Exploring cultures and communities – the slow way

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'

article summary —

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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Following nine years of living in the Canary Islands, and a couple of years working with regional newspapers, David turned freelance. He focuses on travel writing and photography and nowadays lives not far from his native Manchester – under the shadow of Pendle Hill, a modest hill in east Lancashire (England) that is remarkable for its connections with witchcraft and, more seriously, the Quaker movement.

David is especially interested in industrial archaeology and enjoys ambling along old canal tow paths, disused railway lines and pack trails. His travel interests encompass Scotland, Spain, less well known European cities, heritage tours, rail and canal journeys and very soft cycling. David can be heard on-air with his regular broadcasts on BBC Ribble Valley Radio – a weekly moment, he says, to make a fool of himself. He is a member of both the British Guild of Travel Writers (BGTW) and of Writers and Photographers Unlimited (WPU). Find out more about David's work at www.davidcawley.co.uk.

This article was published in hidden europe 4.