Last weekend I fulfilled an ambition I’d had for a long time. We walked across Morecambe Bay at low tide. This is a very dangerous place and it shouldn’t be attempted without guidance so we had phoned in advance to book onto a pre-arranged walk. The chap on the phone sounded very friendly so we were looking forward to it. Unfortunately, Northern Rail had other ideas and their 9.02 service arrived nearly an hour late. I rang the organiser again and he said he would send his wife to Carnforth station to meet us with the car. With this amount of friendliness and informality I had imagined a relatively small affair. How wrong can you be? She drove us to Hest Bank where the walk had already started – you can’t wait for tides, and we were astonished to see a long line of about 200 people setting off. We had prepared in advance and had slapped on sunscreen all over and by the first channel had to decide – shoes on or off. We decided to do it bare foot so the shoes went in the bags.
The walk is the original drovers passage from Hest Bank to Flookburgh. We in fact went to Grange over Sands as there was some sort of steam festival in Flookburgh. There is an official Queen’s guide to the sands but he no longer does the Hest Bank route.
We set off and quickly caught up with the rest of the party. It was very very well organised with a number of supporting walkers, two tractors and about 4 quad bikes. If anyone was stuggling to keep up they could have a ride on the tractor. We crossed a couple of small channels and the group stopped every hour or so to muster everyone together. Eventually we made it to the Kent Channel which is essentially where the River Kent drains into the Bay. One of the leaders went ahead with a long stick and checked that the ground under the water was safe and once we were all together we set off. It was quite fast flowing at times and the deepest it got was sort of mid-thigh. I don’t think anyone took the tractor option.
We followed the course of the channel along its bank for quite a way as we moved towards Grange. Once there it was such a relief to sit down as by the nature of the Bay you are on your feet the whole time and there is no opportunity for rest breaks (of any kind!). We had walked 9 miles in bare feet over soft sand, hard sand, rippled sand, mud, samphire and grass. We then discovered that sun can penetrate through sea water and burn the top of your feet – the one bit without sunscreen! The organisers had also added a transport option and for an extra £3 you could get a very welcome coach back. It was a really unique experience, quite hard work and great fun.