History of Morecambe Bay crossing..
The Bay Horse was formerly a 17th Century Coaching Inn where, in days gone by, travellers would rest before making the treacherous journey by horse drawn coach across the sands to Lancaster. For nearly 200 years travellers have risked their lives (and many have lost them) crossing between Lancaster and the Furness Penisula.
The earliest recorded crossing is by the Romans in AD79 en route from Wales to the North West of England to subdue the rebellious Britons. Another army is said to have crossed the sands in 1322 when Robert the Bruce and his Scottish raiders crossed the sands to ransack and burn the town of Lancaster, except for the Priory of the Black Monks and the house of the Preaching Friars.
Many famous people of have crossed the sands, including George Fox, founding father of the Quakers, who, in 1660 was arrested at Swarthmoor Hall and sent under escort from Ulverston to Lancaster Prison. In 1759 preacher John Wesley was, apparently, less than complimentary about his two guides and in 1816 the world renowned artist JMW Turner crossed the sands between Ulverston and Cark when returning from the Lake District and subsequently produced several sketches and paintings of the sands, most famously ‘Lancaster Sands’ in 1826.
Coaching across the sands was started in 1781 from the Kings Arms, Lancaster to the Sun Hotel, Ulverston, the times changing every day to accommodate the tides. They never went round the Bay via the High Road, not even when this road was very considerably shortened with the opening of two turnpike roads. One ran between Carnforth and Milnthorpe and the other from Levens Bridge to Greenodd.
Market days in Victorian Ulverston attracted not only the coaches and their passengers but many farmers of the Bay who formed an endless procession over the sands to obtain the best prices. The town of Ulverston thrived on trade in iron ore and gunpowder being mined and produced across South Lakeland and the Furness Peninsula and being exported via the canal. Tall ships would sail to the pier outside the Bay Horse to collect merchandise on their way to Liverpool, often bound for Africa and the slave trade. The visits of ships were gradually curtailed by the opening of the Lancaster and Furness railway in 1846 which created two viaducts spanning the Rivers Kent and Leven. Along with the rise of Barrow-in-Furness as a deep-water port and the gradual silting up of the canal entrance, the viability of the canal and coaching across the sands was seriously damaged and coaching subsequently ceased in 1857.
The Bay Horse is very much a home and has become a well-loved place for so many reasons, whether it be for special celebrations, weddings and parties, a simple sandwich at the bar, or a casual lunch. Complete with nine en-suite letting rooms The Bay Horse has something for everyone.