I owed The Dog a big walk and had a plan of going to Hest Bank on the Lancashire coast, do a big circular walk and then to treat myself to an afternoon tea at the Shore cafe. But then I had a 2am moment and realised the county of Lancashire has been put into Tier 3, the highest Covid lockdown measure in England at the moment and thought better of it.
So we tweaked the plan slightly and decided to head to Arnside in Cumbria instead, a place we visit fairly regularly. We would walk along the river and out towards the estuary of Morecambe Bay and around before walking up Arnside Knott. I packed a sandwich, a piece of cake, a flask of tea and a bag of dog treats, with the intention of eating them at the viewpoint at the Knott and off we set.
We arrived about 11:30 to find the place heaving with people and full of cars – it was an overcast October day with a bit of a chill and it was busier than summer. Was it that everybody had the same idea as me – with Lancashire out of the running, they had all come into Cumbria? I went down to my usual parking area, but it was full. I turned around at the bottom and as I crawled back up, someone motioned that they were leaving. So I bagged their spot despite an old boy trying to sneak in. Chuffed, The Dog and I gathered our gear and headed to the river.
The River Kent is quite wide here and tidal. I kept The Dog on the lead as there were fisherman on the quay, but soon let her off, puzzled by the amount of oozy mud everywhere. It covered the path and came right up to the embankments, inches thick and gloopy. I had never seen it like this before. We kept to the edge of the wall, away from the worst of it and carried on as the people thinned out and the path became rocky. It was here that two groups of people had stopped and were staring out into the estuary, watching four canoeists. First of all, I couldn’t figure out the fascination until a siren sounded across the water and finally it dawned on me – it was the Arnside Bore
The Bore is a tidal wave that rolls in very quickly on high and spring tides. I could just about see it in the distance, but within minutes it was covering the sandbanks and causing birds to scatter. No wonder there was a warning siren. It was amazing to watch this unstoppable roll of water charging up the river, the canoeists riding in its momentum. The power was unbelievable and anyone caught up in it would be in serious trouble. I stood there for about 10 minutes watching the tide gushing in behind it. It was an incredible sight, a reminder how powerful, how dangerous nature can be.
We eventually carried on, The Dog finding a large log to carry, attracting attention and laughter in equal measure. I just rolled my eyes. We walked round a little bay up to the entrance of a caravan site with the intention of following the river again. I wasn’t sure how high the tide would be and didn’t want to get caught out, but people were walking along there so I followed. I did note any escape routes and where the tidemark was, as I wasn’t sure these people were locals and knew what they were doing. We got quite a way – to the edge where the river opens up into Morecambe Bay itself, but here the sea was lapping against the edge of the cliff, the sandy beach submerged and we could go no further. So we all took a detour up into the woods, following a narrow muddy path until we dropped down onto the shingle beach beyond. The Dog and I then plunged into the quirky caravan park hidden in the woods, all the vans perched higgly piggly. We bobbed out back at the entrance of the caravan site and rewarded ourselves with a tea break, suddenly realising that our path we had taken only about 40 minutes previous was now underwater! Actually the whole little bay was underwater. I was agog – I just didn’t realise the tide came up this far. We walked along the concrete road, noticing that the puddles had got larger during our short stop and looking closer, saw the water insidiously creeping across the road, slowly filling up gaps and indentations. You could see how people get caught out and trapped on sandbanks and such like. This area and Morecambe Bay beyond, with its miles of flat beach, fast tides and quicksands, is notorious for trapping people and many people have lost their lives. You don’t mess around here.
We walked around to the beginning of the Knott, a wooded eminence owned by the National Trust. It’s a gentle ascent, through deciduous woodland, riddled with paths. The Dog and I sauntered up, long distance views opening up in between the trees. We stopped a few times to take in the view and lamented that it wasn’t a gorgeous sunny afternoon to bring out the best of the autumnal colours. We got to the viewpoint overlooking the River Kent and sat on a bench – me to finish off my sandwich and cake and to feed The Dog biscuits, though she successfully scrounged the last of my egg sandwich. A woman walked past, commenting on the enormous piles of poo left by cows that roam freely here and as a conversation starter, it was a good one as we ended up chatting for at least a hour, if not longer. She was in an ancient VW camper van touring around for a few days and we chatted about our various trips. She was great fun and I felt I could be good friends with her – was even tempted to exchange phone numbers, but in the end we parted with best wishes after I suggested that she should visit Swaledale for her last few days.
The Dog and I wandered further up towards the trig point, marking the summit of the Knott. I was beaten by a group of older walkers I had seen on and off all day. They sort of barged in and overtook the trig as their own. I had noticed that the more mature members of the public were out to test my patience today – on the way over, they were either glacial slow in their driving or just plainly drifted across onto my side of the road, totally oblivious that they were hogging the country lanes. They were reluctant to thank me when I let them through at pinch points and patently tried to nick my parking spots even when I was actively indicating my claim on that piece of prized tarmac, so this lot weren’t helping my opinion of their generation today. I was determined to touch it with The Dog as a sort of celebration of achieving today’s objective, so we did our own sort of socially distanced barging in to dab it with tips of fingers and a wet nose. Satisfied, we descended down back towards town, via a large broad field, onto a back road and nipping down a footpath leading back to the riverfront. Here The Dog found freshwater to gulp and we squelched back through the gloopy mud – which I now worked out had been deposited by the incoming tide. We tiptoed back onto the concrete path and back to the car. The tide had turned and was now rushing back out to sea. We had now exhausted Arnside – there was nowhere else to walk really – the rivers edge towards town was equally wet and muddy and the village centre was heaving with people and parked cars which was frankly off putting. So we jumped into the car and on the way home, stopped off by the Lancaster canal and did another hour’s walk before heading home for tea.