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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


Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Following the coast (9)

Monday 2nd March 2020 - St. Annes to Freckleton - 9 miles +

I lived in Preston for many years. Walking down the seafronts at St. Annes and Lytham today reminded me of, well read on...

After paying £4.50 to park for the day at the car park near StAnnes lifeboat I was off at 9:30 am in good weather but still needing layers and headgear to keep out the biting wind. As I approached Lytham the beach path was closed off and I had to divert back onto the road. The reason became apparent:  much sea defence work is afoot.

A cormorant posed whilst drying its wings on a jetty at Fairhaven Lake - ok, it may have been a Shag but I think the wing spreading is more characteristic of the former.

I spotted a number of litter pickers on the beach and met their leader coming rowards me up the prom, on the way to "round up her flock" as she said. We chatted and she identified the distant horizon across the bay - I had wonderd if I was looking at Liverpool, but it is Southport - that looks an awful long way away but I will be there 'ere long. I was told that Liverpool can be seen further round to the right "on a clear day."  It was pretty clear today but no show.

The Ribble Cruising Club i.e. sailing club loomed to jolt my memory. With my late brother Nick we raced our Merlin rocket dinghy back in the 60s. Here at an open meeting there were two races but because of tides we couldn't come back ashore in between and the sea was decidedly choppy. I reckon we spent about five hours out there and when I stepped out onto the landing stage afterwards my legs just collapsed like jelly.

Further, on the other side of the road, another memory was triggered by the Clifton Arms Hotel. In my erstwhile occupation I took customers for lunch from time to time. On one such occasion I took a prominent Fylde businessman and his attractive wife to the Clifton. They were good company and we had a throughly enjoyable meal. As we were getting into our respective cars Mr. B said to his wife "We're just going back to the factory" she replied "No you're not, you're coming home with me'" That was perhaps my most successful business lunch ever.

The England Coast Path seems to be getting a few mentions recently; I encountered the first way-marker I have seen - a superb substantial cast iron affair pointing to low and high tide options. I chose to walk by the high having been lead to believe flooding was likely on the low option. I think there will be endless work to establish the whole of that path - there are many places where one is  froced to come inland a long way, but where permissive paths may be negotiated to stay nearer to the concept. Having said that I walked the whole of the Welsh coast just before the official path was opened and I had a feeling of satisfaction that I had done my own thing, but I am not decrying the formation of good long distance paths. The ones I am not enamoured by are where some local authority has connected a lot of inferior paths round the edges of crop fields with no particular objective other than perhaps encircling their borough or domain and claiming this as The Whatevershire Way.

I walked up one side of Lytham Dock boatyard to the road then back down the other side on a banking path by-passing the road. As I heard the tinkling of rigging on the metal masts in the wind  I estimated that perhaps eighty percent of the forlorn craft were in such dilapidated state they were never going to sea again. Owners must be paying for their berthing - so how long do the owners continue paying, and how do you dispose of such a thing when it is scrap?

The banking path lead to Warton Bank, but I had been told the path beyond skirting the south of Warton airfield was also flooded so I was back to road walking through Warton to the far side of Feeckleton for the rest of the walk. Emerging onto the A584 I turned left for only about thirty yards and waited four minutes for a bus back to St. Annes and my car.

Looking back to the St. Annes lifeboat...

...and then looking towards Lytham

Diversion back onto the road. New sea defences under construction

Towards Fairhaven Lake and Lytham

Fairhaven Lake. The cormorant is just identifiable on the end of the centre jetty - see next photo zoom

New sea defences underway

Distant Southport - about seven miles in a straight line. The tall structure at righthand end looks like some kind of suspension bridge. That may awsit discovery until I get there

The litter collector I spoke to who identified Southport to the south pointed out distant Winter Hill on the horizon here. That would be twenty miles away

Lytham sailing club, scene of my dinghy racing back in the 60s

This was our Merlin Rocket, an elegant clinker built wooden classic design. It is being impeccably helmed here, by my late brother Nick approaching tight into wind. That was taken at our own club on Hollingworth Lake

The famous Lytham windmill. It ceased grinding wheat in 1921 and has been restored several times, once after a fire. We attended Lytham open day with the family back in the Eighties held on this open sward between road and sea - I had a helicopter flight.

The Clifton Arms. It was an excellent dining place when I entertained customers back in the Eighties

Posh seats on the prom at posh Lytham. There is the usual line of memorial seats here but they are all identical. Lythsm local authority must have dictated their non-negotiable use to avoid anything tatty lowering the stanadards.

My first England Coastal Path sign - they are setting themselves a high standard to follow

Jut below Lytham dock boatyard

Lythan Dock boatyard - a sad collection of negelcted craft

This tractor (and below) was stood in the water with engine running and nobody in attendance. I think it was pumping water but I reckon it would be struggling to make much impression. The model is not familiar to me - another for Allan.


  1. Good photos Conrad. You are correct about the suspension bridge and the tractor is a Renault 34 tx I think. 4 wheel drive machine.

  2. The question that must be on everybody's lips is 'what did you feed them?'

  3. A very impressive England Coast Path sign. Still a long way to go with creating that path. It was supposed to be finished this year!

  4. Alan R - Although I have visited Southport quite often I have no recollection of a suspension bridge so I will be looking out for it when I get there - if ever, with this damned virus thing threatening.


    meedlesshaste - Can you remember what you had from the menu over 35 years ago?


    Ruth - Crreating the England Coastal Path will be a never ending job - there will always be opportunties for fine tuning in the events of changing land ownership, building developments, erosion and other variables, but even getting a basic route established and putting in appropriate signage will be a huge task. There is a website.

    but it is not very detailed and there are claims for the opening this year but considering I have walked from nesr Whitehaven to Preston and only seen one sign I don't think there can be any claim to its being anywhere near completion.

  5. I've not seen an English Coast Path sign before (although I must have walked past that one a couple of weeks back - I seem to miss loads of things that others spot 🙄) - it looks expensive!
    We all seem to have an affection for photographing tractors, don't we! There is something photogenic about the, especially the old dilapidated ones....
    Love the pic of you and your brother sailing! 😊
    Is the suspension bridge at Southport referred to the road bridge near the pier? this one...

  6. Paul H - I thought I was the one who missed things others see. My Ffriend and fellow blogger who comments here : Alan R -

    spent his working life with tractors and I and others who inter-comment look out for unusual tractors to entertain him with, and perhaps to provide an identification challenge. One of my best finds is recorded in a post done whilst walking the Bronte Way with Bowland Climber in June 2018

    I was taking the sailing photo - the chap crewing is a friend.

    That looks like the birdge at Southport from my zoom shot. I will try not to miss it when I get there.

  7. I managed to miss that bridge when I walked by on The Sefton Way in November 2018.
    Great to see those old photos of yours.
    For interest have a look at my friend's photographs from Lytham -

  8. BC - It is a shame that we didfn't have easier access to photography back then. I only got a camera in the mid Sixties so the few older photos I have are hijacked from other people.

    I hope to get a photo of the bridge for you.

    I looked at those photos - obviously one hundred percent professional. Anything half decent I produce happens usally by accident with about one in two hundred.

  9. I would guess (overly cynically?) that wherever there's a section of footpath along the English coast (public or permissive access), someone in an office somewhere has marked it as coast path on the 'Coast Path Project: Master Map', and thus it ticked it off as x% of the overall 'complete by 2020' objective, even if there are no signs, waymarks or other publicly available information to indicate that it is part of the Coast Path.

  10. Gayle - yes, they did something similar with the National Cycle Routes. They erected signposts on many minor roads and then said they had "created" x many miles of cycle route where all and sundry had already been cycling for years.