Grange over grass

promFor centuries, like Ulverston, Grange over Sands was only accessible by crossing the sands from Lancaster by coach or on foot. Virtually untouched by Britain’s industrial revolution, the local fishing community remained quietly alone until the railway came in 1857. Wealthy businessmen from Lancashire and Yorkshire settled here taking advantage of the bracing air and wonderful climate. These men built some fine houses, hotels and grand terraces.

The River Kent used to flow past the town’s mile-long Promenade. But subsequently the river’s course migrated south, away from Grange. The “sands” (mudflats, in truth, with dangerous quicksand at uncertain points) became a grass meadow now frequently grazed by small flocks of sheep. More recently due to sustained easterly winds in the early part of 2007, the river has begun to switch its course back across the bay, and it remains to see whether the ‘sheep-meadows’ survive.

liz Why the history lesson? Why, because Grange was the target of our latest Good Day Out, where we had arranged to meet my BFF from hundreds of years ago (left), and blogger extraordinaire, Liz. A fine day was called for, but bloody buggery arsehole, it was lashing down as we hoiked Ben, the big yellow dog, into the back of Monique the Meriva and heaved it up the steep hill out of the village.

Ninety minutes later we were easing along country roads into Grange-Over-Sands in bright sunshine. Hoo! And even Ray! Pootling along the main street through Grange, some sixth sense told me to point Monique down a steep, windy street as tight as a gnat’s chuff. At the bottom, we found a car park where the Pay and Display machine was out of action. Score!

DSC06957 Liz always was reliably unreliable, so she turned up the expected thirty minutes late with OH Phil. “Oh look! There’s a tunnel under the railway line! Let’s go and look at the beach, the famous ‘sands’ under Grange” we all cried in unison. You see, at this point my history lesson had not been learned, and naturally I assumed that any place with ‘Sands’ in its name and described as a Victorian resort was, well, sandy. DSC06960 It isn’t, as you can probably tell from the surreal photo at the head of this blog, and this photo of my beloved Lady Raby and Liz strolling along the prom prom prom. We had decided to circle the town, so we strode out along the promenade between the railway line and the grassy beach. There were no brass bands, but I hummed “”Tiddely-om-pom-pom!” nonetheless, cos that’s the way I roll. DSC06965 Between the railway and the promenade itself were pleasantly, imaginatively arranged and well-kept flower beds, and plenty of benches for the sitting down. The cast iron benches were interesting, featuring squirrels eating what appeared to be grapes. Or just possibly squirrel intestines, which would make the benches a tribute to Zombie Squirrels. There’s a movie just waiting for the green light.

We passed the ruins of the old pier, jutting out into the grassy beach, then at the West end of the promenade, we discovered a strange, curved tripod structure. “iPLAY” it announced, as if that made everything clear. Ben worked out that it was designed for weeing up, but we were canny, and read an instruction board. Aha! Twas a game! DSC06972 An activity, designed for “fun and exercise for children of all ages”. Mentally nine years old, the lot of us, so of course we had to try. Phil, Liz’s hubby, was first to try, and scampered about like an eejit, while the tripod legs shouted at him his next instructions, and the rest of us laughed nervously while trying to work out how we were going to do it while avoiding looking like middle-aged divvies. Notice, in the above photograph, how excited Ben isn’t.

DSC06977 Now Liz had a go, bounding about with great enthusiasm. “iPRESS!” yelled the machine gleefully, “iTURN!”, “iPULL!”, “ YOU HAVE LOST A LIFE!” Liz achieved much the same score as Phil, and now it was the turn of my Mary.

DSC06981 Mary was leaping and hopping and sprinting. The machine cried out –
“iPUSH!”, “iSTAMP!”, “iPUSH!”, “iTURN!”, “YOU HAVE REACHED LEVEL TWO!”. What??? There’s a level two?? Oh yes, matey, and Mary went on to show us there was a level three as well. She was most impressive. That’s my girl! Sadly, no-one photographed my own lithe athleticism, but suffice to say thet the machine cheated me. I did not reach the much-vaunted so-called level two.

DSC06986We sauntered through the town, which was most delightful with some fine looking houses. We came upon a pretty bandstand. No band, sadly, but it did have a feature rarely seen on bandstands – a moat. By now, Ben was getting tired, and we were getting tireder, so we looked for a pub, eventually stumbling across The Lancastrian, right in the middle of town. Good pub – the beer was fine, the staff and landlady extremely friendly, and the dinner was GIGANTIC. DSC06996 Seven quid, yeah, but GIGANTIC. Also, they happily served the delicate ladies with “child’s portions”. Phil and me are tough men, so we imediately went for the GIGANTIC.

After no little time, we left the pub and walked off a little of the weight of the food, although Phil undermined the benefits by spotting The Chocolate Shop, and deciding that it simply must have his custom. The park, actually the NORMANDY VETERANS MEMORIAL GARDENS, was really pretty, and like everything else in this likeable town, was well-tended, tidy and clean. A large variety of amusing and exotic ducks inhabited the large pond. DSC07001Also in the park we found Picklefoot Spring, which a plaque told us has never run dry. It also told us that the name Picklefoot came from the walnut pickers who frequented the spot in days gone by.

Along Windermere Road there was a plaque describing
the history of EGGERSLACK TERRACE, an old terrace of stone-built houses. As Mary was reading aloud the plaque to the more illiterate of us, an old dear emerged from the house next door and engaged us in what turned out to be a fascinating conversation. Her family had lived there for centuries, and she regaled us with delightful tales, including a scary description of how, before the coming of the railway, the tide occasionally would flood all the way up the street past her house, which was easily several hundred yards from the “front”.

DSC07006 And finally to the station – a pretty station, in fact, with an unusual addition. A second-hand bookshop was tucked into the end of one platform, the cosy interior heated by an aromatic, crackling coal fire. DSC07012We purchased some aromatic, crackling books (including an Arthur Bryant about Pepys) while Ben sat prettily on the platform and waited patiently. Then finally we sauntered back along the promenade, and said our farewells.

Grange Over Sands – a wonderful, surreal place, Get there if you can.

And finally – Mary has just found a photograph that proves there DID used to be sand at Grange:2842854783_4ef1424544

About wombat37

A Yorkshireman in the green hills of Lancashire, UK Not a real wombat, obviously, or typing would become an issue. I do have short legs and a hairy nose, however. Oh, & a distinctive smell.

Posted on October 11, 2009, in A good day out, Grange, Mary, pub, Surreal Seaside, Witter. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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