Parking: Kents Bank
Start Point: Arnside
Region: Arnside and Silverdale AONB
Route length: 8.1 miles (13 km)
Time taken: 02:57
Average speed: 2.7 mph
Ascent: 81m (apparently)
I mentioned while writing about Bamburgh that I would shortly be taking part in a charity walk across Morecambe and the bell tolled for said walk this weekend. For those not familiar with the north west of England, Morecambe Bay is an enormous estuary, the largest expanse of intertidal mudflats and sand in the UK no less, covering over 300 km2. The rivers Leven, Kent, Keer, Lune and Wyre drain into the Bay, with their various estuaries making a number of peninsulas and smaller bays that characterise the area. It would be the estuary of the River Kent that we would be crossing today.
The bay is notorious for its quicksand and fast moving tides - it is said that the tide can come in "as fast as a horse can run" which is faster than I. What you need to cross any part of Morecambe Bay is a seasoned guide, someone who knows the area inside out and back to front and then inside out once again. That man (currently) is Cedric Robinson MBE, officially the Queen's Guide to the Sands.
|Cedric Robinson and some other bloke|
The Queen's Guide has been royally appointed since 1548 as the official guide for crossing the restless sands and channels of Morecambe Bay, a landscape that changes as regularly as the tides. The sands crossing has been an important route, right up until the 1800s and the construction of the railway and viaduct at Arnside. Prior to that, reaching Ulverston required a significant detour or a seemingly-perilous crossing of the bay.
This walk had been arranged by Galloway's Society for the Blind and over 400 people had turned up the take part. That meant a very crowded, one-carriage train from Kents Bank to Arnside, the meeting point for the start of the walk. After managing to round everyone up into something resembling an orderly mob, we set off along the coastline at Arnside to meet up with Cedric at Blackstone Point.
Once assembled again, and with many opting not to wear shoes for the crossing (myself included), we set off onto the sands with the stark warning that we must keep behind Cedric at all times.
|A busy station at Kents Bank|
|The Arnside Viaduct|
|The River Kent at Arnside|
|The River Kent at Arnside|
|Reaching Blackstone Point|
|Morecambe Bay beckons|
|Cedric on home territory|
|The front half of the group|
|Looking towards Humphrey Head|
|Not somewhere you want to hang around|
|The group on the sands|
|The sun came out part way through the afternoon|
|One of Cedric's markers|
|Sand as far as the eye can see|
|Looking to Kents Bank|
|The Lake District over the Kent Estuary|
|The Kent Estuary|
|Lining up to cross the Kent|
The water, flowing swiftly, was around knee depth, enough to easily soak the bottom half of my shorts. As we slowly made our way across, I hung back to get a photo of the crowds as the waded through the river channel. A few minutes later and we were stood on the bank on the opposite side, evidently much higher than the channel and the sands we had just crossed.
|Knee deep in the Kent|
|Crossing the Kent|
|A lonely marker with the Kent behind|
|A huge string of people|
|Heading for Kents Bank|
|Looking over the salt marshes towards Morecambe|