117. Southport to Tarleton

At first I looked at the possibility of walking all the way from Southport to Preston. However, the idea of walking 29 miles did not hold much appeal. It was only about 86 miles from home  to Tarleton, where I decided to drive to and park my car. I caught the regular bus service from Preston to Liverpool via Southport, the X2 at 6:45. For once the cost of the relatively short journey was quite expensive at £5.30, in comparison to a daily unlimited travel  ticket of £3.80. However, there are travel restrictions in purchasing such a ticket and travelling on this bus at this time was one of them.

The marine lake Southport

I alighted at Lord Street Southport and made my towards the seafront. The town at this time of the morning was quite deserted as I headed north under the pier and along Marine Drive. My views to the north were essentially across the Ribble estuary towards Lytham st. Anne and Blackpool, although the tide was out and even at high tide does not come close to the road.

Criffle Granite erratic at Crossens
The route ahead along the levee along the Ribble Estuary

The dull and overcast morning, with a stiff breeze puts a spring in my step as I make good time to Crossens, where I transfer onto the levee or sea-wall which will be with me for about 4 miles. The start of the levee is guarded by a large granite erratic, which had travelled all the way down from Criffle in Dumfrieshire during the ice-age. The levee is very straight and covered in grass, which being dry and thin does not present any walking problems. I pass two farms Old Hollow and Marsh Farm, just after Marsh Farm I see that the public footpath veers a mile back to the main road, about a mile away, only to re-emerge about 200m further up the levee. There are no keep out signs, so I simply climb over two gates and re-join the public footpath, doing this has saved me almost 2 miles of a pointless detour, all for 200m!!

Nursery glasshouses containing flowers

I am now alongside Hesketh Out Marsh and it is quite strange to see cattle grazing a great distance on the marsh, which looks just like short-cropped grass. As I approach Ribble Bank farm I can see the footpath ahead blocked and I am forced to divert inland. This work has been going on for a while and is something to do with allowing the sea to breach the sea-wall so many times a year. The options for a detour are good, with a grid-like road structure, I am able to move further east towards Westgate farm. This whole area which sits behind the sea wall has been given over to market-garden produce and I can see many workers in an adjacent field harvesting cauliflowers or cabbages. I walk past one of the many nursery glass-houses which contains a wide variety of flowers. I am slightly amused when I walk past the glass-house to be advised “Warning please be aware you are being video’d”. I suppose as I am on a public right of way, they are obliged to do this.

The River Asland or Douglas

The River Asland or Douglas (it has two names) is a tributary of the Ribble and means that a 4 mile detour inland must be taken to get over this river. The first bridging point is Tarleton, which is my destination. The walk continues along a levee, although there is a large flood-plain alongside which contains sheep and is very dry underfoot and could be walked along.

The levee follows a sharp sweep in the river and comes to a small boat-yard. It is difficult to see the continuation of the river-bank path and more importantly where to get off the path up river. I walk through a small graveyard and walk into Hesketh bank. I come to a main road with a good footpath, which I follow towards Tarleton. The whole area along the road is built up and is quite boring. I take 4.75hrs to walk the section.

Distance today =  16 miles
Total distance =   1874.5 miles





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