Quicksand

A Cautionary Tale
I am writing this brief account to advise walkers on Luskentyre Sands to exercise caution to avoid a repeat of my frightening experience.

On a recent beach walk, I followed a well tried route that we as a family have used for the past 14 years, always at low tide. Although it was at low tide there was a lot of surface water left behind on the beach. As I stepped over a narrow stream there was no obvious sign of danger, but, within a brief second I sank into quicksand up to my waist and kept sinking.

I was very aware that in no time I could be buried alive. It is impossible to describe how real that possibility felt.

Mercifully and providentially, I spontaneously attempted to lean forward as much as possible and with my arms, wriggled myself up gradually out of the pit I was very nearly buried in.

I hope by sharing this awful incident that It will be a warning for ourselves and others that we must be aware of the reality of possible quicksand on Luskentyre Sands. There is a need to be always conscious of beach and sea safety

The well know poem  “Footprints in The Sand“ is now a reality for me.

We are grateful to the staff at the West Harris Trust who were very supportive to us and are in the process of informing the Coastguard  to discuss ways of warning the public at large of the dangers of our coast and beaches, and thereby reduce the chances of a similar experience.

Agnes Cross, Luskentyre  

Coastal Hazards
Visiting the coast can be great fun, but to get the most out of your trip, have fun and stay safe, make sure to check the weather and tides before heading out, wear appropriate footwear and clothing, know the sea conditions and where possible, stick to known paths.

Her Majesty’s Coastguard has given advice to avoid crossing bays where there can be hidden channels of fast-flowing water or walking in areas of sand/land which are soft – seeking local knowledge.

Quicksand can be found throughout beaches in the UK. Adverse weather conditions can increase risks of quicksand, particularly on flat areas of sand where gullies are created by an overland flow of water. In some of these cases, water can flow underneath the surface. Pockets of quicksand are always on the move and will be in different positions with every successive tide. Some indicators to keep an eye out for are water bubbling up from below the surface or sand with a rippled appearance.  

As this is a risk to beach walks, here is some advice on what to do if you come across an area of quicksand:  

  1. Stay calm.
  2. If you have a mobile phone, dial 999 and ask for the Coastguard. If you don’t have access to a phone, try and attract the attention of passers-by, and get them to make the call.
  3. Make yourself as light as possible (e.g. taking your rucksack off). The lighter you can make your body, the easier it will be to extract yourself.
  4. Spread your weight across a larger surface area to try and prevent any more sinking.  
  5. Try to take a few steps backwards.
  6. Keep your arms up and out of the quicksand.
  7. Stop others from trying to help you, as they might get stuck too.
  8. Move slowly and deliberately.  

Scroll to Top