hidden europe 4

Time and tide: Morecambe Bay

by David Cawley


guest contributor David Cawley looks at an ancient tidal crossing in northwest England and meets Mr Cedric Robinson, the 'Queen's Guide to the Kent Sands of Morecambe Bay'

The Irish Sea is nowhere to be seen or heard. But the serenity of the moment is deceptive, for on these soft sands there are dangers to seduce the unwary and unsuspecting. The huge and inviting expanse of Morecambe Bay can take your breath away, quite literally.

It is a normal everyday scene played out around the British Isles. Boats lie dotted around the edges at jaunty angles on a hissing mud scored through by rivulets and rivers. Birds screech and quarck overhead in search of food. Cockles, shrimp, mussels and Rounder, once famous in the local markets and restaurants of Lancashire and beyond, are these days almost the monopoly of oystercatchers and cormorants or one of the nearly one hundred and fifty other species of birds found here. Away to the north, the green hills of England's Lake District slope down to the bay's edge, sheltering the smart, affluent and genteel holiday resort of Grange over Sands.

On the outskirts of town lives Cedric Robinson. A life spent both fishing and guiding people across the treacherous sands does not seem to have left much of a mark on his handsome physique. This quietly spoken gentleman is almost legendary in these parts, his unique calling as appointed "Sand Pilot" has a legacy dating back to the fourteenth century and the local Cistercian Monks.

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