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Wednesday, 16 May 2018

We do like to be beside the seaside.

We hadn't realised that the museum at the station closed at 1600 so we had rushed our visit but decided to go back and have another look the next day after it opened at 1000. The whole place is run by volunteers so you can not expect them to be open 8 'til 8. We finally left our mooring about 1130 in nice sunshine.

I think the book says that there are three swing bridges on the navigable section of the Lancaster Canal and this is the only one that seems to be actually closed. It seems to go to a private house, but as so many people seem to be crossing it seems that there is a public footpath over it. It is easily swung and not really locked.

The canal passes through the houses of Hest Bank and it really seems to be a holiday place with homes that remind me of near St. Ives. Mind you, you can understand why they are built up the hill side as there are fantastic views across Morecambe Bay. Having a bit of water in the bay also helps it give that seaside feeling too.

On our way north the weather wasn't quite so lovely, plus there was only sand to be seen. The views aren't quite so brilliant, but still, there is a view!

Our destination was bridge 117 just south of Hest Bank as Helen wanted to walk on the beach. After a spot of lunch we set off on a walk down to the seaside, or at the state of tide we were there it was sandside.

First we had to negotiate the West Coast Mainline. Even today with just normal traffic hurrying up and down there were a couple of people taking photos from the high footbridge on the long straight. I expect that it will be heaving when there is a steam engine pulled train passing.

Once we got to the shoreline it was a little disappointingly scruffy, but there were plenty of dog walkers about. There is no beach or sand or even pebbles. The 'structure' that can be seen in the sand had been lost for nearly 2000 years and was/is the Hest Bank Wharf. As the Lancaster Canal comes to its closest point to the shore here at Hest Bank. You can also see the graded track that led to the shore line.

http://www.slyne-with-hest.org.uk/local%20history/wharf.htm
It had been built to give access to the small schooners from all over to have a safe place to load and discharge to the canal. As can be seen from the above picture it was a substantial jetty, about 4m above the sand. You can also see the remains of a wooden post at the top that may the remains of a crane or maybe a beacon to guide ships to it. There was also a transhipment warehouse on the shoreline, just below where the Hest Bank Hotel is today. The jetty fell out of use when the railway came to the area in 1850 and slowly was swallowed up. The River Keer's channel meanders between the shorelines and it seems that it is roughly an 150 year cycle of movement from bank to bank.

Another view and you can just about see the stump of the crane or mast but in the distance are the Lakeland Fells. The highest in sight, just in from the left hand edge is the Old Man of Coniston.

It must have been a terrible place to sail into really as you have to have the right wind and the right tide, so timing would be everything. It would be a really easy place to be put on a lee shore and not be able to get off again. I suppose the fact that it is mainly sand is a redeeming factor, but it would be a scary place to be on a stormy day.

On one of the headlands is this sculpture called the 'Praying Shell', by Anthony Padgett. It was unveiled in 2013. It is supposed to represent humanities openness to a larger dimension, and also the way that cockle shells open when the tide comes in. In the sunshine it is a stunning 1m high piece that can be seen all along the coast.

The salt flats are extensive but we turned off at the garden centre and headed back up to the canal and then back to the boat. It was still a lovely day when we got back.

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