’ call from deep within the reeds. You could also see equally rare bearded tits, marsh harriers, ospreys or avocets.

This varied 7.6-mile circular walk cuts through the reserve and goes on to explore some of the highlights of the AONB.

Leighton Moss and Silverdale walk

7.6miles/12.3km | 5 hours | moderate

1. Station start

From the station, take the first lane on the left past the visitor centre. Continue on to follow the bridleway on the right at Home Farm.

2. Water world

Follow the gravel causeway between the lagoons then climb through the woods past Leighton Hall, family seat of the Gillow family.

A bittern stands in front of reeds
Look out for bitterns among the reeds/Credit: Getty

3. High ground

Beyond the hall, the path swings around to the south and climbs steeply through the parkland to Warton Crag, where the rugged limestone summit affords extensive views out across Morecambe Bay and up to the Lakeland fells.

4. Silver shores

The path descends north then west across the seaward end of the nature reserve, crossing the saltmarsh to the rocky coastline south of Silverdale.

5. Floral foray

Follow the Lancashire Coastal Way past the chimney of the smeltworks. Continue on past Jenny Brown’s Point and the wildflower meadows of the National Trust’s Jack Scout reserve to reach Lindeth Tower, where Elizabeth Gaskell wrote parts of her novel Ruth.

6. Under the trees

Beyond Lindeth Tower, skirt the village of Silverdale, following the woodland trails past the wells fed by the underground aquifers in the limestone.

7. Though the glade

Continue into Lambert’s Meadow – a prominent clearing in the woodlands – then climb steeply up the steps then left across the golf course and back to the station.


Leighton Moss and Silverdale map

Leighton Moss and Silverdale walking route and map

Leighton Moss and Silverdale walking route and map


Mark is a Lancashire-based outdoor writer and photographer who enjoys walking and cycling in the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales.