We’ve been away again, this time to the West Coast. Morecambe Bay is a marvellous place for wildlife and an amazing natural feature. It is extremely flat and the tide goes out for miles. When it comes in, it does so at great speed and can be treacherous. You may remember the tragedy of the Chinese cockle pickers there in 2004. You can walk across the bay at low tide but it should only be attempted with a guide as the sands are literally shifting and moving all the time. We did this quite a few years ago and it was great – 9 miles in soft, hard, ridged, squidgy and wet sand. At one point you have to cross the River Kent and so wade through at about thigh height.
This time we didn’t attempt the Bay walk but just visited a reserve that is close to the shore along with some wetlands just inland. Although it’s a pretty quiet time for birds at the moment, we had a lovely 3 days over there. We went round the shore line from Heysham up to Arnside, that’s the southern bit only. The seaside town of Morecambe is obviously a feature there and although there have been a lot of programmes to improve the place, it is very sad and run down still. Nevertheless, the walk along the front is spectacular and there is along trail of bird sculptures . There is always a good view of the south part of the Lake District to the north of the Bay and a rather nice guide to the name of each fell that you can see in silhouette.
Arnside is a very small coastal town on the estuary of the River Kent. Like the rest of the bay it has a very high tidal reach so the river is a long way away at low tide. It also has a lot of mud. I found this out the hard way as a small child. There is a very distinctive railway viaduct across the estuary. We had arrived there with some friends of my parents and all the adults piled into the pub. I was of course left outside, standard for children at the time, and told very clearly not to go down onto what looked like sand as it was mud. Needless to say you can imagine what a 7 year old who thought she knew far more about these things than her parents did? Yes, and guess what – it was mud. It covered my lovely clarks sandals, white ankle socks and legs. My mother was incandescent. This wasn’t an unusual state of mind for her, but I was mortified by all her friends laughing as she gave me a good telling off. I didn’t go again till a couple of years ago and as soon as I saw that viaduct over the river, I was transported back to the early 1960s and all those adults laughing.