I’m Too Old For This! Adventures in Morecambe Bay
By Beth Pipe, The Cumbrian Rambler
I know that I’m getting older and, therefore, I creak rather more these days and don’t bounce quite as well as I used to, but that’s no excuse for not embracing the many wonderful adventures on offer around Morecambe Bay. Adventures aren’t only to be had amongst the high peaks and ragged rocks of the Lake District, there are plenty of ways to get your adrenaline kicks around, and on, Morecambe Bay.
Cycling and Mountain Biking
The bay is blessed with the glorious Morecambe Bay Cycleway; over 80 miles of well signposted cycling right around the fringes of the bay. The views are stunning throughout and there are plenty of places to pause for tea and cake along the way. You don’t have to do it all at once; on several occasions we’ve cycled short sections or cycled a slightly longer distance then caught the train back (a favourite is to cycle from our home in Grange-over-Sands around to Arnside for food and drink at The Albion before catching the train for the return leg.)
If you fancy something more challenging, or don’t own a bike, then somewhere like Lake District Bikes near Ulverston have everything you need for a wheely good day out (you see what I did there?). One great idea if you want to go cycling as a family but one or other of you is worried about keeping up with the kids, is to hire yourselves electric bikes. We did just that when we went out with our nephews last year and it was like having super powers as we breezed up the hills and kept pace with them all day.
What better way to enjoy the bay than by getting out on the water? And you don’t need to be an expert or have any previous experience whatsoever. Bay Sea School is based in Morecambe and run by passionate lifelong sailors John and Deirdre, who will calm your nerves and have you zooming around the beautiful blue waters of the bay in no time at all. Expect to get stuck in to hands-on sailing and navigating, rather than sitting on deck sipping a G&T while everyone else does all the work! They also offer a range of formal qualifications for those looking to take things more seriously, and the bay is the perfect place to practice and hone your skills.
This is slightly to the north of the bay in Grizedale, but we’ve found that a session at Go Ape is the perfect way to keep teenagers amused. Our 13 year old nephew was full of bravado (as was I!) until we faced some of the more daunting leaps and zipwires. We completed the Tree Top Challenge before demolishing a mountain of tea and cake in the excellent cafe afterwards. They also have a colossal 3km zipwire course running down through the forest, it’s not cheap but it’s definitely an experience to remember!
Also perfect for adrenaline junkies is Gravity multi-flight tower at Salt Ayre Leisure Centre – a challenging and fun activity involving six possible descent options including zip line and free fall!
For a different way to explore South Cumbria, how about an adventure with Lake District Segways in Cartmel? They offer all the kit, full instruction and stunning tours through the local countryside. Segways are a very different way to explore the landscape and you’ll definitely need the tuition beforehand, but once you’re up and running they’re tremendous fun. And don’t worry about your sense of balance; I can fall off anything and I managed a full Segway experience without doing myself a mischief so you’ll definitely be fine.
Back in the day swimming across the bay was the thing to do. I adore the memorial to Charles Gerald Forsberg on Morecambe prom who was the first person to cross the bay both ways and, in total, swam across the bay 29 times. This is a great piece of footage from a race in 1937 and it must have been a tremendous challenge to swim the 12 miles against the notorious currents in the bay. I’m not suggesting diving into the bay but there are plenty of places for adventurous paddles and gentle dips, though please always be mindful of the conditions and take appropriate precautions. Sandy Gap on Walney Island is a popular spot on warm sunny days and the last time we were there the sea and sky were so blue it looked more like the Bahamas – my friends really didn’t believe we were only a few minutes from Barrow town centre.