Morecambe Bay on the west coast of Lancashire is a treasure trove of unsung sights that delight all the senses. I’ve lived here over 20 years and am still discovering new places to visit. It’s less-known than its neighbours the Lake District World Heritage Site and Yorkshire, so you’re able to find many places to escape the hurly burly and get some peace and quiet. Here are a few of my favourites, from the past couple of years of #FollowPye Days out around Morecambe Bay.
1. The Chapter House at Cockerham Sands
As you drive down to winding lane to Cockerham Sands, not far from Glasson Dock and Lancaster, keep an eye out for a curious crenalated building standing in the middle of a field overlooking Morecambe Bay. It’s the Chapter House, a Grade I listed building and Scheduled Ancient Monument and all that’s left of Cockersand Abbey. Founded in the 12th C, the abbey was dissolved in 1539 and now provides a quaint little place to visit on this unspoilt part of the Lancashire coast. (It’s open to the public on special occasions such as Heritage Open Days.) Walk done to the beach, ake a stroll along the sand, breathe in the salty fresh air and relax …
2. St Patrick’s Chapel at Heysham
Sit on an ancient stone wall or lie on the grassy bank and watch the sea birds tumble through ever-chaning skies. Heysham Head provides an escape from the suburbs of Lancaster and Morecambe, with stunning views across the Irish Sea towards the Isle of Man, the Lake District fells and the Lancashire coast. It’s had visitors going back to time unknown. Evidence of Stone Age (Neolithic) man has been found around the headland and Barrows (burial places) can be found in the area. The curious Heysham stone graves near the ruins of St Patrick’s Chapel are thought to date back to the 11th century.
Lift your spirits even more with a gentle stroll along the promontory to Half Moon Bay, past The Ship sculpture to a small cafe.
2. RSPB Leighton Moss near Silverdale
You might not think of bird-watching as a very soulful pastime but it can be extremely relaxing and connects us with nature in a very special way. You might be able to tell a robin from a blackbird but have no idea the difference between a moor hen and a coot. It doesn’t matter. Wandering along the little paths around RSPB Leighton Moss, near Silverdale, you will see and hear all sorts of wildlife, including, if you’e lucky, otters, bearded tits, marsh harriers, egrets and red deer.
The hides are sited over the largest reedbeds in England, large pools and Morecambe Bay itself. Take a walk or drive from the centre to the Eric Morecambe Hide for unparalled views of the wading and migratory birds on the Bay. They’re a haven of tranquility and calm the spirit most beautifully.
4. The Labyrinth at Holker Hall
To walk round the labyrith at Holker Hall is to take a gentle meander into mythology, history and spirituality. In Greek mythology, the Labyrinth was an elaborate, confusing structure designed and built for King Minos of Crete at his palace of Knossos, to contain the fearsome Minotaur. Labyrinths are found all over the world including on the floors of cathedrals and churches, where they may have had connections to the Holy City in Rome and their path been used for prayers and devotions. Some labyrinths are more like a maze, with many paths and choices, but today the majority are unicursal ie a single path to the center with one route to the centre and back. For centuries they have been an aid to contemplation; walking among the turnings, you lose track of direction and of the outside world, your thoughts dissolve and mindfulness is enhanced. The Holker Labyrinth is inspired by a design taken from a Hindu temple in northern India with the addition of a slightly raised asymmetrical centre and the twelve slate monoliths which echo the Cumbrian tradition of stone circles.
Holker has magnificent gardens with hundreds of ancient trees including the venerable Great Lime, planted in the early 1600s. It’s designated one of The Tree Council’s 50 Great British Trees and is another excellent reason to visit this soulful site on the Cartmel Peninsula in Cumbria.
5. Manjushri Kadampa Meditation Centre near Ulverston
One of the most unexpected and uplifting places to visit on Morecambe Bay is the Manjsuhri Kadampa Meditation Centre near Ulverston. The gilded roof of the Buddhist temple catches the sunlight and draws visitors from all over the world. The Centre’s spiritual pedigree is unique, set in the gournds and historic buidings of Conishead Priory The Temple holds daily, free, meditation sessions and you can book a meditation course or a retreat, visit for special events or simply enjoy walking round the garden.
There’s an excellent vegetarian cafe, where you’ll be served by friendly monks and volunteers of all nationalities. It really is the perfect place to feed Mind, Body AND Soul.
6. Piel Island in Morecambe Bay off the Cumbrian Coast
A relatively unknown delight, Piel Island off the Furness Peninsula, sits quietly in the ever-changing waters of Morecambe Bay, untroubled by the stresses of modern-day life. The only way to get there is by boat from Roa Island, accessible by causeway from the mainland. The little ferry only runs from Easter to October so do check times. There’s a pub, run by the King of Piel, a ruined castle, a few houses and enough peace and quiet to suit the most demanding of purists. Sea birds swirl overhead, seals play around its shores and spring and summer the grass is dotted with wild flowers.
Read More: A delightful excursion to Piel Island
7. Furness Abbey near Barrow-in-Furness
My final choice for soulful places around Morecambe Bay is also one of the most signifcant sites in the area, yet again relatively quiet and unspoilt. Furness Abbey, founded by King Stephen in 1123 and now owned by English Heritage, was once the second-wealthiest and most powerful Cistercian monastery in the country. (Fountains Abbey in Yorkshire, was the richest.) Situated not far from Barrow-in-Furness, the monks of the abbey were the wealthiest and most powerful landowners in the area, including the Isle of Man. Its red sandstone ruins are the result of Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries.
You can walk round the ornately decorated Chapter House, the East and West Tower and see stone carvings, effigies and other artefacts from the site in the Visitor Centre. Take time to rest beside one of the mighty arches and you might just catch sight of the ghost of a squire’s daughter, said to haunt My Lady’s Path nearby …
Read more about Morecambe Bay & Lancashire
I’ve been an Ambassador for family-run Pye Motors for almost 3 years. A well-established local Ford dealership, Pye Motors have been in this area since the 1930s. MD Nick Payne is passionate about his local area and it was his idea to do a series of days out around Morecambe Bay using the Seldom Seen Maps. Find out more about what Pye Motors does in the local community here.