Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Don't let the sun go down on Morecambe Bay.

So Sir Elton John has seen the light and is headed to South Cumbria in June 2015.  It’s not every day we get a superstar on our doorstep and there will no doubt be thousands of folks heading to the region to enjoy the fun in sun (it never rains in Cumbria).  Las Vegas may have the bright lights, but Morecambe Bay has the jaw dropping views and spectacular wildlife, so why not add on a couple of extra nights to your concert visit and explore some of the amazing things that Morecambe Bay has to offer?  (I've even given them an Elton John theme...)

St Patrick’s Chapel just to the south of Morecambe dates back to around the 8th Century.  Near to the ruins of the chapel there are 6 stone tombs carved in to the rock – sitting on a headland at the south of Morecambe Bay they offer stunning views across the bay and a glimpse into the history of the area.

We all know the song was originally written as a tribute to Marilyn Monroe and in Lancaster we have our own tribute to a beautiful woman.  The Ashton Memorial was commissioned by Lord Ashton as a tribute to his late wife and sits in Williamson Park high above Lancaster.  It was completed in 1909 and the views from the first floor viewing gallery will take your breath away.

Morecambe Prom is the home to various festivals and events throughout the year – at last year’s Vintage Festival (centred around the beautiful art deco Midland Hotel) we were treated to a fly past by a pair of Lancaster Bombers – not sure if either of the pilots was called Bennie though...

OK – I’ll confess, this particular grey seal wasn’t photographed in Morecambe Bay – but there are many places around the bay where you can spot them, particularly at high tide.  My suggestion is to head to South Walney Nature Reserve & pack a picnic.

Say Goodbye to the Yellow Brick Road and “hello” to Morecambe Bay Cycleway.  Timed perfectly to coincide with Sir Elton’s visit, the Morecambe Bay Cycleway will open in June 2015.  The cycleway runs from Walney in the north to Glasson Dock in the south linking over 100 miles of traffic free routes with quiet backroads and country lanes – perfect for family days out and those wishing to get closer to the local wildlife.

The RSPB nature reserve at Leighton Moss is famous for being the home of BBCs Autumnwatch for the past 2 years – but it’s perfect to visit any time of the year.  You don’t need to be a birding expert, you can hire binoculars when you arrive and there will always be someone on hand to help you spot something interesting – like this gorgeous Marsh Harrier.

It’s not that we’re expecting trouble, but right in the middle of Lancaster is the castle – which up until 2011 still operated as a working prison.  The prison tours are an absolute must; though brace yourself for a few fabulous grisly horror stories - the famous Lancashire Witches are only half the story...

Whatever shade of blue you fancy – Morecambe Bay has it.  The vast expanse of the bay stretches as far as the eye can see with huge skies looming large above you.  Beautiful blue skies and white sandy beaches may lull you into thinking you're somewhere rather more exotic – but you don’t need to travel to the Bahamas - these blues are all on show at South Walney Nature Reserve.

Some folks think the chimney at Jenny Brown’s Point near Silverdale was part of an old copper smelting mill – others disagree.  Whatever its origins, they built it well and it makes for a dramatic view across the saltmarshes found in this part of the bay.

OK, so Sir John Barrow didn’t build a rocket, but he was born in Ulverston and was a founder member of the Royal Geographic Society.  The Hoad Monument is a scale replica of the Eddystone Lighthouse and stands on a hill overlooking the town.  On the days it’s open, for a small donation, you can climb to the top of the monument for views across the Lake District fells in the north and away to Blackpool Tower in the south.

Piel Island is a rocky outcrop just off the Furness Peninsula and though it has no crocodiles (and is unlikely to have unless global warming really kicks in) it does have the magnificent 14th Century Piel Castle which was built by the Abbot of Furness to guard the Barrow harbour from pirates.  While you’re over there nip into The Ship Inn next door to learn about the King of Piel Island and his knights....

Warton Crag is the perfect spot for an evening stroll and the ideal vantage point for watching one the superb sunsets over the bay before enjoying dinner at one of the many fantastic local pubs and restaurants.  Although, to be fair, in the middle of June the sun doesn’t actually go down for all that long so you’ll have plenty of daylight to enjoy the hundreds of other attractions in the area – like learning to sail at the Bay Sea School, afternoon tea the Midland Hotel, a visit to Carnforth station (where they filmed Brief Encounter) or a stroll around Leighton Hall

If you want to find out how to make the most of your visit to the area, click here to go to the local tourist information pages – choc full of other ideas and inspiration.  Don’t just come up for the Elton John gig – stay a while and see what Morecambe Bay has to offer – I promise you won’t be disappointed.

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