If you are ever visiting Liverpool, I do recommend you check out "base2stay" as your... erm... base to stay! I enjoyed an evening tour round part of this wonderful city, including three revolutions on the Liverpool 360 which gave magnificent views across the Mersey and surrounding area.
Tuesday 8th June 2011 8.45 am interview with BBC Radio Merseyside outside the Liver Building, followed by another at lunchtime and a final chat in the early evening. Wonderful support from BBC Radio Merseyside who are supporting Alzheimer's Society throughout this year . I passed the Anthony Gormley installation of 100 life-size “iron men” at “Another Place” standing along the shore at Crosby beach. One of them ended up wearing my rucksack and posing for a photo! Eventually made it up to Southport.
Wednesday 8th June 2011 Weather mainly dry with the odd light shower. Walked from Southport to Preston, 20 miles along B-roads, cycle paths and then A-roads. I met a guy who was walking his dog and we had a chat. A couple of hours later, he and a few of his mates were waiting for me in a car park and presented me with a packed lunch especially prepared for me. How kind was that? Later in the day, a man was walking his dog along the busy A565. The dog was completely freaked by my appearance (large rucksack and a pair of walking poles making me resemble a strange animal, I think). I backed off in the hope it would calm the dog down. It didn’t, and in a violent struggle with its owner, the dog slipped its lead and ran out into the traffic. I ran back up the carriageway to slow the traffic down and amazingly, as far as I can gather, the owner retrieved his dog unscathed.
Thursday 9th June 2011 Had a late start this morning. Walked from Preston along the A583 and A584 to Freckleton. I stopped for lunch at “The Ship” in Freckleton which is located at the end of the runway at “Warton Aerodrome”. Owned by BAE, this is where they build the Typhoon fighter, and they were testing one as I ate. Very noisy… very impressive… loved it! Arrived that evening in Lytham St Anne’s.
Friday 10th June 2011 Visited the brilliant Ansdell House Clinic in St Anne’s for a massage and back click where Robert and Andrew worked their magic. From there, I walked in glorious sunshine along the beach to Blackpool. Andrew Ogilvie from the Clinic had spoken to his wife who works for Blackpool Transport and had very kindly fixed me up with a two day complimentary tram pass for Blackpool. Thank you. I had an afternoon stroll around the town and marvelled at the sights and sounds. The plan is to spend a day in Blackpool tomorrow as well.
Saturday 11th June 2011 Spent the day looking round Blackpool. Interviewed a “landau driver”. “A what” I hear you ask. Click here and listen to our conversation!
I also tried to interview a palm reader on one of the piers but red tape and destiny got in the way. Oh well.
Very long queues and waiting times also discouraged me from having a ride on the roller coasters at “Pleasure Beach”. So I returned to my hotel for a rest with the intention of returning later that afternoon when the queues should have shortened, whereupon I promptly fell asleep and woke up after Pleasure Beach had closed!
Sunday 12th June 2011 An easy and relaxed short day. Walked 10 miles from Blackpool to Fleetwood in the rain and found a room at the lovely "North Euston Hotel” – in fact a huge room which had recently been refurbished with a state-of-the-art bathroom with motion sensor-activated LED lighting which never really managed to turn itself off! Lovely view across the sea.
Monday 13th June 2011 Walked 20 miles from Fleetwood to Lancaster. Weather was dry and overcast initially then sunny later with a cool breeze. I left the hotel, and then ran (waddled in fact) back to my room to retrieve my sunglasses with just enough time to catch the ferry for a five minute trip across the River Wyre to Knott End. I had to retrace my steps a couple of times due to land access restrictions. In the end, I decided to walk along the A588 for much of the way although a lack of pavement and verge meant I had to concentrate hard on avoiding the traffic.
Tuesday 14th June 2011 Walked only 10 miles from Lancaster to Morecombe. Lovely to see the Lakeland Fells inland.
Wednesday 15th June 2011 Stayed at “The Clifton Hotel” B&B who gave me a welcome donation. Headed over to the local Alzheimer’s Society centre to meet Claire Campbell and her colleagues. Then onto “Morecambe FC” for a tour of their impressive new ground with Toby Greenwood of the hospitality team. After which I continued through Morecambe and along the edge of Morecambe Bay. Very pretty. Stayed at “The Silverdale Hotel”. Weather warm and sunny.
Thursday 16th June 2011 What a memorable day! Got a lovely donation from “The Silverdale Hotel”. Then worked my way along the shore and road up to Arnside in sunshine. Beautiful scenery – hills, woods and fields and the Cumbrian Fells and Morecambe Bay as a backdrop. The route was going to take me on a 15 mile detour up inland along the River Kent before returning down the far bank to Grange Over Sands. When I got to the railway viaduct at Arnside, I looked longingly at this direct shortcut straight over the river into Grange Over Sands. The viaduct was in the process of being rebuilt by Network Rail, and I passed one of the their site officials in the street. His name was Peter Carlton. I explained what I was doing and how helpful it would have been to be able to walk across the viaduct (although there is no public right of way). Peter listened patiently and sympathetically before explaining very politely that due to the complex work going on, and due to strict Health and Safety regulations, it would not be possible for me to cross. He did say that he would have a word with the office and I gave him my mobile number and we agreed that should there be an opportunity to cross he would call me asap. I set off inland, philosophical and resigned to the long road round to Grange Over Sands. About ten minutes later, my phone rang. It was Peter and his opening words were “I think I am what they probably refer to as your Fairy Godmother…!”
After a safety briefing I donned reflective clothing, a hard hat, steel capped boots and safety glasses. Peter guided me through the working machinery along the viaduct and we had an interesting chat. Once we were clear of the viaduct, Peter escorted me for a further 1.5 miles until we reached the first available exit point off the track, where I handed back the protective gear, and I waved Peter off as he headed back along the 2.5 miles or so of railway track from where we had come. I am so grateful to Network Rail and in particular to Peter for his help and co-operation. They were doing an excellent job along the viaduct and he assured me that service would be resumed along this section of track within a few weeks after the major refurbishment work had been completed within budget and on time!
A short walk from there took me into the town where I stayed the night at “The Grange” hotel. What a fabulous place.
Friday 17th June 2011 I set off from “The Grange” hotel to meet Cedric Robinson MBE who is the official Queen’s Guide across the sands at Morecambe Bay. Click here to hear more. What a lovely and interesting chap, ably supported by his wife, Olive.
Then along more roads slightly inland. I then got permission to cross a large estate and received a donation from the gamekeeper as well. I plodded along the shore, then through fields, a wood and eventually crossed over the Rivers Leven and Rusland Pool. Then along the verge of the A590 for a few miles before peeling off through quieter lanes to Ulverston. All the locals were spruced up for a Friday night out on the town. A couple stopped for a chat and to make a donation. I was saddened to hear that a local chap who was very much a part of the community in Ulverston had been missing for a few days in Bristol. They had just heard that his body had been found in a canal in Bristol. A tragedy for anybody to deal with, and no more so than in such a friendly and close community as Ulverston.
Saturday 18th June 2011 Walked 17 miles from Ulverston to Barrow-in-Furness. Weather was sunny. Lots of walking along the waterline and saw just how fast the tide runs over the sands. 5-6 knots I am sure. Saw a dead seal on the beach, and later a dead baby porpoise or dolphin. Got round into Barrow-in-Furness and walked through the gas installations and past the docks. Stayed at the delightful “Abbey House Hotel” and had the chance to explore their beautiful grounds.
Sunday 19th June 2011 I enjoyed the hospitality at "Abbey House Hotel” so much that I decided to call today a rest day and spent another night there! A great opportunity to rest my legs.
Monday 20th June 2011 Headed down in the morning to Alzheimer’s Society office in the centre of Barrow to have a quick coffee with Chris Parks who works for the Charity. Then 15 miles along the coast in beautiful hot sunshine to “Broughton-in Furness”. Plenty of shoreline walking and lovely inland views towards the Southern Lakes.
Tuesday 21st June 2011 15 miles from Broughton-in-Furness to Annaside in dry weather with sunny spells. Found a dead porpoise on the beach. Despite the assurances from a “local” that Annaside had plenty of accommodation, it turned out that Annaside has two farms… and that’s it. That’s why I carry a tent!
Wednesday 22nd June 2011 Headed up towards Ravenglass. Forded the River Esk to save another lengthy inland detour. If you had been there, you would have delighted at the sounds of “ooh…aaah…ooh…aaah…bloody stones…”… etc…! Stayed the night in Seascale.
Thursday 23rd June 2011 Seascale to Whitehaven. 19 miles. All going well until I reached Sellafield to discover that the footpath was blocked due to construction work with no information nor any attempt to provide a detour. I found an alternative route eventually, thanks to some very local “dog walking” knowledge. Please, please, please, if you are going to block a public footpath at least have the courtesy to provide us with an alternative route. I had lunch sitting on a bench on the platform at Braystones Station watching a tractor fitted with an enormous Geiger counter to check the levels of radiation on the beach. Apparently this tractor, or a similar one was caught out in the tide and a massive recovery operation was required to retrieve it. I opened and closed the two sets of gates allowing vehicular access across the railway track as and when required, and received a few donations in the process!
At St Bees Head I could see the Isle of Man, Northern Ireland and Scotland. The rest of the afternoon was spent walking along a “proper coastline” with some steep sections – the first I had encountered in many weeks of walking. Stayed the night in Newhaven which is the start or finish point of the Coast To Coast cycle route.
Friday 24th June 2011 Weather was cloudy with sunny spells. Walked from Whitehaven to Workington. 8.3 miles – a short day. Some coastal walking but mainly slightly inland roads and paths. Lovely to see the Scottish coastline as I enter Solway Firth. It makes me realise I am making progress! I booked myself in at to my digs and then went to join in the fun at an Alzheimer’s Society tea dance which was full of people singing and dancing along to live music and enjoying tea and cake. A wonderful afternoon. There will be a bit of audio to listen to at some point! Another quick plug for the “Yellowtec ixm” recording microphone… it continues to perform brilliantly and is so easy to use.
Saturday 25th June 2011 Weather was dry initially with showers later. Unloaded my collection tin’s donations into the bank for Alzheimer’s Society, then continued along the beach for much of the way up to the village of Mawbray where I stayed at the Lowther Arms. A very quiet village set in the heart of the farming community.
Sunday 26th June 2011 Weather was dry with some sunshine. Walked along the beach to Silloth on the Solway Firth. Had lunch next to the small harbour at the flour mill. The along the coast with lovely views to Scotland. A fair bit of B-road walking and country lanes to Newton Arlosh.
Monday 27th June 2011 A very warm day spent walking around the edge of Bowness Common on a lane, via Anthorn and Cardurnock with the massive complex of aerials nearby, then Bowness-on-Solway (the start or finish of the Hadrian’s Wall Path) and arrived in Port Carlisle. What lovely places these are, looking out across the Solway Firth. Scotland is now tantalisingly close. Out across the sands I spotted “haaf netters” and I hope to meet these fishermen very soon and will share with you what I learn after spending a couple of hours with them standing in water up to my chest in the Solway Firth, fishing for salmon and sea trout!
I stayed at Hesket House. What a lovely place.
Tuesday 28th June 2011 Walked from Port Carlisle to Carlisle. 15 miles. Sunny day and very hot. In Drumburgh I stopped at an “honesty box” café run by Allen Hodgson. A fantastic idea. I also met a man who was walking the Hadrian’s Wall Path in a skirt (he had lycra shorts underneath). I made it to Carlisle where I spent the night in preparation for my border crossing tomorrow.
Wednesday 29th June 2011 The Day I Crossed The Scottish Border! I followed the River Eden’s bank for a few miles before the path disappeared. Then along the cycle route on quiet roads initially. Then much busier roads.
I was funnelled onto the B7076 which runs adjacent to the A74 and realised that there is no footpath across the border from England into Scotland when following the west coast. The B7076 is it!
There was no pavement and no verge. I am used to walking along busy roads in the face of oncoming traffic, but often there has been a verge to climb onto or a hedge to press my body and rucksack into and reduce the risk of being hit by a lorry. Today there was no such luxury. I recorded an irate piece on my video camera expressing my thoughts on this particular subject which will see the light of day at some point. Assuming that I haven’t missed a sneaky path across the border, I am amazed that a path or pavement hasn’t been built. It is dangerous. It is not the most welcoming way a walker can enter Scotland... or England. It should be sorted out.
As I crossed the border into Scotland at Gretna I was given a hearty and warm welcome from a lady who spotted my collecting tin and immediately made a donation. So the Scottish leg starts. I will resume the walk on Thursday 14th July and will walk non-stop round the coastline of Scotland. Can’t wait… and why not come and join me?!