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The Cross Bay Walk

Author: 
Chris Satori

NO CROSS-BAY ACTIVITY SHOULD BE UNDERTAKEN  WITHOUT THE DIRECT SUPERVISION OF  A QUALIFIED GUIDE.

This is a popular activity used by many local charities to raise funds. See the Morecambe Bay Walks Directory page for a full schedule of walks and also our events listings or see the info contact details below. 

Each summer hundreds of adults and children safely complete these walks in the company of qualified guides and make a very pleasant outing of it, myself included.  The cost is around £9 per adult and £5 per child, including return transport, so it is very good value too. The Guides are Alan Sledmore and Queen's Guide Cedric Robinson. 

Outside these excursions the bay is notoriously treacherous and Lancaster's Maritime Museum has a fascinating display about it, as at one time it was a regular thoroughfare for traffic from the South Lakes to Morecambe, with occasional casualties to the tides and quicksands. (Read more history)

Potentially fatal dangers include: 

tide: the bay is many miles broad and flat — the tide comes in faster than the speed of a running man. Although the sea may seem far away, a lacework of channels covers the bay which, once crossed, can fill up fast behind you as the tide turns. In February 2004, 21 Chinese cockle-pickers tragically met their deaths in this way.
Check the Tide Tables for Morecambe here.

quicksand: perfectly innocent-looking stretches of sand are in fact a thin crust over quicksand. Quicksand clings strongly, and once a person is caught in it, it can take more than one other to pull them out again.   Even if one can summon help, rescue becomes a race against the tide.  Don't go out onto the bay sands alone. There are patches of quicksand quite close to shore. 

fog: the bay sands are flat and featureless to most newcomers. When fog rolls in it is possible to completely lose any sense of direction. Even when summoned, rescue services may find it extremely difficult to locate people in thick fog, even when talking to them on mobiles.  Again the possibility of being trapped by tide and deep, fast channels is a real danger and has resulted in deaths.  

hanging around: In some parts of the bay the surface is just a crust over mush and where it is load-bearing you need to keep moving and spread out to avoid sinking and getting stuck.  

Read the Morecambe Bay Safety Advice Booklet. In an emergency in the bay, for Search & Rescue assistance telephone 999 and ask for the Coastguard. 

Now we've warned you about some of the dangers we'll get back to the fun bit:

About the Walk
Northbound guided walks generally start from the Hest Bank carpark, which is at the edge of the sands over the railway crossing at Hest Bank. Shorter routes start from Arnside prom and Silverdale (Gibralter Farm). They may end at one of many points along the further shore — some routes are much longer than others and you should ensure you know exactly where walks begin and end — particularly for arranging transport home! From Hest Bank to Flookburgh or Grange-over-Sands is approx 10 miles. Your Guide will tell you about the environment you are in — and how to proceed safely. 

For a guided walk you will need:
To be reasonably able-bodied. You have to walk several miles across wet sand, and also wade through a couple of wide channels where the water is fast-running with a strong current and may reach 2 feet deep or so. Children should be big and robust enough to manage this with minimal assistance. They need to be able to follow simple instructions readily and game for the experience. The same goes for dogs.  The walk has its challenges, there is a time imperative and it may be difficult to carry children or dogs if they become footsore or tired. Most organised walks arrange to be met by a tractor & trailer at the half-way point which will pick up the slower children and stragglers. In my view (having bruised a tendon on one walk) this is definitely something to check for. Also good fun. 
Some routes involve crossing gullies on the saltmarsh. These can be quite wide and slippery, so walkers need to be agile enough to get across. 

• Appropriate clothes and footwear. Wet, salty sand is a bit clagging and will test flimsy footwear and suck at flip-flops. In some stretches the sand is quite firm and ridged however, and can be tough on soft bare feet. Either an old pair of stout (or plastic, firmly strapped-on) comfy shoes, or wellies that you can remove for the wading across channel/s would be my best answer. You will have to wade with the water over your knees (unless you are quite tall), in a strong current, so wear shorts or a skirt / dress you can lift out of the way — or a long T-shirt and robust undies that will keep you decent if you remove your trousers for the crossing. 
You (and your children) may need wet and dry clothes.

• To answer the call. There aren't any bushes to hide behind, so if you need to 'go', you will have to improvise, according to your shyness levels. Fortunately the walkers tend to spread out and no-one seems to notice. 'Go' before the start. 

• Food and drink. There are no shops in the bay. (Though there are at each end of the walk). 

• Sun-tan lotion / sunshade / sunhat / sunglasses. For when it's sunny. There is no shade in the bay. And clothing to keep you warm against a sea-breeze, or if you get wet. 

Reasonable weather.  The organisers may consider that certain weather conditions are not suitable for children and as a result cancel a walk.

• To get home. Most organised walks will book return transport and this is worth checking out. Alternatively go to our travel listings for bus and rail timetable links. 

  Everyone who can should try the Cross Bay Walk once at least. It's a unique experience of being surrounded by a vast, open, sub-marine landscape, under a great sweeping sky, out on the border of evolution.

See the Morecambe Bay Walks Directory page for a full schedule of walks.  

For more baywalk info Contact Guide Alan Sledmore 
tel: 01524 824693 or email: Baywalk@btinternet.com

 

Details of forthcoming walks and updates can also be obtained from his facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MorecambeCrossBayWalk

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