Gazette campaign highlights the dangers of Morecambe Bay sands

The Westmorland Gazette: Mike Davis, training officer for Bay Search and Rescue, Queen’s Guide Cedric Robinson and Nigel Capstick, station officer for Arnside Coastguard, with a copy of The Westmorland Gazette Safety on the Sands poster Mike Davis, training officer for Bay Search and Rescue, Queen’s Guide Cedric Robinson and Nigel Capstick, station officer for Arnside Coastguard, with a copy of The Westmorland Gazette Safety on the Sands poster

THE Westmorland Gazette is today launching a campaign to heighten awareness of the dangers posed by the treacherous Morecambe Bay sands.

Thousands of Safety on the Sands posters, produced by the paper, are to be distributed to businesses across South Lakeland and north Lancashire in a bid to save lives.

It follows two recent incidents in which holidaymakers found themselves trapped in quicksands and rescued by coastguards.

The initiative is being supported by South Lakeland District Council, Lancaster City Council, Queen’s Guide to the Sands Cedric Robinson, the HM Coastguard, Bay Search and Rescue and Ulverston Inshore Rescue.

The rapid and fast-rising incoming tides, unpredictable quicksands and shifting channels already make the sands some of the most dangerous in the UK.

But Mr Robinson warned they have ‘never been so dangerous’ as they are this year.

His stark message was issued following the rescue of a teenage girl who was sucked into quicksand up to her waist near Silverdale earlier this month.

Two weeks later a woman was also submerged to her waist, and a man stuck to his knees, near The Ship Inn, Sandside.

Rescue volunteers have criticised some of the 60 warning signs in place from Silverdale to Bardsea, describing them as ‘old’ and ‘tatty’.

Bay Search and Rescue Training Officer Mike Davis said: “They need a refresh. Some are good but there needs to be consistency.

“If people have not read anything about the dangers then the signs are the last line of defence before they go onto the Bay. An audit of them all needs to be done.”

Bruce Chattaway, Station Officer at Ulverston Inshore Rescue, was also unhappy about the state of the signs and has taken matters into his own hands.

“There is at sign at Canal Foot but it is has been there for donkeys’ years and when things are old fashioned and tatty people do not pay attention,” he said.

“Last summer we had 33 call-outs to that area so we are in the process of having our own noticeboard made, with more detail on and timetables of the tide times.”

Coun Tom Harvey was successful in his campaign to get new signage at Grange two years ago, and said he was ‘sure they made a difference’.

But Nigel Capstick, Arnside Coastguard Station Officer, said the ten new signs at Arnside, donated to the parish council by United Utilities in October, had not made any difference.

“We tried to make them more dynamic, and get across the message that there was ‘extreme’ danger, but there is a limit to what you can do and people obviously are not taking notice because they are still going out,” he said.

South Lakeland District Council said it was responsible for the signs on council-owned land, which numbered 22, and that they were replaced with newer ones in 2011.

Phil Greenup, Public Protection Manager, said: “The change was made after the council became aware of the national RNLI signing scheme, and we replaced 22 because they are the ones on council land.

“Historically signs across South Lakeland were probably installed by SLDC or parish councils, but now those on private land fall to the responsibility of the landowner. SLDC is happy to work with any landowner to give them advice on what would be the most appropriate signage.”

He added that council workers did regularly assess the signs they were responsible for.

Safety on the Sands is prominently aimed at visitors, who appear to be the most frequently caught out.

But Mr Capstick said residents also had a significant role to play.

“It is important that local people keep an eye on what is going on and that they do not hesitate to contact 999 if they think someone is in danger.

“We would rather be called out to 1,000 false alarms than to one fatality.

“A campaign like this has absolutely been needed because the information presented in safety messages is crucial.”

Mr Robinson added: “I whole heartedly think it is a wonderful idea.”

A long list of incidents

  • 2004 February – More than 30 Chinese cockle pickers were caught by high rising tide near Hest Bank. Twenty-one perished.
  • 2005 February – A 47-year-old walker was saved from certain death after he became stuck up to his neck in mud near Silverdale.
  • 2006 March – A woman who had parked on the Bolton-le-Sands shore to enjoy the view and carry out book work had to be rescued after her car was caught by the high tide.
  • 2006 October - A 29-year-old man sparked a major rescue when he got stuck in mud and quicksand 300 metres off Scalestone Point, Morecambe.
  • 2006 October – Coastguard members rescued a man who was stuck up to his waist in mud near Happy Mount Park, Morecambe.
  • 2007 June – A number of people were rescued from the tide after taking to the sands in the Arnside area during a weekend of warm weather.
  • 2010 May – Four visitors were rescued from the West Plain Marshes by Bay Search and Rescue after their Land Rover Discovery began to sink in quicksand.
  • 2010 June – Firefighters and search and rescue teams were involved in a man-hunt for three teenage girls who had become stranded on the sands in growing darkness between Silverdale and Morecambe.
  • 2012 March – A Preston family had a ‘close call’ after getting stuck in quicksand near The Albion pub, Arnside, as the tide was coming in.
  • 2012 May – Rescuers responded to numerous callouts involving 33 walkers caught out by the Bay. This included a Silverdale couple who were almost swept to their death, two men in chest-high water near to the Leven Viaduct and five men stranded on a sand bank after attempting to walk from Chapel Island to Ulverston.
  • 2013 June – A 14-year-old girl from Burscough, near Ormskirk, was plucked to safety after she was sucked up to her waist in quicksand at The Dip, near Silverdale.
  • 2013 June – A 25-year-old woman became submerged up to her waist and a 46-year-old man stuck up to his knees close to The Ship Inn, Sandside.

Comments (10)

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6:00pm Thu 27 Jun 13

churchy66 says...

Having worked in the tourism industry all my working life - it does not matter how big/small/bright a sign is - folk just don't read - that my sound like one heck of generalisation, but I am sorry to say it is true. You could have a loud hailer telling walkers what to do and what not to do, and they would not listen. Good luck to this campaign, you have your work cut out.
Having worked in the tourism industry all my working life - it does not matter how big/small/bright a sign is - folk just don't read - that my sound like one heck of generalisation, but I am sorry to say it is true. You could have a loud hailer telling walkers what to do and what not to do, and they would not listen. Good luck to this campaign, you have your work cut out. churchy66

9:29pm Thu 27 Jun 13

Moonbase says...

churchy66 wrote:
Having worked in the tourism industry all my working life - it does not matter how big/small/bright a sign is - folk just don't read - that my sound like one heck of generalisation, but I am sorry to say it is true. You could have a loud hailer telling walkers what to do and what not to do, and they would not listen. Good luck to this campaign, you have your work cut out.
Quite agree.
Thick as the sand!!!!
[quote][p][bold]churchy66[/bold] wrote: Having worked in the tourism industry all my working life - it does not matter how big/small/bright a sign is - folk just don't read - that my sound like one heck of generalisation, but I am sorry to say it is true. You could have a loud hailer telling walkers what to do and what not to do, and they would not listen. Good luck to this campaign, you have your work cut out.[/p][/quote]Quite agree. Thick as the sand!!!! Moonbase

12:53pm Fri 28 Jun 13

jallison says...

These people are idiots ! There are plenty of warning signs in the Arnside area, and tide times displayed, but they are just ignored, unbelievably by locals not just visitors.

Until recently, I lived on the Promenade in Arnside and on numerous occasions used a portable loud hailer to shout at people telling them the tide was coming in, often to be told to **** off. My wife and I have had to call the Coastguard on numerous occasions.

These idiots are not only putting their own lives at risk, bit also that of the rescue services.

Local bylaws surely could be introduced to make it an offence with a minimum of £100 fine, or fixed penalty notice issued by the local Coastguard.

More signs won't help, hit them where it hurts, in their wallet/purse.
These people are idiots ! There are plenty of warning signs in the Arnside area, and tide times displayed, but they are just ignored, unbelievably by locals not just visitors. Until recently, I lived on the Promenade in Arnside and on numerous occasions used a portable loud hailer to shout at people telling them the tide was coming in, often to be told to **** off. My wife and I have had to call the Coastguard on numerous occasions. These idiots are not only putting their own lives at risk, bit also that of the rescue services. Local bylaws surely could be introduced to make it an offence with a minimum of £100 fine, or fixed penalty notice issued by the local Coastguard. More signs won't help, hit them where it hurts, in their wallet/purse. jallison

3:15pm Fri 28 Jun 13

Kendal Jock says...

I agree these people are idiots. Plenty of warning signs one sort or another.
However! I see Cedric is putting out the old "climate change" issue again.
Happening since time immemorial.
I agree these people are idiots. Plenty of warning signs one sort or another. However! I see Cedric is putting out the old "climate change" issue again. Happening since time immemorial. Kendal Jock

6:27pm Fri 28 Jun 13

newcmr says...

The most recent lotto get stuck (with dog) were from Cleveleys IE LOCAL. So what was their excuse?
The most recent lotto get stuck (with dog) were from Cleveleys IE LOCAL. So what was their excuse? newcmr

8:08pm Sat 29 Jun 13

onelocal says...

Kendal Jock wrote:
I agree these people are idiots. Plenty of warning signs one sort or another.
However! I see Cedric is putting out the old "climate change" issue again.
Happening since time immemorial.
Was Cedric Robinson really talking about climate change, or was he talking about the weather?
[quote][p][bold]Kendal Jock[/bold] wrote: I agree these people are idiots. Plenty of warning signs one sort or another. However! I see Cedric is putting out the old "climate change" issue again. Happening since time immemorial.[/p][/quote]Was Cedric Robinson really talking about climate change, or was he talking about the weather? onelocal

8:58pm Sat 29 Jun 13

jazzactivist says...

It does seem that people, whether local or tourists, just don't want to read the signs or listen to what people say. There are loads of bright signs warning of the dangers, on both sides of the Bay, but every day I see people out walking on the sands...

Perhaps not so much a fine, but a hefty charge for rescue would be the way to go. With signs warning people that if they get stuck and have to be rescued they will incur £1000 fee per person. No one is going to drown for the sake of the money, but it would be a nasty reminder of not paying attention, and help with the cost of the rescue services.

Another problem is that although Arnside and Grange are on a bay there is nowhere to swim, which leads to quite an unsatisfactory seaside experience Who goes to the seaside and doesn't, at least, get their shoes off for a paddle? This could be what is behind people's instinct to ignor the signs and stroll out onto the sands. Reopening Grange Lido may help cut down on the number of rescues in the Bay.
It does seem that people, whether local or tourists, just don't want to read the signs or listen to what people say. There are loads of bright signs warning of the dangers, on both sides of the Bay, but every day I see people out walking on the sands... Perhaps not so much a fine, but a hefty charge for rescue would be the way to go. With signs warning people that if they get stuck and have to be rescued they will incur £1000 fee per person. No one is going to drown for the sake of the money, but it would be a nasty reminder of not paying attention, and help with the cost of the rescue services. Another problem is that although Arnside and Grange are on a bay there is nowhere to swim, which leads to quite an unsatisfactory seaside experience Who goes to the seaside and doesn't, at least, get their shoes off for a paddle? This could be what is behind people's instinct to ignor the signs and stroll out onto the sands. Reopening Grange Lido may help cut down on the number of rescues in the Bay. jazzactivist

12:52pm Mon 1 Jul 13

PropMeUpWithTeabags says...

I'm going to get told off but we often go down to Arnside and Sandside as a family and enjoy walking along the 'beach'. We warn our children of the dangers and we make sure that we all keep watch for each other. Of all the times I have been I've never got stuck in quicksand or had the tide come in around me because I take care of myself. I make my own risk assessment and come to the conclusion that the enjoyment I get far outweighs the risk.
There is a difference between making people aware of the dangers and enforcing rules and laws.
Fining people and saying they have to pay for rescue will make people take more risks by staying away from help should they need it.
I will admit there are some silly people one day when we were in sandside and a family walked past and their daughter got stuck in the sand. The parents walked off and called her to follow and were oblivious to the fact she was stuck. In the end my husband pulled her out. That is stupid people and there are a lot in this world so you need to cater for them.
I'm going to get told off but we often go down to Arnside and Sandside as a family and enjoy walking along the 'beach'. We warn our children of the dangers and we make sure that we all keep watch for each other. Of all the times I have been I've never got stuck in quicksand or had the tide come in around me because I take care of myself. I make my own risk assessment and come to the conclusion that the enjoyment I get far outweighs the risk. There is a difference between making people aware of the dangers and enforcing rules and laws. Fining people and saying they have to pay for rescue will make people take more risks by staying away from help should they need it. I will admit there are some silly people one day when we were in sandside and a family walked past and their daughter got stuck in the sand. The parents walked off and called her to follow and were oblivious to the fact she was stuck. In the end my husband pulled her out. That is stupid people and there are a lot in this world so you need to cater for them. PropMeUpWithTeabags

10:27am Wed 3 Jul 13

jallison says...

PropMeUpWithTeabags wrote:
I'm going to get told off but we often go down to Arnside and Sandside as a family and enjoy walking along the 'beach'. We warn our children of the dangers and we make sure that we all keep watch for each other. Of all the times I have been I've never got stuck in quicksand or had the tide come in around me because I take care of myself. I make my own risk assessment and come to the conclusion that the enjoyment I get far outweighs the risk.
There is a difference between making people aware of the dangers and enforcing rules and laws.
Fining people and saying they have to pay for rescue will make people take more risks by staying away from help should they need it.
I will admit there are some silly people one day when we were in sandside and a family walked past and their daughter got stuck in the sand. The parents walked off and called her to follow and were oblivious to the fact she was stuck. In the end my husband pulled her out. That is stupid people and there are a lot in this world so you need to cater for them.
The sands/mud between Arnside and Sandside are constantly changing. What is so called sand today, could be mud and quicksand tomorrow.

Other people will see you, and think it's OK to walk on, it isn't.

IMO, you come under my description of an idiot. If you don't believe, ask Nigel Capstick, the Arnside coastguard.
[quote][p][bold]PropMeUpWithTeabags[/bold] wrote: I'm going to get told off but we often go down to Arnside and Sandside as a family and enjoy walking along the 'beach'. We warn our children of the dangers and we make sure that we all keep watch for each other. Of all the times I have been I've never got stuck in quicksand or had the tide come in around me because I take care of myself. I make my own risk assessment and come to the conclusion that the enjoyment I get far outweighs the risk. There is a difference between making people aware of the dangers and enforcing rules and laws. Fining people and saying they have to pay for rescue will make people take more risks by staying away from help should they need it. I will admit there are some silly people one day when we were in sandside and a family walked past and their daughter got stuck in the sand. The parents walked off and called her to follow and were oblivious to the fact she was stuck. In the end my husband pulled her out. That is stupid people and there are a lot in this world so you need to cater for them.[/p][/quote]The sands/mud between Arnside and Sandside are constantly changing. What is so called sand today, could be mud and quicksand tomorrow. Other people will see you, and think it's OK to walk on, it isn't. IMO, you come under my description of an idiot. If you don't believe, ask Nigel Capstick, the Arnside coastguard. jallison

10:06pm Wed 3 Jul 13

jazzactivist says...

I agree with jallison, PMUWT. It isn't just about the pleasures of you and your family, but about how what you do influences others. You claim to know how to keep safe, but a family of tourists will see you ignoring the signage and walking on the sands with your children and assume it is safe 'if a local family is doing it', and they could well get stuck or even die. Best to be sensible and not take the risk yourselves, or lead others to do so.
I agree with jallison, PMUWT. It isn't just about the pleasures of you and your family, but about how what you do influences others. You claim to know how to keep safe, but a family of tourists will see you ignoring the signage and walking on the sands with your children and assume it is safe 'if a local family is doing it', and they could well get stuck or even die. Best to be sensible and not take the risk yourselves, or lead others to do so. jazzactivist

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