Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Cross Bay Walk

After a week of fine clear weather the day of the walk dawned grey and overcast and the drizzle crawled along the train windows as we made our way over to Arnside for the start.  We’d had a heated debate about the footwear required before we set off with walking boots seeming inadequate against the paddling which lay ahead but wellies felt like overkill – and anyway, where’s the fun in going on a cross bay walk if you don’t intend to paddle properly?  We settled on our rugged outdoor sandals.  Mine had a label stating they were waterproof, but as they only comprised of 3 straps I had my doubts.

Around 200 of us gathered on Arnside prom for the start of the walk in aid of the RNLI and it was reassuring to see most people had, like us, opted for sandals despite the inclement weather.  Slowly we made our way along the estuary before hanging a sharp right and setting off towards Kent’s Bank.  Cedric Robinson the Queen’s guide to the sands was leading the way; I’m not sure how often the Queen takes it into her head to wander across Morecambe Bay, but whenever the fancy takes her he’s here, ready and waiting.  Me and Steve followed, about two thirds of the way back in the crowd in case he was having an off day and the people ahead of us starting sinking.

Just because it’s a flat walk don’t underestimate its difficulty; when you’re not sliding through silty mud you’ll be up to your knees in wet sand, or water, or both and the entire crossing is around 8 miles long.  There’s something quite surreal about being stood over 2 miles from “land” surveying the distant shoreline from a grassy knoll and realising that in a couple of hours the infamous tide will be racing back in.

The highlight of the walk is crossing the river Kent whose path changes with almost every tide – hence the need for Cedric.  We all lined up along a suitable stretch and then headed across en masse.  This is the deepest wading of the day with the water up over most people’s knees (though at 6ft 4ins it was barely over Steve’s shins) and as we made our way across you could hear shrieks as people stepped on “Flooks” – the local name for the flatfish that live in the bay.   I let out a yelp of surprise as I stepped on one, but heaven knows how surprised the fish must have been.

At the halfway point a tractor was waiting to carry those who felt unable to continue walking; a couple of elderly people climbed thankfully aboard, along with an over enthusiastic boy scout covered from top to toe in wet slimy mud.  After 5 or so miles walking barefoot through wet sand our feet were surprisingly sore too, but for once I’d managed not to fall over.  This will probably be the only blog I write where I’m able to say that.  Gradually the shoreline of Kent’s Bank approached and now it was time to startle the salt marsh sheep that live there and who certainly weren’t expecting 200 or so people to come tramping through their lunch

If you’re planning a trip to the Lakes then it’s worth checking online to see if there are any walks planned during your visit as it’s an experience not to be missed.  .