I always like to start my walks early, it’s generally quiet, still and cooler. Also finishing early in the day gives me more of the day to do other things, if I can move that is. Of course, I can do this in summer, but in winter, with the shorter days, less likely. So today was a very early start for the walk from Preston to Blackpool – Stargate.
I parked in Penworthan, just by the bridge over the River Ribble. Its free parking, which is a bonus. I set off at 5:20 on a Sunday morning, so not many people where about. The first couple of miles is a well signposted walking and cycling route called the Guild Wheel, a 21 mile circular route around the City. This section I start in goes through the old docks of Preston, long since used and little showing other than the wharfs along the Ribble.
After a couple of miles, the Guild Wheel moves inland and continues along the A583, then A5085 then A584. The walking along these roads is flat, easy and safe. At Freckleton, I turn south off the A584 into housing estate. Here I am trying to find the start of the Lancashire Coastal Way, a footpath that I will follow for the rest of my journey through the Fylde peninsular. I must admit the footpath is sparse of signs and short of infrastructure, although to be fair, I do see evidence of a number recently erected ‘kissing-gates’ on the route. The path follows the Freckleton Pool watre course which joins the Ribble opposite the start of the River Asland/ Douglas which runs south. I can see the Asland and Ribble are on a flowing tide.
The path has moved down to the foreshore, which has been heavily churned up by grazing cattle. Its difficult underfoot walking for about a kilometre, where the path follows the perimeter fence for Warton Aerodrome. The path is easy to follow, but is covered in long grass, thankfully not wet. The aerodrome does not appear to be MOD, I note some large Aero Engine chimneys, used for testing I presume. The path now works inland back to the road to get around a couple of tidal inlets.
I rejoin the A584 and have reached Lytham, although Lytham St Annes stretches for virtually 8 miles along the Ribble estuary and sea. The sea front at Lytham is flat and very easy walking. After taking a couple of photos of the iconic Lytham Windmill, I get my head down, but some strong walking – I’m looking to catch the 11:25 train back to Preston. Mile after miles of promenade walking comes and goes. Shortly after I pass the attractive St Annes Pier I transfer to the flat beach, which is hard sand and ideal for walking along. I look back across the Ribble Estuary and can easy make out features at Southport. Further south I can see the Welsh coastline, with the Clywdian hills prominent. Using my small pair of binoculars I can also make-out faintly the hilly prominence of the Great Orme at Llandudno.
I stay on the sand all the way to Star Gate at the southern end of Blackpool, which serves as a terminus for the tram service to Fleetwood. My walking time of 5hrs is a testament to the flat and easy terrain I encountered along the way. I easily make the 11:25 train from nearby Squires Gate back to Preston.
Distance today = 18.5 miles
Total distance = 1903 miles