For newcomers

At the bottom of each post there is the word "comments". If you click on it you will see comments made by followers, and if you follow the instructions you may also comment and I always welcome that. I have found many people overlook this part of the blog which is often more interesting than the original post!

My blog nick-name is SIR HUGH. I'm not from the aristocracy - my middle name is Hugh which relates to the list of 282 hills in Scotland compiled by Sir Hugh Munro in 1891. I climbed my last one (Sgurr Mor) on 28th June 2009


Friday, 28 February 2020

Following the coast (8)

Thursday 27th February 2020 - Starr Gate tram terminus Blackpool to St. Annes-on-Sea, 2.5 miles

On the previous section I had intended to walk as far as St. Annes-on-Sea but bailed out at at Starr Gate tram terminus for deteriorating weather and time constraints.

Today should have been my Thursday walk with Pete. During the night I had developed a literally STREAMING cold but with no feelings of illness or temperature. I phoned Pete and he was emphatic about not wanting to be blighted, but it was now later than I would normally set off on my coastal campaign. But, including those extra 2.5 miles to St. Annes on the next section to get me to Freckleton would have involved 11 miles plus, so I decided to knock off the 2.5 miles so I could be more relaxed for the eventual section to Freckleton.

I was able to park in a side street at Starr Gate. I thought I would be walking down the main road but a path lead off into sand dunes in the direction of the coast so I followed but anticipating endless difficult one foot forward one foot backwards sand dune walking, but after some such quite arduous uphill I dropped down onto the beach and walked all the way to St. Annes on glorious firm sand. Huge rolling white clouds against deep blue sky and wild sea on my right and wide expanses of golden sand stretching into the distance made for enjoyable seascape walking. Again I was well clothed and well protected from the cold wind. A kite surfer was busy preparing his kit - at one time I might have been envious, but these days I value more my comfort.

Dog walkers were numerous, some a long way out on the edge of the breakers and looking vulnerable. All the dogs seem to have an endless appetite for chasing and fetching their balls. I remember my Springer Barney preferring to find the longest possible branch he could manage then using at as a scythe to fell you from behind.

I could see St. Anne's pier in the distance and as I drew nearer it looked run down but apparently it is till active which is not bad to say it has survived storms and raging sea since 1885.

This may be difficult to read so I have transcribed it below, but whatever I strongly recommend reading. There is more about this on Wikipedia -,_St_Annes

I walked as far as the lifeboat station and recconoitered the car park there for next time. Here there is a fine statue of a lifeboatman looking out to sea, high up on a good plinth.

The plaque describes the worst RNLI disaster ever in December 1886 (see my transcript below.) The thought of those men and their selfless determination to save lives with the knowledge that they may likely sacrifice their own had me feeling emotional and as I type now just having re-read more carefully I am moved again to a tear. Just imagine launching out in what were open rowing/sailing boats in a full gale in December at night. That is true braveness.

The Mexico lifeboat disaster was one the RNLI’s worst-ever tragedies. It was a German cargo ship, a barque that was wrecked in a full WNW gale off Southport on 9 December 1886. It was on its way from Liverpool to Guayaquil in Ecuador,

Fearing the vessel would be blown on to the sandbanks to her doom, the Captain sent out distress signals. The Lytham, St Annes and Southport Lifeboats answered the call. They rushed to save the crew of the Mexico – which by this time was being blown down the River Ribble.

The Eliza Fernley lifeboat was launched first from Southport, and that capsized, losing 14 of the crew of 16.
Shortly after the Southport lifeboat was launched, the St Annes lifeboat Laura Janet set sail. No one knows exactly what happened to it – except that the next morning the lifeboat was found washed ashore. Three dead bodies were still clinging to it, and all the crew of 13 men were lost.
A third lifeboat, the Charles Biggs from Lytham was also launched. On its first rescue they successfully saved the twelve crew of the Mexico.To date this is still the worst loss of RNLI crew in a single incident, with 27 men lost.
16 widows and 50 orphans were left behind. An appeal was launched to raise money to help them, and for a memorial. It was this fundraising which led to the first RNLI flag days. Generous donors included Queen Victoria and Kaiser Wilhelm.

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Following the coast (7)

Tues. 25th February 2020,  Rossall School (Wyre Way) to Starr Gate, Blackpool.
Aprox. 8.5 miles

Drove to Rossall School - walked to tram terminus, Starr Gate, South of Blackpool. Returned by perhaps my second Blackpool tram journey. I vaguely remember having a holiday in Blackpool with Mother and brothers circa 1946 and I suppose we must have journeyed on the tram at some point then. today I was impressed by this efficient, clean and comfortable transport.

These sea photos are worth clicking to enlarge

Starting out from Rossall. Blackpool Tower visible, centre horizon

Artwork on sea wall, and below

The "wild and wasteful ocean." I was wearing a base layer, a Rohan Explorer shirt, a lightweight hollowfill jacket and my Paramo Jacket, the latter with hood up and zipped to chin and I remained so cocooned for the whole walk. The wind was torturing the sea forcing huge foaming breakers and what appered to be full tide for the whole of the four hour walk. It was difficult to remember that this is an iconic, extensive beach, holiday venue - there was no sign of that today.

Gulls were active all the way with continuous mock ups of Battle of Britain dog fights.

Monument to hundreds of shipwrecks off this coast since 1643 - all the names are laser cut into the panel, also listed on engraved panel below

A monument listing the names of hundreds of shipwrecks

Norbreck Hotel. It is up for sale.
Note also the tramlines. I hadn't realised whilst walking how obtrusive the tramway infrastructure now appears on the photos.
The tower on left and North Pier Blackpool in distance

Blackpool Tower. Well I might have some viewers from abroad who  wouldn't recognise it?

Huge area of ceramic type flooring on the prom showing quotes from and listing all the entertainers. This appears to be an extremely well constructed feature

Rossall School. Full time boarding - £11,000 + (PER TERM) 

Monday, 24 February 2020

Wanta wallet?

I was browsing Amazon for a new wallet and found these questions and answers - just couldn't resist posting.

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Trouble with our planet

There are six of us that have met now for many years on a monthly basis to discuss and talk about a monthly book we set ourselves. Our last book was a huge anthology of poetry.* I balk at poetry because it is often impossibly obscure, or if not needs hard work and application to fully appreciate, but of course that is not always the caee. If anybody out there has any inclination whatsoever to look at poetry I would recommend this volume because it has a huge eclectic range and also it is divided into interesting vaguely related subjects which provides an opportunity to read contrasting views on a particular theme.

All this lead me to become more enthusiastic to the point where I thought I would have a go. I didn't want to have the difficulty of conforming to some specific poetic form or rhyming so favoured what might loosely be called Free Verse to satiate my enthusiasm to "get something down."

The first one relates partly to a recent TV mini series documentary on BBC 2 where an artist walks and talks - see my recent post, Taking a Break.

The second, just in case anybody from the other side of the world is not aware relates to our recent named storm Ciara which wreaked havoc all over the UK. This is a distillation of my most recent post: Following the Coast (6)

*Staying Alive: Real Poems for Unreal Times. Neil Astley

Global warming, species extinction,
Health threats and News conspire to depress.
Antidotes by donation and responsibility
Fail to assuage for not doing more.

Maybe the luxury of temporary denial?
An artist follows News at Ten
Carrying a friendly camera through limestone sublime.
No music, just footsteps crunching... and birdsong,
And the varying shush of the wind.

Occasional solicited greetings from passers by
And sparingly our artist's artist's thoughts.
And in between, silence…
Silence almost whispers so we absorb white stone,
Green pasture, blue sky and that river now rumbling
Then slowing, seducing like good brown ale
But still letting us see down down deep.


Ciara had me grounded?
No! Ciara forced offspring (both) to rule.
Not for me faint heart, but from respect
I postpone for a day.
Not fields to Cockersand but lakes,
Imposing a furtive stealthy farmyard sneak.
To the coast, a banking track exposed to Ciara’s anger,
I bend and head and waver blown on erratic course. A car.
Again another intrudes upon my will.
I’m forced to teater from the edge,
Unstable with the wind to steep and slippery grass.

Now a concrete path only a foot above the lashing tide,
Driven spray and I am drenched.
No sneak now but blatant retreat.
A benign deserted road, another squelchy plod.
The abbey of Cockersand more bedraggled than I - how long
I ask has it here endured?
A modest red stone cube tortured by nine hundred years
Of violent storm. The camera is too unsteady in the gale.
There is a kind of thrill, but this is no place to linger
As I turn to complete this rebellious forbidden day,
And refelct on those of stronger heart who here spent harder days
And many harder months and years.

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Following the coast (6)

Wednesday 12th February 2020 - Cockerham to Knott End-on-Sea - 10 miles+

Looking at the map beforehand I anticipated quiet and not particularly interesting country lanes and a tad of disappointment at not being able to be nearer the sea without tramping down a main A road.

Diversification from traditional farming proved me wrong.

After a quick look at Cockerham church outside the village I followed a short stretch with a walk-way down the A588 then turned off down those lanes.

At recent visits to my friend "Gimmer" who comments here I have learned of his predilection for goat's milk. Well I was not far down the lane before I came accross The Cockerham Herd, a farm established for twenty years selling goat's meat. They have an interesting website which is worth a look and it is also quite persuasive about their product. I have no vested interest in this enterprise - I just found it notable and thought others may also. I will be interested to find what is served up for supper next time I visit Gimmer.

Sharon & Chris Peacock
or 07947026849

I hadn't gone much further before a lane branched off with a sign directing one to The Bay Flying Club - well one never knows when one may need a clandestine departure from the country.

Another mile further on and yet another new development by a five generations farming family:

Farm Yard Ales and a jolly website worth a look:

That brings me to an interesting point. I have speculated about the profusion of littered Lucozade bottles on the roadside recently, but all the way along these lanes were not Lucozade plastic but jettisoned Carlsberg Special Brew cans.  There were so many and at such relatively short intervals I could only deduce that there must be a regular alcoholic traveller along this road - that stuff is the go-to drink for dipsos. But if that was the case I would have expected the odd one of the cans to have landed in the same place as one of its predecessors?  Then again if the perpetrator was walking with a rucksack full of Special Brew an accomplished binge drinker may have discarded each one at those kind of intervals. But it could also have been a passing coach of hooligans all ditching their cans randomly? I hope there is no connection between all that and the enterprising Farm Yard Ales.

North of Pilling, and after taking a wrong turn putting on half a mile for the there and back I was onto the sea banking all the way to Knott-end-on-Sea. Storm Criac was  still going strong. I battled snugly through a high cross-wind with hat tightly jammed covered by my fully zipped up hood on my Paramo jacket and clad in my Rohan Barricade trousers. I enjoy being in harsh conditions when I have good gear. A hundred yards ahead of me several hundred Oystercatchers suddenly rose from the banking taking flight en-masse upwind over the sea in a massive cloud, then wheeling back to settle again on the banking another hundred yards down. That cycle was repeated half a dozen times as I continued in their direction. That was a magnificent sight and coupled with the earlier attractions this walk had produced much of interest and delight.

At Knott End I joined up with the Wyre Way walk I did in November 2016 which took me across the ferry to Fleetwood and round the Fylde to Rossall School where I hope to resume shortly.

I waited half an hour for a bus back to Cockerham and my car.

Worth clicking first photo to see rest as a slideshow, especially the oystercatchers
Cockerham church. It is isolated on a footpath outside the village which conveniently lead me to the A588

The goat farm - Photoshop struggled with the colour and lighting

No. I didn't have time to stop off and sample

Another "one for the road"

First sight of the sea - onto the banking all the way to Knott End

Zoom to Heysham power station. Six miles in a straight line

Oystercatchers ahead just about to take off and...

...there they go

Wild water as the bay opens out

Looking back towards Pilling

Knott End-on-Sea

East to west. The little blue route is where I took a wrong turning

Taking a break

Global warming, flora and fauna extinctions, the political news, and  health threats are just a few of the depressing  things we face on a daily basis and that doesn’t include domestic and personal worries that most of us have to a lesser or greater extent. I try to take a responsible attitude and keep myself informed and make some contribution wherever I can but still feel guilty because I know I could do more.

But every so often one needs to switch off. Benign but quality tele is rare but it can provide some constructive escapism from time to time - The Repair Shop on BBC was a recent such avenue but more recently I have been watching Yorkshire Walks, BBC2.

Artist Shanaz Gulzar films herself walking in the Yorkshire Dales. That region is for me the most attractive countryside I know of anywhere. Shanaz carries a three hundred and sixty degree camera on a pole to film her surroundings - enhancing shots are made presumably from a drone. There is no background music but all the sounds of wind, water, birdsong, crunching feet on footpaths, and occasional conversation with passers-by are there instead and in between those sounds and Shanaz’s occasional commentary a peaceful silence prevails that underlines the beauty of this white limestone, green grass, blue sky terrain along with that seductive brown river water that despite its colouration enables you to see down deep.

Shunaz speaks simply without flowery language about what she feels and sees, and as an artist shows us oddball tree roots and moss and the like which when viewed as a self contained entity provide interest and pleasant contemplation when all too often we pass by without seeing.

One might criticise for an absence of dire warnings of planet trashing, and lack of mention of species under threat, but I welcome an occasional break from the gloom and doom. 

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Following the coast (5)

Monday 10th February 2020 - Cockerham to Cockersands Abbey and back - 8miles (ish)

Daughter and son both sent me messages on Sunday saying "you are grounded" because of Storm Ciara. I don't like being grounded.

Without investigating too much I gave myself to understand that Storm Ciara was only officially nominated for Sunday.

On Monday I thought there's no harm in going to have a look so I was off walking from Cockerham at 11:15. After this little circular I will be on less familiar territory for a while and also with the advantage of using public transport so that I will be able to walk eight miles or so actually on the route.

The wind didn't seem strong in Cockerham but once out into open fields I was blown about all over as I splodged through waterlogged pasture. I was then barred by a huge lake of flood water and had to make a clandestine diversion through a farmyard. There were some people around but I had no encounter - I am always prepared to be humble and apologetic in such circumstances and I think I have a pretty good ability to calm most irrate landowners. I did meet my match a while ago when I was shouted down and told in expleteive terms to depart - I since removed the post but kept a copy- here is an extract:

The farm had a complex number of tracks and gates, and to be fair the right of way was well marked with yellow paint, but despite that I got off track by about twenty yards. There was a shout from a farm building. The guy came out and demanded aggressively where I had come from and where was I going. He was large powerful and threatening. He shouted telling me not to come on his property and then shouting again frenziedly, directed me through a gate onto the public footpath - I tried to communicate with him, but yet again he shouted out "And don't start telling me to calm down," and then he finished off screaming out "f*** off!"

Along a tarmac road there were about fifty swans in one of the fields. After a couple of kilometres tarmac gave way to unsurfaced track leading on a high exposed banking to Bank End Farm. A couple of times vehicles came past and I had to step down onto very steep banking, and with the howling wind 'twas all a bit perilous.

From the farm I followed the footpath edging onto the sea. Eventually that became a concrete path about two feet wide with the sea only abut a foot below - large waves were crashing and spray flying. Before I was totally drenched I aborted and followed the road to Cockersand Abbey. More squelchy field walking brought me back to tarmac. Here an approaching car stopped and I was grilled almost aggressively as to whether I had seen THE Bewick's Swans as though I ought to have known that such an exciting, supposed anomaly had recently been broadcast - I mumbled about seeing my aforementioned swans but I had no idea if they were Bewick's or Buicks. Consulting my bird book now back at home I still can't see what is the didffernce. I joined the A588 for an uncomfortable two and half kilometres dodging the traffic back to Cockerham.

Just out of Cockerham - it elicits the wonderful word "ramshackle"

One for my Relics - not sure what it is - any ideas Alan?

Out into the wild wind

That banking was a bit dodgy combined with the high wind when I had to step aside for a couple of vehicles

Almost a toy tractor - not rare I suppose but new to me

A bit further on the path was being lashed by breaking waves and driven spray - I retreated to the road

Are these Bewick's swans?

Cockersand Abbey - not a place to linger in the cold and windchill

Another unfamiliar tractor for me

Start/finish at Cockerham - clockwise