The start of the walks across Morecambe Bay is usually hectic; a bit frantic even. Meeting for the walk in aid of the West Lancashire MCF 2021 Festival was no exception, with late arrivals, people trying to find each other, parking problems and last minute arrangements all happening at once in front of the Monument on Arnside Promenade. In this tumble of people, the Warrington contingent of John Walkey, Mike Williams, Joanne Burton and Eric Miller managed to find each other.
On time, at 10.45 sharp, the Provincial Grand Master Tony Harrison and Cedric Robinson MBE, the Queens Guide to the Sands, led the assembled off along the seafront and the shifting crowd settled quickly into an organised procession.
It was a glorious day. Azure-blue skies over lightly-golden sand and the few channels of water seeming like shifting silver. For the first part of the walk, everyone was excited and full of energy, so the march out past the Coastguard Station, New Barns and up to Blackstone Point was full of chatter and pleasantries. At the Point was the first pause, waiting for the group to come back together, with a chance to look over to the wonderfully picturesque town of Grange-Over-Sands and the first photo opportunity.
Then it was off again, striding out in the direction of Heysham nuclear power station. To the first-time bay walker, this must seem a bit disconcerting, as the walk heads straight out to sea for quite a distance. The sand gets covered with puddles and rivulets, which start to join and become a shallows. It is here that the wise walker who doesn’t want waterlogged trainers changes to more suitable waterproof footwear or goes barefoot.
There was another pause at one of the laurel twigs that had been set up to mark out the route. This was just before one of the serious parts of the walk and the crossing of the River Kent’s channel. On this occasion, the channel was about two foot deep (about 60 cm for the younger readers) and thankfully it was warm water. This didn’t seem much consolation to the numerous small dogs accompanying their owners who suddenly found themselves frantically swimming to keep up.
At the other side is a sand bar that stretches across to Kents Bank on the far side of the bay. If you looked around, in every direction there is mile after mile of sand and mud-flats and the occasional sliver of silver, giving the impression of being much further from the coastline than one really is.
The sand bar was a lovely spot for a panoramic view and many rested here, but Cedric was off again, setting a brisk pace towards our destination. This stretched out our band, which was thinned out further by tiredness and having to cross the muddied bottom of a gulley. Approaching Kents Bank, the group must have seemed like the Israelites crossing the desert.
So, about four hours after starting out from Arnside, we arrived at Kents Bank Railway station and for the Warrington contingent, an extremely well-timed train journey back to Arnside. A splendid day was rounded off by a drink in Ye Olde Fighting Cocks’ beer garden. Good company, lovely weather, beautiful scenery and a fine walk – doesn’t get much better than that. We even raised a good sum for charity. A special day.
Pictures and article by Eric Miller.