4 September 2007
We visited Grange-Over-Sands whilst on holiday in the Lake district, staying at the nearby Haven Lakeside caravan site.
We would have visited anyway, but you have to be careful on how up-to-date your guide book is, as my expectation was very different from what is there. The entry in the Reader's Digest Illustrated Guide to Britain's Coast says
"There are children's amusements and bowling and putting greens near the mile-long waterfront promenade"
The problem is that, whilst generally I think the guide is really good, it was published in 1996, and a lot has changed since then. Reading the entry for nearby Flookburgh (where the Haven Lakeside Caravan Site is) gives a clue to what has happened.
"Now separated from the sea by reclaimed marshland, Flookburgh was once so close to the shore that high tides would bring waves washing along the main street."
This appears to be what has happened at Grange-Over-Sands as although the promenade still exists, it is now alongside grazing land, with the sea out in the distance. Apparently in the late 90s there was a growth of spartina grass which by the early 2000s had turned the beach into a saltmarsh, now used as grazing land for sheep.
View out to Sea at Grange-over-sands
You can still see the sea in the distance, but the sand is now grassed over and the children's amusements have all gone. It's actually quite interesting to take a walk along the promenade and see the sea wall. However rather than being a fun seaside resort it's more of a curiosity than a beach.
Grange-over-sands promenade and "sea wall"
Despite the lack of sea grange-over-sands is still a nice place, it's just not the seaside resort that we expected. There is the promenade from which it's supposed to be possible to see Blackpool tower, although I couldn't see it despite wasting 20p in the telescope and using my camera on it's telephoto setting. There are still a couple of small cafes and ice cream sellers although the swimming pool / Lido is all closed down. There are nice gardens and a duck pond and all in all it's quite a nice place. However the tourist business appears to have left when the beach did and it's not the seaside resort we expected. I'm sure that there are things that could have been done to keep some of the tourism including a giant sandpit and paddling pool, but there is now so little left of the tourism it's probably not worth trying to resurrect it.
A nice place to visit for an hour or two but not a seaside resort!
Most of the websites for Grange-over-Sands gloss over the lack of sea or beach. One even goes as far as to call Grange-over-Sands a "picturesque seaside town". There is however a good Wikipedia entry on Grange-over-Sands.