A lack of shipwrecks and beer in Fleetwood

I hear the words ‘Shipwreck Walk’ and my mind flows rapidly and exuberantly through tragedy, romance and death. And everyone likes romance, tragedy and death.

It is a walk starting in Fleetwood, guided by and funding the RNLI through the treacherous Morecambe Bay and my main concern is when all the earnest men in woolly jumpers are staring earnestly at the barnacled ribs of ancient galleons I might seem ignorant over whether it is from the 16th or 17th century as they tramp over the treasure chests peeping out which somehow only I can see and thus get the acclaim and oh the huge amounts of money somehow for finding.

What I was not expecting was no shipwrecks. And a sellout of crisps in the middle of the sea.

Fleetwood is out in force and they are determined to have a good time.  I see few furrowed brows looking at antiquated maps but there are a lot of cans and I am the only one with a rucksack. This makes me embarrassed and I hope for a sudden squall so I can be all resourceful before realising there is only cardigans and a hideous brown banana in the rucksack. Most people here look like they would chirpily die before wearing a somewhat bobbly Bay Trading cardigan.

We walk out into the bay, always an exciting experience when knowing of the ‘treacherous quicksand’ and towards a distant lighthouse. Upon arrival it is Escheresque in its bold hold onto existence, its wooden shackles snapped in so many places it seems impossible it is still standing. Underneath its shadow, a folk duo is suprisisingly playing and crisps and kit Kats are being sold but have sold out by the time we fight over whether with our solitary gold coin to have a packet of Walkers cheese and onion crisps or a Kit Kat.

I see brown skeletal ribs of long sunk ships poking enticingly out of the sucking sucking sand. I cannot wait to touch them and imagine Tragedy.

But when the walk continues, it snakes merrily back to the starting point. The route has changed to encompass no shipwrecks. I was not aware of this and am saddened but nobody else seems to care. This is an impromptu party in the sand and the hiss of opening cans of beers fills me with envy. I have only water and sensible footwear, dammit. It is an unusual situation for me to be in and I resolve to carry beer and crisps with me at all times. Just in case.

The earnest men with maps and books do not exist, the shipwrecks remain a mirage but I have walked across the bay, dodged quicksand, touched the fragments of a lighthouse and soon I will find that the North Euston Pub does a large house red for three quid something.

And it will have been a good day.

4 Responses to “A lack of shipwrecks and beer in Fleetwood”

  • Ross Campbell Says:

    Sorry you didn’t get to see any wrecks. It’s a few years since I last joined the Wreck Trek. Back then the start point was by the Lower Light, the route took you immediately past the ribs of a fishing-boat burned out near where the pier used to be (said to have been stolen and set afire by some reluctant crewmen who didn’t want to sail next day). The walk proceeded to the Wyre Light (like you, I can’t quite see how it’s still standing – even though it’s not wood but steel). The walk then headed west toward the main objective, the wreck of the Stella Marie, a Faroese schooner caught on the sands during WW2, when forced to await the next tide by the Admiralty who then controlled access to the Wyre Channel and Fleetwood Docks. Her anchor dragged and thw high winds drove her onto the bank about half-a-mile from the Wyre Light. Her cargo and crew were saved, remaining superstructure was removed to sand level. The remaining keel and winches rest on a “scar”, a collection of boulders and pebbles, with still a lot of rusty bits and pieces around. When I visited, the wreck and the scar were prominent above the level of the sand. I have heard since that the sand has built up to such an extent that the wreck is almost buried. That may be the reason for the simplifying of the Trek route – I tend to think that “health and safety” might have had more of a bearing on it – hope you signed IN and OUT with the RNLI – otherwise they might still be looking for you! Between the Stella Marie and the Wyre Light there used to be visible just the stem and stern posts of a trawler, can’t remember if it was identified on the RNLI map. Thanks for the blog.

  • Ross Campbell Says:

    Stella Marie pics fro RNLI – all this used to be above the shingle bank – now almost totally covered:-

  • tangerinebreem Says:

    Thanks for that, Ross, a really informative response 🙂 Yes, I did sign in and out and ‘doh’ to error about the structure being steel. I will blame the rain in my eyes…
    Very interesting about the wrecks-I have also been in Lancaster’s Maritime museum (a place I spend so much time the staff all know the name of my baby) where there is a touchscreen describing many of the shipwrecks around Morecambe Bay dating back to the 17th century. Thoroughly recommend it and cheers for a fascinating youtube clip too.

  • Brian bucknall Says:

    I was on holiday in Fleetwood at the time the Stella Marie was wrecked. It was an impressive sight – a 2-3 masted schooner stuck on the sandbank. There had been a gale which had blown her onto the sandbank. I was only aged 7 at the time and my grandfather told me how it had happened.

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