It was originally meant to be the ‘Un-meeting’ weekend. A weekend of riding on Anglesey with a wild camp in secluded coastal forest on the Saturday night, fish & chips, beers, good times, etc…
Not to be. A rapidly deteriorating forecast last week left Plan A in tatters! Plan B then…
Chop off the Saturday (gail force winds) head out to Anglesey early on the Sunday, ride all day, fish & chips for lunch, beers, good times, etc…
Not to be. Forecast deteriorating still further (heavy rain) Plan B, scrapped! Plan C then…
An early drive out to Glasson Dock, breakfast outdoors, ride the trails and lanes out to Sunderland Point (taking advantage of low tide across the causeway) over to Morecambe for a spot of lunch, beers, good times, back to the cars by late afternoon, etc…
Despite a (still) worryingly dire forecast we set off promptly at 7am (Steve, Jack & I) with Neil, Charlie & Ella due to meet us at the Conder Green car park for roughly 8am. I’m happy to say that apart from a brief downpour on the motorway and mainly heavy skies all day, the heavens remained closed. It was windy, but totally manageable.
Glasson Dock, or Glasson is a village just south of Lancaster sitting at the mouth of the River Lune. Commissioned in 1779 the dock was opened in 1787 and was devised due to the difficulty of navigation to the docks at Lancaster. ‘Entering the dock by boat is limited to short periods of time. The River Lune up to the dock entrance contains very little water at low tide, and the channel varies its course from time to time. Mooring below the dock entrance is not possible, and the dock gates are only opened for a period starting 45 minutes before high water and ending at high water’.
Our starting point for the day would be the car park at Conder Green affording us a clear view of the docks and a conveniently placed picnic table to set up breakfast camp!
‘Conder Green is situated at the beginning of the Lune Millennium Cycleway. The path follows a disused railway line alongside the estuary of the River Lune where many interesting and contrasting birds and plant species may be seen’.
After safe arrival by all parties we busied ourselves with the days first important task, breakfast! Coffee with bacon, banana & maple syrup pancakes were served up first with Steve doing a sterling job of playing ‘Mother’ to myself & Jack. Then coffee and sausage butties for Neil, Charlie & Ella all lovingly prepared in Neil’s fully kitted out adventure wagon.
Awake (mostly) and fuelled heartily we set off down the trail towards Lancaster, heading for our first stop, Sunderland Point…
‘Sunderland, commonly known as Sunderland Point, is a small village among the marshes, on a windswept peninsula between the mouth of the River Lune and Morecambe Bay. It was used as a port for slave ships and cotton ships but its importance declined as other ports such as Lancaster were opened up.
Sunderland is unique in the UK as being the only community to be on the mainland and yet dependent upon tidal access. The only vehicular access to the village is via a single-track road from Overton 1.5 miles (2.4 km) away crossing a tidal marsh. The road is covered by water at every high tide.
Strictly speaking, “Sunderland Point” is the name of the tip of the peninsula on which the village of Sunderland stands, but the name is frequently applied to the village itself’.
The trail from Conder Green is an absolute belter! Tunnels of lush green give way to open views of the estuary and it is immediately evident why Steve has wanted to show me (all of us) another of his favourite places to ride. Mainly traffic free trails and lanes lead us north and onwards, following the flow of the River towards Lancaster.
A river crossing on the Millenium Bridge turned us right around to head back south, past the cycle racing circuit at Salt Ayre and on towards the village of Overton and the tidal causeway leading to Sunderland Point.
Atmospheric to say the least, the tide was indeed out as we made our way across the barren yet beautiful landscape.
Stranded boats, barnacled and rusted railings, old weathered marker stones, bands of kelp and seabirds a plenty.
A magical place made all the more so by the moody skies…
After a contemplative stop we made our way back across the causeway before the tide started to slowly creep back in, with a firm plan now to head for Morecambe and hunt down some lunch. A quick retrace of steps, and a brief stint on some larger roads brought us to the village of Heysham.
Heysham is a large coastal village overlooking Morecambe Bay. It is a busy ferry port, with services to the Isle of Man and Ireland, and the site of two nuclear power stations. There was however, something far more interesting that Steve wanted us to see…
The stone graves in the ruins of the ancient St. Patrick’s Chapel, close to St Peter’s Church. ‘They are thought to date from the 11th century, and are hewn from solid rock. Local legend has it that St Patrick landed here after crossing from Ireland and established the chapel. However it has been established that the chapel was built around 300 years after Patrick’s death. These stone graves appear on the cover of the Black Sabbath CD, “The Best of Black Sabbath”.
This had Charlie and I very excited!
The grounds of St Peter’s Church contain many Saxon and Viking remains, and the church itself contains a Viking hogback stone. The purpose of these strange stone sculptures is the subject of much debate; they are found mainly in the Northern England and also in Scotland, Wales, Ireland and a few areas of Southern England with Viking links. Heysham also contains one of only three sites in Britain and Ireland that contain a pre-Roman labyrinth carving, the others being located at Tintagel, Cornwall and Hollywood, Co. Wicklow, Ireland’.
It was, fantastic! Atmospheric, windswept and affording a fantastic view of Morecambe Bay despite the dull sky. It made for a perfect second stop and provided a feast of photo opportunities.
From Heysham It was just a quick blast downhill to the long promenade, Morecambe, lunch and of course…
A photo with Eric!
Sandwiches, fries and caffeine all round put smiles on faces and quieted grumbling tums. After a flurry of social media maintenance we settled in to a lengthy lunchtime chat and a good few giggles.
The return leg back to the cars first required the negotiation of Morecambes busy main roads, but safely tucked in behind our tour guide Steve we were very swiftly, and safely, back onto traffic free cycling paths (an impressive network crisscrosses the area) and soon joining up with our original route. Retracing our steps back down across the River we stopped one last time for a well deserved beer. Catching a rare spot of sunshine in the beer garden as we chatted made a very enjoyable day out that much sweeter.
Back along the Millennium Cycleway and back through the magical tree tunnels, all the while with an eye on the raging brown waters of high tide. Back in the car park at Conder Green we loaded up the bikes, said our goodbyes and were home by 4pm.
Not the grand ‘Un-meeting’ weekend we’d had planned, but a great salvage job by Steve that made for a very grand day out.
Words – Paul Rance.
Pictures – Paul Rance & Steve Makin.