Lytham St Anne's To Blackpool
Tuesday, February 11, 2020
It's Tuesday February 11th 2020 and it's a short half day walk from Lytham St Anne's' to Blackpool today. This is the final leg of a four day visit to Lancashire which saw myself, Dave Beech and Dave Evans walking through the very best of Storm Ciara, officially a long lived extra-tropical cyclone. One of two, paired with storm Dennis a few days later! It brought severe disruption across the British Isles. It certainly hampered our progress, with one of our days cut short due to the shear amount of water and swollen rivers. However, despite this it also brought beauty to this section of the walk with rough seas along the Fylde coastline heading into Blackpool.
Last night our accommodation was in St Anne's and I have to say I was really impressed with this stylish town which is traditionally a quiet Victorian / Edwardian seaside resort. It's clean, with nice places to meet and eat in and around it's restaurant quarter, centred around Wood Street. It really did have something and everything you would want in a small town and I look forward to returning again in the future.
At the very start of the walk, in a small ornamental garden by the pier and easily missed, is a statue of Les Dawson, one of the town's most famous former residents. Interestingly, I was surprised to read that before the 6ft statue was placed there it received a series of planning complaints from residents fearing that the statue would stare into peoples homes, which I am sure if he was around today would have brought a smile to the Manchester born performer's face.
The small Victorian grade II listed pleasure pier at St Anne's was completed in 1885 and lies at the entrance of the Ribble Estuary. Originally pleasure steamers to both Blackpool and Liverpool operated from the pier, but alterations to the estuary channels to improve access to Preston Dock further up the Ribble, now means that the Pier is mostly on dry land, which ended the steamer trade from here. At the pier's opening ceremony, a new St Anne's lifeboat named the Laura Janet, was launched, but sadly the crew were lost the following year in the Southport and St Anne's Lifeboats Disaster, which remains the worst loss of crew in a single incident in the RNLI's history and was viewed as a national disaster across Victorian England.
From the pier stretches the St Anne's sand dunes and with a strong headwind blowing sand directly into our faces it's a tough few miles into South Blackpool. Eventually the concrete sea defences there bring shelter from the sand and now it's only buffeting from the wind and sea spray that occupies our minds. Blackpool looks like a ghost town with only a few brave souls venturing out onto the front. Large waves are now crashing over the seawall which occasionally catch us out and give us a drenching. The trams have been stopped and the waves are reaching right across the road. The sea spray is hard to escape and we are now wet through, cold and looking forward to the end of todays walk at the North Pier. Eventually passing the magnificent Blackpool Tower and Ballrooms we arrive and it's time for me to say goodbye to both of the Daves, who are heading back south for work tomorrow. It's been a tough few days and I can not thank them enough for their company, trips like this and the memories made are best shared. Although poor Dave Beech is going home with a black eye from a branch that caught him in the face and Dave Evans has scratches all over the backs of his hands received whilst battling Hawthorn bushes yesterday by the Ribble River, so they have both been through the wars on this trip and I can not thank them enough for sticking with me to the end.
With the walk now over, my mind now switches to the big game, as I am staying one more night to watch my team, Gillingham, play the Seasiders (Blackpool FC) at Bloomfield Road. The Blackpool fans are great and I believe our clubs have so much in common, surviving on a shoe string and hoping for moments of brilliance in the League. We always get a warm welcome coming up from so far south, especially on a Tuesday night and the game doesn't disappoint, Blackpool 2 Gillingham 3, a late extra time winner for us, it had it all! 5.49 miles.
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