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Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Index to all the walks on this blog



So that the walk guides can be easily located from previously published posts in the archive they are listed here.
Photos on walks 1-45 and 78 to 112 were ,
‘mashups’ of poorer quality, the rest are better when I acquired a digital compatible camera.



1 Broadstairs to Westgate on Sea (Kent) August 2010
2 Westgate on Sea to Herne Bay (Kent)
3 Herne Bay to Faversham (Kent) September 2010
4 Faversham to Sittingbourne (Kent)
5 Queenborough to Minster (Isle of Sheppey) October 2010
6 Warden to The Ferry Inn/Harty Ferry (Isle of Sheppey)
7 Elmley Marshes to Dutchman’s Island (Isle of Sheppey)
8 Circular walk around Chetney Marshes (Isle of Sheppey)
9 Lower Halstow to Gillingham (Medway)
10 Chatham to Rochester via St Mary’s Island (Medway) November 2010
11 Frindsbury to Hoo to St Werburgh on Hoo Peninsula (Medway)
12 Grain, Allhallows on Sea and Yanlet Creek (Isle of Grain-Kent)
13 All Hallows on Sea to Cliffe (Isle of Grain, Kent)
14 Cliffe to Gravesend (Medway) December 2010
15 Tilbury to Stanford Le Hope (Essex)
16 Canvey Island (Essex)
17 South Benfleet to Southend on Sea (Essex) January 2011
18 Southend on Sea to Great Wakering (Essex)
19 Rochford to Wallasea Island (Essex)
20 North Fambridge to Burrnham on Crouch (Essex) February 2011
21 Burnham on Crouch to Tillingham (Essex)
22 Bradwell on Sea to St Lawrence (Essex) March 2011
23 St Lawrence to Maylandsea (Essex)
24 Maylandsea to Goldhanger (Essex)
25 Goldhanger to Tollesbury (Essex)
26 West Mersea to Brightlingsea (Essex)
27 Lee over Sands to Clacton on Sea (Essex) April 2011
28 Clacton on Sea to The Naze (Essex)
29 Kirby Le Soken to Thorpe Le Soken (Essex)
30 Dovercourt, Harwich and Mistley (Essex)
31 Stutton to Chelmondiston (Suffolk) May 2011
32 Nacton to Felixstowe (Suffolk)
33 Felixstowe to Butley (Suffolk)
34 Orford to River Alde opposite Aldeburgh + return + The Maltings June 2011
35 Aldeburgh to Southwold (Suffolk)
36 Kessingland to Lowestoft (Suffolk)
37 Lowestoft to Great Yarmouth (Norfolk) July 2011
38 Great Yarmouth to Winterton on Sea (Norfolk)
39 Sea Palling to Mundesley (Norfolk)
40 Overstrand to Sheringham (Norfolk) August 2011
41 Sheringham to Stiffkey (Norfolk)
42 Stiffkey to Burnham Overy Staithe (Norfolk)
43 Burnham Overy Staithe to Brancaster (Norfolk) September 2011
44 Thornham to Heacham (Norfolk)
45 Kings Lynn to Sutton Bridge (Lincs) October 2011
46 Spalding to Boston (Lincs)
47 Boston to Wrangle (Lincs)
48 Skegness to Chapel to St Leonards (Lincs) November 2011
49 Chapel St Leonards to Mablethorpe
50 Theddlethorpe St Helens to Saltfleet and back (Lincs)
51 Cleethorpes to Immingham (Lincs) December 2011
52 Goxhill Haven to Hessle (Yorks)
53 Hessle to Hull (Yorks)
54 Hedon to Thorngumbald via Paull (Yorks) January 2012
55 Kilnsea to Spurn Head and back (Yorks)
56 Withernsea, Aldbrough, Mappleton, Hornsea, Skipsea (Yorks)
57 Bridlington to Flamborough Head (Yorks) February 2012
58 Flamborough Head to Filey (Yorks)
59 Filey to Scarborough (Yorks)
60 Scarborough to Ravenscar (Yorks) March 2012
61 Ravenscar to Whitby (Yorks)
62 Whitby to Staithes (Yorks)
63 Staithes to Redcar (Yorks) April 2012
64 Middlesborough, North Gare Sands, Hartlepool (Durham)
65 Hartlepool to Seaham
66 Seaham to Sunderland (Tyne and Wear) May 2012
67 Sunderland to South Shields (Tyne and Wear)
68 Newcastle to North Shields (Tyne and Wear)
69 North Shields to Whitley Bay (Tyneside) June 2012
70 Whitley Bay to Blyth (Northumberland)
71 Newbiggin by Sea to Amble (Northumberland)
72 Amble to Craster (Northumberland) July 2012
73 Craster to Seahouses (Northumberland)
74 Seahouses to Belford (Northumberland) August 2012
75 Lindisfarne or Holy Island
76 Opposite Holy Island to Berwick upon Tweed (Northumberland)
77 Berwick upon Tweed to the border with Scotland September 2012


78 Broadstairs to Sandwich (Kent)
79 Sandwich to Dover (Kent) October 2012
80 Dover to Hythe (Kent)
81 Dymchurch to D ungensess (Kent)
82 Camber sands to rye and Winchelsea Beach (East Sussex) November 2012
83 Winchelsea Beach to Hastings (East Sussex)
84 Hastings to Bexhill (East Sussex)
85 Bexhill to Eastbourne (East Sussex) December 2012
86 Eastbourne to Cuckmere Haven (East Sussex)
87 Cuckmere Haven to Newhaven (East Sussex) January 2013
88 Newhaven to Brighton (East Sussex)
89 Brighton to Worthing (West Sussex)
90 Worthing to Littlehampton (West Sussex)
91 Littlehampton to Pagham (West Sussex) March 2013
92 Pagham to Selsey (West Sussex)
93 East Wittering to Bosham (West Sussex) April 2013
94 Bosham to Southbourne (West Sussex)
95 Southborne – Thorney Island – Emsworth (Hants) May 2013
96 Hayling Island (Hants) June 2013
97 Hayling Island to Portsmouth (Hants)
98 Fishbourne to Bembridge (Isle of Wight)
99 Bembridge to Ventnor (Isle of Wight) July 2013
100 Ventnor to Brighstone (Isle of Wight)
101 Brighstone to Alum Bay (Isle of Wight) August 2013
102 Alum Bay to Yarmouth (Isle of Wight)
103 Gurnard Bay to East Cowes (Isle of Wight) September 2013
104 Porchester to Fareham then Hardway to Alverstoke (Hants) October 2013
105 Alverstoke to Bursledon (Hants)
106 Hamble Rice to Southampton (Hants)
107 Hythe, Calshot, Lepe and Bucklers Hard (Hants) November 2013
108 Lymington to Barton on Sea (Hants) December 2013
109 Barton on Sea to Christchurch (Dorset) January 2014
110 Christchurch to Bournemouth (Dorset)
111 Bournemouth to Poole (Dorset) February 2014
112 Brownsea Island and Sandbanks to Swanage (Dorset)
113 Swanage to Worth Matravers (Dorset) March 2014
114 Worth Matravers to Kimmeridge Bay (Dorset)
115 Kimmeridge Bay to Lulworth Cove (Dorset) April 2014
116 Lulworth Cove to Weymouth (Dorset)
117 Weymouth and Portland (Dorset) May 2014
118 Weymouth to Abbotsbury (Dorset) June 2014
119 Abbotsbury to Bridport (Dorset) July 2014
120 Bridport to Charnmouth (Dorset) August 2014
121 Lyme Regis to Seaton (Devon) September 2014
122 Seaton to Sidmouth (Devon) October 2014
123 S idmouth to Budleigh Salterton (Devon)
124 Budleigh Salterton to Lympstone, Topsham plus A La Ronde. November 2014
125 Exeter to Starcross (Devon) December 2014
126 Starcross to Teignmouth (Devon) January 2015
127 Teignmouth to Torquay (Devon)
128 Torquay to Brixham (Devon) February 2015
129 Brixham to Kingswear (Devon) March 2015
130 Dartmouth to Torcross (Devon) April 2015
131 Torcross to East Portlemouth May 2015
132 Salcombe to Thurlestone (Devon) June 2015
133 Thurlestone to Bigbury on Sea (Devon)
134 Mothercombe to Erme Mouth and Wembury (Devon) July 2015
135 Wembury to Plymouth (Devon)
136 Plymouth to Saltash (Cornwall)
137 Plymouth to Millbrook (Cornwall)
138 Millbrook to Seaton (Cornwall) August 2015
139 Seaton to Polperro (Cornwall)
140 Polperro to Fowey (Cornwall) September 2015
141 Fowey to St Austell (Cornwall)
142 St Austell, Megavissey, Gorran Haven (Cornwall) October 2015
143 Gorran Haven to Portloe (Cornwall)
144 Portloe to Falmouth (Cornwall)
145 Falmouth to Helford Passage (Cornwall) November 2015
146 Helford Passage to St Keverne (Cornwall)
147 St Keverne to Lizard (Cornwall)
148 Lizard to Mullion (Cornwall)
149 Mullion to Praa Sands (Cornwall)
150 Praa Sands to Marazion and St Michaels Mount (Cornwall) December 2015
151 St Michaels Mount to Penzance and Newlyn (Cornwall)
152 Newlyn to Porthcurno (Cornwall)
153 Porthcurno to Lands End (Cornwall)


154 Lands End to St Just (Cornwall)
155/156 St Just to Zennor and Zennor to St Ives (Cornwall) January 2016
157 St Ives to Hayle (Cornwall)
158 Hayle to Portreath (Cornwall)
159 Portreath to Perranporth (Cornwall)
160 Perranport to Newquay (Cornwall)
161 Newquay to Mawgan Porth (Cornwall)
162 Mawgan Porth to Constantine Bay (Cornwall) February 2016
163 Constantine Bay to Padstow (Cornwall)
164 Rock to Port Issac (Cornwall)
165 Port Issac to Tintagel (Cornwall)
166 Tintagel to Crackington Haven (Cornwall)
167 Crackington Haven to Bude (Cornwall)
168 Bude to Morwenstow (Cornwall)
169 Morwenstow to Hartland Quay (Devon) March 2016
170 Hartland Quay to Clovelly (Devon)
171 Clovelly to Westward Ho! (Devon)
172 Westward Ho! To Bideford (Devon)
173 Bideford to Barnstaple (Devon)
174 Barnstaple to Woolacombe (Devon) April 2016
175 Woolacombe to Ilfracombe (Devon)
176 Ilfracombe to Coombe Martin (Devon) May 2016
177 Coombe Martin to Lynton (Devon)
178 Lynmouth to Porlock Weir (Somerset)
179 Porlock Weir to Minehead (Somerset)
180 Minehead to Watchett (Somerset)
181 Bridgewater and Combwich cicular walk (Somerset) June 2016
182 Highbridge to Weston super Mare (Somerset)
183 Clevedon to Portishead, Severn Beach and Bristol July 2016


184 Gretna Green to Carlisle (Cumbria)
185 Carlisle to Bowness on Solway (Cumbria)
186 Bowness on Solway to Anthorn (Cumbria) August 2016
187 Skinburness – Silloth – Maryport (Cumbria)
188 Maryport to Workington (Cumbria)
189 Workington to Whitehaven (Cumbria)
190 Whitehaven to Sellafield (Cumbria) September 2016
191 Sellafield to Bootle Station (Cumbria)
192 Bootle Station to Millom (Cumbria)
193 Askam in Furness to Walney Island and Barrow in Furness (Cumbria)
194 Barrow in Furness to Ulverston (Cumbria) October 2016
195 Grange over Sands, Arnside and Morecambe (Cumbria)
196 Fleetwood to Blackpool (Lancs)
197 Blackpool to Freckleton (Lancs) November 2016
198 Southport to Formby (Lancs)
199 Crosby to Liverpool
200 Liverpool to Cressington December 2016
201 Liverpool to West Kirby (Wirral)

202 Chester

Monday, 12 December 2016

Walk 202 Chester

Walk 202 Chester

(Fourth leg of English coastal walk – Gretna Green to Chester)

Map: L/R 117
Distance: 2 to 4 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Terrain: pavement, cycle path
Access: Parking (paid)
Public transport: Main line train links

Although Chester is not strictly a coastal town I thought it gave a bit of symmetry to finish the walk by walking to the border with Wales. This can be done by following the cycle path marked on the OS map up to the border. I could not find a marker to say ‘Wales’ but there was a lot of work taking place on the banks when I went..

Chester itself, is of course, an interesting place to explore. I will list the ones I enjoyed the most:
The Roman Walls – these are the most complete city walls in the UK. They can be walked around and have some interesting remains from Roman times.
The Queen Victoria Jubilee clock. It is in the Eastgate and is the second most photographed clock in England (behind Big Ben).
The shopping centre called The Rows.
The old and new cathedrals St Werburgh and St Johns.
The Roodee the oldest horse racing course still in use in the UK.
Some interesting pubs.

This is the last post on Walking the English coast apart from an index to the walks.

Walk 201 Liverpool to West Kirby (Wirral)

Walk 201 Liverpool to West Kirby (Wirral)

(Fourth leg of English coastal walk – Gretna Green to Chester)

Map: L/R 108
Distance: 14 miles or 23 km approx
Difficulty: Easy, flat.
Terrain: pavement, promenade and coastal path
Access: Parking in both places
Public transport: Ferry across the Mersey or train to Birkenhead. Train back from West Kirby to Liverpool

It is possible to continue this walk all the way round to Neston and get a train back from there. I did not do this, firstly because it was October and the light would start to go but mainly because the Wirral Country Park path is inland for the most part and is not really coastal.

On arrival in Birkenhead navigate to the river front (if going by train). The white terminal of the Mersey Ferry is prominent. Records show that there has been a ferry since the 12th century when one was operated by Benedictine monks from their priory here. The area is best known for ship building and related industries. Two tunnels go under the Mersey, a rail one built in 1886 and one for cars etc. in 1934.

Start walking northwards alongside the river. Two landmarks to look out for on this stretch. The impressive Birkenhead Town Hall, now The Wirral Museum, and Birkenhead Park, the first publicly funded park in the UK. Enjoy the promenade with its good views across to Liverpool.

Further along is The Ferry Inn originally part of the Ferry complex of the 1880s. Nearby are information plaques on the wall detailing the ships lost in World War 2 with a connection to Birkenhead.

At the northern most end of the path is New Brighton. In the early 19th century it had developed a reputation for smuggling, wrecking and tunnels – the latter are said to still exist. New Brighton was founded as a resort in the 1830s and was popular because of its sandy beaches. It had a tower similar to the one in Blackpool but this was dismantled in 1921 due to lack of maintenance. The lighthouse was built in 1927 although it no longer functions and is used as a private residence.

Fort Perch is a clear landmark. It was built as a defence in the Napoleonic era to protect Liverpool. It is now a naval museum.

The walk continues along the north coast for a couple of miles alongside a golf course before coming to The Leasowe Castle Hotel. The older part of this, which can be easily spotted, was built in the 16th century. A little further along is The Leasowe Lighthouse which was built in 1763. Its construction was prompted by many losses on the sands including a ship loaded with cotton going aground in 1761. It’s cargo was left to rot and with the combination of salt and sand it hardened into a base for the new lighthouse. Nevertheless, it has been closed since 1908. as by that time the sand dunes were considered to be too unstable to support a lighthouse.

A couple of miles further along is Hoylake. Look out for the lifeboat station as it is one of the oldest in the UK having been founded in 1803. The new building opened in 2008 with an impressively sculpted statue/memorial outside. It was from Hoylake that William 111 set sail with his 10,000 strong army for the Battle of The Boyne in Ireland.

The Royal Hotel was built in the town in 1792 with the idea of developing the area as a holiday resort. A race course was laid out in the grounds but it was all demolished in the 1950s. Around the outskirts of the town is the Royal Liverpool Golf Club which has held the British Open. Several well known people have connections with Hoylake including the cyclist Chris Boardman, the actress Glenda Jackson, the actor Daniel Craig, Mike Rutherford of Genesis and Cynthia Lennon.

On the walk between Hoylake and West Kirby is Red Rocks Nature Reserve. The sand dunes provide homes for a variety of flora and fauna including the natterjack toad.

West Kirby is at the mouth of the River Dee. Three islands can be seen across the sands: Little Eye, Middle Eye and Hilbre. Notices warn that incoming tides are dangerous. There is a designated safe crossing when the tide is out to reach the islands and guides organise open days to ensure safety. On the land side are Coronation Gardens and further down on the coast side is a 32 acre lake and paddling pool bordered off from the sea. It was rebuilt in 1985 to provide a better facility.

Photos show: across the Mersey from Birkenhead with ferry terminal; New Brighton Beach and Trench Fort; Lifeboat station at Hoylake; beach at West Kirby.

Sunday, 11 December 2016

Walk 200 Liverpool to Cressington (alongside the Mersey)

Walk 200 Liverpool to Cressington (alongside the Mersey)

(Fourth leg of English coastal walk – Gretna Green to Chester)

Map: L/R 108
Distance: 6 miles or 10 km approx
Difficulty: Easy, flat.
Terrain: concrete paved river walk
Access: Parking in both places
Public transport: Frequent trains between Cressington and Liverpool Central.

Although the walk starts near the Liver Building, Liverpool itself has much to offer of interest. At least a day can be spent looking around. I particularly enjoyed the Walker Art Gallery, The Roman Catholic Cathedral (known locally as Paddy’s Wigwam), Liverpool Cof E Cathedral designed by Gilbert Scott and, at 189 metres, the longest in the world, The Slave Museum, Rodney Street (for old photographic NT studio and pyramid tomb), The Philarmonic Pub and Matthew Street (Cavern Club). Some others are mentioned below on the walk.

Soon after The Liver Building is the Liverpool Cruise Terminal – a floating structure oepned in 2007. A bit further along is The Titanic Memorial which is dedicated to the 224 engine room staff who lost their lives. They remained at their posts supplying electricity and other amenities so others could survive. On the land side you cannot miss the impressive Port of Liverpool Building formerly the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board offices. Clad in Portland stone it is a listed building. In front of the building is the statue of Sir Alfred Lewis Jones a shipowner who was the founder of the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

Departures for the world famous ferry across the Mersey are on the riverside. Past this point are a number of sculptures to admire. These include: Captain F J Walker 1896-1944 dedicated to him and all those who fought in the Battle of the Atlantic in World War 2; sculptures outside the Museum of Liverpool celebrating 2008 when the city was the European Capital of Culture; the propeller from the Lusitania which was torpedoed in 1915 with the loss of 1201 lives; the Working Horse Monument marking the importance of horses which for 250 years pulled goods around the city; Billy Fury the pop singer who died at 42. Near the Tate Gallery are sculpted figures commemorating the 9 million people who emigrated from Liverpool to the New World. I could go on!

This area, part of the Old Albert Dock, was a complex of buildings opened in 1846. It was a base for the Atlantic Fleet in World War 2. Near here is The Beatles Experience – I did not have time to go in here though.

Continue the walk past the Liverpool Museum (although you will need to wander back away from the river as well to appreciate all that is on offer in this former docks area). On the front is The Old Pilot Office in use between 1883 and 1978. It was the base for the service which is still use today, that of providing a pilot to vessels entering and leaving the Mersey.

Further along is The Liverpool Arena and the Ferris wheel. After this there is less hustle and bustle as the walk passes park land alongside the Mersey. Otterpool Promenade was opened in 1950 and was made by landscaping a waste disposal site. The name derives from the otters that inhabited a tidal creek that joined the River Mersey.

This walk is quite pleasant although the industry at Garston and beyond gets ever closer. You are nearing the end when you spot the large pink sculpture called Sitting Bull near to the river side at Aigburth. This is a sculpture created for a local garden festival in 1984. The walk for this part of t\he coast finishes at Cressington.

Photos show: Working horse sculpture, Albert Dock, Liverpool; part of Albert Dock; Otterpool; Sitting Bull, Aigburth.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Walk 199 Crosby to Liverpool

Walk 199 Crosby to Liverpool

(Fourth leg of English coastal walk – Gretna Green to Chester)

Map: L/R 108
Distance: 10 miles or 16 km approx
Difficulty: Easy mainly flat.
Terrain: coastal path, road walking (tedious at times)
Access: Parking in both places
Public transport: Frequent trains run between Hall Road Station (to the north of) Crosby and Liverpool Central.

The walk between Formby and Crosby is best avoided because of the dangerous areas that contain military rifle ranges leaving little access to the coast. The walk therefore starts to the north of Crosby on the coast near Hall Road Station.

The major feature of the Blundell Sands at Crosby is ‘Another Place’. This is a set of 100 life size sculptures of men looking out to sea. They are spaced out on 3 kilometres of beach and up to I km out at sea. They are secured on solid foundations and are cast iron replicas of the artist, Anthony Gormley. Some have become submerged and are gaining character as they are affected by the elements. See photograph underneath.

Crosby itself goes back to Viking times and the name originally meant ‘village of the cross’. Several well known people come from the area including Kenny Everett and Anne Robinson – Cherie Blair went to school here. Follow the cycle path down to Waterloo. On the opposite bank are the buildings of Wallasey.

The path skirts the Marine Lake before cutting inwards near Seaforth. Look out for the large mural which tells the story of the area between 1900 and 1914. It pictures The Dockers Umbrella, an overhead railway for dock workers, which was demolished in 1970. Also featured are The Titanic (many officers and crew lived nearby), old trams and a bathing machine.

From here on the walk to Bootle is a bit of a slog. The pavement is alongside a very busy and noisy main road. The docks and shipyards once stretched for ten miles but are now mostly concentrated on the Bootle waterfront. It is impossible to miss the busy entrance to The Port of Liverpool which deals with grain and containers (recently expanded and updated, I understand). Once the second biggest port by tonnage handled, Liverpool is now the seventh busiest.

Just before the Sandhills area, turn left along the A5038 which is a quieter road with more interesting buildings to see. Follow this road all the way into Liverpool. Many derelict buildings were evident when I walked this stretch. On a more positive note, on the River Mersey Side, the impressive Jesse Hartley Clocktower can be viewed through gaps in the walls/buildings. Built in 1848 it is also known as Victoria Tower and served as an aid to ships with accurate time and weather warnings. Look out for Stanley Dock on the left hand side of the road. This was also designed by Hartley and opened in 1848. It looked rather derelict when I walked past but it is a Grade 2 listed building purported to be the biggest brick building in the world with 27 million bricks. On the right hand side of the road is the old entrance to Clarence Dock (named after the Duke of Clarence who became William 1V). The dock was filled in 1929, then a power station was built on the site, then this was demolished in 1990. A plaque on the old dock wall explains that through the dock gates poured most of the 1,300,000 Irish migrants who fled the Great Famine between in Ireland between 1845 and 1852.

Further along, at the end of the road, is the modern frontage at Princes Dock- this area was redeveloped from the 1821 old docks.

The walk finishes at The Royal Liver Building – an iconic structure overlooking The Mersey. This is a Grade 1 listed building of 1911 and still houses The Royal Liver Assurance Group. It was one of the first buildings in the World to use reinforced concrete and was the tallest building in the UK until 1961. Be sure too look out for the Liver Bird sculptures on top of the building. This building and the tow next to it - The Cunard Building and The Port of Liverpool Building are known as The Three Graces.

More about Liverpool on the next walk.

Photos show: Another Place, Crosby - one of the sculptures, others in the background; the mural near Seaforth; Stanley Docks building, Liverpool; Jesse Hartley tower; Liver Building.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Walk 198 Southport to Formby (Lancs)

Walk 198 Southport to Formby (Lancs)

(Fourth leg of English coastal walk – Gretna Green to Chester)

Map: L/R 108
Distance: 13 miles or 20km approx
Difficulty: Easy, flat although if the tide is in and you have to walk along the dunes it could be more challenging
Terrain: coastal path, sand and pavement.
Access: Parking in both places
Public transport: Trains run between Southport and Formby

Most of the coast is inaccessible between Freckleton, Preston and beyond so I started the walk at Southport. It is worthwhile having a look around Southport before venturing on to the coastal walk.

Southport was founded in 1792. When an innkeeper built a bathing house here in the 19th century it became popular with tourists due to its easy access from the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. In 1886 the worst lifeboat disaster in history occurred near the town when 28 lifeboat crew were drowned attempting to help a cargo ship.

The elegant, tree lined Lord Street in Southport, with its landmark war memorial and shops, is of particular interest. Napoleon 3rd lived here before returning to France to become emperor in 1851. It is thought that the boulevards, covered walkways and shopping arcades in Paris were inspired by Lord Street.

Walk out of the town towards the Marine Lake going past the Queen Victoria Statue and on to the Marine Lake Promenade. A stroll northwards up this road past the casino is the old Southport Promenade Hospital, a grade 2 listed building of 1852. It is now luxury apartments but was an important military convalescent hospital during the world wars, then a specialist unit for spinal and orthopaedic injuries. It closed in 1990. On a lighter note, The Lakeside Inn, which was closed when I was there in 2013, claims to be the smallest pub in Britain with a bar of just 22 feet by 16 feet – I am not sure whether it still holds the record.

Cross the impressive Marine Lake Bridge and down the road to the pier. The lake opened in 1887 and is one of the largest man made leisure lakes in England.

A stroll just north of the pier gives a good view over the sands back to the River Ribble and Lytham. The pier, built in 1860, is a listed structure and starts a fair bit inland. It is the second longest pier in the UK after Southend and one of the first to be constructed using iron. Like most piers, it suffered a fire which caused it to be shortened. It was restored in the early 2000s after there were plans to demolish it. A tram runs from Southport Promenade to the end. This was originally installed to transport luggage from steam ships which stopped at the end of the pier.

The walk follows the road southwards and, providing the tide is out, there are 7 miles of golden sands to enjoy. The beach is popular with horse racing stables who use it for training; the three time Grand National Winner, Red Rum was often to be seen here. The sands have also been used for attempts at the land speed record.

Further down the promenade, look out for the structure which marks the end of the Trans Pennine Walking and Cycling Trail. It goes across the country finishing at Hornsea on the East Yorkshire coast. According to the information board much of it is surprisingly flat.

Continue the walk to Ainsdale on the Pennine Trail which runs parallel to the road. (It may be possible to walk along the dunes instead). On the roundabout at Ainsdale-on-Sea (Shore Road) there is a sculpture of an aircraft which commemorates ‘The Coronation Flight’ of May 1937. This was an important 24 hour transatlantic flight to New York by a twin engine monoplane which took off from the nearby sands. It became known as the Coronation Flight as the pilot was commissioned to transport newsreel coverage of the coronation of George V1. The nearby lake, which is part of the Sands Lake Nature Trail, is a good place to stop for a rest.

Near to the Velvet Trail (a circular walk) is access to the beach. I walked along the beach from here to Formby Point. Unusually, there are finger posts in the sand indicating paths inland. At Formby Point there is one marked into the town. Red squirrels live in the dunes. Christmas trees are donated to the National Trust and planted in the dunes to help prevent erosion of the sand dunes. The beach here is the location of the first lifeboat station in 1776. The last launch took place in 1916.

Further along the beach MOD notices warn of the dangerous rifle ranges. The noise of rifle fire gives fair warning!

Formby is a well off area with many Everton and Liverpool footballers choosing to live here. The ukulele player and comedian George Formby adopted the name of the town while waiting for a train.

Photos show: a view along Southport Pier with tram tracks; the marker at Southport Beach for the end of the Trans Pennine Walking and Cycling Trail; aircraft sculpture at Ainsdale; path signpost on the beach walk to Formby Point.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Walk 197 Blackpool to Freckleton (Lancs)

Walk 197 Blackpool to Freckleton (Lancs)

(Fourth leg of English coastal walk – Gretna Green to Chester)

Map: L/R 102
Distance: 15 miles or 25km approx
Difficulty: Easy, flat
Terrain: coastal path and pavement.
Access: Parking in both places
Public transport: 68 bus goes frequently between the two towns and takes about an hour

Start out at The Blackpool Tower which is well worth a visit (on another day). Don’t miss the ballroom and viewing platform as the views down the coast are stunning. The tower was opened in 1894 and was Britain’s highest building (518 feet) for many years. It is based on the Eiffel Tower and is made from 5 million bricks, 2500 tons of iron and 93 tons of cast steel. It is not free standing – the base is hidden by a building which houses the Tower Circus. There is a 7 year cycle of repair work undertaken by workers known as ‘stick men’.

On the promenade, near the tower, is The Comedy Carpet, a paved area which features jokes and catchphrases by over 1000 comedians. Good fun.

The walk from here south is known as The Golden Mile and includes Madame Tussaud’s waxworks as well as traditional seaside attractions. I went when the famous illuminations were on and although this can be a good time to visit it is a bit chancy with the weather. The town developed in the nineteenth century as developers saw the potential for cheap holidays aimed at low paid Lancashire mill workers and their families. The resort was greatly enhanced by the arrival of the railway.

About half a mile south of the tower is The Central Pier. In contrast to the more genteel North Pier the emphasis here is more on fun. It was built in 1864 and a Ferris wheel was added in 1990. Further down is The South Pier, also known as Victoria Pier, was originally intended to be more upmarket when built in 1893 but now contains a number of rides.

After a short walk the path moves away from the sea and passes Blackpool Pleasure Beach. This is the most visited tourist attraction in the UK and is in the top twenty amusement parks in the world. The slogan outside says: ‘See it, feel it, love it’. It was founded in 1896 and the scary ‘Big One’ was opened in 1994 – it was the tallest and fastest in the world at the time. Definitely not for me!

Returning to the promenade look out for the sculpture constructed in 2002 called ‘They shoot horses don’t they’. It is the world’s largest mirror ball and has 45000 mirror tiles. The name refers to the 1969 film about dance marathons of the American Depression; it links with Blackpool’s strong dance traditions.

After about half a mile the walk continues along the main road which is rather tedious. It may be possible to walk along the sand dunes but the wind was whipping sand up so I did not try it.

Just before the pier in Lytham St Annes is a specially commissioned sensory garden with a larger than life statue of the comedian Les Dawson. He lived in the town with his wife and daughter and described it as ‘so posh that when we eat cod and chips we wear yachting caps’. The town, which is also known as St Annes on Sea, was a planned development which opened in 1875. In recent times it has been an international centre for sand yachting activity but this was suspended in 2002 when a visitor was killed by a sand yacht. St Annes was the original centre for premium bonds – this has now been moved to Blackpool.

At Fairhaven Marine Lake and Gardens there is an impressive full size replica of a Spitfire. This is a tribute to airmen from the area lost in World War 2. The salt water lake built at the end of the 19th century is an important wildfowl habitat. Back inland is an interesting white structure. I took a walk up to have a look. It is the Fairhaven United Reform Church which opened in 1912 and known locally as The White Church. It imitates Byzantine architecture and is probably a unique place of worship in the UK.

Continue along to Lytham and its landmark windmill. It was built in the 19th century and functioned until 1919 when a gale caused a fire. It was restored in 1988 and now houses a museum telling the history of milling. The town overlooks the estuary of the River Ribble. Lytham was for many years dependent on fishing and shrimping then grew when seaside cures and tourism became popular. Now it is one of the wealthiest areas of Lancashire partly due to highly paid jobs at nearby BAE Systems.

Follow the Coastal Way out of Lytham, across the bridge and alongside the marsh to Warton Bank. The path skirts around Warton Aerodrome which was a depot for the US Air Force in World War 2. An air disaster in 1944 occurred when an aircraft attempting to land crashed into a school killing 61 people including 38 children. BAE took over the airfield in the 1960s and became its testing facility. High speed aircraft wreck the peaceful walk at times.

Take care with the walk into Freckleton as parts of it are difficult to identify and there is some very marshy ground nearby.

Photos show: a view south from the Blackpool Tower; 'They shoot horses don't they' glass sculpture in south Blackpool; Les Dawson sculpture, Lytham St Annes; Spitfire memorial, Fairhaven Marine Lake; windmill at Lytham.