MORECAMBE BAY MEANDER

ULVERSTON TO ARNSIDE – 6th July 2019

An early start – Mike, Ian, Brian, John, Rob, Pete, Linda and guest, Rick Stanton met at Canal Foot and set off into the calm, cloudy greyness at 0730 (15 mins after planned departure time)!  

All was great for an hour, doing between 4 and 7 mph without really trying, until we ran into shadows  and  a dead end somewhere opposite Aldingham. A variety of portage techniques, from brute force, tugging, to relaxed trolleying, we toiled on foot for 15 or 20 minutes to re-discover our lost, active channel.

Re-invigorated, but fearing for our lost time, we carried on south at around 4 mph for 50 minutes or so until we started to feel the impact of the incoming tide. With an unreasonably long and apparently infinite sandbank to our east there appeared to be no prospect of turning east. With Peel Island getting ever closer, and Heysham Power Station still way over to our left, Mike declared “we might not make it”. 

But persevering, on southwards, doing little over 2 – 2.5 mph, the infinite sandbar eventually petered out and we turned east to face Heysham – Peel Island no longer our unwanted prospect. But the speed remained disappointingly low, despite the force 3 to 4 westerly gusting on our backs. Still toiling east, the optimists intermittently declared that the power station was getting closer. At some point around here, I asked Mike where the point of no return was. He cheerfully replied: “that was ages ago!”

At just under 3 ½ hours into the trip, at 1055 ish, the god of nice currents looked down…….and like turning on a switch, our 2.5 mph transformed into an easy 4+, as we aimed NE towards our intended goal. We’d had around an hour of low speed travel. With our new fortunes we were back at between 5 & 7 mph. With a trip average age probably around 60, concerns now turned to the inevitably bursting bladders. An entertaining sand bank landing in the 4 mph current allowed a lighting of load……but alas no time for sustenance. 

Maintaining our decent speed we suddenly realised we had picked up the mighty bore – a 6” high wave that we all cheerfully sat on for a while. Bore petering out – it was butty time on a grassy sandbank at Grange. oh  teh main channel afr to the East, where it has not been for years, 20 minutes later we were off again at a decent speed – soon to arrive at sunny Arnside……..and it’s welcoming ice cream van. A total of 7 hrs 10 and 45.4 km after setting out from Ulverston – a mere 14km as the crow flies…….but a hell of a portage!

A superb, memorable trip. Throughout – a variety of feelings: mystery, interest, solitude, adventure, and camaraderie. Thanks to Mike for his experience, knowledge and superb judgement for making this work.    

Pete Riley

FOOTNOTES / TRIP DATA 

  • HW Liverpool 0211 & 1441 BST – 9.2m tide – planned departure 0715 (actual 0730).
  • Travelling south, we were slowed down about 2 ¼ hours into the trip opposite Aldingham (includes 15 – 20 minutes walk). Around 1 ½ hours after Jim Krawiecki predicts the flood to start at Heysham and Walney.
  • The channels and sandbanks shown on the current OS maps do not reflect the current geography. They are vastly different. 
  • Total trip 7 hours 10 mins – 28.2 miles – moving time approx. 6 hrs 30. Moving average over 4 mph. Max speed 10.6mph!
  • Arrived with around an hour spare before the ebb at Arnside.
  • Trip data recorded on a Garmin GPSMap 64 with OS 1:50k mapping.
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