Saving Sandscale

When I was a kid I came by a pin badge for Enterprise Neptune. It had simple stylised waves of blue, brown and green to represent the land, sea and the shifting landscape in between. I always associate that image in my mind with Sandscale Haws, the network of dunes near Barrow. This precious part of the world is apparently under threat.

I used to spend a lot of time at Sandscale and the beaches to the north. In school holidays I would often get a lift to Askam with my mum who worked at a shoe factory there, and walk the dog back along the estuary before cutting inland back to Dalton where we lived. When he was a pup the dog (Lancer) memorably refused to walk any further and I had to carry him back.

Subsequently I did quite a lot of volunteering with the National Trust on the dunes. Pete Carty was the warden at the time and I helped him with some management work and doing some wildlife surveys. The car parks and the facilities were more rudimentary but the area was very popular with locals for dog walking, swimming and sunbathing.

Even though I’ve never lot touch with the Furness peninsula and been back to Askam pier (a slag promontory) it could be two decades since I went to Sandscale itself (aka Roanhead). So given there are concerns about potential large scale development in the area I decided to take a trip down memory lane when up in Barrow last week.

I often say that some of the places around Barrow would be swarming with visitors if they weren’t around Barrow. Sandscale is a case in point. But they aren’t and they don’t have the infrastructure to support large scale tourism the large scale developments proposed. Locals* are putting up a determined rearguard action to save the area, I hope they win.

Natterjack Toad breeding scrape and life cycle sign

The ‘Red Hut’, the visitor centre designed to look like a ramshackle miners’ hut, on the site of the old ice cream shop that basically was a ramshackle hut

The neighbouring ‘Nigel’ fishing pond

Breasting the top of a dune on the way to the beach, the beach itself is much more vegetated than when I last visited

* Save Roanhead from developers is a Facebook group where you can express solidarity and follow developments

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