Saturday, 4 August 2007

Blackpool and Morecombe

Days 79 to 90
Mon 23 Jul to Sat 04 Aug

Leaving John's house in West Kirby i set on one of the sections of the trip that i've been looking forward to the least!! The muddy flatlands stretching up between Liverpool and the Scottish Borders.

Before starting this trip i purposefully did very little reading round of other peoples expeds so i didn't colour my views of anyone section because of areas they found difficult, this has mean't that i can judge each section with an open mind. However even with that Morecombe Bay still comes up as the one place 99.9% of paddlers hate - it has shallow water, unpredicatble tides, sandbanks, Shipping lanes and not very impressive views - right from the start of the trip i've been dreading this!!

The section started positively, I pass Liverpool and its sandbanks easily - playing tag with a seal off West Kirby (he followed me for about 2km surfacing and nudging my stern every 2minutes) and paddling through the rather disturbing collection of statues that have been Sprinkled on Crosby beach in the name of Modern Art. Reaching Formby i pass through the Great Altcar Army firing ranges and realise with a shock that i once spent 2 days sitting in a hut in the dunes as Sea Sentry making sure that no unsuspecting kayakers paddled into the range when we where firing - its was cold and dull then and from the water it was no better!!!

Lytham St Annes is the next stop, this is reckoned to be one of the rich areas around here and first glance confirms it - it does however have an awful lot of mud and i spend along time waiting on the RNLI jetty for the tide to come in enough to launch! Blackpool comes as a bit of a shock after Lytham - alot erhh tackier as i paddle through the increaseing Surf past its 3 piers, the Pleasure Beach (with the white knuckle ride - the Crazy Mouse!! good name) and the Tower. I get wiped out and nearly flipped right opposite the North Pier which earns me a few cheers from holiday makers.

I reach Fleetwood RNLI station on Tuesday and mechanic Steve takes me in and lets me store the boat in the D boat Shed. My girlfirend Rhiannon (i was told off for saying she was 'Ginger' she is a Redhead apparently!!) is down for 2 days and as the weather closes in (winds F5-7) we spend the time in Blackpool - including watching the Hot Ice show a 'danicng on ice spectacular' - her choice not mine!

The weather stays poor for the next 4 days with the RNLI staff advising me not to leave! Luckily help is at hand and my ex-housemates Mark and Neil travel up from worcester and take me out on the town for 2 nights of fun. In the process we discover that Blackpool is the Chav capital of the UK, home of Stag and Hen nights and that you can buy Stab vests in the pound shop for £100 (go figure) .

They leave on Monday and the weather clears, i cross Morecombe Bay in a SW 3-4 occ 5 in bright blue sunshine. Its a lovely crossing with Barrow in Furness's Submarine building sheds ahead of me, the Lake Districts hills to the right and Windfarms out to sea on my left. Things start to get alot choppier however as i near Walney Island on the North side of the bay, here an almost standing waves effect occurs as the tide rushes out over sandbanks - it became more interesting and i was certainly glad to make landfall. Such a relief though as i'm across the bay, really feels like a weight has been lifted!

That night i camp near Biggar and go for a drink in the Queens Arms where i meet Dave and Jenny. This local couple live just behind the pub and let me use their shower and sink to clean myself and my pans! They even give me a goody bag of food, bless them!

The weather closers down again and i edge forward through breaking waves to the end of the island, before heading out to Seascale the next day. Its a hard paddle into headwinds and 7hrs work only gets me 37km so im none too pleased, however yet again the scenery is good (Isle of Man on the Horizon and i think i can see Scotland ahead of me!!!) and the natives friendly.

In 1-2days time i should be in Scotland which is really exciting as i'll be starting the most exposed section of the trip. I'm worried about the time i've used getting here and really hoping for a good break in the weather - luckily todays forecast shows a few High Pressures around so i really hope to crank up the miles now.

Fingers Crossed

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