After a frustrating diversion around a building site, I finally reach the promenade at Cleveleys.
And there is my daughter, Ella, walking to meet me, along with her beautiful springer spaniel, Lottie. She looks happy to see me – the dog, I mean.
I’m now both very hot and very thirsty.
We’ve booked into a café for lunch, where my son-in-law, Alex, is waiting, having nabbed the only table where they allow dogs because it is right next to the door. It’s a lovely café, but popular, and they don’t seem able to cope with a full venue. We wait for a long time to be served.
By this time I’m dying of thirst – but my ordered drink fails to materialise despite several reminders.
Eventually the food arrives, but I still have nothing to drink. I can’t eat with a dry mouth, so I resort to pouring water from my water bottle into a glass.
After lunch we set off along the promenade, heading northwards towards Fleetwood. It’s great to have some willing models for my photographs!
Ella and Alex live in Manchester, so they are unfamiliar with this area. I suggested we meet at Cleveleys, rather than Blackpool, because I thought it would be quieter and a better place to let the dog run along the beach.
It’s certainly quieter, but the beach is covered by the tide! It’s a lovely walk, all the same, even if we are forced to stick to concrete rather than sand.
I spot something weird in the water. What is it? Looks like a wrecked piece of sculpture. Or, is it a genuine art work, designed to be covered by the incoming tide?
After a while we reach a shingle beach. It’s tough on the feet, but makes a change from concrete.
Walking with a dog is both a joy and a distraction. She, Lottie, walks about 10 times the distance we do, running round in circles and continually fetching sticks for us to throw. She’s gorgeous. Alert, intelligent, and full of life. (My daughter is pretty nice too!)
At times like this, surrounded by good company, I realise how lonely my walks often are. Perhaps I should get a dog? In fact, I start yearning for a dog.
Unfortunately our amble along the promenade comes to an end after a couple of miles. There is more construction work taking place on the sea wall, and so we have to turn inland and walk along the road. (This is the second diversion so far, today, due to construction work. All a bit frustrating!)
The road is very uninspiring, with the high sea wall on our left blocking the view over the water. Never mind. We pull out our phones and resort to playing Pokémon Go.
When I apologise for the unpleasant walk, my daughter tells me she is glad about the diversion. ‘Now I feel I’ve experienced some of the problems you experience, mummy,’ she says.
Luckily, we soon come to a permissive footpath, running along the edge of a golf course. This is better. At last we can let the dog of her lead.
And then we can clamber back on the promenade again. Wow! There seems to be a collapsing building adjacent to the walkway. That must be Cumbria in the distance – the hills of the Lake District. And a blocky structure is capturing the sunshine on the far shore. The power station at Barrow-in-Furness perhaps?
I check my map. We’ve reached Rossall Point, and discover the tottering building is a lookout station. As we get nearer, we realise it’s not really collapsing at all, but has been designed to lean towards the water.
The crowds have disappeared, but there are a few other people enjoying the sands.
We take advantage of the nearby public conveniences, and I do some dog watching. It’s nice to have my photo taken by another human being, for a change, instead of setting up the timer. (Note the phone in my hand: we’re still Pokémon hunting, although at this stage I’ve run out of Pokeballs.)
Onwards. The dog is still full of energy, even if the rest of us are tiring.
We’re approaching another built-up area, and pass a large boating pool on our left. This is Fleetwood. It has a curving beach.
We take advantage of the sand to walk along the beach. The tide is definitely going out now. We see a lone horse rider far out on a sand bank.
By this time I realise I have a serious problem with my camera lens. It started jamming earlier today when I was walking on Blackpool beach, and I think I must have a few grains of sand in the mechanism. Now the auto-focus has developed a mind of its own, and will only allow me to take photos at a certain distance. Shame. I hope it will fix itself.
We walk towards the far end of Fleetwood. There’s an old lighthouse near the water (in the photo below), and a more modern one further inland. One of the buildings bears the bold words: ‘North Euston Hotel’.
North Euston Hotel? We’re a long way from Euston station, but maybe there were once through trains that ended up here? Nowadays you would have to change at Preston.
We reach the point where the River Wyre interrupts the shore. I look over the mouth of the river. There’s Knott End on the other side. And the ferry! Tomorrow I will catch the ferry over there and continue my walk.
Alex says the ferry looks like a bus. It does. And is rather small. Well, I’ve been on much smaller ones.
We stop for a drink at the Ferry Café, which has tables outside. (One of the downsides of walking with a dog is the restrictions it places on finding eating places!) Unfortunately my coffee is instant, strong, and undrinkable. Ella has a nice milk shake. Oh, if only I wasn’t on another diet…
Then it’s time to catch the tram back to our respective cars. Ella and Alex are parked at Cleveleys. I am going all the way back into Blackpool. At this point, I discover I’ve lost my daysaver ticket, and so I have to buy another one!
It turns out to be a great ride. Lottie (the dog) has never travelled by tram before. She guards the doors, greeting each new passenger with enthusiasm. Good job it isn’t very busy!
Walked today = 12 miles
Total distance around coast = 2,710 miles