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Friday, March 08, 2013

More than Pretty Lakes Beside the Seaside by Morcambe Bay

The last weekend in February The Man, Sam and I took leave of Southport and headed for Ulverston in Cumbria for a visit with close friends who had moved up there last summer. Ulverston is in the southern part of the Lake District and I would think less of a tourist attraction. But it is interesting, nevertheless.

My friends live in Baycliff, a pretty little village overlooking Morcambe Bay. Morcambe Bay is an unusual area of sea and sand noted for its rich stocks of seafood and dangerous and fast-moving tides. Carnforth, which I wrote about in my last post, is located on the opposite side of the water from Baycliff.

When The Man was a navigator in the RAF he often flew over this area of Britain and was keen to visit Barrow-in-Furness and to check out little Piel Island while we were there. I had only recently heard of Piel Island -- by way of television actor and personality Martin Clunes in his program Islands of Britain'. 

The drive to Barrow was interesting, but not particularly beautiful. Our first stop was the Roa Island Life Boat Station and Piel Island Ferry landing. Windswept and cold is how I shall remember it best! Fortunately the gates were locked shut so we didn't have to endure a walk around the building!
My first glimpse of Piel Island -- looking quite
mysterious and a bit forlorn!

It is actually possible to reach the island by foot when the tide is out. Needless to say it is important to keep an schedule of the tides if one wants to cross and stay dry! This view of Piel Island is taken from Roa Island, which is very tiny and connected to the mainland by a causeway. Though we didn't eat at the cafe/restaurant there, I understand from  my friends that it is a good place to stop for lunch!




Considering its small size, Piel Island has quite a story to tell! From the middle ages when King Stephen in 1127 gave the island to the Savignac monks to 1487 when German mercenaries made for Piel in an attempt by John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln, to wrest the throne from the Tudor king, Henry VII. Around 200 years later Charles II gave the island to one Duke of Abermarle and from then activity seemed to revolve around shipping, industry and salt. By the 18th century Piel was an important trading post and there was a large contingent of harbour pilots and customs officers in order to combat piracy and smuggling. Their cottages are now used as summer residences...

Currently, the island is occupied by the publican of the Ship Inn and his wife. Soon after taking possession of the pub the publican was crowned King of Piel Island. His coronation can be seen in the following clip, a testament to a certain quirkiness best found in these sceptred Isles, no doubt!!


What better way to end our day than with a meal in a local Baycliff pub/hotel, The Fisherman's Arms, followed by another glass of wine before the fire of the very English Farmers Arms on our way home! Cheers!


28 comments:

  1. Well, Sam looks as if he had a great time. What an interesting place....must admit to never having heard about it at all. fascinating. Jx

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    1. Sam had a great time. Asking questions, for example! ;-)

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  2. I think I might like to be queen of my own island! As long as it's about the size of Piel Island, that is.

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    1. The size would be ok, but the location -- I'm not sure about 'cold' and 'windswept' and 'off the coast of Cumbria!...

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  3. Sam does look happy and relaxed with you. Hope he is settled in school.
    We went to Morecombe a few weeks ago when we took Tom back to Lancaster Uni. We had a long walk along the prom. It was quite tired, although we thought there'd be some interesting places nearby.

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    1. I've not been to Morcambe town -- but I would like to have tea at the Art Deco 'Midland Hotel' sometime.

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  4. It sounds as though you had a great weekend, Broad and Sam certainly looks like he was enjoying himself. :-) I too first heard about Piel Island from the Martin Clunes programme, though I have good memories of childhood holidays in Morecambe and Heysham (and many other Lancashire seaside resorts)

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    1. I wonder how many would relish Heysham now, with the nuclear plant so over-whelmingly there!

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    2. Absolutely! Mind you, our first married home was just a few miles up the coast from Sellafield (then known as Windscale nuclear power station) but at least I got to visit Heysham while it was still just a little seaside town with a ferry terminal.

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  5. For me this was a bit of a history lesson. Always love the photos which makes me feel that I'm there!
    WE live in boring Ohio and health has kept us inside toooo much this dreary winter. So I travel through the eyes of others.
    Hope you'll check out my latest blog post. It's a complete short story - if you like to read - from my book of short stories titled Ezra and Other Stories. Comments welcome.

    Thanks Barb
    Ezra on sale .99 on Kindle.

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    1. This part of Cumbria certainly has a charm, of sorts, but I suspect I would be defeated by the gloomy weather that often prevails...

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  6. G'day Broad. Fabulous post. Love the video and the great pictures. Take care. Liz...

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    1. Thanks, Liz, glad you enjoyed it!

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  7. Looks like you had a good day out. Have a good weekend Diane

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    1. A good weekend to you, too, Diane!

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  8. Very interesting! I like the pictures and video. :-)

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  9. Sam must have had a great time, he looks like he is really enjoying himself. I had a boss at UCLA, who got fed up with that kind of work, packed up his family and moved to Cumbria where he opened a bed & breakfast place. I wonder if he's still there.

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    1. Gosh, that is an unusual move. I hope they like rain!! Sam had a great time and can't wait to go back there again...

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  10. There is little so lovely as some of the eating places in inns and hotels in the UK. Usually so welcoming and cozy! I recall one meal I had with delight (but, unfortunately, I don't recall it well enough to remember the name of the place, and more's the pity.) Anyway, we had been out in a cold rain for a few hours, doing some touristy things, and we went inside this place to warm up and have a bite. It was a combination of the cold, the wet, real hunger, and the welcoming attitude of the proprietors, but I had a bowl of lovely steaming hot ox tail soup and I can honestly say that it is one of the ten favorite meals of my life. I'd give a small unimportant body part to relive that bowl of soup!

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    1. Do you have more of a clue than 'in the UK'!!!??? I could go for a bowl of that soup today that's for sure!

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  11. What great snippets of history! I'd live to lord it over Piel Island ....if it was in the Med ;-)

    One of the few things I miss here in France: a good country pub. Sounds like you had an excellent time :-)

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    1. It's funny though -- a good country pub in France -- just doesn't sound French, does it? I think the weather is too good!

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    1. Nothing like good friends and interesting things and places to discover...

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  13. Dear Broad, what a delightful video. I don't watch "Doc Martin" on PBS here but I did recognize him in the video. On "Doc Martin" he always looks so dour and his smiling face here really won me over. A wonderful tradition. Thanks for the video! Peace.

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Receiving comments is a joy and I thank you all for taking the trouble and showing your interest. Makes me feel all gooey and stuff!