“Do you think we should abort?” was Sir Hugh’s opening gambit when we met to walk the remaining section of The Wyre Way. I must admit the morning was foul with mist and rain. Fleetwood looked bleak. No-one was patronising the promenade snack kiosks. Somehow the sight of the familiar statues greeting the imaginary returning fishermen, they would have endured far worse than us, galvanised me into action. “Lets just set off and see” was my usual optimistic response. Within 100 yds the rain had stopped and there was a glimpse of brightness, the rest of the day was warm and almost sunny.
When I was walking The Wyre Way a couple of years ago I deemed I had completed the length of the river without this curious add on loop in the Fylde but when Sir Hugh suggested it I couldn’t miss out and risk shame. So here we were striding along the prom.What did we see? We saw the sea. But not at close quarters as the tide was out revealing vast mysterious sand banks. The famous distant views to the Lakeland Hills was denied us today. Leaving the Victorian esplanade area, with its two lighthouses and prominent North Euston Hotel, we wandered past run down beach huts, a yachting pond and on to a leaning coastwatch station. This latter was completed in 2012 and is of startling construction. The promenade/sea wall was closed further on for major works so we used a higher path adjacent to the golf course. In the distance Blackpool Tower.Turning inland we passed Rossall School and followed a few streets to meet up with the Wyre again. Good paths took us between the muddy river and the ICI [now AkzoNobel] plant, still functioning but greatly diminished. A car park appeared along with a multitude of dogwalkers. A fascinating area of boat jetties came next and led into Skipool Creek a centre for sailing but today with the tide still low everywhere looked distinctly muddy. There was a fascinating dereliction to the place, a mixture of allotment and scrap metal.
A final section across low lying muddy fields, which would be flooded at high tide in an hour or so, brought Shard Bridge into view. I remember the old metal toll bridge from my time working in Blackpool when an evening’s drive for a pint in the pub seemed to be crossing into another world. Today the pub is unrecognisable in its reincarnation as a Hotel/Restaurant. I peeped over the terrace to view the ‘path’ I had tried to follow at high tide a couple of years ago. Even today it looked uninviting.The thin winters light was upon us as we reflected on a day well spent.
A good post and you got in first so I won’t feel guilty about preempting all the material when I do mine. That opening photo of me immediately brought to mind Masefield’s:
Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack,
Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
Strange, but despite being brought up in Barrow, with neighbouring Morecambe and Blackpool playing a large part in my childhood, I have never visited Fleetwood. The weather has not been kind to it in your post, John. Having said that, your allotment/scrapyard section is my kind of place.
Time has not really been kind to Fleetwood, all the fishing has gone leaving a rather forlorn atmosphere. Fishermen Friends survive. Despite all this I like this honest place, visited regularly with my Mother, in her nineties, to gaze across the sea or sands to Barrow and the Lakes.
I had never been to Skippool before and was fascinated by the ‘wrecks’, I intend to visit again as it would be interesting to talk to the boats’ owners – do they ever go to sea?
As you well know something nearly always jumps out at you on the most mundane walk.