Tag Archives: Walking. The Fylde


Knott End to Pilling.

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.

Jetty at Knott End. L S Lowry. 1957.

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.

At the moment the tide is coming in. There are views across to a vague Black Combe and a clearer Morecambe Power Station.

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.

That is apart from this Little Egret which seem to becoming more and more common on our shores and estuaries.

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.

All afternoon the Bowland Hills filled the skyline to the east, what a contrast to the flat coastal area. Nearly all the other walkers on the wall have dogs.

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.



January 27th.    7 miles.

This is long distance walking in easy stages designed for winter exercise. Todays stage actually finishes in Longridge, my home town, which is convenient for me if not for Sir Hugh who has to travel from Arnside, but it was his idea in the first place. At least today we meet up in the agreed destination, a good start. We are walking by 9.30 on a clear sunny morning with a strong cold wind at our heals. There must have been a lot of rain last night judging by the pools on the road – an ominous sign. We take to footpaths as soon as we can and end up in deep mud similar to where we left off last week. The stiles around Singletons Farm are virtually impassable, blocked by hawthorn, but we push through.Crossing a field we are confronted by the next stile leading into a lake, no way we can go that way so we retreat and hit the minor lane to Cuddy Hill [sounds Scottish] and the well-known Plough Inn. After all the frustrating obstacles I was ready for a drink but of course they hadn’t opened. Eventually we find the onward path and emerge onto a lane which took us over a canal. In the past we have both walked the The Black and White, Lancaster Canal.    but we didn’t recognise the location,

We were on the A6 for a short distance before crossing over onto tracks to end up in fields,  navigational errors had us back tracking to reach Jepps Lane. The A6 seemed like the transition from the flat floodplain of The Fylde to the pleasant countryside of the Ribble Valley. The wind by now had intensified and many of Sir Hugh’s pearls of wisdom were lost. I had never been down the lane to Barton Old Hall before, but it conveniently crossed the motorway for us. The Old Hall was hidden behind trees and the cluster of houses and conversions at the hall were rather depressing.

I think we were deterred from the actual path through the properties, but still found ourselves in rolling countryside alongside the proverbial babbling brooks. Time passed as we weaved our way through the pleasant Lancashire countryside. The Bowland Fells rose in the background and ahead was a glimpse of Longridge Fell.

We passed the stately Goosnargh Lodge, joined some local routes and reached Goosnargh Mill, not the best of conversions.

I was now on home ground and confidently marched across fields finding hidden stiles until we reached one that was in such a dangerous state we had to retreat yet again and find an alternative way. Worse was to come as what had been open fields was divided up by permanent electric fencing, the sort used for equine enclosures, with no regard for any public rights of way. Attempts at crawling under on the wet ground were not pleasant, so we took to dismantling the top wires to step over, there was fortunately no electric current. Reports to LCC  are on their way. A rather sour note towards the end of the day.

He who dares – SAS training.

Just before Longridge we passed Sea View cottages,  and yes you could just about see back to the coast where we had started SD 38.The road into Longridge is now surrounded on all sides by new housing developments, the Fell can just be glimpsed above the roofs. It is no longer the attractive, honest, little town that I moved to all those years ago.



The night before I arrange with Sir Hugh where to meet up for our next stretch along northing 438 . I’m sat waiting at New Hall whilst he is sat waiting at Cuddy Hill a mile and a half away, a misunderstanding compounded by the wrong mobile numbers. Red faces and ‘mea culpa’ all round. Once communications are re-established we drive to Singleton to start walking later than we had planned. By now there is a glimpse of sunshine.

Singleton is an interesting village with an old PO, several lodges and halls, picturesque cottages, a fire engine shed and a Parish Church. The estate was developed from 1853 onwards by the Miller family, wealthy cotton manufacturers working with the Horrocks family in Preston. The estate is now held in trust and appears well maintained. There are permissive paths through the estate but we lack the maps to use them.

At Singleton Hall’s South Lodge the original gates bear the initials of Thomas Horrocks Miller and on the gate posts ‘Demi Wolves’ taken from the Miller coat of arms.

The old PO.

Lodge gates.

A Demi Wolf.

The timber-framed fire engine house is nearby, it has decorated plastered walls and a louvred bell tower. The engine was horse-drawn and before a fire could be attended the horse had to be rounded up in the adjacent field. 

Estate cottages lined the lane and worshippers were leaving the church as we passed.

Thistleton, Elswick and Inskip villages were visited in turn. Not far off is the site of Cuadrilla’s controversial fracking wells and the local feeling is demonstrated by all the anti posters.

Does fracking cause earthquakes?

Todays walking was easy through fields but we lost count of the high awkward styles and muddy farm tracks.

The farms we passed were a mixture of traditional working and modernised for rich commuters. The strangest was an old thatched cottage with a very modern residence built within yards of it. Strange, who would want to do that?

Everywhere were ponds, former marl pits, that look as though they are used for fishing and duck shooting.

Elswick is known for the Bond’s ice cream shop, now more of a restaurant.

Inskip is known for RNAS Inskip, a former forces base and airfield. It is now used as a military high-frequency radio transmitting station and the antennae can be seen for miles in this flat landscape.

The last farmyard was the worst for muck just before we reached the car. Jolly Japes.

Maybe you would be advised to read Sir Hugh’s account of the day. http://conradwalks.blogspot.com/




Lunch time, Poulton-le-Fylde suburbia and we are sat in reclining chairs in someone’s front garden,  This followed a trip by Sir Hugh depositing himself into the middle of the road with no serious injury but blood [as well as egg] on his face. It all looked dramatic to passing motorists who came to our aid and one particularly kind lady took us into her property for tea and sympathy. Spare glasses fitted and he was ready to continue on our walk along Northing 438

The day had started in a rather gloomy and windswept Blackpool where we picked up the 38 at North Shore. There is nothing to recommend British seaside resorts in winter. Sir Hugh had a new hat that kept blowing away until he stuffed it into his rucksack and donned a more suitable beanie. At the start is a striking statue to our emergency services which I’d seen before on a trip along this promenade. 



Northing SD 38                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

We passed rows of basic guesthouses, probably full of ‘social housing clients’ and then followed the pavement alongside a not too busy road out to Warbreck where the Ministry of Pensions and whatever else has an office. A colleague of mine worked here for many years in some secret role to entrap fraudsters.

Branching into housing estates we weaved around crescents and groves. You think that they could have created pleasanter address names than Block 50 although some of the street names had a familiar ring.

We were heading for a green space shown on the map and eventually, a path was reached along the edge of the estate. I’d soon collected a fair amount of dog excrement on my boots although a responsible owner with two rescue German Shepherds was interesting to chat to. One of the dogs had cigarette burns inflicted upon it when he intervened but both dogs were now even-tempered. The border of the estate was a disgrace with every form of rubbish you could imagine thrown into the ditch, the mind boggles.

Green fields took us into the outskirts of Poulton where the housing improved but the navigation was complicated by dead ends.

After our ‘sedate lunch break’ we headed into the countryside [for how long] with cows, hens and sheep.

Unfortunately, our way further on was blocked at a closed level crossing and we diverted onto the busy main road and then had to negotiate a complex industrial estate which I didn’t think we would emerge from. Eventually, we squeezed between groaning industries into the countryside.

The country fields here are all recycled marshland and the draining ditches define the fields although the drainage is not always good.

All-day I’d been looking unsuccessfully for signs of spring, catkins etc but near a farm, I saw my first lambs of the year.

We finished in Singleton just as the rain started to beat a quick retreat to the car, it looks an interesting village so will delve further when we resume the SD38.


BLACKPOOL’S POSH SISTERS – Lytham and St. Annes.

Another beautiful morning, frosty, sunny with fresh snow on the Bowland Hills. So what am I doing in Lytham?  I could still walk, hobble, after my 10 miles along the Blackpool prom on Wednesday.  Having staggered downstairs this morning for a coffee I considered the options. Couldn’t stay in on such a sparkling day, couldn’t climb Parlick or walk the local fields so why not return to the Fylde Coast – lovely and flat.

I parked near the famous windmill alongside all the Christmas shopping ladies in their 4×4’s. A shot hop across the common and I was on the promenade with views across to Winter Hill and Southport.

The tide was well out. Dog walkers were pre-eminent and before I had gone a few hundred yards I witnessed a cyclist being pulled off his bike by an errant beast on a far too long lead. No serious damage.

Delta winged fighters were flying over from nearby Warton.

The windmill [1805] and adjacent former life boat house are suitable photographic subjects. I’ve just bought a new phone and was trying out the camera, will see if I can upload the results onto my computer. Took me some time working out how to even answer the thing when I test rung it. It will be known as ‘it’ from now on as I feel we’re developing an uneasy relationship.

The modern life boat station was next, Georgian Houses fronted the road across the way but busy Lytham lies behind. The prom was lined with smart memorial benches, hundreds of them. One particular one drew my attention with a plaque remembering cocklers. On the sands are improvised tractors used to launch their boats.

My photographer friend Pete lives here and has accomplished a remarkable study of the cocklers  –  his website is worth a visit.

The views across the bay continued to attract my attention as did the flocks of wading birds on the edge of the tide. There was a lovely shimmering light on the sands.

I walked round the seaward side of Fairhaven Lake, there were no pleasure boats today only a few swans.

You don’t realise you are in St. Anne’s until beach huts and the truncated Victorian pier appear.  Next to a boating lake is the very modern lifeboat station with its RNLI shop attached. Last night I was writing Xmas cards and as usual ran out so this was a perfect opportunity to buy a few more and support a worthwhile charity. As a bonus I had a close encounter with the lifeboat and its high tech launching tractor. Thank you Mrs Volunteer RNLIer.

Only walked a hundred yards and I was sat in an equally modern cafe overlooking the lake enjoying a decent coffee.                                                                                                                           An Edwardian Garden has been resurrected from the all invasive drifting sands and in  its centre is a statue of Les Dawson, not the best of likenesses but a homage to one of St. Anne’s  celebrities.

From here a road follows the coast hemmed in between sand dunes and a line of hotels, apartments and residential homes for the elderly. This elderly is striding out as fast as he can. I don’t venture into the dunes as I fear the going will be too soft and difficult for my hip but I soon get bored and found a path through the dunes onto the firmer sand. A whole new world opens up – miles of sand merging imperceptibly into the distant sea. The dunes have been fenced off and attempts made to stabilise them with old Xmas trees, attempts I always thing of as futile gestures against the forces of nature. Paradoxically there is a digger on the beach extracting sand presumably for commercial ventures. Dog walkers seem to be out at sea which now has a distinct roar to it as the tide comes in.

Ahead Black Combe looks close enough to touch but not to photograph, the pleasure beach and Blackpool Tower appear above the dunes and my short walk is at an end. Glad I didn’t miss this day.

A bus takes me back to Lytham past the largely defunct airport and new housing developments were formerly were holiday camps. How times change within a decade.



A DAY BY THE SEASIDE – Blackpool Prom.

A beautiful sunrise and minus 5° temperatures dragged me out of bed. After yesterday’s experimental stroll I was still able to put one foot in front of the other. Time to get going.

Almost to the year Sir Hugh and I were walking around the Fylde on The Wyre Way. Having walked from Fleetwood to Rossall we cut across country to the River Wyre itself to complete the route on a dismal December day. Today,  a not to be missed sunny one, with temperatures struggling to reach zero I was back: parked possibly illegally in Rossall School with the intention of walking 10 miles to South Shore terminus and catching the tram back. As a get out I could catch the tram at virtually any point if I was struggling.  Once on the promenade I realised the possible foolishness of this venture, the path was an ice rink even the dogs, which were outnumbering people, were skating about. Out came the walking poles to give me some security, I was here for some easy flat walking to test my hip not to fall and break something.

The sea played little part in today’s walk:  the tide was out, the waves flat and the sombre December weather blurred the horizon. So I could concentrate on the immediate surroundings of the promenade. Inland to start was dreary housing and apartments, retirement ‘I do like to be by the sea’ places. All very forgettable. But the new Clevelys promenade is all curves and a pleasure to explore.

The lighting installations reflect a Gaudi appearance.A striking memorial installation to all the ships lost on this coast …

Clevelys, Bispham and Norbreck passed by, the clock tower and the hotel notable landmarks. The sea front hotels in this area reflect back to a golden age with names redolent of fashionable London – The Savoy. Grosvenor, Imperial etc, all dated and out of sync in the modern era.

Out of interest, but maybe of importance, all the old toilets on the promenade have been closed down and replaced with infrequent pay to enter booths. Why spend all this money on refurbishing the front to a high standard and then charge 20p to pee. The answer is privatisation of what should be a public service. I didn’t have 20p so peed on the beach. Sorry but it was very cold.

Along this stretch they were dismantling the famous illuminations. I had a behind the scenes view and could only guess at some of the displays. One of my son’s birthday is October so it was a simple matter at the time to fill the car with his mates, drive them through the lights, fish and chip supper and home.

The sands stretched on and on regardless of the hinterland.

A striking sculpture recognising our emergency services   https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lancashire-23070443 

Now Blackpool Tower and the North Pier were approaching fast. Commercialism is mainly closed down in winter but there were still some venues screaming out at the punters with promises of untold entertainment. But mainly all was drab and shuttered. The golden mile closed down!        I even had to go inland a block to find somewhere to eat, yes you have to have fish and chips when in Blackpool.

Central and South piers were closed for winter as was the Pleasure Beach and just about everything else.    Walking on the beach looked attractive but turned out to be too strenuous. The day was getting colder and the prom stretched on for miles. It was with some relief that I arrived at South Shore tram terminus and negotiated a trip back to Rossall.


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