Lancashire walk - Carnforth and Lancashire Coastal Way circular

The view across the Bay to Grange over Sands

The view across the Bay to Grange over Sands - Credit: John Lenehan

Have more than a brief encounter in Carnforth on this great walk that’s suitable for all the family.

Carnforth is well known for its railway connections and was once the junction of three major lines. It now serves Barrow and Leeds as a station but the main west coast line trains pass through without stopping. It is quite exciting to stand on the platform as the express electric trains pass through at high speed. 

The station is also famous for being used as the set for the 1945 David Lean film Brief Encounter starring Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson and a recreation of the set of the film and history can be seen at the station. 

But there’s more to Carnforth than the station and the town itself is worth more than a brief encounter. It is surrounded by wonderful walking country, cut through by the Lancaster Canal and with a better than average selection of big name and independent shops, this is a town with a lot to offer. There’s also Leighton Hall just up the road, a beautiful home set in impressive grounds - if you plan to visit, you’ll need to book tickets online first. Go to

Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard would still recognise much of the station

Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard would still recognise much of the station - Credit: Glynn Ward

1 Leave the car park and turn left and follow Warton Road and then turn left onto Shore Road and with the River Keer on the right keep on this road, do not be tempted to cross a footbridge on the right. 

Note: Every form of transport in the North West going south to north passes by Carnforth. A Roman Road, the main A6 trunk road, the M6 motorway, the main west coast railway line, and the Lancaster Canal. 

2 The road passes through a bit of a car parking area with a bench and to the right is a metal gate and a stile, cross the stile and simply follow the path that is part of the Lancashire Coastal Way as it follows the coastline over saltmarsh. Eventually you’ll pass a caravan park on the left and pick up a better track that leads to a tarmac road and at this point turn right onto Mill Lane and follow this past Bay View Garden Centre.  

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Keep on Mill Lane until it reaches the main road A6 then turn left and follow the road towards Carnforth. 

Note: The garden centre has a lovely restaurant and it is well worth stopping to enjoy it.

The route passes Warton Crag

The route passes Warton Crag - Credit: John Lenehan


3 Leave the main road at Whin Grove on the right then keep right and uphill on Thwaite Brow Lane to reach a stile on the right just before a canal bridge. Cross the stile onto the canal towpath and turn left under the bridge and follow the canal. Pass under another bridge then leave the canal at the next bridge on a path that passes behind a children’s playground. 

Note: The canal used to go all the way to Kendal but was stopped further north of Carnforth by the building of the M6 motorway. Most of the section from Crooklands to Kendal is completely disused and filled in. 

4 Join Kellet Road and turn left and follow this to and across the junction with the A6 and carry on down Warton Road to the station car park. 

The walk follows the Lancaster Canal and the Lancashire Coastal Path

The walk follows the Lancaster Canal and the Lancashire Coastal Path - Credit: OS

Compass points 

Start and finish: Carnforth Station car park pay and display 

Distance: 5.4 miles/8.7 km 

Terrain: Easy walking but it’s important to keep an eye on tide times as nearly half of it is on salt marsh.  

Map: This is one of those infuriating walks that is spread over two maps: OS Explorer OL7 The English Lakes South Eastern Area and OS Explorer 296 Lancaster, Morecambe and Fleetwood. It is a really easy walk navigationally, though, and the map here should be quite sufficient. 

Facilities: There are public toilets in Carnforth.