On display next to a caravan site in Pilling is a restored Hudswell 0-6-0 steam engine similar to the ones used on the old Knott End To Garstang Railway, it has been painted in their livery and renamed the Pilling Pig. This abandoned railway was built to link the agricultural areas of Wyre with the mainline. It had a chequered history.
The whistle of these engines squealed like a pig – hence the name Pilling Pig.
The cafe where I park this afternoon is on the site of the old railway terminus at Knott End, next to the ferry over to Fleetwood. This was a favourite place of the painter LS Lowry and several of his paintings include the ferry slipway. To celebrate this association a statue, by local designer Tom Elliot, has recently been installed.
The above diversions link my walk this afternoon from Knott End to Pilling.
Storms are continuing and fields are flooded so I opt for the raised sea wall to keep my feet dry today, I’m confident enough to walk in trainers. Talking to a resident of the seafront he explains the sea is either way out of sight or breaking over the promenade. Recent sea defences have prevented flooding which is good news.
The portion of the foreshore still visible is thronged with wading birds, I forgot my binoculars and the wind is too strong to take zoom shots with my little camera so their species will remain a mystery.
The landside of the path is uninspiring with a few houses, caravan sites and flooded fields. At one point I pass a fenced off reedy area, a tractor is just leaving it and my query of the driver reveals that it is a Mallard breeding area with 40,000 birds who are elsewhere at present. I do not feel it is the moment to discuss my opinion of breeding birds for the shooting fraternity.
The sea wall continues but seems to be fenced off [I’m tempted], the Lancashire Coastal path I’ve been following continues down Fluke Hall Lane into Pilling alongside a delightful period Junior School. Across the way, The Golden Ball inn looks ominously quiet. I’ve time on my hands but decide to explore the village rather than prop up the bar. Dam Lane takes me to a bridge over Pilling Water with a nearby desirable converted windmill. Another raised sea wall goes north to join the embankment I had previously considered following. Signs state that this should not be used from December to April but without a reason given.
I next look around the Parish Church, St. John the Baptist, yet another designed by the Lancaster firm Paley & Austin and built in 1887. There is fine stained glass in the east and west windows. I didn’t realise this church replaced an earlier C18th chapel which is just down the lane, Apparently, it still has the original wooden galleries. One to visit on another occasion.
The only other visitor attraction is Pilling Pottery which was closed. I sat in a cold and windy bus shelter hoping my bus back to Knott End would arrive on time before I froze. It did – and my feet were still dry!
I messed up my navigation driving home and ended up on one of the worst roads in Lancashire through Eagland Hill – very narrow, lined by flooded ditches, twisting with sudden right-angled bends, undulating from subsidence on the marsh and the tarmac breaking up in many places. With Storm Jorge in full swing, I was relieved to reach Nateby and the A6.