Morecambe Bay is becoming busier than ever, and it is wonderful to see people spending their ‘Stay-cations’ in our towns and villages. But it’s important to enjoy the countryside safely and responsibly, so our Bay stays beautiful for years to come.
Morecambe Bay Partnership and Natural England have teamed up to raise awareness of how to keep the Bay beautiful as you explore our shores. Responsible behaviour not only keeps our wildlife and local livelihoods safe, but also to avoids putting yourself and others at risk.
Here are a few things to keep in mind…
The Bay is a haven for wildlife: it is internationally recognised as one of the best places to see overwintering wading birds such as oystercatchers, ringed plovers and curlews. Birds are already arriving from their breeding grounds – travelling hundreds or thousands of miles from Iceland, Scandinavia, and even Arctic Canada to spend winter here on our shores.
Right now, it’s vital that these new arrivals spend lots of time feeding; they need to replenish lost energy resources from their epic migrations, and build up fat stores to keep warm over winter. There is plenty of food here for them – worms, crabs and shellfish buried under the mud – but if they are disturbed too much they waste more energy than they can consume. Flying uses up to 12 times more energy than staying still, so keeping away from these birds and reducing their need to take flight can drastically improve their chances of survival. Please keep your distance, and always keep dogs on a lead when wild birds are around. Why not try and get to know the birds with our handy Birds of the Bay Bingo? Binoculars and patience are advised!
The Bay can be dangerous; even deadly! Peaceful looking mudflats and golden sandbanks are easy places to get into trouble if you are not careful. The coastguards respond to many callouts for people trapped in quicksand or ‘sinking sands’ each year. Saltmarshes can be dangerous too. Their mazes of deep muddy channels are covered each tide, so it’s easy to get stuck. Cows and sheep graze many of the marshes around the Bay, and are accustomed to moving in and out with the tide. But if we or our dogs spook them, they may panic and get trapped in a gully, and not be able to escape before the tide comes in. The tides in Morecambe Bay are FAST – faster than a galloping horse! So keep yourself, family, friends and others safe by checking a tide table before heading down the shore. It helps to always have an exit point in mind so you can get off the shore safely.
Sticking to paths is the best plan when you visit the coast. By doing so we can keep locals happy, wildlife thriving, and everyone safe! When the England Coast Path opens there will be signs to explain where you can go, including a ‘coastal margin’ to explore on foot. You won’t be able to go everywhere; Natural England work hard to accommodate nature, safety and land management concerns with local experts, and at times will restrict access where it is unsuitable or dangerous.
You can check the progress of the path at www.gov.uk/government/publications/england-coast-path-in-the-north-west-of-england. For now, you must stick to existing footpaths.
We hope this helps you enjoy the Bay responsibly if you’re local or just visiting. Please remember follow signs, stay safe and enjoy your time at the coast!