Total Pageviews

Monday, 7 November 2016

Walk 197 Blackpool to Freckleton (Lancs)

Walk 197 Blackpool to Freckleton (Lancs)

(Fourth leg of English coastal walk – Gretna Green to Chester)

Map: L/R 102
Distance: 15 miles or 25km approx
Difficulty: Easy, flat
Terrain: coastal path and pavement.
Access: Parking in both places
Public transport: 68 bus goes frequently between the two towns and takes about an hour

Start out at The Blackpool Tower which is well worth a visit (on another day). Don’t miss the ballroom and viewing platform as the views down the coast are stunning. The tower was opened in 1894 and was Britain’s highest building (518 feet) for many years. It is based on the Eiffel Tower and is made from 5 million bricks, 2500 tons of iron and 93 tons of cast steel. It is not free standing – the base is hidden by a building which houses the Tower Circus. There is a 7 year cycle of repair work undertaken by workers known as ‘stick men’.

On the promenade, near the tower, is The Comedy Carpet, a paved area which features jokes and catchphrases by over 1000 comedians. Good fun.

The walk from here south is known as The Golden Mile and includes Madame Tussaud’s waxworks as well as traditional seaside attractions. I went when the famous illuminations were on and although this can be a good time to visit it is a bit chancy with the weather. The town developed in the nineteenth century as developers saw the potential for cheap holidays aimed at low paid Lancashire mill workers and their families. The resort was greatly enhanced by the arrival of the railway.

About half a mile south of the tower is The Central Pier. In contrast to the more genteel North Pier the emphasis here is more on fun. It was built in 1864 and a Ferris wheel was added in 1990. Further down is The South Pier, also known as Victoria Pier, was originally intended to be more upmarket when built in 1893 but now contains a number of rides.

After a short walk the path moves away from the sea and passes Blackpool Pleasure Beach. This is the most visited tourist attraction in the UK and is in the top twenty amusement parks in the world. The slogan outside says: ‘See it, feel it, love it’. It was founded in 1896 and the scary ‘Big One’ was opened in 1994 – it was the tallest and fastest in the world at the time. Definitely not for me!

Returning to the promenade look out for the sculpture constructed in 2002 called ‘They shoot horses don’t they’. It is the world’s largest mirror ball and has 45000 mirror tiles. The name refers to the 1969 film about dance marathons of the American Depression; it links with Blackpool’s strong dance traditions.

After about half a mile the walk continues along the main road which is rather tedious. It may be possible to walk along the sand dunes but the wind was whipping sand up so I did not try it.

Just before the pier in Lytham St Annes is a specially commissioned sensory garden with a larger than life statue of the comedian Les Dawson. He lived in the town with his wife and daughter and described it as ‘so posh that when we eat cod and chips we wear yachting caps’. The town, which is also known as St Annes on Sea, was a planned development which opened in 1875. In recent times it has been an international centre for sand yachting activity but this was suspended in 2002 when a visitor was killed by a sand yacht. St Annes was the original centre for premium bonds – this has now been moved to Blackpool.

At Fairhaven Marine Lake and Gardens there is an impressive full size replica of a Spitfire. This is a tribute to airmen from the area lost in World War 2. The salt water lake built at the end of the 19th century is an important wildfowl habitat. Back inland is an interesting white structure. I took a walk up to have a look. It is the Fairhaven United Reform Church which opened in 1912 and known locally as The White Church. It imitates Byzantine architecture and is probably a unique place of worship in the UK.

Continue along to Lytham and its landmark windmill. It was built in the 19th century and functioned until 1919 when a gale caused a fire. It was restored in 1988 and now houses a museum telling the history of milling. The town overlooks the estuary of the River Ribble. Lytham was for many years dependent on fishing and shrimping then grew when seaside cures and tourism became popular. Now it is one of the wealthiest areas of Lancashire partly due to highly paid jobs at nearby BAE Systems.

Follow the Coastal Way out of Lytham, across the bridge and alongside the marsh to Warton Bank. The path skirts around Warton Aerodrome which was a depot for the US Air Force in World War 2. An air disaster in 1944 occurred when an aircraft attempting to land crashed into a school killing 61 people including 38 children. BAE took over the airfield in the 1960s and became its testing facility. High speed aircraft wreck the peaceful walk at times.

Take care with the walk into Freckleton as parts of it are difficult to identify and there is some very marshy ground nearby.

Photos show: a view south from the Blackpool Tower; 'They shoot horses don't they' glass sculpture in south Blackpool; Les Dawson sculpture, Lytham St Annes; Spitfire memorial, Fairhaven Marine Lake; windmill at Lytham.

No comments:

Post a Comment