Cross Bay Walk

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Cross Bay Walk
Crossbay Walk.jpg
View from Lancashire side of the Cross Bay Walk, overlooking Morecambe Bay
LocationNorth West England
DesignationPublic Byway
Use Hiking

The Cross Bay Walk is a historical hiking route in Northwest England that crosses Morecambe Bay. It traditionally connected Hest Bank, Lancashire with Kents Bank, Cumbria. The exact route of the walk varies depending upon local conditions, but is usually between 6 to 8 mi (9.7 to 12.9 km) in length. [1]


History and guides

Location map United Kingdom Morecambe Bay.svg
Alternative ends of the walk on a map of the Bay

A route across Morecambe Bay has existed for centuries, [2] with passage by foot and even, at least until the local railway opened in 1857, mail coaches. [3] Due to the hazardous nature of the bay, particularly its areas of quick sand and unpredictable water channels, guides have assisted travellers throughout history. Prior to the dissolution of the monasteries, monks of Furness at Cartmel Priory provided guides for travellers across Morecambe Bay. [4] After the dissolution, the Duchy of Lancaster assumed responsibility for appointing the guides, with the first appointment made in 1538. [4] The first two appointments were made by letters patent, with subsequent appointments made by the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. In 2012, the duty to appoint the Queen's Guide to the Sands was transferred to the Guide Over Sands Trust, [5] whose trustees include local aristocrat Lord Cavendish. [6]


The exact route of the crossing has always varied depending upon local conditions, such as tidal conditions and the location of the sand flats that make up the route. [1] The walk originally connected Hest Bank in Lancashire with Kents Bank in Cumbria. More recently, the route has instead crossed Morecambe Bay between Arnside, Cumbria and Kents Bank due to safety concerns. [7]

Public Right of Way

Cross Bay public byway warning sign. Cross Bay Walk Warning.jpg
Cross Bay public byway warning sign.

A public byway open to all traffic exists across Morecambe Bay, ensuring permanent public access to the route. However, the route of public right of way, which connects Hest Bank and Kents Bank, should not be taken as the exact crossing route. Indeed, the Queen's Guide to the Sands of the time, Cedric Robinson MBE, described the notion of a designated public right of way as "foolhardy" and stated that it was "impossible to draw the path on the map because it would be obsolete from day one". [8]

The Cross bay working group, made up of Lancaster City Council, South Lakeland District Council, HM Coastguard, Lancashire Constabulary, Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service and Walk Guides, strongly advises that crossings should only be undertaken by well organised groups. [2] Current signage located at the Hest Bank start of the public byway, warns hikers to only cross the bay with the official guide.

Charity events and culture

Taking part in an organised Cross Bay Walk is a popular charity fund raising event, with frequent events raising thousands of pounds for local charities. [9] Such events have always risked cancellation if the weather in the preceding days leads to unsafe conditions, [10] and in 2020 events were cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. [11]

In 2021, guided crossings by 8,365 walkers, 860 runners and 61 horses raised over £300,000 for 35 charities. [12] This included the first recorded naturist walk, in which about 60 participants disrobed half a mile offshore until within half a mile of the far shore. [13]

The Cross Bay Walk is a famous event in local culture and even provides the inspiration for the name of a local brewery. [14]

Related Research Articles

Morecambe Bay is a large estuary in northwest England, just to the south of the Lake District National Park. It is the largest expanse of intertidal mudflats and sand in the United Kingdom, covering a total area of 120 sq mi (310 km2). In 1974, the second largest gas field in the UK was discovered 25 miles (40 km) west of Blackpool, with original reserves of over 7 trillion cubic feet (tcf). At its peak, 15% of Britain's gas supply came from the bay but production is now in decline. It is also one of the homes of the high brown fritillary butterfly.

Grange-over-Sands Human settlement in England

Grange-over-Sands is a town and civil parish located on the north side of Morecambe Bay in Cumbria, England, a few miles south of the Lake District National Park. In the 2001 census the parish had a population of 4,042, increasing at the 2011 census to 4,114. Historically part of Lancashire, the town was created as an urban district in 1894. Since the 1974 local government re-organisation, it has been of the South Lakeland district of Cumbria, though it remains part of the Duchy of Lancaster.

Arnside Human settlement in England

Arnside is a village and civil parish in Cumbria, historically part of Westmorland, near the border with Lancashire, England. The Lake District National Park is located a few miles North. Travelling by road, Arnside is 22 miles (35 km) to the south of Kendal, 25.3 miles (40.7 km) to the east of Ulverston, 35.2 miles (56.6 km) to the east of Barrow-in-Furness, 15.7 miles (25.3 km) to the west of Lancaster and 14.3 miles (23.0 km) to the east of Grange-over-Sands. In the 2001 census the parish had a population of 2,301, increasing at the 2011 census to 2,334.

The North Western Railway (NWR) was an early British railway company in the north-west of England. It was commonly known as the "Little" North Western Railway, to distinguish it from the larger London and North Western Railway (LNWR).

Kents Bank Human settlement in England

Kents Bank is a small village in Cumbria, England, so named for its proximity to the River Kent estuary. Part of the historic County Palatine of Lancashire, it is located 2 miles (3.2 km) south-west of Grange-over-Sands.

Silverdale, Lancashire Village in Lancashire, England

Silverdale is a village and civil parish within the City of Lancaster district of Lancashire, England. The village stands on Morecambe Bay, near the border with Cumbria, 4.5 miles (7 km) north west of Carnforth and 8.5 miles (14 km) of Lancaster. The parish had a population of 1,519 recorded in the 2011 census.

Morecambe and Lunesdale (UK Parliament constituency) Parliamentary constituency in the United Kingdom, 1983 onwards

Morecambe and Lunesdale is a constituency represented in the House of Commons of the UK Parliament since 2010 by David Morris, a Conservative.

Galloways Society for the Blind

Galloway's Society for the Blind, also known as Galloways, is one of Lancashire's oldest charities, established in 1867 following a public meeting in the Corn Exchange, Preston, England. It was originally the Preston Industrial Institute for the Blind, then the Institute for Blind Welfare and until 2000 the Preston and North Lancashire Blind Welfare Society. It is now named after William Wilding Galloway, a cotton merchant from Preston who left £40,000 to local charities including £10,000 to the society when he died in 1936. The Society renamed itself in July 2000, to avoid its cumbersome previous name which was commonly abbreviated to the ambiguous "The Blind Society" and to honour its greatest benefactor.

The Ulverstone [sic] and Lancaster Railway Company was short-lived as a business but the line that it built is still in daily use. The line runs from Lindal-in-Furness to Carnforth where it joins what was then the Lancaster and Carlisle Railway. The intermediate stations are: Cark and Cartmel, Kents Bank, Grange-over-Sands, Arnside and Silverdale.

Queens Guide to the Sands Appointment as guide to Morecambe Bay, England

The Queen's Guide to the Sands is the royally appointed guide to crossing the sands of Morecambe Bay, an ancient and potentially dangerous tidal crossing in northwest England. From 1963 until 2019, the Guide was Cedric Robinson MBE, the 25th guide. In April 2019 Michael Wilson, a 46-year-old local fisherman, was appointed his successor. The guide is paid a nominal salary of only £15 a year but the holder of the post also has the use of the grade II listed 700-year-old Guide's Cottage at Kents Bank, which is owned by the Crown and managed by the Duchy of Lancaster.

Slyne-with-Hest Human settlement in England

Slyne-with-Hest is a civil parish in the City of Lancaster in Lancashire, England. It had a population of 3,163 recorded in the 2001 census, decreasing to 3,126 at the 2011 Census. The parish is north of Lancaster and consists of two villages; Slyne, on the A6 road, and Hest Bank on the coast.

Arnside and Silverdale

Arnside and Silverdale is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England, on the border between Lancashire and Cumbria, adjoining Morecambe Bay. One of the smallest AONBs, it covers 29 square miles (75 km2) between the Kent Estuary, the River Keer and the A6 road. It was designated in 1972.

Flookburgh Human settlement in England

Flookburgh is an ancient village on the Cartmel peninsula in Cumbria, England, until 1974 part of Lancashire. Being close to Morecambe Bay, cockle and shrimp fishing plays a big part in village life.

Bare Lane railway station Railway station in Lancashire, England

Bare Lane is a railway station on the Morecambe Branch Line, which runs between Lancaster and Heysham Port. The station, situated 2+12 miles (4 km) west of Lancaster, serves the suburb of Bare in Morecambe, Lancashire. It is owned by Network Rail and managed by Northern Trains.

Hest Bank railway station Former railway station in Lancashire, England

Hest Bank railway station was opened by the Lancaster and Carlisle Railway (L&CR) three miles north of Lancaster Castle railway station. The line had been authorised in 1844 and a station was proposed for the village of Hest Bank, Lancashire, the following year. It opened in 1846 along with the line. The station continued to serve the village of Hest Bank until its closure in 1969. The site remains notable as being the point at which the present-day West Coast Main Line (WCML) comes nearest to the west coast. Views of Morecambe Bay can be glimpsed from trains on this section of the line.

Stagecoach Cumbria & North Lancashire Bus operator

Stagecoach Cumbria & North Lancashire is a major operator of bus services in North West England. It is a subsidiary of the Stagecoach Group, and has its origins in the purchase of Cumberland in 1987 and Ribble in 1988 from the National Bus Company. The head office of Stagecoach Cumbria & North Lancashire is in Carlisle. It was previously known as Stagecoach North West until 1 September 2011, when Stagecoach Merseyside joined Preston and Chorley depots to form Stagecoach Merseyside & South Lancashire.

National Cycle Route 69

National Cycle Network (NCN) Route 69 is a Sustrans National Route that runs from Hest Bank to Cleethorpes. The route is incomplete and consists of one long section in Lancashire, and seven short sections in West Yorkshire. The open sections are signed in both directions.

Cedric Robinson (guide) Queens Guide to Sands (Morecambe Bay; 1933–2021)

Cedric Robinson was a British guide who held the position of Queen's Guide to the Sands, the recognised escort for travellers across the dangerous tidal sands of Morecambe Bay in north west England, for 56 years.

Bay Cycle Way

The Bay Cycle Way is an 80-mile (130 km) cycling route around Morecambe Bay in Lancashire and Cumbria in north west England. Most of it forms National Cycle Route 700, while other sections are waymarked as NCN 6, NCN 69 and NCN 70.


  1. 1 2 "Cross Bay Walks". Visit Morecambe Bay. 18 November 2017. Retrieved 10 October 2020.
  2. 1 2 "Cross Bay Walks - Guidance for walkers and organisers". Lancaster City Council. Retrieved 10 October 2020.
  3. Calder, Simon (24 August 2019). "Sands and time: from Lancashire to Cumbria in bare feet". The Independent. Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  4. 1 2 "Morecambe Bay Guides – Lancashire |". Retrieved 10 October 2020.
  5. Pidd, Helen (12 April 2019). "Sands of time run out for Queen's Guide to Morecambe Bay". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 October 2020.
  6. "Trustees". Guide Over Sands Trust. 23 April 2014. Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  7. "Walk Across Morecambe Bay". Retrieved 10 October 2020.
  8. "Byway plan will sink says guide". Lancashire Telegraph. Retrieved 10 October 2020.
  9. "Cross Bay Walk raises £12k for Lancaster's CancerCare charity". Retrieved 11 October 2020.
  10. "Galloway's devastated after having to cancel flagship Morecambe Bay Walk Fundraising Event". On The Spot (OTS) News Southport. 5 July 2017. Retrieved 12 October 2020.
  11. "Events". Galloway's. Archived from the original on 12 October 2020. Retrieved 12 October 2020.
  12. "It is not goodbye it is see you in 2022..." Guide over the Sands Trust. 30 August 2021.
  13. Rouncivell, Gayle (21 June 2021). "Sun shines down as first ever naked charity walk takes place across Morecambe Bay". The Lancaster Guardian. Retrieved 9 September 2021.
  14. "History - Cross Bay Origins". Retrieved 11 October 2020.