Morecambe Bay in Northwest England is what the British seaside is all about. We may not have the most pristine beaches, but what we do have is promenades, ice cream cones and fish and chips!
That famous song “Oh we do like to be beside the seaside, oh we do like to be beside the sea…” was running through my head the entire time I was walking along the promenade with my family in Morecambe Bay. After weeks of miserable weather in the UK, it happened to be a gloriously sunny day, and what a difference the sunshine makes!
Morecambe may be only an hour and a half’s drive from where I grew up in Bury, but until this weekend I had never actually been there. I’ve been to other local seaside towns like Blackpool and St. Annes, but never Morecambe. So after tasting local produce at the Lancaster Food and Drink Show and strolling around the city of Lancaster, it made sense to take the 10 minute drive to Morecambe and breathe in some sea air from the promenade.
The Bay is notorious for its dangerous quicksand and fast-moving tides and sadly Morecambe is usually remembered for the terrible cockle-picking tragedy that occurred in 2004, when 23 Chinese illegal immigrant cockle-pickers drowned after they were cut off by the tide. Crossing is only possible at low tides and you must be in the company of a professional guide. There have been royally-appointed guides for crossing the sands since 1536, and the latest ‘Queen’s Guide to the Sand’ is Cedric Robinson.
I took a moment to have my photo taken with the famous Eric Morecambe Statue, which stands by the sea front. If you’re not aware of who Eric Morecambe is, he was one half of the famous comedy duo Morecambe & Wise and took his stage name from his hometown. This statue was unveiled by the Queen in 1999, and depicts him striking one of his trademark poses with a pair of binoculars hanging around his neck.
Inscribed in the steps are the lyrics from Morecambe and Wise’s song “Bring Me Sunshine”, and the floor features many of his favourite catchphrases, including “RUBBISH!” and “All of life is based on Timing.”
On Morecambe Beach I stumbled across these sand sculptures of an elephant and a dragon surrounded by British flags- part of an attempt to encourage people to donate to the charity “Help For Heroes”.
A popular thing to do in Morecambe is to take an open top bus tour with Morecambe Heritage Bus Company, which will take you on a tour of the Bay area on a vintage red 1949 AEC Regent III bus. Since it was a Bank Holiday weekend, I happened to be there for “Vintage Bus Running Day” organised by Ribble Vehicle Preservation Trust, and had the opportunity to see a fantastic display of vintage buses.
No visit to Morecambe Bay is complete without visiting the Stone Jetty, which has been revamped to incorporate a magnificent display of public art. There are sculptures of birds on the rocks, birds etched into the floor, and even cast iron sculptures of birds sitting atop of the railings.
The Stone Jetty offers incredible views across the mudflats and it’s a brilliant spot for watching the sunset. Fed by five rivers- the Leven, the Kent, the Keer, the Lune and the Wyre- Morecambe Bay is the largest expanse of intertidal mudflats and sand in the UK, covering an area of 120 square miles. The Bay is a rich breeding place for birds, but it is also an important wintering and passage area for waders and wildfowl.
To end a beautiful day at the seaside, we then stopped for drink on the terrace of The Midland Hotel which overlooks the jetty. This famous Art Deco Grade 2* listed hotel was built by the London Midland and Scottish Railway in 1933, and has since been restored by Urban Splash, who re-opened the hotel in 2008. This very chic and glamorous seafront hotel has been used for the filming of scenes from Agatha Christie’s Poirot, and there were lots of guests dressed up in retro 1930′s clothing.
With the London 2012 Olympics coming up I’ve been feeling especially patriotic, so it was nice to have a very British day by the seaside. I got a bit nostalgic as it reminded me so much of days out when I was a child. As a full-time travel blogger I’ve been to exotic beaches all over the world, but sometimes it’s nice to relive those childhood memories.