“Oh, you’re off to the Lake District then?” I was constantly asked when I told people I was off to Cumbria for my first post-lockdown minibreak. Well no, not exactly. I was actually revisiting a special place with a quiet beauty. Where the sky is huge and the sunsets are some of the best you’ll ever see. Where curlews cry and oystercatchers wade the mudflats and shimmering sands.
Down in the south-west corner of Cumbria, Arnside sits on the Kent Estuary where the Kent River flows into Morecambe Bay. The village was a popular resort in Victorian times, but today it is largely bypassed by the tourists heading for the Lakes. However, the promise of a good sunset will draw those in the know to its promenade to gawp at the vivid sky.
The village has a handful of shops and galleries and a couple of pubs, but its visitors come for nature and the land, sky and seascapes. The area around the village has a range of flora and fauna. It forms the Arnside & Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and is a rich mosaic of limestone outcrops, former quarries, sheep pasture, stone walls, wetland and ancient woodland.
But you never have to go very far to reach the rocky shoreline and vast expanses of Morecambe Bay. The sands can be treacherous, with fast-moving tides and quicksand responsible for many tragedies over the years. A siren sounds at Arnside as the tide comes in, and a tidal bore is created at particularly high tides. This is mother nature at her rawest and demanding respect.
The weather wasn’t kind on my recent visit, with periods of horizontal rain punctuating the almost constant drizzle and moody light. The coastal views were dressed in sepia and there were no spectacular sunsets. But it didn’t matter; it still had a magic of its own.