Morecambe Bay and 'Crossing the Sands'
Morecambe Bay. The importance of Morecambe Bay cannot be over estimated, both for its own physical terms and also for the natural life which lives in or migrates to the area.
Between Walney Island and Fleetwood at the mouth of the Bay, and the coastline behind, is an area of 195sq miles. At extreme low tides 120sq miles are exposed as a sandy desert.
It is the largest continuous intertidal area in Britain. The Bay is fed by five rivers - the Leven, the Kent, the Keer, the Lune and the Wyre. On the east and north of the Bay, the sandflats are bordered by extensive areas of salt marsh, only ever covered by the very highest tides.
As for the birdlife of the Bay, Morecambe Bay is the most important estuary in Britain for its total wader population. Morecambe Bay is the third most important estuary in Europe.
It is rich in breeding birds but its real importance is as a wintering and passage area for waders and wildfowl. The Bay is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), is a candidate for European designation as a Special Area of Conservation, it is a Special Protection Area for birds, and is a RAMSAR - recognising the Bay as an international site of importance for waders.
Crossing the Sands. In earlier times, travellers to Cartmel and the Furness Peninsula used the route across the sands of Morecambe Bay in preference to the time-consuming route via Levens Bridge.
The sands have been responsible for many deaths, including the sinking or overturning of horse-drawn coaches before the cessation of the service in 1857. Crossing is only possible at low tides and with the leadership of a professional guide. Guides have been employed by the Duchy of Lancaster since 1536 and the latest in a long line is Cedric Robinson, official Queen’s Guide.
As well as the ever shifting channels there is also the extreme danger of quick sands and Guides daily test the routes which they use. This constant change along the route occasionally make it necessary to start some walks from further round the Bay, in Arnside.
For details of dates of Cross Bay Walks contact Morecambe Tourist Information Centre 01524 582808. CROSS BAY WALKS ARE GREAT FUN! BUT PLEASE REMEMBER THAT TIDES CAN BE DANGEROUS - ANYONE TAKING PART DOES SO AT THEIR OWN RISK. Always walk with a recognised guide - do not attempt to cross the sands on your own.
To find out about the Morecambe Bay Partnership, an organisation which works to improve the environment and quality of life around the Bay, please visit www.morecambebay.org.uk .
M6 J 34 or 35 then 5 miles to Morecambe promenade
Public Transport Directions
Train or bus gets you to within 100 yds of Morecambe Promenade central