The last time Corporation Pop Chair, Dom, suggested we go for a team walk in the countryside, it turned out to be pretty dramatic. The weather was unpredictable and half the team weren’t prepared for tramping over the tops in the Peak District. There were bog monsters and werewolves, and we all nearly died.
This time we were promised an easier route around Morecambe Bay — from Silverdale to Arnside. There were to be no swamps, no boggles, and no near-death experiences. And so, with doubt in our hearts and fear in our souls, we reluctantly agreed and headed north.
Geographically speaking, the team is quite spread out these days. Remote working because of the Big P of 20/21 has seen us working in such far-flung places as Preston, Stockport, Leeds, Bolton, Helsby and (weirdly) Hamburg and Sweden. Those of us based locally to the Corporation Pop studio in Manchester met on platform 14 of Piccadilly Station. We had our crampons, whistles, emergency flares and ammo. We weren’t taking any chances.
Masked up and prepared for the worst, we headed out of town through the wildernesses that lie north of the city centre — namely Salford and Bolton — towards our destination. We sat separately, as covid rules dictate, and talked over the seat backs about the horrors that awaited us. A few of the group were new enough to only have heard rumours of our past expedition. The myths trickling down through the sands of time (two years).
We collected Dom and his dog at Preston, did a quick change at Lancaster, and found ourselves in Silverdale in no time.
Getting to know you
After unloading our survival kits and setting our GPS trackers, the team gathered, along with those who had joined from beyond Manchester, outside the railway station. We stood, staring at each other, waiting in dread for the peril which was no doubt to befall us. We looked around in trepidation. A butterfly lazily flapped its wings. The sunshine bounced off the window panes of a cottage on the country lane. It seemed fairly safe.
It was then we realised, whilst we saw each other daily via video, several of us hadn’t met before. We spent a few minutes elbow bumping and remarking on how we all had legs. Finally, we set off, in single file, along the treacherous country lane.
A perilous journey
Led by Dom, we headed into the mouth of danger. We went off-road, along a path, and through a lightly wooded area. We fought our way through ferns and brambles, eventually emerging fairly unscathed on the road again. A passing rambler warned of the danger ahead with the code word “g’morning” and a woman outside her cottage waved feebly, as she recognised the danger we were in.
Presently Dom guided us to a sinister looking white building, nestled at a junction, with neatly chalked signs and silver water bowls at its entrance. We stopped there for coffee and ice cream before setting out into the wilderness again. Next on our tour was the pub for a swift pint in the shade before heading back towards the edge of the bay and our walk along the sands towards Arnside.
A near death experience
As the sun beat down, the team trekked on, like soldiers lost in the desert, until someone pleaded for mercy. We retreated to a rocky outcrop overlooking the bay and unpacked our sandwiches. After a quick review of what everyone was eating and some negotiation with Max, the Labradoodle, we settled into our rations.
From our vantage point, we spied two people in the distance, making a beeline for the water’s edge. They were clearly unaware of the dangers of Morecambe Bay, with its notoriously fast tide and patches of quicksand. We watched as they headed further away and began placing bets on whether they would make it back. We briefly debated who would rescue them if the worst came to the worst. Just as we agreed that we’d rather just watch, they turned on their tails and made their way back. Tragedy averted.
All’s well that ends well
With our brief interlude over and our engines refuelled, we clambered down from the rocks. We continued along the beach to Arnside — a mere speckle of white buildings in the distance.
The group, at first a chattering cluster, gradually thinned out to a quiet trail of human souls. Each of us focused on putting one foot in front of the other in the baking heat with the promise of a glistening pint at the other end. Some of the group fared worse than others, but we left nobody behind.
Finally, at the pub, we congratulated ourselves on what was, in reality, a fairly pleasant walk on a summer’s day in England. Beer, ice cream, watching the tide sweep in, then back to the station and back to reality.