Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Coastal drama

On Sunday we had that rarest of commodities this winter - sunshine.  In the morning we had to do the usual supermarket run, but after lunch we were determined to get outdoors and make the most of the conditions, since the forecast was ominous.

Both of us felt a sudden urge to see the sea.  With all the recent storms and coastal flooding, the Morecambe Bay coast (our nearest) has been firmly out-of-bounds, but with the coast road between Ulverston and Barrow re-opened, we thought we'd go for it.  It was a dramatic ride.  Yes, the road was technically open, but the damage was easy to see.  Great chunks of the sea-wall had been washed away, along with an entire hut.  Boulders had been thrown across the road, gouging the surface into troughs, and in one place (helpfully sign-posted "road liable to tidal flooding") the waters were almost impassable.  Our 4x4 coped just fine, but I'd hate to have been in the little Fiat 500 buzzing along ahead of us.  The occupants might well have got wet feet.

The authorities are clearly working hard on repairs and shoring up the sea defences again, hopefully before the next storm hits, but it really does demonstrate the awesome power of nature to throw aside the puny efforts of man.

We parked on the causeway between Rampside and Roa Island and set off for a walk.  The shoreline was too muddy, but we explored Rampside village, including its impressive Jacobean hall, then trudged along the causeway to the island, and scuttled into the Bosuns Locker for tea and home-made scones.

There were signs of activity at the lifeboat station so we popped along for a look and found that both the shop and the viewing platform were open.  The shop is tiny, but the platform gives a fantastic view of the lifeboat, which is much bigger in real life than you expect when you see it in action, a tiny speck amongst tossing waves, on tv.

We'd no sooner left the lifeboat station behind than we heard the chugging roar of a helicopter.  Looking up, we saw a huge chopper hovering right over a fast-moving catamaran, before winching someone down.  The Cat charged in towards Barrow docks whilst the chopper circled low overhead the entire way in.  It was quite something to watch.  Turns out that it was a real-life rescue, as a man had been taken seriously ill on a service boat on the way out to one of Barrow's mass of offshore wind-farms.  He was eventually winched on board the helicopter and flown to Lancaster hospital, and we hope he's okay.

By that stage the next storm was brewing, the sky had turned the colour of lead, and stray wisps of low cloud were already blowing in.  It gave Morecambe Bay (atmospheric at the worst of times) a menacing look, so we piled back in the car and headed home.

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