The next day my hubby drops me off at the car park where I ended my walk yesterday. Pott’s Corner according to my map, but Middleton Sands according to the road signs.
It’s a strange place, temporarily transformed into a construction site (more drainage works?) overlooking marsh and fringed with caravan parks. That’s Morecambe Bay ahead and those are Cumbrian hills in the distance.
I look along the shore. In the distance is the bulk of Heysham Power Station. It looks as if I could walk there along the edge of the marsh, but nobody else is heading that way and I’m pretty sure I would come to a dead-end.
Reluctantly I turn away from the sea and follow the road inland…
… past caravan parks. I’m always amazed these places have customers. This is not the nicest part of the coast and doesn’t even have a beach. I suppose staying here is cheap? I hope so.
Across the fields are farms…
… and I meet a horse that looks as though it’s chewing gum. Munch. Munch. I wonder what it’s eating?
Then I pass a new development, with an imposing set of gates and a guard house. A guard house?! Maybe to protect the new residents from the riff-raff in the caravan parks? (There’s a park directly opposite the gates.) Personally I would hate to live in a gated community. This isn’t South Africa or the wild west. What’s wrong with people?
A short while later, I come to a footpath leading off to my left. I’m hoping this will take me back to the shore and maybe I’ll be able to walk along the coast to pick up another road that runs alongside the power station. The road I want to reach has the intriguing name of Money Close Lane. There doesn’t seem to be a footpath connection to it, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a way through.
When planning today’s walk, I decided if this particular footpath was very overgrown I wouldn’t bother, but if it was well-trodden that probably meant people used it to access the coast and to walk along the shore. So if the path looked reasonably clear, I’d give it a try.
The footpath looks great! Neat and well-trimmed. Off I go.
I soon come across a man trimming the hedges with a fearsome saw. He stops to let me through. I ask if I can walk along the beach from here, but he doesn’t seem to know. A few hundred feet further along, and I meet a second man with a mechanical strimmer.
This workman is young and fully absorbed in his job. I stand still and wait patiently, but he doesn’t notice me. In fact, after a bit I have to start walking backwards, as he continues advancing with his noisy machine.
Eventually he sees me and apologises. Onwards. The sea is dead ahead, and I’m walking along the edge of yet another holiday park. Now the air is filled with the noise of lawnmowers. It’s obviously maintenance time.
I’m relieved to reach the sea, but my relief immediately turns into disappointment. The cliffs are crumbly and there are landslips where the earth has fallen away. Although I’m not exactly high above the sea, the cliffs are too tall – and too slippery – to scramble down without risking injury.
This well-maintained footpath leads precisely nowhere. It’s a dead-end. I look along the shore. Heysham Power Station seems so close… but so unreachable.
I consider walking through the caravan park, but am not sure if there is a way out the other side. And there seem to be far too many staff workers out and about, mowing, trimming, fixing and painting.
Disappointed, I retrace my route, walking past the strimming men and again having to wait some time before the younger one notices me. In fact, the older one has to jog his elbow – something I was too scared to do for fear of causing injury – either to him or to me.
Why are these workmen looking after a footpath that, basically, leads nowhere? I know there at plenty of other footpaths along the Lancashire coast that could do with some maintenance. But why this one? It’s a mystery.
I’m back on the road and resigning myself to a long slog round to Heysham via Middleton village, when I suddenly see a cycle route. It disappears into an area of rough ground, but is going in the right direction. I follow it, hoping it won’t prove to be another dead-end.
In fact, I find myself in a pleasant area of unkempt grass and scrubby bushes. A sign proclaims this to be ‘Middleton Nature Reserve’, and I’m walking through a wildflower meadow. Lovely!
At the end of the meadow is another road. The cycle signs tell me to turn left, which I do, and find myself in Heysham Business Park. I study my map. There is a track running right though the estate, and with a bit of luck I should be able to get to Money Close Lane after all.
But no luck this time. My way is barred by a padlocked gate. ‘Should you require access please contact…’ the sign says, and gives a phone number. For one moment I’m tempted to give them a ring. The road runs straight ahead. Yes, I do require access.
I turn back, retracing my steps again, and find the continuation of the nature reserve on the other side of the road. I should have turned right instead of left when I left the flower meadow.
This nature reserve doesn’t appear on my map. It seems to consist of a lake and a surrounding border, where people are strolling, and I wonder if the path only leads in one giant circle around the water. I hesitate. Do I want to reach another dead-end? But I’m fed up with road walking and decide to give it a go.
The landscaping comes to an end. Now I’m alone and walking along old roads which the weeds are trying to reclaim, through what looks like an abandoned industrial lot.
Off to one side are high fences with warehouses and factories behind them. I follow a vague path in the grass, and discover a gap in the fencing. It’s the end of an alley way. Old oil drums act as bollards.
I walk down the alley and join a street. My wandering has cut out some road walking through Middleton, but I can’t escape the tarmac now. Onwards. Factories give way to housing. On my left is a golf course. And there’s the power station. I’m essentially doing a huge circuit to get around it.
The street takes me to a junction with a major road. I’m surprised to see a sign indicating a ferry port. I hadn’t expected ferries. I check my map – the ferry port is clearly shown and, for some reason, I hadn’t noticed it.
I turn left towards the coast (and the ferry port). A sign high up on the wall of a convenience store says ‘LAST SHOP BEFORE FERRIES’. I guess it’s placed high for the benefit of HGV drivers.
Now the sea is ahead and I’m walking along the perimeter of the port. Where do the ferries go? To Ireland?
Beyond the port is a strip of curving beach with a narrow promenade. Half Moon Bay, says my map. What a great name! I sit on one of the benches and have a snack lunch. It’s a relief to be by the sea again, but I haven’t really made much progress since I set off this morning.
At the end of the promenade is an area of rough land. A path leads along the top of low cliffs. ‘Heysham Coast’ says a National Trust sign. (Thank goodness for the National Trust!)
There are dog walkers up here and a few fishermen down on the shore. It’s a lovely afternoon and everyone I meet is smiling.
I come to a ruined chapel. St Patrick’s Chapel. It’s of Anglo-Saxon origin and was originally founded in the 8th century. I can’t get a decent photo – too many people milling about and I can’t find the right angle for a broad shot.
My lens (a temporary replacement for the one that jammed) turns out to be no good for framing landscapes. It makes everything look far too close.
Below St Patrick’s Chapel is a much newer – but still very old – church. I don’t go inside, but take a photograph of the churchyard. What a splendid position.
I walk down lanes with pretty houses. This is, I think, Lower Heysham, an area of Heysham. And then I reach another seaside promenade.
Onwards. I’ve nearly reached Morecambe.
[To be continued…]