Thursday, June 27, 2013

Walk 327 -- Crosby, via Liverpool, to Wallasey

Ages:  Colin was 71 years and 50 days.  Rosemary was 68 years and 192 days.
Weather:  Persistent rain which got increasingly unpleasant as the day progressed.
Location:  Crosby, via Liverpool, to Wallasey.
Distance:  14 miles.
Total distance:  3362 miles.
Terrain:  Sandy beach at start.  Then all concrete.  Flat.
Tide:  Out, coming in.  Out at end.
Rivers: No.402, River Mersey.
Ferries:  No.24 across the Mersey — “The Most Famous Ferry in the World!”  Fare:  £3 each.
Piers:  None.
Kissing gates:  None.
Pubs:  ‘Queen’s Royal’ in New Brighton, where we drank Hawkshead ‘Windermere Pale’ and Phoenix ‘Monkeytown Mild’ and ‘Wobbly Bob’.
‘English Heritage’ properties:  None.
Ferris wheels:  None.
Diversions:  None.
How we got there and back:  Yesterday we towed our caravan from home to a small farm site in North Wales, near St Asaph.  This morning we drove to Wallasey where we parked on the sea front — free parking all along!  We walked to nearby Wallasey Grove Road station where we caught a train to Liverpool, then another train to Hall Road.  (The trains in Liverpool are a bit like the London Underground!)  We walked down the road to Crosby beach.
At the end we came to our car soaking wet and feeling very cold.  We took off our wet stuff and then drove back to the pub in New Brighton to warm up with refreshing beer.  Then we drove back to our caravan in North Wales.

The toilets at the station were out of order, as they were five weeks ago when we were last in the area.  The toilets on the beach cost 20p a go, even the disabled cubicle — there was no provision for Radar keys.  So we weren’t best pleased, particularly Colin with his bladder problem.  It started raining as soon as we got off the train,  It was very light at first so we didn’t put on our wet-weather gear until we reached the beach.
Along the top of the beach, by the car park, were a number of exercise stations.  Some youngsters were hanging off the apparatus, we were glad to see.  (They’d put aside their mobile phones for a few moments!)
We looked at Anthony Gormley’s sculpture “Another Place” — we didn’t realise there were so many of these iron men.  They are all exactly the same, each a replica of the artist’s naked body.  We walked along the sandy beach for miles, and still we could see these statues stretching from the top of the beach to the low tide line.  (We learned, later, that there are one hundred of them.)  Some of them were half-buried in the sand and some stood high on little platforms as the tides washed the sands along.
They had previously stood on beaches in Germany, Norway and Belgium before coming to Crosby Beach.  They were supposed to be moving on to New York in 2007, but the local people liked them so much they asked to keep them.  They bring in an enormous number of tourists.  Anthony Gormley agreed to leave them here permanently, saying that Crosby was the ideal place.
We watched a ferry going out, presumably to Ireland.  The tide was right out, and the ferry was so close to the edge of the sea the water didn’t look deep enough for a ship of that size.
We were getting hungry.  Colin speculated that a domed building behind the sand dunes was a leisure centre.  It was raining quite hard by then, and there was a cold wind on the open sands.  We walked up the beach, past a load of stranded jellyfish, to discover that the building was indeed an indoor swimming pool.  What’s more, it had an overhanging roof with a memorial bench under it out of the rain — and we were relieved to find there was a free toilet in the entrance!  So we sat and ate our sandwiches — we hadn’t had the opportunity to find a pie shop today.
We continued along the cycleway behind the dunes.  The rain was still pelting down, but at least we were partially sheltered from the biting wind.  We noticed old Christmas trees had been used to stabilise the dunes.  We’d heard about this project on a television programme — the trees don’t grow because, of course, they have no roots, but if enough of them are stuck in the soft sand it slows the erosion of the dunes.
We could still see iron men, right to the end of the beach.  A huge tanker left the docks ahead, ships are so very big these days.  We had to turn inland where the beach gave way to docks, and we walked round a large leisure lake.  We met a man with a plastic bag on his head to ward off the rain.  He said, “I knew these poo-bags would come in useful one day!”  (It takes all sorts!)  Colin suddenly turned into a park — I almost missed it because my head was down and my hood was up against the awful weather.  It wasn’t a short cut, it just meant we were walking a parallel path away from the traffic.
We exited through a majestic stone gate of which I didn’t take a photograph because it was too wet.  We turned right along a main road which was very busy, and the pavement we had to walk along was not very wide and right next to the traffic.  Colin said, “At least it’s not as bad as the A9 experience!”  (He was referring to Walk 205 — which was easily the most horrendous Walk we have done — alongside the A9 into Wick in similar weather and traffic conditions as today, but no pavement.)  Then he got splashed by a passing lorry and changed his mind!  (Walk 205 was in the far north of Scotland and we walked it in March.  Today we were much further south, in Liverpool, and it is the end of June!  We really can’t believe this weather.)
Few photos were taken because first Colin had to get his umbrella out to hold it up for me, next I had to extract the camera from a poly-bag in my rucksack and set it up in the right direction — and still the wind blew the rain on to the camera lens!  I did take a couple of pictures of Liverpool Dock entrance, and one of a gate labelled ‘emergency access, no parking at any time’ which was blocked by a big lump of concrete — I couldn’t resist that one.
We passed a couple of cafés where, amazingly, they were only just taking in tables from the pavement.  It had been raining for hours, and the wind was bitingly cold.  We agreed not to stop for a café until we reached the ferry.  We were wearing shirts, jumpers, fleeces, hats, gloves and kags — and we were still cold!  Is it summer, or is it not? 
We passed a ‘flat-iron’ shaped building which was obviously a closed pub — so sad to see these fine buildings standing derelict.  We got really fed up with the constant traffic passing so close to us that we constantly got splashed.  We got past the docks, and noticed that there seemed to be another road parallel to the one we were on but nearer the waterfront — where did it come from?  We walked down a side-street to it, and found it was wider and marginally quieter.  We crossed a metal lifting bridge with an ornate tower at the sea end of the lock.  Frustratingly we couldn’t photograph it because it was far too wet and windy to get the camera out.  We were almost at the Liver Birds buildings before we got to the reconstructed waterfront and away from the traffic.  At last we were in the touristy bit.  But we weren’t interested in any of it, we were too wet and cold.
We came to the ferry building and discovered we had nearly an hour to wait for the boat to Seacombe.  That didn’t matter because there was a café there — tea and sticky buns were soon on order!  It gave us an opportunity to warm up and dry out a bit.  We felt quite refreshed after that.
We boarded the ferry and sat under a corrugated plastic roof.  Seagulls were walking about on top of it, we could hear them and see their feet.  I took a video of them.
It was so misty by then we could hardly see the other side of the Mersey!  They kept telling us it was “The Most Famous Ferry in the World” but it seemed a pretty ordinary ferry to us.  As we were leaving I took lots of pictures of Liverpool from under the plastic roof.  Ten minutes later we docked at Seacombe.
It was still raining cats and dogs, and it was still cold.  There was a cycleway all along the waterfront to Wallasey, we were very impressed about that.  It kept us away from the traffic, but there wasn’t much of that either.  Only the wretched weather spoilt things. We route-marched all the way to New Brighton.  We could hardly see across the Mersey to the docks as we passed them, it felt like the depths of winter!
We stopped at a large shelter where we were able to sit out of the rain and eat our apples.  Just round the corner in the same shelter a group of teenagers were fooling about and smoking, but they didn’t bother us.
We came to the end, New Brighton, where the Mersey flows out into the sea.  There was a pirate ship made out of beach rubbish on the shore — we admired it, but not for long because we were too cold.
We bypassed a fort, but without any interest because the weather was so foul.  We had to turn west, into the wind with the rain in our faces.  Yuk!  We didn’t notice a lighthouse because our heads were down and our hoods pulled forward.  Colin even gave up fighting with his umbrella — things were getting serious!
Colin noticed we were passing the pub he wanted to go to, but we agreed to finish the Walk first and then drive back to it because once inside we wouldn’t want to do any more walking in this weather.  We passed a clown sculpture which said “Welcome to New Brighton”, but by then we were only interested in surviving so it went un-photographed.  We stomped on.
As we approached the car the rain ceased, but the cold wind didn’t drop.  The sky at last began to clear — Sod’s Law! 

That ended Walk no.327, we shall pick up Walk no.328 on the seafront in Wallasey.   It was quarter past six, so the Walk had taken us seven hours.  We took off our wet stuff and then drove back to the pub in New Brighton to warm up with refreshing beer.  After that we drove back to our caravan in North Wales.

1 comment:

Jon Combe said...

I only realised a month or so ago you are still writing up your walk and I'm so glad to see that you are, because I very much enjoy it. It confused me that you are able to set the dates when you did the walk rather than when you posted it so I hadn't realised before. I saw a big gap between now and the previous post and assumed (wrongly) you had stopped. Having read some of your previous posts, especially around Cape Wrath that you are determined to complete your coastal walk and I very much hope you are able to get back on your feet and back on the coast soon.

Probably as well you didn't take too many photos. When I did this walk I got stopped by the police who wanted to know what I was doing (it seemed I had aroused suspicion by walking past the docks holding a camera and map), a first for me. That walk from Crosby to central Liverpool was pretty grim, so much dereliction and dirt, although at least I did not have to put up with the rain you had.