To reach places farther afield, I put my bike in the car and drive to Wrea Green for a cycle ride on the Fylde. For several years I have used the website bikehike for planning walks using their OS mapping and measuring devices. The OS map was my main tool for walking and I ignored the other road map which I now realise highlights cycling routes from the National Cycle Network. The clue was in the site’s name. These routes try to use quiet lanes as well as some off-road sections. I find many roads frightening for cyclists, so keeping clear of heavy traffic is important for relaxed cycling. Out of interest for years I have supported the charity Sustrans which has been instrumental in establishing these routes with mapping and signage. All those squiggles on the map come up with plenty of ideas for my present modest cycling trips.
It rained most of the morning but was forecast to clear by lunchtime. I pedalled out of Wrea Green on the NCW90 but found it busy with traffic travelling fast and too close to me, so I was pleased when I turned off onto a minor narrow lane, the 62 signed to Lytham. This is the Fylde, flat fields and long vistas. Blue skies were pushing the grey clouds away. Ominously, the ditches on either side of the lane were full of water, and it didn’t take long before I came around a corner to be faced with a flooded road. I let a car go first and then pedalled through the 3 inches of water without getting my feet wet.
My arrival on the coast at Lytham coincided with a sudden heavy storm coming from nowhere. I squeezed into a shelter where two bird watchers were sheltering. Fortunately we got on fine and were still chatting away when I realised the rain had eased and it was time to continue. The iconic windmill on the green was looking rather sorry with some recent storm damage to its sails. Compare the picture of the mill with the one I took in 2017 whilst walking this stretch.
Whilst I was trying to photograph it, and yet keep my camera dry at the same time, a stunning double rainbow appeared across the front.
The storm passed as quickly as it had come and my attention was drawn to the views across the bay to Southport and beyond. Parbold Hill and Ashurst Beacon seemed to compete with Winter Hill for prominence. The tide was out but I didn’t have binoculars to identify all the wading birds on the edge. The promenade has been improved over the years and now provides a wide passage for pedestrians and cyclists. Only on a short stretch after St. Anne’s pier did I have to cycle on the road to bypass the extensive sand dunes. Once past the tram stop at Squire’s Gate the promenade is even more extensive with several ways and levels. This is where the FUN begins, and It started to become busier as Blackpool’s attractions loomed up.
I weaved my way through the crowds and turned away from the prom just before the Tower to negotiate side streets of guest houses and flats. Police cars were flying around and there was an edgy feeling. The seedier side of Blackpool and I know, having worked here in the past. All was green again through Stanley Park and on past the Zoo. This was a branch of the 62 cycleway and wandered around fields on the edge of town. I was brought up short at this stretch of flooded path. How deep was it? I found out as I slowly pedalled deeper and deeper, with the water well above my bottom bracket. There was no stopping and I emerged thankfully 50 yards farther on with very wet feet. After I had reached a road at Staining the 62 rejoined the NCW 90 and it was all easy riding back to Wrea Green before the next band of rain blew in. My new bike computer said 24 miles, but you can’t always trust your computer.