Sunday, 12 April 2015



Locality and place  - wood, water, stone & wind

The village of Baycliff is on a hillside overlooking the western sands of Morecambe Bay. Close by, hidden down Swinestead Lane - a narrow country lane that plunges down to the shore - is the Beach House. 

We are in the small parish of Aldingham - 7 sq. miles in size - with less than 1000 electors, average age 45 and rising fast. The parish boundaries extend into the sands. Indeed more of the parish lies in the sands than on dry land. So our population is extended by 18,000 micro marine critters per square metre living just under the surface of the bed of the sea. Our neighbours are mud shrimps, tiny snails, lugworms and cockles.

photos Prof Peter Matthiessen

I used to think that the name Swinestead Lane was a posh name for Pig Sty Lane, which puzzled me because this steep terrain is hardly conducive to rearing nice fat bacon. [ Our first online newsletter was  'Making a Pig's Ear of It']. Brief historical googling tells me that Swine originates from the Scandinavian word svein  and the Old English word swin both meaning a tidal creek. This certainly is a sheltered spot where boats could have been drawn up before the bay silted up. 

According to the Oxford dictionary Stead means locality or place and it is linked to the Old Norse word staor  meaning stop, pause ....    How pleasing is that! A place to stop and pause, to connect with the larger rhythms of nature, the tides and the seasons. Swinestead - the place and the time to re-balance.