The Hidden Dangers of Morecambe Bay

Is Morecambe Bay Dangerous?

Is Morecambe Bay Dangerous?

The Morecambe Bay coastline is renowned for its treacherous conditions.

The bay can be a treacherous place for the unwary.

The combination of fast tides, quicksands, draining rivers, shifting channels and sheer unpredictability can make the bay dangerous.

Additionally, with the bay’s 120 square miles of swirling currents and constantly shifting mudflats include some of the most dangerous quicksands in Britain.

As mentioned, with rapid and fast-rising incoming tides, unpredictable quicksands and shifting channels great care must be taken when walking on the sands.

Imagine journeying across vast, shifting sands, with the tide surging in behind you and the ever-present threat of quicksand lurking beneath your feet.

This was the reality for those who dared to cross Morecambe Bay in the 18th century, using a unique “diligence” coach service.

Is Morecambe Bay Dangerous?

Starting in 1781, this “light coach” carrying just three passengers and a driver would trudge across the sands three times a week, connecting Lancaster and Ulverston.

However, this wasn’t your typical scenic route. The journey was entirely dependent on the whims of the tide, adding an element of danger to the already unpredictable terrain.

The combination of strong currents, rushing tides, and hidden quicksands turned this seemingly simple journey into a potentially fatal one.

Countless lives were lost over the years, with parish church registers bordering the bay grimly recording names of victims who met their end on the treacherous sands.

The historical records paint a stark picture.

In Cartmel Priory alone, 141 entries detail individuals who lost their lives to the sands between the late 16th century and 1880.

Each entry represents a lost life, a stark reminder of the dangers faced by those who dared to cross this unforgiving landscape.

At the west end of the nave, there is a gravestone bearing the following inscription:

Here lies the body of Robert Harrison Son of Thomas and Margaret Harrison who was drowned on Lancaster sands 13th day of January 1782 in the 24th year of age.

And below…

Also lies Margaret Harrison who was Drowned January 1783 near the same place her son was Drowned.

While the diligence service eventually met its end, the story of Morecambe Bay’s shifting sands serves as a powerful reminder of the forces of nature and the challenges people faced in the past.

Despite the fatalities, generations of Cumbrians used the route southward to Lancaster, mainly due to it being considerably shorter than the journey around the bay.

So, the next time you walk this scenic coastline, take a moment to remember the brave souls who ventured across, forever leaving their mark on the sands of time.

However, the worst tragedy occurred in modern times.

On the night of 5th February 2004, a gang of Chinese immigrant workers was caught on an incoming tide.

It was not possible for lifeboats and coast guard vessels to reach them in time, and only one man was saved. Twenty-one bodies were later recovered.

The dangers of Morecambe Bay are such that Royal guides were first appointed 600 years ago.

Above all, their job was to show travellers a safe route across the sands.

Today the organized, guide-led walks, with walkers mostly being sponsored for charity can be seen crossing the sands at low tide.

Is Morecambe Bay Dangerous?

But be warned, before going anywhere on the sands, always check the Morecambe bay tide times. To check, click here.

The current guide, Michael Wilson, (who took over from Cedric Robinson), takes thousands of people a year on guided walks across the bay.

For anyone interested in the walks further details are available at the Tourist Information Centre here in Grange.

If you are looking for holiday accommodation in Grange-over-Sands, check out our holiday cottage in Kents Bank and enquire here.

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