Day 155 & 156. Monday 25th & Tuesday 26th September. Carnforth to Morecambe.
Morecambe Bay is a lot bigger than I thought, to walk around anyway. It was interesting and frightening to see the many Public Rights of Way marked on my Ordinance Survey map which showed potential pathways across the mud-flats. In fairness, there is also a warning on the map saying that the paths are dangerous so you should seek local guidance, I had watched the speed the tide comes in and goes out across this Bay, obviously I couldn't see the areas of quick sand or the shifting sands caused by the draining rivers but I concluded, you would have to be completely off your head to try and walk across it. We can all remember the tragedy back in the early 2000's when 23 Chinese cockle pickers were drowned when they were cut off by the tide, either the gang master was pushing the gang to the limit or he got the tide times wrong, either way, it was a bad day for a lot of young workers. I enjoyed walking down the coastal path past Hest Bank and onto Morecambe promenade keeping out of the mud and not risking a mad dash trying to escape the incoming tide, closely followed by the huge black rain clouds.
I'd been invited to a meeting in Morecambe but not until the following night so I decided to keep on walking and return the next day on the bus, it was pointless losing a days walking and once I got going, the pain in my foot eased up so providing I kept moving, it was tolerable. The promenade at Morecambe has seen some investment, it went on for miles and I have to say, it was very nice. I was sitting on a bench with a coffee watching the locals walking, running and cycling up and down the prom when I was approached by a young couple who were interested to learn what I was doing carrying a such a large rucksack. They were regular walkers and campers so were keen to pick up some info on wild camping, all campers are the same, we are all hungry to learn from others, what's the best sleeping mat, what tent are you using, how do you charge your phone.... The questions are never ending, even of you are convinced you have the right kit or you're doing the right thing, you can always learn something new and possibly make life under canvas a bit easier for yourself. As we talked, we got around to the reasons behind my walk, like so many other lovely people I've met, they had a desperately sad story to tell. His best mates brother had only last week killed himself, 18 years old and once again, nobody saw it coming. Another young man, life has barely begun for him, the life and sole of any gathering but clearly hiding his true feelings and emotions behind a mask, 18 years of age ? What a complete waste of a life and a tragic story for his family to now have to learn to live with. So desperately sad and another tragic story to add to my ever growing list of sad stories, surely we need to do more to prevent these tragedies, they can be avoided, can't they ?? 🥺
At the end of the promonade I walked up onto the coastal path heading for Heysham. Back in June I'd travelled down to Heysham from Scotland to catch the ferry over to The Isle of Man, that seemed like a very long time ago but I could remember that there wasn't much to see in Heysham so on this visit I planned to walk straight past the docks and keep going. As I walked towards the small village I noticed lots of white vans parked down the sides of residential streets and at first I couldn't work out what was going on. As I got into the thick of it I could see that all of this activity was a film crew who just happened to be filming I as passed by. It was all very interesting so I stopped for while to take it all in and watching the lead actors I recognised them both but couldn't place them.
I'd walked onto the live set of 'The Bay' which apparently is filmed in studios in Manchester but also here in Morecambe Bay/Heysham where they can film live footage in the resort town. I've never actually seen an episode of The Bay but recognised the lead character, or at least I think she's the lead character, she'd just had a big row with her mum and was heading back to get in her unmarked police car.
I don't know how big The Bay is in the big scheme of TV productions but I was blown away by the number of people involved and the vast amount of kit they were using. This very short piece of filming was rehearsed a number of times while the crew were setting up the cameras and props, there were script people, directors, producers, lighting people, electricians, a tea girl that appeared with a big tray of tea & coffee and the driver of the fake police car that was giving me a running commentary on proceedings. Not to mention a team of security guards, there must have been over 40 people milling about to capture this 3 or 4 minute clip for the programme. Absolutely fascinating and I was loving standing there watching it all unfold. All done on a live street so they had to stop for cars driving up and down, the occupants of the house they were filming in lease their property to the TV production company while they are put up in a local hotel for a few days and the neighbours just have to put up with all of this going on outside their houses. The fake police car driver works for a company that supplies pretend emergency vehicles and prison wagons to all filming production companies in the UK so he drives these vehicles to the sets, they are used to film and then he drives them home... Now that's a steady job I could put up with so I left him my number for when he retires, hopefully he'll put in a good word for me...
Sadly, the director wasn't interested in having a good looking Freemason carrying a heavy looking rucksack walking through the shot, I did ask but they weren't up for it. Just to show that I wasn't bothered, I mentioned that I'd never seen the programme, possibly because it was shown on Tuesdays nights when I was out at Masonic meetings, it was either that or someone told me it was crap so I was watching re-runs of Only Fools and Horses on Dave instead !!! Their loss....
I'd had enough of hanging with 'celebrities' for one day, I needed to move on before I started feeling all self important, I had a tent to sleep in and I needed to find a bit of grass to put it on...
I walked down past the docks and the nuclear power station and getting back onto the coastal path I headed down to Sunderland point. I found a little campsite in the middle of nowhere, the old lady in the site office was deaf as a post but was insistent that she wanted £15 for the night. I tried for while to negotiate a discount and as I was giving in and about to leave, she miraculously recovered her hearing and agreed to let me have a pitch for £10. The grass hadn't been cut for weeks and was soaking wet but I pitched up and headed for the showers for which I'd been given a key attached to a big rock !! It was one of those 1970's concrete floored toilet blocks, no heating, plain block walls and a crappy looking electric shower that required a 20p peice to get the luke warm water through it... I knew I should have saved my £10 and wild camped down by the river. I had a wash and headed back to the tent to boil some water for my noodles...
The next morning I walked up the river towards Lancaster, the River Lune which ends here and starts 53 miles away up in Ravensdale in Cumbria. Just before Lancaster I walked through a tiny little place called Snatchems which had an interesting history. Legend has it, this area, along with Catchems downstream was popular with press gangs where men were snatched, sometimes brutally for service on Navy ships. The name comes from 'prest' a sum of money (similar to the Kings' Shilling given to Army recruits) accepted by a volunteer and forming a binding contract of service. The money often changed hands in pubs and inns often through trickery by the gang leader. Press ganging was common practice until the end of the Napoleonic War in 1815.
Fortunately the pub was closed so I didn't go in, I could do without being 'press ganged' onto a Navy ship and waking up in the morning on my way to some god forsaken place surrounded by randy matelots... My well tanned, ripped body wouldn't stand a chance, they,d never let me out of the barrel !!! 😬
I was fully intending on jumping on a bus back to Morecambe but it was still early so I ended up walking back. I had been contacted by a Freemason called Geoff who had kindly offered me a room in his hotel for the night and he was meeting me at 6.30pm to walk around the to the Lodge for the meeting.
You won't be surprised to hear, it was another fantastic evening visiting a lodge where I was made to feel so very welcome. So much so, the Past Provincial Grand Master, who was an Honourary member of The Widows Sons, an International Masonic Motorcycle Group, exercised his authority and joined me in the Lodge meeting without a suit jacket, wearing only his waistcoat as I have to because I don't carry a jacket in my rucksack. What a lovely gesture by a true gentleman to help to make me feel welcome.
I was treated with the other visitors to a first class Ceremony by The Poulton-Le-Fylde le Sands Lodge No. 1051, we shared a wonderful meal at the Festive Board and the proceeds of the raffle were generously donated to my MCF fundraiser.
It was raining and blowing when we left the Lodge so I was very grateful that I had a nice warm bed to go back to, there was another storm due to hit this west coast through the night, I can't tell you how pleased I was not to be crawling into my tent.
Sing along if you know the words....
Bring me sunshine, In your smile
Bring me Laughter, All the while
In this world where we live
There should be more hapiness
So much joy you can give
To each brand new bright tomorrow.....