Tag Archives: Cycling

PRESTON GUILD WHEEL, MISCELLANEA.

  Henry II granted Preston the right to have a Guild Merchant controlling trade in the town. That was back in 1179. Holding the Guild every 20 years probably started in 1542, membership would only change every other generation. Bringing together the town’s merchants, craftsmen and traders led to pageantry, feasting and processions. Six centuries later Preston still celebrates the Guild (though there has been free trade since 1790) every 20 years.

  There is a local saying “once in a Preston Guild” due to the 20 years gap – the equivalent of “once in a blue moon”. We like to be different up here.

  The last Guild was 2012 and to celebrate it Preston and Lancashire County Councils devised this 21mile ‘green route’ circling the city nearly all off-road. It was opened in August 2012, and though not as green as it used to be is a lasting legacy to the city and its Guild celebrations. LCC has devised an auditory commentary by scanning the QR codes attached to the mile markers. I must get round to trying them.

  Known locally simply as The Guild Wheel, GW, it also has a Sustrans cycling route number – 622.

CaptureGuild Wheel

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I haven’t been on the Guild Wheel since last September’s aborted ride. Let’s see what today brings.

I get off to walk the steep track down Red Scar into Brockholes Nature Reserve. I’ve had enough mishaps recently, I don’t want to tempt fate, who is on strike today? Maybe the Nurses or the Ambulances. Better safe than sorry or worse.

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Without binoculars, it is pointless to stop off at the bird hides, though I do recognise some swans from a distance.

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The ride alongside the Ribble is the greenest section of the GW and whilst the sun was shining the river took on a liquid silver appearance.DSC03068

The route brings you right into the heart of the city where the Old Tram Bridge linked Penwortham to Avenham Park. It was built originally by the Lancaster Canal Company in 1802 to link the Leeds Liverpool canal system to the isolated Lancaster Canal using carts to transport the commodities. The arrival of the railways led to the closure of the tramway in 1858. Recent inspections of the bridge have shown it to be on the verge of collapse, and it was closed for good in 2019. There has been a strong local campaign for some sort of restoration, both from a historical view and more importantly as a leisure facility, it being a popular pedestrian crossing of the Ribble in the city. Costings were proving prohibitive but then along comes ‘levelling up’ and Preston has received a £20 million grant from the government. Good news, going hand in hand with Eden Project I mentioned in my last post.

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Avenham and Miller Parks are looking splendid. Proud Preston.

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It’s 21 miles whichever way you choose to go.

 

Alongside the GW they are raising the river defences in Broadgate, the work is taking two years and already is causing traffic chaos at that end of the city.

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‘Ullo John! Gotta New Motor?

Once I’m past the city of cars I’m on a new piece of tarmac alongside the junction with the Western Distributor Road system, it will soon be open. The GW then goes under the new bridge spanning the Ribble Link Canal.

 

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Western Distributor links, that’s Longridge Fell in the background.

 

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I call in as usual at my favourite café on the GW, the Final Whistle, in the grounds of the university sports fields. Toasted teacake and a coffee £2.95. Whenever I have a toasted tea cake I’m reminded of my sadly departed mate, big Tony, who couldn’t start a day’s climbing without his toasted tea cake and a pot of tea. We had a list of cafés throughout the north-west serving this delicacy. Great times.

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A robin is always on hand to help clear up the crumbs.

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Nothing much else to report, the housing estates are still proliferating on every space i the Cottam area eating up the green spaces, but what about these catkins in the sunshine – a harbinger of better days to come.

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DÉJÀ VU ON THE LUNE.

DSC03052The place, the time, the circumstances.

Here I am looking into a flood on the cycle track to Glasson. Did it all happen two weeks ago? What am I doing here again? I ask myself, I curse myself. I’ve been impatient and obviously unrealistic. I’m not thinking straight. The water has not had a chance to recede. We’ve had snow melt loading the Lune. This time I don’t put a wheel into the water but just turn around and pedal back with my tail well and truly tucked.

I’d only come out on this fairly grim day for some exercise to build up the knee muscles. There is a limit to what you achieve on the static bike in front of the telly. And my limit is almost zero. There is nobody about, I long for the Spring when the friendly tea van will be once again parked up at Halton Station.

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Loneliness of the long distance cyclist…

Let’s make the best of it, cross the Millennium Bridge and head back to Morecambe. I come in at the west end, considered the most run down part of town, for a good reason. But last week the government has given £50 million towards the Eden Project, levelling up. Planning permission has been granted, so now it is a matter of securing all the finances and starting the scheme on site. Our Prime Minister has been up here, controversially by plane, to try and spin the occasion. Unfortunately a simple seat belt error has put him into deeper waters.  I try to envisage the site but think I am on the wrong side of the Stone Jetty. The Midland Hotel will be close by and benefit from the investment as I am sure the rest of Morecambe will. Shame about the present rail non-station. Wouldn’t it have been great if they could have reused the Victorian Station and have visitors arriving in style. Car parking will become a problem.

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Change of plan, the other side of the Lune.

 

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West End of Morecambe.

 

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Will I ever see it like this?

I’ve a splitting headache developing and go in search of painkillers. I’ve had problems since my blackout and injury a few weeks ago and don’t feel with it. Morrisons Petrol outlet serves me well. I enjoy another tasty cheese and onion slice from Kennedy’s bakery in the Festival Market. A combination of Brufen and pastry get me going again. But the pain gets worse and worse on the right side of my scalp. Glad to be back at the car, bike packed into the boot , I cancel my planned visit to Sir Hugh, fasten my seat belt and head home. It is only then that I realise since removing my cycle helmet that the pain has gone. Must have been localised pressure on my skull all along. Numbskull!

A strange day really. Jamais vu?

A STIRRING TALE.

Capturemexico.

                                         The stricken Mexico.     E Krause/The Atkinson

“The sea ran mountains high, and the breaking water was fearful”. Coxswain William Clarkson Lytham, Lytham Lifeboat Charles Biggs.

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The tracks and lanes are still icy up here in Longridge. I want to get out on my bike, so opt for the hopefully snow free and safer Fylde Coast, there have been more than enough ‘accidents’ in my posts of late.

Has everybody had the same idea? The roadside car parks are all full and a mass of mainly dog walkers throng the promenade. And bracing is the word that comes to mind. The bracing was in the arctic breeze from the south, and it was in a southerly direction that I started. It will be easier on the return is once more my reasoning.

I’m always focused when pursuing a mission, and I’m on a mission today. I’ve been reading about the wreck of the sailing ship Mexico on the sands of the Ribble Estuary on the 9th December 1886. Worth a read here.

Basically the Mexico out of Liverpool became stranded on Ainsdale sands in a violent storm. Lifeboats from Southport, Lytham and St. Annes were launched. Those from Southport, Eliza Fernley, and St. Annes, Laura Janet. were both wrecked in the storm with the loss of 27 local men, (2 had survived from the Southport boat) . The Lytham boat, Charles Biggs, however rescued the 12 crew of the Mexico and rowed them to safety. An heroic effort but the single biggest loss of life in the whole history of the RNLI.

There are a series of related monuments and memorials scattered around the Ribble Estuary towns, Lytham, St. Annes and Southport. I’m only concerned with the first two today. Despite all my cycling exploits on this stretch of coast I have previously been unaware of this important history. How often must we go about with our eyes closed?

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First up is probably the most prominent, the St Annes lifeboat monument, depicting a lifeboatman, on the South Promenade, It is almost hidden behind walls in the ornamental St. Annes Promenade Park, next to the public conveniences, no wonder I’ve passed it by in the past. A William Birnie Rhind designed it in 1887. A colossal statue carved in sandstone with the names of the 13 lost from the St. Annes lifeboat, Laura Janet, The attached notice encapsulates the story. DSC02998DSC02992

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Up a main road, and I was at St. Annes Parish Church. Commissioned by Lady Clifton in the early 1870s, one of Paley and Austin’s, and named in memory of her aunt who was called Anne. (the Clifton family from Lytham Hall were prominent in the area for centuries) It was built as a chapel of ease to the then parish church of St Cuthbert in Lytham. Here are buried five from the Laura Janet boat. It is heartening that the Laura Janet Memorial has had a recent refurbishment funded by the local Civic Society. I found it in a forest of elaborate memorials, a sandstone Celtic Cross inscribed with the names of the men. The Church, Lychgate and Memorial are all grade II listed. Notice the pebble detail in the walls, a common architectural feature in St. Annes and Lytham.

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Winding back through side streets I find the original St. Annes Lifeboat House, on East Bank Road, now a funeral parlour but with a blue plaque to commemorate the disaster, and an unusual weather vane. It seems odd that this boathouse was so far inland whilst the new one is on the shore.

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After a pleasant cycle down the promenade I was at the site of the original Lytham Lifeboat House on the edge of the estuary. In the summer months it is open as a museum to the lifeboatmen. It was from here that on that fateful day in 1886 that the Lytham boat, Charles Biggs, rescued the 12 crew members of the Mexico. DSC03004 (2)

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DSC03012On the marsh shore are a couple of anchors caught up in a trawl net by a fishing boat in the 1980s. The larger one is of the type lost from the Mexico. The other dates back to the late C18th used by warships from the time of Admiral Nelson.

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Time to find the memorial in the graveyard of St. Cuthbert’s Church a few blocks inland. From the promenade I made my way through Lowther Park (more of that another time). The church dating from 1835 stands alongside a busy road, but the graveyard is peace and quiet. The Laura Janet Memorial was easy to spot, being the tallest around. A Gothic pinnacled tabernacle. Plaques told of the crew and where they are buried.

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Whilst I was hereabouts I discovered the Witch Wood – but again I will leave that for another time. All that remained was to cycle back up the promenade, thankfully with the wind behind me, to where I had parked on North Promenade.

The RNLI is a charity saving lives at sea and deserving our support. How much of the infrastructure of Britain now relies on dedicated volunteers and funding raised by the public?

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THE CREW OF THE ST. ANNES LIFEBOAT LAURA JANET.

William Johnson, 35  (Coxswain)
Charles Tims, 43       (2nd Coxswain)
Oliver Hodson, 39      (Bowman)
James Bonney, 21
Nicholas Parkinson, 22
Richard Fisher, 45
James Johnson, 45
John P Wignall 22
Reuben Tims, 30
Thomas Parkinson 28,
Thomas Bonney, 35
James Dobson, 23
James Harrison, 19

THE CREW OF THE SOUTHPORT LIFEBOAT ELIZA FERNLEY.

Charles Hodge  (Coxswain)
Ralph Peters     (2nd Coxswain)
Benjamin Peters
Peter Wright
Thomas Spencer
Thomas Rigby
Timothy Rigby
Harry Rigby
Thomas Jackson
Peter Jackson
John Ball
Henry Hodge
John Robinson
Richard Robinson

The Southport crew have their own memorial and burials in Southport across those treacherous sands. Next time I visit there I will be on the lookout.

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CaptureMexico

1. St. Annes Lifeboat Monument.   2. Laura Janet Memorial, St. Annes Church.   3. Old St. Annes Lifeboat House.   4. Old Lytham Lifeboat House.   5. Laura Janet Memorial, St. Cuthbert’s Church.  W. Witch Wood.

NO GO TO GLASSON.

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Not all my outings go to plan. Is it the bang to my head that has affected my judgement?

Despite the forecast for rain most of the day my judgement was to get some exercise anyhow and hope the skies would clear. Some hope. I set off cycling from the usual Halton on Lune parking. Full waterproofs from the word go. The only respite was when I could shelter from the worst downpours under the many bridges in Lancaster. There weren’t many people about and once out of the city there was suspiciously nobody coming the other way on the usually busy cycle track. After a mile or so there was flooding across the path, my judgement told me it wouldn’t be very deep. Only after about 50 yards as the water came well above my bottom bracket ( a cycling term not connected to my anatomy) and my feet were soaked did I stop to ponder. Would it become deeper, what if I fall off into the icy water, and do I have to return the same way?  That ditch on my left looked awfully deep. Yes I did the only sensible thing and turned gingerly round.  Glasson, its coffee and pastries, can wait for another day.

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End of the line.

I tried to rescue the day by cycling another way on the northern side of the Lune through Skerton to Halton. I was unimpressed. Even the ride out to the Crook of Lune lacked enthusiasm, though the river at the Halton weir was in good form, (header photo) I suspect that the flood I encountered was due to the heavy rain combined with a high tide.

I called it a day and went for a welcome coffee and biscuits with Sir Hugh in Arnside, thank you. The sun was shining when I set off for home.

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WINTER IN MORECAMBE.

DSC02554I can’t believe it but on a cold winter’s morning I get mixed up again with a half-marathon run along the cycleway from Halton into Lancaster. Back in the summer I was in the mixt of a larger run, and it proved frustrating on the narrow paths.

DSC02532So today I took an early opportunity to seek escape up the ramp onto the Lancaster Canal Aqueduct, over the Lune and into quiet countryside. Only the odd dog walkers were met before I disembarked onto the promenade leading around the Bay to Morecambe.

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The Lakeland hills were in greyness, but there was an attractive brightness over towards Arnside Knott and Grange on the far side of the Kent estuary. The tide was well out with a lot more sand exposed than I’ve seen before. Wading birds followed the water’s edge but too far away to identify with the naked eye. I couldn’t work out if the scenes with the exposed sands appeared better or gloomier than usual, certainly they were in Winter mode.

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The few promenaders with their dogs were well wrapped up in the cold weather. I was soon into town and past Eric’s statue. I was on a mission to have a closer look at the Winter Gardens building, temptingly described in one of Eunice’s recent posts.

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Alas, it was all closed up as she had warned us, but I was hoping the café would be operating, but no. I was tempted by Brucciani’s next door, but I had no bike lock. I certainly wasn’t tempted by the noisy amusement arcade on the other side. Adversely this seemed to be the busiest place of the few open on the prom.

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DSC02549I was now wheeling by cycle along the pavements. The old station with its impressive frontage was next. Peeping inside there was a rather lacklustre Xmas fayre in progress. The room was presumably the old spacious waiting hall, in its heyday this station would have been extremely busy bringing tourists to the heart of Morecambe. ‘Bradford-by-the-Sea’. The new station is a bleak platform in an industrial waste – so much for thoughtful planning.

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I wandered around the corner to the Festival Market, busier than the station, selling all things cheap and cheerfully. I knew a café inside where I could safely sit with my bike and watch the world go by. Most of the world in here seems to be obese, a sad reflection on deprived Northern areas? Levelling up is never going to catchup (brought up in PMQ today). The Eden project, if the government gives their share of finances, (brought up in PMQ today) would certainly help Morecambe to throw off its undeserved downtrodden reputation. It could have a lot to offer.DSC02555

I was aware of that reputation as I cycled a particularly dingy rubbish strewn route out of town. There have been knife attacks here recently, and I have often observed druggy characters in the shadows. Nobody is immune from the social deprivations in our modern society. One can’t blame the immigrants, legal or otherwise for everything. We have too much home-grown crime already. There was an interesting article on Byline Times this week on how it felt to be an Albanian in the UK at the moment. I have tried to be objective, I like Morecambe, but there is an underbelly of seediness in the winter air.

Needless to say I was soon into Lancaster, over the Millennium Bridge and racing back to Halton passing the finish line of the half-marathon on the way. It felt good to be out on the bike again.

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ON THE CUSP OF AUTUMN, MORECAMBE BAY AGAIN.

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We are on the cusp, one day distinctly chilly the next balmy sunshine. I’m confused,  already having titled posts the ‘End of Summer’ and ‘Autumn Calling’. But Summer is putting up a good fight with Autumn this year. Today was certainly on the side of Summer.

The bike is in the back of the car so why not go up to the Lune Valley, yet again you may say, but I do discover a few more gems.

Halton old station. Alas, the tea van is no longer here, probably finished for the season, hopefully she will return next year with that life giving coffee. The slipway is busy with university oarsmen and women out on the river for morning training. The old Station is now the center for the boat crews from the University. P1090410

I pedal a short distance to the magnificent Lune Aqueduct carrying the Lancaster Canal over the river. A steep ramp takes me up to it, and immediately I’m in a different environment. Interpretation boards detail the history of the aqueduct. Find it on Google. There is a metal plaque commemorating the building of the aqueduct, designed in collaboration between Central Lancaster High School and the artist, Rachel Midgley which I hadn’t spotted before.  All the hustle and bustle below has disappeared, and I’m off along the towpath into quiet Lancashire countryside.   A few miles of riding to where I know there is a link to the Coastal Bay Way.P1090442

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I’ve not done this ride in this direction before despite scores in the opposite way. It all looks different, and it gives me different perspectives of the canal and then of the Bay. I should have looked behind me on previous trips. The views across the bay to the Midland Hotel and pier and the distant Lakeland Hills are always quality.P1090422

Bracing is the term for Morecambe promenade today. There are white horses in the bay. But the sun is shining and the wind, though fresh, not a great hindrance to cycling. Hardy souls, mostly elderly and well wrapped, are out with their dogs.

I take a trip down the old stone jetty with its Cormorant motifs, but decide against a coffee there as the café is in the shade. Fortuitously I have come at the right tide as the Tidal Bell is tolling its mournful note. I have not heard this before. See here for more information. P1090438P1090435

Past the Midland yet again without visiting! Heading inland I venture into the wonders of the covered Festival Market and amidst the varied stalls, full of cost of living bargains, I find a bakery – time for my favourite – a cheese and onion slice. This one was top class, hence I will give them a plug.P1090439

I pedalled back to Lancaster, not in the panic mode of last time when I feared I had lost my phone and money. Over the Millennium Bridge and back to Halton. A lone canoeist is braving his way through the centre of town.

P1090440To lengthen the ride and enjoy the weather I continued to the Crook of Lune where the river does a U turn spanned by the two bridges of the old railway. Here is the lovely view up the Lune towards Hornby Castle and Ingleborough, immortalised by Turner who painted the scene from higher up. 

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I’m home early in time for a bit of bouldering up at Craig Y Longridge whilst the sun was keeping the rock warm. An invigorating day amongst those of lassitude and hospital appointments.

Lastly here is one more statue installation on the Bay that took my eye, I’ve not noticed before, and I can’t find anything about it.P1090429

BANK HOLIDAY MONDAY?

P1090394I wouldn’t normally dream of coming to Blackpool on a Bank Holiday Monday. Perhaps Sir Hugh’s recent mouth watering post on ‘fish and chips’ has subliminally decided for me.

There is very little traffic on the motorway, and I am able to park easily at Lytham which means I can start my ride in the opposite direction compared to my choosing the more usual plentiful parking at Fleetwood. I don’t actually reach Fleetwood today, content to turn around at Cleveleys to give a round trip of 30 miles.

There is always a breeze on the coast, and today it was north-westerly, meaning I cycled into it for the first part. No matter how gentle the wind is if you are facing it on a bike you are slowed down. Maybe I should shave my legs and beard to reduce wind resistance. The advantage was on the return leg when I sailed along at a much faster pace.

I didn’t expect really to feast on fish and chips today as I knew the cafés would be closed along with everything else. The Golden Mile – no blaring pop music, no loud bingo calls, no flashing lights to entice you into some dive or other, no ‘Kiss me quick’ hats. No ice cream and definitely no fish and chips. Not a queue in sight. The promenade was virtually empty of people, making cycling a lot less hazardous. Although it is amazing how much space a couple with dogs on long leads can occupy on a wide shared way.  I remember a phrase my parents used if they came across an empty or quiet situation where bustle was normally expected.  “Someone must have died

Of course this Bank Holiday wasn’t on my calendar in the first place. Someone must have died.

As I returned to Lytham more people were promenading and visiting the beach (the tide has been out all day) Families enjoying the late summer sunshine. Even the occasional ice cream appeared. You can’t watch TV all day.

[I stop to pick some Evening Primrose (Oenothera biennis) stems, not to eat though all parts of the plant are edible, but to collect some seeds. I would dearly love to have this bright yellow late flowering plant popping up in my borders as others die away. Once or more likely if, I have germinated some they should self perpetuate. Easy gardening.]

Tomorrow all will be back to normal, and we can start worrying about the state of our Great Britain under a new King and Parliament.

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Iconic Lytham Windmill.

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Empty promenade.

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Silent tower.

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Black Combe across the water.

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Our own flypast.

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Oenothera biennis.

PEACEFUL EASY LANCASHIRE.

I’ve got this peaceful easy feeling.

It is that sort of day; no wind, sun shining, rural Lancashire, the bike cruising effortlessly, no traffic, virtually no sounds. What more could you want. I’m on a linear canal ride where time has stood still, almost a parallel universe. The canal takes you along without you realising where you are in relation to familiar roads and settlements. I could be in Rotterdam or anywhere  – sorry that is a link to a recent post. But I meet people, interesting people in this parallel universe.

At the start I chat to an elderly cyclist who is setting off on his electric bike admitting it is heavy, and you can’t pedal it if the battery dies on you. He suggests that if you are over eighty then this is for you – well I have a few years of proper pedalling ahead of me. He speeds off and I never catch up.

There was the lady by the swans, they are here every year she says, using the canal towpath as a route to and from her shops. How lucky she is and I think she knew. There were seven cygnets, all strengthening their wings ready for a first flight, enchanting.

I pass, incognito, through Lancaster City at times elevated above the streets and housing. I have a picture in my mind of what would happen if the banks broke. That must be linked to my childhood stories of the little Dutch guy with his thumb in the leaking dam. Lots of the converted canal warehouses are now student accommodations, how lucky are they. There are some iconic canal features along here where the horses could cross from one side of the towpath to the other side without unhitching. I’ll leave that to your imagination.

Now in the countryside I chat to a houseboat owner, probably a former dropout but now elevated in my esteem to an interesting canal dweller. He may have the advantage over the rest of us in our current cost of living crisis. How the worm turns. Drifter.

A dog walker talks of his previous life as a travelling rep. No more motorway hold-ups for him.

The towpath takes me through shady cuttings and open fields. I don’t look at my phone to see where I am, preferring to let things happen. I can’t get lost. A southerner recently moved to these parts is interested in my route, but I have the feeling he won’t be tackling anything more than a gentle walk to the pub. How judgemental is that?

It seems to take an age on rather overgrown and awkward paths, I’m not as agile on the bike as before, talking decades here, and I’m very wary of skidding off the path head first into the canal. I walk some of the way. Picking ripe sweet blackberries was a joy. I was in no rush.

Eventually I reach the junction with the Glasson canal built to link the port of Glasson with Lancaster. And then the railway came. More of that later.

I’m still in that peaceful easy feeling as I continue without meeting a soul through fields towards the coast. It was along here that I witnessed a heron trying to swallow a wriggly eel earlier this year.

Glasson is as busy as ever with motorcyclists and tourists of a certain age, so I head across the bridge to the little shop where I’m in time for one of their freshly baked cheese and onion slices. Sat in the sunshine with a coffee – perfect. It must be high tide as the lock gates to the ocean are open.

I’ve taken a long time to cycle 12 miles to Glasson, what with all the stops and awkward sections, but now it is head down on the old railway, which superceded the canal I’ve just been following. Back into Lancaster and on to Halton Station. That has set me up for autumn and thoughts of trans Pennine trails.

I switch the radio on when I’m in my car, but this time there is no déjà vu link to the Eagles from way back then. Here it is nonetheless.  I may have played this before in other contexts, but it is a favourite of mine and perfectly reflected this sunny day’s ride. California dreaming.

I highly recommend this 20 mile off-road circuit, after a short ascent to reach the Lancaster Canal on the period Aqueduct it is flat all the way even if a little rough towards Galgate. The section to Glasson is totally rural and as peaceful as you could wish.

CaptureGlasson.

IS CYCLING DANGEROUS?

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I had an uneventful trip around the Guild Wheel yesterday. I can cycle 20 miles or so without any problem to my knee but can’t walk 4 miles, all to do with weight-bearing. So here I am back at my start, Red Scar, for another muscle strengthening ride. I wouldn’t go anywhere near the motorway system at present, so I’m staying local. The Wheel here takes you along the access road to Preston Crematorium which brings back many sad thoughts of departed friends. I’ve only gone a few hundred yards when ahead of me is a cluster of police cars and ambulances. How can this be on this dead end quiet lane?

A father and daughter were out for a gentle safe ride along the wheel. A stressed inattentive car driver travelling at speed on the wrong side of the road. Result one seriously injured cyclist and one very scared daughter. The dent in the car windscreen said it all. I hope the cyclist is OK.

I turn around and cycle back home.

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

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                                                                          A misty Morecambe Bay.

I know this man walking along the prom, even from the back, it is Peter out with his Thursday walkers. The bad weather has driven them out of the Lakes for a more gentle low level coastal walk from Morecambe to Hest Bank. He is as surprised to see me as I of him. I cycle alongside chatting until we catch up with his mates. He suggests I call and see his wife and him before they go off to Rotterdam next week. The song Rotterdam immediately comes into my head, it is still there. My attempt to sing it is derided, but one of his friends remembers it – The Beautiful South from the 90’s. I ride on to ‘Rotterdam or anywhere’  leaving them to their casual strolling. 

I’m on a mission. You may remember my last cycle outing was aborted and ended up with a rapid return to find my phone with credit card lying on the roof of my car, absent-mindedly left there earlier in the day. Today I’m hoping to reach Over Kellet and visit friends. 

The girl in the tea van wishes me well and gently reminds me to look after my possessions. It is raining and at the back of my mind is the thought of thunderstorms later in the day which wouldn’t be fun on a bike – I can always abort once more. The thin cycling waterproof (more of a windproof) won’t keep the rain out for long, and I’m already damp as I arrive onto the prom at Morecambe. Where is that famous view across the bay?  Hidden in the mist. So head down I cycle on, pausing for the brief encounter mentioned above, and onto the Lancaster Canal at Hest Bank. This was the point of decision, cycle back to Lancaster if the weather was still dubious or head north to Carnforth and the Kellets. I thought I detected some brightness so north it was. This is a grand stretch of canal high above the coastal strip. It was farther to Carnforth than I remembered. The last time I waked along here incidentally was with aforementioned Peter and JD, 2018.

Eventually I leave the canal onto roads and cycle steadily uphill into Over Kellet. I reach my friends’ house just as the next downpour starts – of course they are not in, so I take shelter under their garden umbrella. That is where they find me when they return from the shops and take pity on me with cups of tea and cake, and a good drying round their Aga. I’ve shared many exciting climbing escapades with John in the past until injuries prevented him climbing – but not before he had led the difficult Kipling Groove on Gimmer on his 65th birthday, he only seconded it on his 70th. Two hours later I set forth on delightful undulating lanes in the Limestone country surrounding the Kellets. At one point the road is blocked to cars by a large hedge cutting tractor. I can get by but then spend an anxious time hoping I don’t puncture on all the hawthorn cuttings. Fortunately I escape that fate and drop into Halton to cross the narrow recycled Greyhound Bridge, Penny Bridge to the south bank of the Lune. As is becoming usual mine is the last car in the car park at Halton station. 

The day is not over. When I start the engine and switch on the radio the song that is playing is unbelievably Rotterdam. Yes the one I’d tried to sing to Peter earlier in the day. What is the chance of that one song coming up as soon as I listen in? I sit there transfixed with the tune, the lyrics are more pithy than I remember.

The Beautiful South – Rotterdam (Or Anywhere) (LYRICS) – YouTube  Skip the dreaded adverts.

Still astonished by the coincidence I take to the motorway but feel I have to divert to visit Peter and his wife to tell them of the spooky Rotterdam connection and wish them a good holiday there. More cups of tea and cake follow. They are very generous with their abundant garden vegetables and I come away with a bunch of fresh produce and more importantly home laid Quail eggs for my breakfast the next day. A ratio of four quails (all yoke) to one hen gives a good scrambled mixture.20220909_111152

Not bad for a day of only 20 miles cycled. I enclose a map to show the delightful lanes around the Kellets. The elevation profile is interesting, a day of two halves.

Capture Moreambe

CaptureKellletts.

THE END OF SUMMER?

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As I start to write this the rain has finally arrived, but not the thundery downpours forecast, which we badly need. Or at least my garden does, although ‘up north’ we are not as dessicated as ‘down south’.

Trying to make the best of the possibly last good weather I’ve had two contrasting outings at the beginning of September.

The day after my trip around the Guild Wheel the first didn’t go to plan. The plan being to park up at my usual spot by the old Halton station on the Lune; cycle via Lancaster to Morecambe, on to Carnforth, up to visit friends in Over Kellet and follow the lanes back to the bridge at Halton which has just reopened after some refurbishments. The lovely lady at the mobile tea van was telling me about children stealing her drinks and probably terrifying her. She had photos which she handed to the police, but it is doubtful that any resolution has been achieved. How often do we here that the police have their hands tied when dealing with juvenile crimes. Which is the party of law and order? Years of Tory austerity has decimated the police force. I digress.

I unload my cycle whilst drinking my coffee, checked I had everything, give her a cheery wave, and I’m off along the old railway. There are not so many people about, so I make good progress into Lancaster, over the Millennium Bridge and on to Morecambe. I stop at a seat on the promenade to take in those expansive views across the Bay to the Lakes, the tide is well out exposing endless stretches of sand. Why not go down the Stone Jetty and have a drink at the café there, which I have not previously visited. (I’ve still not visited the upmarket art deco Midland.)

But where is my phone with my credit card. I frantically search my bike bag, tipping it out on a table. My version of panic sets in , more disbelief than anything – it’s not life or death after all. I summon up some logic. Did I leave it at that first bench on the prom? Did I leave it in the car park? Could it be still be in the car? Thoughts of continuing my planned jaunt are quickly squashed as I imagine someone happily spending money on my credit card and accessing information on the phone, we are very vulnerable these days. 

So back to the bench where a family are now seated. No they didn’t see anything, would I like them to phone my number? On balance, I thought not as it could alert some undesirable to find it. Time for that later in the search. Let’s get back to Halton and hope for the best, it may have been handed into the tea van lady. I cycle the seven miles much faster than usual, OK there is some panic, and soon arrive at the car park. No it’s not anywhere inside the car. Moving to the other side I spot it sitting quite proudly on the roof!  What luck? Wow, what a relief.

Time for another coffee and a relaxing sit down. The tea van lady is surprised to see me back so soon. I call it a day and drive home where I am hopefully safe from my stupidity. Not what I had planned.

The next day I arrange to meet up with M at our secret new crag which we are slowly exploring and developing. It could not have gone better, M leading two classy new routes and me cleaning a soaring crack line for next time. I would like to tell you more, but I’m sworn to secrecy. 

There are no photos of the Morecambe trip because I’d lost my phone and I can only give you a shady glimpse of the climbing.

I’ve just seen the updated forecast and next week is mainly dry, giving a little more of Summer. Time to conclude my aborted cycle ride and maybe later get out with M on the rock.

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For next time?

A SMALL STRETCH OF COAST.

P1090292I’ve just cycled a 16mile stretch of the Fylde coast, Fleetwood to St. Annes and then back again. As I’m putting my bike back in the car I spot a heavily laden touring cyclist.

“Have you come far?” I ask.

“Yes I’m cycling around the coast of Britain”

“Gosh – For charity?” I ask seeing the Multiple Sclerosis logos on her T-shirt.

It turns out that Lis has been diagnosed with MS in 2013 but is determined to complete this 6000mile challenge to raise funds for the MS Trust as well as benefiting her own health. She is amazing, full of enthusiasm after three and a half months pedalling. We swap a few stories, I donate to her charity, and she cycles on towards Blackpool and then Preston.  The balloons on her bike celebrating her 50th birthday today. I’m well and truly humbled with my small stretch of coast.  https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/LisvanLyndenP1090282

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My day started when my clandestine climbing partner phoned to say he might have caught Covid on his recent trip to Montenegro and didn’t think he should go climbing. Neither did I.

The bike was already in the back of the car, and soon I was on the M55 heading to the Fylde. The traffic was heavy, I wondered about the possible bank holiday crowds on the promenade in Blackpool. However, parking at Fleetwood sea front is always easy. I pedalled down the coast, had a snack at St. Annes and pedalled back against the wind. The only busy spots were between the tower and the pleasure beach. ‘Kiss me quick’  hats de rigueur.

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Empty prom north of Blackpool.

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Crowds thinning out on St. Annes beach.

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Heading back to Fleetwood.

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‘Steampacket’ to Ireland passing Black Combe and Barrow.

Job done – well not quite. In the week I had listened on Radio Lancashire about the unveiling of a memorial to a lost trawler boat, the Goth.

Capturegoth

                                                                                 GOTH.

The trawler, the Goth, failed to return in December 1948, 21 men were lost in a fierce storm off Iceland. Then 50 years later the funnel of this vessel was trawled up in the net of an Icelandic boat, Helga. The Goth’s last resting place is now known. The funnel had eventually been brought back to Fleetwood – to become a lasting memorial. It survives as a reminder of the Fleetwood fishing community and a way of life of courage, comradeship, generosity and good humour.

Fleetwood at one time was a major port, the third largest in Britain, for the trawler industry, no longer alas. On the seafront where I park are several reminders of the hardships and losses of these seagoing boats and crews.

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Welcome Home. Anita Lafford

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Past this place, the fishermen of Fleetwood have sailed for generations while their families watched from the shore. Their courage and comradeship under hardship is a living legend. This memorial, depicting equipment from a trawler, was placed here in recognition of the great contribution which the men and women of the fishing community have made to the life of Fleetwood.

The plaque lists 39 trawlers lost in 50 years with an awful loss of lives which can be seen if you click and enlarge this photo  —P1090287

But there was no sign of Goth’s funnel along the seafront with the other tributes, I have to ask a local where the memorial funnel is located. He somewhat ashamedly tells me it is on an inland roundabout next to Asda! I drive there and park up. A grotty path around the side of the supermarket takes me to the edge of the busy roundabout. And yes here is the memorial funnel squeezed ingloriously into the roadside.

P1090234P1090231P1090235 I can only assume that the cooperative cash of Asda has paid for this location. But how on earth has it been approved – nobody can see it. I challenge Wyre Council to come up with a decent reason. How much better if it had been located on the sea front or at the Mount park for all to appreciate. Lunacy.

One day I will find time to visit the Museum housed in one of the oldest houses of Fleetwood.

PROMENADING.

20220821_123316I’ve cycled this route several times in the last few years but there seemed to be a lot more happening today.

After all the talk of electric bikes on my last post the first person I met today was trying out an electric folding Brompton Bike, one of those iconic designs with small wheels.£3000+ worth. I don’t think small wheels would cope with some of the terrain I cover, more of an urban machine, but I complimented him on his purchase. I’m still undecided.

Capture

This was all whilst enjoying a good coffee from the friendly mobile kiosk at Halton Station on the old Morecambe to Wennington line. I’ve just come across this bit of history – The original timber station was destroyed by fire on 3 April 1907. A spark from the engine of a passing Heysham–St Pancras boat train set fire to a wagon of oil drums by the goods shed. The fire brigade were unable to cross the narrow bridge, and it was left to a special trainload of railway workers from Lancaster to pass buckets of water from the river. The station was rebuilt in brick and timber and the building survives to this day, used as storage by Lancaster University Rowing Club, with a public car park occupying the former track bed.

There was a running event on and hundreds of runners kept appearing from the Caton end and disappearing towards Lancaster. I recognised many of the local athletic club vests as I watched them go by. I unloaded my bike, gave the tyres a quick pump, and set off in pursuit. Turned out there was both a 10-mile and a 20-mile event on. The track became a little congested with runners, cyclists, dog walkers and pram pushers but everyone was in good humour. The 20mile run crossed the Millennium Bridge towards Morecambe, which was my chosen route for today having gone to Glasson Dock last week. At some stage things became more congested as the quicker runners after a turn around were now heading towards me for the finish at a quick pace.

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Passing Halton Station and tea van.

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The Millennium Bridge over the Lune.

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Heading back towards the 20mile finish.

When I arrived at Morecambe sea front the tide was the furthest out I’d seen it, acres of clean sand. The Midland Hotel looked busy with diners, I promised myself a visit to this iconic Art Deco building when I’m passing midweek later in the year. Would it be a full lunch or just the equally full afternoon tea?

Interestingly I mentioned on my recent visit to the Maritime Museum the in-depth history of the area including Morecambe’s ups and downs. The 1920/30’s super lido, which brought in the tourists, closed in 1975 and then demolished, was adjacent to the Midland Hotel roughly on the site of the proposed Eden Project – “what goes around comes around”. My heading photo shows the spot.

I’d never been to the far end of the  ‘stone pier’  so off I pedalled, past the old station and lighthouse, now a cafe, to the very end which as the tide was at its lowest stuck out into the sands. A few fishermen had set up their positions waiting for the tide to return. They, a friendly trio from Middlesborough, hoped to catch ‘gummy sharks’ so named , thank God for those paddling in the bay, because they have no teeth. They showed me photos of previously landed 20lb specimens. I forgot to ask them what they did with any fish they caught, throw back or take home for supper?

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For a sunny holiday Sunday I expected the promenade to be far busier than it was. To be fair there were long queues at the fish and chip cafes, and it was busy as ever around Eric’s statue. Otherwise, my cycle up the prom to Happy Mount Park and beyond was a delight with those far-reaching views across the bay to the Lakeland hills. I stopped briefly on the canal for a snack and soon found myself crossing the atmospheric aqueduct high above the River Lune, and then back to my car.

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Promenading.

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The Lune Aqueduct.

The day was not yet over. A quick phone call confirmed Sir Hugh was at home and willing to receive visitors. Back onto the motorway via that tricky junction 34 up to Milnthorpe and Arnside. On my arrival my friend was up a non too secure ladder trimming his high hedge, he didn’t need a lot of persuading to come down and serve a grand cup of tea. We caught up on our recent none adventures, we have both simultaneously come to a virtual halt.

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The reluctant gardener.

But the highlight of the day was to come. Over the last few years he has taken to plastic modelling; planes, boats and cars but as yet no trains. I have gently cast sarcastic doubts over this clandestine activity. But on a recent comment to his blog I mentioned my almost ‘classic’ car and true to form he presented me with a scale model of my Mazda MX5, spayed in the identical blue. That’s what friends are for. Thanks very much.20220821_143635

LANCASTER MARITIME MUSEUM BY DEFAULT.

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My bike has lain in the back of my estate car since early June when the day after a ride in Morecambe Covid eventually caught up with me, but that’s another story. Today was my first ride since then. I was pleased with my progress to Glasson Dock along the Lancaster Cycleway on the old railway track. A cheese and onion slice at the wonderful village shop went down a treat. Forget the touristy snack bar on the marina. I watched the children ( and their Dads) catching crabs from the dockside. All I had to do was cycle back the 10 miles to Halton.

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Lunch at the village shop.

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Quayside fishing,

 

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Crabs galore.

 

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The motor cyclists hang out.

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Down a side street – do you remember these?

The only excitement along the way was a lady cyclist who came past me remarkably quickly. Of course, she was on an electric bike and disappeared into the distance. That set me thinking. 

  1. Would it be worth buying one, how long does the battery last, how heavy are they? For me, one would only be useful for that extra push up the hills that I find increasingly difficult.
  2. How legal are they on cycleways shared by pedestrians? One would not be allowed a motorcycle on a cycle/pedestrian route. Apparently in cities they are becoming the transport of choice for muggers snatching valuables – silent assassins.

I pedalled sedately along into Lancaster. How many times have I been past the Maritime Museum and never visited it? I was in no rush so decided there and then to rectify that omission. They kindly allowed me to take my bike inside as I didn’t have a lock. £2 admission fee seemed very reasonable, if I had carried my Art Fund Card with me, it would have been cheaper.

One and a half hours later I emerged from the museum well satisfied. It is based in the original Lancaster Docks C18th Custom House and an enjoining warehouse overlooking the Lune on St. George’s Quay. (header photo)

Before Lancaster Port and Glasson Dock were established Sunderland Point was the main port on the Lune.

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The harbour front Sunderland Point.

 

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Unloading cargo at Sunderland Point, c1890

There were extensive and informative displays on the history of the port of Lancaster, focused on the transatlantic trade which made the city prosperous. This obviously involved the slave trade picking up Africans cheaply and transporting them inhumanly to the West Indies for profit and then the goods that then came back to Britain – sugar, rum, cotton, timber, tobacco. Ship building became a significant industry in the area and a furniture making firm Gillow’s established itself in the C18th. Felt hats were manufactured in Lancaster which I didn’t know. All these facets of life in Lancaster were thoroughly explained with a great selection of artefacts and photographs.

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The price of a slave.

 

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Cotton and rum in the warehouse.

There was detailed information on the history of the local fishing industries. Salmon from the Lune, Shrimps, cockles and mussels from Morecambe Bay.

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Cockling, Morecambe Bay.

 

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Salmon fishing in the Lune with haaf nets.

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A fisherman’s cottage.

 

The perilous sands of Morecambe Bay were explored with mentions of the ancient crossing routes, still possible today with a local guide. The many deaths though were highlighted.

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From a gravestone in Ulverston.

Morecambe had its own history from a minor fishing port, to a passenger port for the Isle of Man and Ireland, a bustling early and mid C20th holiday resort (Bradford by the Sea) and the development of the port of Heysham not forgetting its nuclear power stations. All presented with excellent interpretation and original artefacts.20220817_151740

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The ‘super’ lido.

Aqua-Loonies

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Painting by Norman Wilkinson.

The coming of the canals and the railways was well documented. Included were the original plans for an Aqueduct over the Ribble at Preston to connect to the Leeds Liverpool Canal, this never was materialised, and instead the tram bridge was constructed. The latter is currently closed due to safety issues and one wonders whether there is the will or the finance to repair this historic structure. I was impressed with the ‘express’ passenger canal barge preserved in an upper room, these, with regularly changed horses, reduced the time of travel on the Lancaster Canal when coach travel on rutted roads was slow and uncomfortable.

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Inside an express canal barge.

A lot of the exhibits were to attract children with interactive features, but this didn’t distract from the amount of serious, learned and well presented history throughout.

In a room in the warehouse section I watched a video detailing the history of Lancaster since Roman times. Well worth the time. By then the café had closed, and they were ready to throw me out at 4pm closing time. Highly recommended, and you need a couple of hours in there to appreciate all the exhibits.20220817_153242

I was the last car at the Halton Station.

BACK IN THE SADDLE – Morecambe bay and beyond, continued.

Crawling out from under my rock I wonder where a week has gone. It went in a haze of Covid fever, headache, cough and abdominal pains which laid me lower than expected. I could hardly read others posts never mind complete my own. I’m not at my best.

***

June 14th. 2022.

Where was I?

Ah, yes. Parking up at Halton Station in preparation for a cycle ride around Morecambe Bay. Post coffee I’m off, so good to be out again feeling free as a bird. Into Lancaster, over the Millennium Bridge and out to Morecambe. I take a bit of detour past the football ground to arrive at the coast in the West End near the site of a former pier. The view out over the bay is clear, but everything seems at a great distance. I soon pass the Midland Hotel, one day I will call in for tea, and continue up the promenade without stopping at the various attractions.

West End Sculpture.

I’ve been this way so many times before, I even know the way from the end of the prom to reach the Lancaster Canal. Normally I turn south here but today to vary my route I head north alongside the canal. This is a delightful stretch with the canal elevated above the surrounding countryside. Below are Hest Bank and Bolton-le-Sands, and father out are the treacherous sands of the 2004 cockling disaster when 21 illegal Chinese immigrants lost their lives. We still don’t know how to manage the flow of immigrants into our country.

I have to be careful to leave the towpath at the correct spot, not signed, to pick up the 700 cycle route which could eventually take me, if I wished, all the way around Morecambe Bay to Ulverston and Walney Island, Barrow. Today I only went as far as the River Keer and its eponymous bridge. Whenever I’m here I can’t help thinking of The Bridge on the River Kwai and start whistling Colonel Bogey. Obviously the name of the bridge and its wooden structure set my mind into action. So much so that I paused my writing here a couple of hours ago to watch the 1957 film starring William Holden, Alec Guinness and Jack Hawkins on Vimeo. I had forgotten how good it was, building up the tension and reflecting on the British character and psychology in times of war. Directed by David Lean, arguably his best film was a few years later – Lawrence of Arabia. We will shortly come across his name once more. It is worth your time to watch again and revaluate    https://ok.ru/video/2090020047523

The Bridge on the River Keer.

***

Where was I?

Ah, yes. Coming alongside the diminutive River Keer into the railway town of Carnforth. The railway station is on the main west coast line with branches to the Cumbrian Coast and inland to Skipton, a busy junction. Most of the main line expresses cruise through at speeds unimaginable at the time of the fictional ‘Milford Junction’ just pre-WWII. It was here that David Lean directed much of the romance of Noel Coward’s Brief Encounter. Carnforth has capitalised on the ongoing success of the film and a Heritage Centre has been created on the platform – all things railway and cinema. Here I go again – diverted to watching a tormented Celia Johnson and a rather wooden Trevor Howard in Brief Encounter on the computer. I’m now an emotional mess, must have been  the Rachmaninoff. I’ll never finish this post.

***

Where was I?

Ah, yes. Enjoying a cup of tea at the famous waiting room. I had time to drift back in time as the pot of tea took an age to arrive. On my way again I now followed the 90 (Lancashire Cycleway) up to sleepy Nether Kellet now high in this range of unnamed low hills.  Views back to the Bay with the Lakeland Hills behind and ahead over Lancaster and the Bowland Hills. Whizzing down I missed my turn and ended up alongside a military training centre above the Lune. All barbed wire, locked gates and grey paint. Halton village had some old properties previously related to a now demolished Halton Hall, worth a more detailed visit. Back over the Lune I was the last car in the car park and drove home tired but contented not knowing what was ahead.

More variations and suggestions on cycling Morecambe Bay, very satisfying.

***

***

Further to some comments below on this post, here are a couple of phone photos taken by my son on the canal in Stretford. Bee Orchids.

***

BACK IN THE SADDLE – Morecambe Bay and beyond?

June 14th. 2022.

A couple of weeks go by with more minor injuries preventing walking far – so time to get back on the bike. The problem was where should I go – my easy routes are becoming repetitive. After a few days bouldering up at Craig Y Longridge I feel rather stiff and lethargic this morning. Before you ask, although walking is painful I am able to do low level bouldering as long as I don’t jump off or more likely fall off. Anyhow, I have survived and need a longer day’s exercise, the wind has dropped so out comes the cycle, or rather in goes the cycle, into the cavernous boot of my estate car. No need to dismantle anything which could later cause me problems of a mechanical nature. Every cycle ride I do my heart is in my mouth expecting some failure which my limited mechanical abilities could not solve, leading to a long walk. I’m surprised there isn’t a breakdown service available to cyclists.

I’ve spotted, on the cycling map, a Route 90 that will give me a circular ride after I’ve progressed up Morecambe Bay to Carnforth. As I said, feeling lethargic I didn’t get going until lunchtime but once more I’m in the parking at old Halton station. I grab a coffee from the convenient snack van ready for the off along the familiar lines through Lancaster to Morecambe…

***

I’ve not felt well for a couple of days, head cold, sore throat, chesty cough, dizziness,bowel and bladder irritation and as I commence to write up yesterday’s completed excursion here this morning I feel distinctly worse. Time for a Covid test.

I’m going to bed so will catch up with you later.

FLAG WAVING IN BLACKPOOL.

 

 

I was confused by the rash of Bank Holidays and Jubilee Festivities and found myself in the midst of Blackpool’s celebrational party, and they know how to party here. The crowds were too thick to cycle through safely, I was returning from Lytham to Fleetwood on the promenade. This was my first time out on the bike since my collision here which resulted in torn knee ligaments. I was being extra careful. 

I had accomplished my mission to visit the Mussel Tank which I’ve passed so many times without realising it was there, thanks to Shazza for highlighting it. There is some purpose to blogging after all. The tanks, built in 1934, were used for cleaning the mussels harvested from the muddy Ribble Estuary. By the mid 1950s the beds closed down, mainly  because of changes in the Ribble channel affecting restocking. There were three tanks. A cleansing tank now the RNLI, a chlorination tank now the Ribble Cruising Club and the storage tank now the Mussel Tank which has been given a face lift as an open space for public enjoyment. There are interpretation plaques about the mussel trade, an art wall displaying ceramic tiles portraying local features produced by students at Lytham Sixth Form College. There’s also a large-scale mussel sculpture by a Martyn Bednarczuk which I thought resembled a smiling dolphin rather than a mussel.