First of all I’d better explain the title. Last summer I devised an huge Southport walk that would take me from the marine edge where the Irish Sea comes into Southport all the way into the countryside and farm land that forms the agricultural boundary between Southport – Churchtown Moss and Burscough / Rufford. It’s a truly gigantic walk of eighteen miles (See here for the full version:).
Common sense dictates that road walks should never be more than fifteen miles long, there is only so much pressure which one can subject one’s feet to endure before…they stop enduring, to mix and match road and off-road generally is okay up to about 25 miles but any more than this and the feet are really going to be in a sorry state for some time afterwards. With this in mind I decided to cut into two parts my Coast to Crops walk. On Tuesday I did the first half and here is how it unfolded:
I walked pretty much all the length of Leyland Road to Promenade and then crossed the road and turned right onto Fairways passing what used to be Dragon’s gymn! It was a beautiful, moderately (for this year) warm day but on Fairways the wind off the Irish Sea immediately to the west can sometimes be described as gale-like, today was not an exception. It was with some relief for my ears when I turned ninety degrees north onto Marine Drive – a road with which I have recently had a great deal of contact, having walked along most of it just over two weeks ago. On my last walk I came to loathe cyclists, as such I took the decision to climb down the slope that would take me away from the dual-lane, cycle-path that leads the entire length of Marine Drive and dropped down to the “golden” (it’s just impacted sand really) path which leads all the way up to the R.S.P.B. sanctuary at Marshside.
After a little distance I crossed the main road and went onto Hesketh Road the next part of the walk would feature a slightly perilous dissection of a golf course. Two golf courses flank Hesketh Drive, the municipal one on my right hand side and the more exclusive-looking Hesketh on my left – of course it would be the one on my left that would convey my walk across glorious landscapes across to Marshside with Marshside Moss to the left of me.
Golfers seemed to be out en masse today but thankfully we kept out of each other’s way. At Marshside Road I crossed over on to the most northerly reaches of the Sefton Coastal Path and eventually came out onto Marine Drive once more in order to make my way onto the path through Fiddler’s Ferry having passed by the sewage works.
The last time that I walked along Banks Road I went South East to Waters Lane but this time I headed North East onto the interestingly named Ralph’s Wife’s Lane as I wanted to buy something to drink from the “Late Shop” on this road. At some invisible point I crossed the boundary from Fiddler’s Ferry to Banks. Banks is something of a parody: it’s full of nothingness, it’s right next to the coast that cannot be seen, its’ quiet country road plays host to some of the fastest moving traffic in the area – I love Banks!
Having purchased enough fluids to see me through the next five miles I then had to double back a short distance before following a winding urban road that would bring me out just next to the race track that is the A565. Fortunately enough it was not as much of an extreme sport as normal today and within a moment I was heading down Gravel Road towards Churchtown Moss. I passed these cute lambs at the fantastically named “Hollywood Farm” – no celebrities, no Holly and no trees at all come to think of it, but the sheep were cute. At the southern apex of the road instead of bearing with the road I went off-road onto a single track affair with extensive views of the local environment. Parbold and Harrock hills both appeared from the east as did Winter hill and distant glimpses of Ashust Hill – ‘though my eyes are no longer good enough to pick out the beacon! Dear old Pendle alas lay hidden in the haze!
The track back through Churchtown Moss is immense, seemingly never-ending, even if one is enjoying being out in the sun (at last), in total, from the roundabout at the A565 to the roundabout where my route would be more urban is five miles in length during which time I saw four cars – most of which gave me a lovely sandblasting as they hurtled passed me on a road that could reduce any car’s suspension to scrap metal after a couple of miles. As I reached the bend in the road where Common Lane splits into two I happened to spy an American Flag and the flags of a few other nations at what I believe is known as “Western Frontier” a theme pub in pretty much the middle of nowhere but there did seem to be a settlement with a Christian building, go on, we’ll call it a church even if the o/s doesn’t! After passing the distant Nuck’s Wood eventually I was off the wonderfully named “Long Meaneygate” and onto Moss Lane. I passed a lovely little black Shetland Pony but was unable to get a decent photo as 1 I had nothing for it to eat and 2 I was casting shadows all over the place and ruining the composition…next time.
I had worn an insect repellent with built in sun protection today but by this time the heat had begun to make my forehead sweat quite profusely – which then ran into my left eye, the pain transited from mildly irritating to “Oh my God I want to rip my eye out!” but eventually subsided. Within the hour – after I had been on the walk for almost four and an half hours I was on Hesketh Drive – my warm-up route which indicated less than a mile to go…hurray my feet were frustratingly hot!
In summing this was a very easy walk on which I regretted taking my ‘big’ camera and wished that I had taken my former ‘trusted’ smaller 5 mega-pixel one as it is a damn site easier to fit into one’s fleece pocket. The weather had almost been too kind and I had delighted once more at the subtle complexity of Southport’s water system having been passed a pumping station, several ponds, a few lakes and the clear as a bell “Sluice” as well as the Crossens and Marshside Moss’es – no wonder I was so thirsty!
Distance 12.25 miles, Height gain – negligible, time taken 4 hours and twenty five minutes inclusive of two shop stops. The map can be found here.