The Queen's Guide to the Sands is the royally appointed guide to crossing the sands of Morecambe Bay, an ancient and potentially dangerous tidal crossing in northwest England. From 1963 until 2019, the Guide was Cedric Robinson MBE, the 25th guide. In April 2019 Michael Wilson, a 46-year-old local fisherman, was appointed his successor. The guide is paid a nominal salary of only £15 a year but the holder of the post also has the use of the grade II listed 700-year-old Guide's Cottage at Kents Bank, which is owned by the Crown and managed by the Duchy of Lancaster.
Route over the sandsEdit
Until the building of the Furness railway in 1857, the cross sands route had been a major transport route in the area, with Guides appointed royally since the 16th century. Before that, the monks of Furness at Cartmel Priory had provided guides for crossing the sands. In modern times a crossing of the sands has become a popular challenge walk for charity fundraisers, with the Guide often leading groups of up to 600 people. These walks are typically once a fortnight (from spring to autumn), usually from Arnside over to Kents Bank, dependent on tide and river levels (the River Kent has to be crossed at some point), and are often in support of a charity. The route is marked on some maps as a highway, and Cedric Robinson described it as "the most dangerous highway in Britain".
The first official guide was appointed by the Duchy of Lancaster on 29 January 1548, a Thomas Hogeson. A charity to control the guides was established in 1877, with the power of appointment still held by the Duchy of Lancaster, and by 2012 this had become the Guide Over Sands Trust and was given the power to appoint the Queen's Guide. It was Lord Cavendish in his role as chair of the trust who visited the 86-year-old Cedric Robinson and suggested that it was time to retire: "'At the age you've got to, Mr Robinson – Cedric,' he said, 'we'd like to take the responsibility away from you and we would like you to choose a new guide'".
Michael Wilson, 2019–presentEdit
Michael Wilson (born 1972 or 1973 in Flookburgh) was appointed the 26th guide in May 2019. He is a fisherman and said: "It helps a lot having been a shrimper because you are working in the channels and that's the most dangerous part of the water".
Cedric Robinson, 1963–2019Edit
William Burrows, 1949–1963Edit
Robinson's predecessor William Burrows was a fisherman, and was the Guide to the Kent Sands from 1949 to 1963. In 1951, when there was a royal visit to Lancaster in celebration of the 600th anniversary of the creation of the county palatine of Lancaster, Robinson and Alfred Butler, the guide to the Leven Sands, carried seven quarts of shrimps over the sands to Lancaster for the royal banquet.
- Fletcher, Joe (28 April 2019). "Change of the guard at Morecambe Bay as Michael becomes Queen's Guide". Westmorland Gazette. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
- "Morecambe Bay's Queen's Guide to the Sands on why he loves his job". BBC News. 29 September 2013.
- Historic England. "Guides farmhouse and attached farm buildings (1269699)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
- The Duchy of Lancaster - Lancashire Archived 3 January 2008 at the Wayback Machine
- "Cedric Robinson: Morecambe Bay Queen's Guide to retire". BBC News. 6 April 2019. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
- "Morecambe Bay Guides – Lancashire". Duchy of Lancaster. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
- Peter, David (1985). 'Cross Kent Sands. Lunesdale Publishing Group Limited. ISBN 094609103X.
- "History of the Guide Over the Sands". Guide Over Sands Trust. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
- Pidd, Helen (12 April 2019). "Sands of time run out for Queen's Guide to Morecambe Bay". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
- Manley, Stephanie (14 February 2013). "Queen's Guide to the Sands Cedric Robinson celebrates 50 years in the role". Westmorland Gazette. Retrieved 26 May 2019.
- Mitchell, W.R. (1973). Across Morecambe Bay - by the Oversands route. Clapham, Yorkshire: Dalesman publications. pp. 8, 22. ISBN 0852061854.
- A useful essay on the Queen's Guide to the Sands and on the Morecambe Bay tidal crossing appeared in hidden europe magazine in 2005. The full reference is Cawley, David : Time & Tide: Morecambe Bay. In hidden europe magazine, 4 (Sept 2005), pp. 40–44.
- Marsh, Terry Sand Pilots, MA dissertation on the history of the guides to Morecambe Bay Sands, Lancaster University.
- Sutton, Lindsay (24 May 2019). Sands of Time: Following in the footsteps of Cedric Robinson on Morecambe Bay. Great Northern Books. ISBN 978-1912101108.
- "Official website". Guide Over Sands Trust.
- "Charity for providing guides over the Kent and Leven Sands, registered charity no. 235216". Charity Commission for England and Wales.
- Interview with Cedric Robinson
- Cedric keeps danger sands at bay, BBC article on Cedric Robinson