An explorer's guide to the islands of Britain

Distance: 36 km
Difficulty: Easy
Method: Walk
Wow Factor: 8 out of 10

Key Facts

  • Location: Cumbria
  • Size: 1300 hectares
  • Terrain: Easy coast path
  • Access: Road bridge
  • Height gain: 249 metres
  • Map: OS Explorer OL6
  • Starting point: Earnse Point (GR SD 171 699)
  • Accommodation/food:

    Accommodation  and food on Walney Island is a bit limited, but here are our favourites:

    Walney Island Camping – Southend Caravan Park makes for a great location for motorhomes and campervans (no tents). Close to the beach and within cycling distance of Biggar, there is plenty to do on site and off.

    Pub – the Queens Arms, Biggar is a CAMRA award-winning traditional and wonderfully rustic pub with a varied selection of real ales, including their own. The Biggar Brewing Cooperative occupy one of the inn’s stable buildings. Very good homemade food is served, there’s locally made treats at the bar and it’s a great place to meet the friendly locals. We love it!

    Self-catering – Lighthouse Keeper’s Cottage, South Walney Nature Reserve.

  • Island Summary:

    Walney Island is a low-lying, narrow island off the west coast of England, at the western end of Morecambe Bay in the Irish Sea. Some of Cumbria’s most spectacular coastline on the England Coast Path can be found on Walney Island. The circular coastal walk is full of glorious beaches, dunes and saltmarshes, wonderful wildlife and dramatic views of the Lakeland Fells in the north and the wide expanse of Morecombe bay in the south. South Walney is especially important to a wide number of migrating birds and is home to the Walney Bird Observatory – as well as a large colony of seals. The walk along the island’s west coast follows an 18 km strip of wide sandy beaches, dunes and impressive views across the Irish Sea, whilst the walk along the east coast faces the Walney Channel and vast stretches of precious salt marsh. An alternative route to reach the island, other than the Jubilee Bridge, is to walk across the Walney Channel just north of the road bridge. At low tide, it is passable on foot, with stepping stones known locally as ‘Widow’s Crossing’.

  • Look out for:
    • Eider ducks, natterjack toads, Walney geranium
    • Views of the Lake District fells
    • vast, unspoiled beaches
  • Route description:

    The England Coast path around Walney Island starts at Earnse Point on the west coast, and heads north to round the north tip of the island and then continues south along the east coast. During the sensitive bird breeding the England Coast Path that skirts the island’s airfield can be followed instead. The route then passes through Vickerstown on streets and lanes before heading alongside the road south to Biggar (and its great pub).

    There is an optional loop to visit the saltmarsh just south of Biggar, before reaching the South End Campsite and then the South Walney Nature Reserve beyond. Here, there are great views of the other Furness Islands. The route then follows the entire west coast back to Earnse Point where the sense of wildnerness is complete.

  • Getting there:

    From Barrow-in-Furness follow signs for Walney Island. Cross Jubilee Bridge onto the island. A number of buses travel between Barrow-in-Furnace to Vickerstown.

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