Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Walk 320 -- Fleetwood to Blackpool

Ages:  Colin was 70 years and 344 days.  Rosemary was 68 years and 121 days.
Weather:  Dull grey.  Strong winds straight in our faces.
Location:  Fleetwood to Blackpool.
Distance:  6 miles.
Total distance:  3279 miles.
Terrain:  Mostly concrete.  Bit of sandy beach.  Flat.
Tide:  Coming in.
Rivers: None.
Ferries:  None.
Piers:  None.
Kissing gates:  None.
Pubs:  None.
‘English Heritage’ properties:  None.
Ferris wheels:  None.
Diversions:  None.
How we got there and back:  We were staying in our caravan in Blackpool.  This morning we drove to Starr Gate on Blackpool South Shore, parked and caught a tram to Fleetwood.
At the end we gave up at Norbreck because of the wind.  We caught a tram back to Starr Gate and drove back to our caravan.  That evening our awning blew down in the wind, and we completely lost heart.  So the next day we drove home to Malvern.

After we got off the tram we walked to the ferry and took photos of it.  It was unbelievably windy, so we quickly repaired to a nearby café where we tucked into beef & onion barms — delicious!  It took quite a bit of courage to go outside again and continue our Walk.  We were glad of our ‘Radar’ keys, all the toilets in the area were 20p a go.
Our entire Walk today was along a concrete prom, southwards towards Blackpool.  There were lots of sculptures on the prom in Fleetwood, some of them memorials.
There was a column with a tiny balcony at the top — was it an old lighthouse?
There was a memorial to the seven men who died in a helicopter accident in Morecambe Bay just after Christmas 2006.
There was a memorial to forty-two ships which didn’t come back from fishing trips over the last hundred years.  All are named and dated, the places where they were fishing when they got into trouble, and the number of hands lost in each case.  This memorial depicts equipment from a trawler, and has fish pictures in the ground in front of it.
And there was a beautiful sculpture of a mother with two children and the family dog welcoming the father of the family home from a fishing trip.
Further on there was an old Victorian water fountain, a memorial bench with bunches of flowers on it, and a look-out tower.
The beach was sandy and looked as if it had been combed.  We went down on to it because sand is kinder to the feet than concrete.  It was firm underfoot to start with, but we had to go back on to the prom when we began to round the corner because the beach got too stony.
We were walking into the wind which was very strong and causing us difficulties.  We think it is often like that on this coast because the children’s playground is tucked away behind a sheltering hedge, not exposed on the seafront.  There were lots of inland ponds — this coast is very flat and probably prone to flooding.  We watched a large ferry, called, pass just out from the beach — was it going to Ireland?
We were at the southern end of Morecambe Bay.  There were warning signs about the dangers of swimming off this beach because, for people coming the other way, it was the beginning of the dangerous sands.  We were only 12 miles from Barrow-in-Furness as the crow flies, but we had walked more than 70 miles to skirt around the edge of Morecambe Bay.
As we continued we could see how the beach was different, no longer sands to infinity at low tide.
The wind was intense, it seemed even more so now that we had rounded the corner and were walking due south.  Colin tried walking backwards a few yards, and reckoned he could walk three times faster with the wind on his back!  It was just concrete, concrete, concrete — no shelter from the incessant wind.  We even passed warning signs advising us not to walk along the prom in stormy conditions at high tide, so they must be used to such conditions around here.  At last we found some concrete blocks, and sat behind one on a concrete wall where it wasn’t quite so windy, to eat our sarnies.
We carried on, but we were not enjoying it because of the wind.  The sea looked angry, singularly uninviting.  We thought it a horrible bit of coastline!
We came to Cleveleys where there were even more concrete wonders — curly steps and extraordinary lampposts.  I much prefer a natural world with trees and greenery.
We passed another memorial in memory of ships wrecked along the Flyde coast — all were named, and we could see the sea through a porthole.  I liked it, different to most memorials.
We were both finding it very hard going.  Further on we sat on some steps which were partially sheltered, and reassessed.  Whilst tramping along, I had been planning in my head how to readjust the Walks because I was done in and didn’t want to continue in these conditions.  The wind had sapped all my energy, and Colin was finding it difficult too.  So we walked on to the nearest tram stop, which was Norbreck, and called a halt.

That ended Walk no.320, we shall pick up Walk no.321 at Norbreck tram stop, Blackpool.   It was twenty past three, so the Walk had taken us four hours, twenty minutes.  We caught a tram back to Starr Gate and drove back to our caravan.
In the evening the wind got even worse.  Our awning was strengthened with 'storm guys' — huge chunky pegs holding down strong thick straps which were fastened with cheap plastic of which snapped!  Pegs all along the front quickly became unpegged, but when the centre pole detached itself I was standing by it, fortunately.  I was able to grab it before it did any damage.  So we had to get the whole awning down in a hurry in a force 10 gale!  (It was 10 o'clock at night, by the way, and pitch dark!)  We worked as a team and did it very calmly even though it was a bit frantic at times.  Another fortunate thing was that it didn't rain during the whole procedure because we didn't have time to 'rescue' things like the toaster and microwave, which we keep on a table in the awning, until after the whole extremely heavy canvas had been bundled unceremoniously into the car.  The caravan shook most of the night, even though we were on a sheltered site more than two miles from the seafront!  No damage to the awning, thank goodness, except for that stupid plastic buckle which will be replaced with something much more appropriate for a 'storm' guy!  The awning cost us over £300 just a year ago and is just out of guarantee, of course.  One other caravanner on the site wasn't so lucky — his awning ripped before he could get it down.
The next day we didn’t feel like putting the awning up again, especially as the wind was still very strong.  In fact we didn’t feel like doing anything at all.  I was completely drained of energy, I think I was in a state of shock.  So we folded the awning — with difficulty because it was still very windy.  Then we packed everything up and drove home to Malvern.

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