Friday, 10 August 2018

Wet feet and brief encounters


I made a decision on this journey to do something very different. From the outset I had made the serious rod for my own back to sail on various sea going craft on each region.  I decided to break that rule for the one and only time to truly get my feet wet by walking across the sands and water of Morcambe Bay.

Among the hundreds of Pink T-shirts

The rail viaduct at Arnside , the only way across the Bay so close to the open sea

I have always been fascinated by estuaries and to walk across across the mysterious and very dangerous Morcambe Bay was an excited opportunity too good to miss.

The rivers LevenKentKeerLune and Wyre drain into the Bay, with their various estuaries making a number of peninsulas within the bay. Much of the land around the bay is reclaimed, forming salt marshes used in agriculture. Morecambe Bay is also an important wildlife site, with abundant bird life and varied marine habitats, and there is a bird observatory at Walney Island. The bay has been fished for its rich cockle beds by locals for generations.
The only safe way across the Bay is to walk with a guide, the current Queens guide to the sands  is Cedric Robinson MBE who became the 63rd guide in 1963. Cedric has been guiding charity groups across year in year out, weather permitting for the princely some of £15 a year.

Cedric Robinson MBE The Queens guide to the sands.

To join a walk I decided to gate crash another charities 'party' as all walks are linked specific charities.  

Galloway’s Society for the Blind was established in 1867 and since then has evolved and developed to provide a range of services to over 7000 Blind and Partially Sighted people across Lancashire and Sefton and a range of talking newspapers available nationally.Operating from four Sight Advice Centres and with support groups throughout various towns and villages, the Society strives to reach out and provide an accessible local service. We pride ourselves on being big enough to cope but small enough to care.

To find out more about the fabulous work this charity does check out their website
Even though the purpose of this project is raise funds for Macmillan , its good to spread the good around and as an artist I am acutely aware of the value of my eyesight.
Luckily this project was one of the few that I could do there and back in a day and this time, no overnight coach journeys.  phew!!  Getting down to Cumbria was an early start , not long after to 5 to get there for the start around 10.30 am.

Troon station at 5.15 am
After some decidedly dodgy train connections I managed to get to the scenic bayside village of Arnside to register and get the obligatory pink Galloways t-shirt.
We set off along the side of the bay for some miles , before we headed towards the sands.

Looking across the bay to the Lake District
A brief stop to have a bite to eat and a drink shoes and socks came off for the long walk across the sands and water. It wasn't until much later that what I imagined would be a soft soothing sand under your feet would be like hard impact textured clay.  Feet size like an extra of Lord of the Rings is small price to suffer for your art and good cause.  

Way out into the bay before wading through knee deep water
As we spread out across the bay looking back inland you realise how serene this part of Cumbria is away from the hustle and bustle of the usual tourist spots.  Without the marked out route by Cedric we would be at the mercy of quicksands and hidden water pools. Each route is set out for each journey and marked with beautiful laurel branches. 
Laurel branch markers.. part of Cedric's guidance for safety across the sands
Out towards to the River Kent that across the bay which would feel like a raging current up you knees. Walking in such deep water .. constant thought Don't fall, don't slip.  Reliving the nightmare of slipping and submerging myself, phone and camera ceased to materialise and we all made though, walkers , children and numerous four legged friends. 

Heading into the deep water of the River Kent as it traverses the Bay

The beauty of Morcambe Bay 
After some 4 hours of working we moved to the sticky black mud of salt marsh as we entered the last phase of the Bay walk.
Soon we would make the tiny station of Kent's Bank and the beginning of the return journey of back to Scotland.
I would like to thank Pam Davies, a local who kept the artist company across the bay with her endless locals information. Little did I know that I passed through Carnforth Station on the way back to my connection in Lancaster where the wonderful wartime classic movie was filmed.  One of the most famous features of this film was the station clock which is still a feature of the station.

The original clock from the classic film Brief Encounter
 The clock just managed to come into view when the train pulled into the station.

Soon we were rolling into Lancaster to connect my East coast line train back to Scotland. With time on my hands I managed to get a quick look at medieval Lancaster castle.

The stunning facade of Lancaster Castle.

The homeward back to Scotland, that was certainly tiring and at the same time rewarding .. definitely a brief encounter with the Irish sea.

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