267 pm – Blackpool South Beach

I’ve reached the southern end of Blackpool. Well, I hadn’t expected so much empty sand! Where’s the sea?

29-sea-a-long-way-out-ruth-in-blackpool

The wall of Blackpool promenade is high, a massive stretch of concrete. It looks like the Great Wall of China, or a prison wall without the barbed wire. Or like the wall of a giant dam. In fact, the wall is pretty unfriendly looking, and the sand in front is empty of people. Again, it’s not what I expected.

30-blackpool-ruths-coastal-walk

The wall does have a certain architectural bleakness that is quite attractive, but not on a human scale.

31-blackpool-prom-ruths-coastal-trek

I stay far out on the sands, away from The Wall, and walk northwards until my progress is interrupted by a wide stream of water. It’s deep and I don’t feel like wading.

32-blackpool-sands-ruth-livingstone

So I turn inwards towards the forbidding wall. And discover a problem with the beach. Between the sand and the foot of the wall is a stream, quite a fast-flowing stream. And the sand on its bank is more like mud than sand, while on the other side is a strip of sharp stones and slimy seaweed.

33-scruffy-beach-blackpool-ruth-livingstone

I find a place where I can jump across the stream and make my way up a flight of concrete steps set into The Wall. At the top a chain is fixed across the steps – with another ‘Danger, Keep Out’ sign! Too late. Well, I’m ‘out’ now.

The promenade is surprisingly empty, considering it’s mid August, a nice day, and the height of the summer season. Again, not what I was expecting.

34-blackpool-south-shore-ruths-coastal-walk

To my right is a road and beyond a strip of hotels and houses. I notice a fair proportion of the properties are in a dilapidated state. The Palm Beach Hotel, for example, is boarded up and burned out.

35-derelict-hotels-ruth-livingstone-in-blackpool

More boarded up buildings follow, interspersed with functioning hotels and B&B houses. And quite a few have been converted into nursing or residential homes.

36-abandoned-hotels-ruth-livingstone-in-blackpool

But there are plenty of interesting things to see along the promenade.

37a-swivelling-wind-shelters-ruth-livingstone-walking-the-english-coast

37b-the-big-one-blackpool-ruth-livingstone

For example, there is a wind shelter with an impressive swivelling seat, designed to rotate when the wind blows so that the visitor is always on the leeward side of the shelter. I have no idea if it works.

While the view ahead is dominated by the roller coaster – the one I could see from miles away along the beach.

As I get nearer, I realise how truly enormous the coaster is. I can hear the rumble as the cars climb the steep slope, and the screams as the riders plummet over the crest and down.

Looks terrifying. When I was younger I would have loved to go on such a ride. Now I feel sick just watching it!

38a-horserider-statue

38b-missing-statue-blackpool-ruth-livingstoneThere are a number of art works and installations along the promenade.

Perhaps the saddest thing I see is the clear evidence of theft of one of the art pieces. Two plinths stand close to each other. One holds a rider (a circus performer?) standing on a horse. The other one… well, it’s disappeared. The metal statue has been cut off.

I sit down on a bench and have a drink and a snack. And watch the roller coaster rolling. It comes as something of a surprise to see the signs and realised THIS is Blackpool Pleasure Beach. It’s a theme park. Silly me. I always imagined it was an actual beach.

39-the-big-one-blackpool-pleasure-beach-ruth-livingstone

Onwards. Ahead is South Pier. (Blackpool is greedy. It has three piers!) A sloping path gives access to the beach, but yet again a strip of water makes getting onto the sand somewhat difficult to navigate unless you don’t mind getting your feet wet.

40-onwards-to-south-pier-ruths-coastal-walk-blackpool

So I stick to the promenade and continue walking towards the pier. I do love piers. They are usually somewhat faded and full of character. This one is in better condition than most, but still has some shabby points.

41-south-pier-blackpool-walking-the-english-coast-ruth-livingstone

Beyond the pier… ah, here is where all the action is. The promenade is crowded and the beach is busy. Clearly, this is the heart of Blackpool and I’m reassured to see the buzz of visitors. I’ve walked through a great many sad and deserted seaside resorts on my coastal walk, and I’m pleased to see Blackpool is still thriving.

Ahead is the second pier (prosaically called Central Pier) and in the distance is Blackpool Tower.

42-blackpool-golden-mile-ruth-livingstone

The stretch of beach from here northwards – from South Pier, past Central Pier, and up to North Pier – is called The Golden Mile. (Actually, it’s a little longer than a mile, but who’s measuring?)

The rest of Blackpool will have to wait until tomorrow. It’s time to stop walking for the day, but first I pop into a nearby  Wetherspoon’s for a quick drink. My daughters are horrified I love these pubs, but they are cheap, serve food all day and every day, and are perfect stopping places for a tired walker.

Then it’s time to backtrack and find my hotel, situated near the far end of South Beach. Next to my hotel is a care home with an intriguing name. Feng Shui House.

43-feng-shui-care-home-ruth-in-blackpool

Does that mean it’s arranged internally along Feng Shui lines? I would like to take a look, but don’t feel cheeky enough to go inside.


Miles walked today = 11 miles
Total distance around coast = 2,698 miles

From the safety of your armchair, you can take a ride on The Big One: via YouTube

Route today:


About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, Doctor, woman, etc.
This entry was posted in 17 North West England and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to 267 pm – Blackpool South Beach

  1. Anabel Marsh says:

    I visited Blackpool once which must have been (scary thought) almost 40 years ago. Your photos don’t inspire me to go back! It’s still a popular short trip from Glasgow particularly for “the lights”.

    • I did take some photos of the lights, but they didn’t come out very well. They were switched on a couple of days before I did this walk. I actually quite enjoyed much of the northern part of Blackpool, but the South Beach is probably the least inspiring part.

  2. pedalboats says:

    I like your little map following the blog. I’ve just finished reading “No Fixed Abode: A Long walk to the Dome” by Douglas Legg (can loan it) and used the AA map to follow him round the coast of Britain which he walked in 1999. It was a brilliant book. Very long- like the walk! I’m learning a lot about our coastline through you and him.

  3. dearestbeloved says:

    I’ve been to Blackpool twice is fairly recent years. Once to search the newspapers archives to see if there is any truth in a family ‘myth’ that my paternal great grandfather fell of one of the piers and drowned in about 1914-15. Sadly I couldn’t find anything. Then I went on the Big One! It was very scary going over the top, but also great fun and I’d like to do it again someday. The second time was a day out (from Bristol!) to see the Lights. It was a long haul and the lights are completely bonkers, but also grea fun. It took nearly 3 hours! to travel from the north of the town to the south – a distance of about 2 miles, maybe a little more. Needless to say it was very very late by the time I got home.

    • I’ve heard of the book, but haven’t read it. Going to order a second-hand copy from Amazon.
      Shame the myth wasn’t proven, it would have been an interesting addition to your family history 😀

  4. Jacquie Butler says:

    It feels rather unnerving to see the current vacancy situation written on a care home entrance – today 1, tomorrow ?

  5. Marie Keates says:

    I’m not sure I’d like Blackpool very much. It all seems either too run down or too crowded depending which part you are in.

I welcome your views

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s