On my numerous journeys up and down the M6 motorway over the years, I’ve long been intrigued by an elegant domed structure that looks down from a hilltop in the city of Lancaster. What’s more I’ve never been to the city that spawned the House of Lancaster, one of the protagonists of the Wars of the Roses, a key period in English history. So you’d think that if I was going to visit this area, Lancaster would be a must.
Well perhaps it will be another day. Instead I visited the tiny fishing village just to the south called Glasson, for reasons which will become clear later.
As I neared the quay which is central to the village’s existence, I was aware that this was an unusual landscape, where large stretches of land were clearly subject to regular flooding, though I was unsure whether this due to the nearness of the sea and the tidal effects on the River Lune, or variations in the river’s levels due to rainfall from the nearby hills. Combined with the single-track roads that took me there, the place had a remote, neglected feel that the grounded vessels amplified.
BBC Wales has recently completed the story arc of its excellent crime series Hinterland*, in which half the residents of the Aberystwyth area seem to live in shacks that incorporate elements of boats and caravans. This part of Lancashire could be a similarly haunting location. There’s clearly something about these half land, half sea places that inspires a sense of unease; I was reminded of the island residents on the fringes of the Venetian Lagoon.
Those narrow roads meant that it was unlikely I’d be able to park near to my objective, so had to opt for Glasson Quay and then walk the two or three miles through farmland, where barely repaired styles and bridges hidden in hedgerows gave the impression that visitors weren’t actively encouraged. The lapwings weren’t very happy to see me in their vicinity either.
Finally I reached the coast, specifically Morecambe Bay, though again the first signs weren’t promising! Following the seawall south I found a clue to one of two features that were the real reason for my expedition, wondering as I did so what the gunners might be hunting. Surely the birds in this murmuration were too small to be of interest?
And then I arrived.
Anyway to the lighthouse. This relatively tiny structure has been under the weather for a year or so after it was struck by a passing vessel (local views vary as to whether the ship was too large or the captain too inebriated). I knew it was being repaired when I planned my visit, thinking that the spectacle of a crane built onto the structure might provide a unique opportunity to record something a little different about Plover Scar Light (also known as Abbey Light), which was originally one of a pair of guiding lights for the entrance to the Lune. Typically I learnt that the day before my visit, the cap had been restored to the tower and the crane removed, leaving me with the worst of both worlds; a repaired lighthouse, but clothed in scaffolding.
I still like it!
*The TV Series was unusual since it was recorded in Welsh and recorded in English allowing it to be marketed in different territories. The version I watched combined both with the Welsh being subtitled. The Welsh title is different. Y Gwyll means “dusk” and though that hints at the darkness of the series I feel Hinterland captured more of the bleakness.