16/6/15. Up at 4.45am to catch the early train to Preston.
As I walked out of Preston station a man on a bicycle greeted me as he sped past. I was aghast: I had hardly been aware of him, let alone greeted him in return. Confound my introverted southern sensibility. Note to self: smile, make eye contact and greet everyone. People really are so friendly up here.
There is no coastal route out of Preston so the day began with a long hard slog, four hours on the pavement beside main roads and dual carriageways flanked by roaring traffic. Eventually the road curved round and arrived at the immense beach of Lytham St. Anne’s; after all the traffic and fumes the space and silence were stunning. The tide was out and the beach stretched so far out into the Ribble Estuary it was not possible to see where it ended and the sea began, just an enormous flat expanse of sand stretching to the horizon. Far out in the mist and mirages I could just detect Southport, reflected in distant waters, lying low along the shore and looking peculiarly Venetian.
Walking along the beach, far out from the shore, where thoughts and memories crowd in like the incoming tide, I suddenly heard a voice behind me: “Ellor matey”. I spun round, smile already in place, ready for eye contact and greeting, to find myself completely alone. Must have been the voice of my conscience!
It took a further four hours to reach Blackpool. Tidal waters were encroaching, swarming in across the flat sands; only the dun coloured beach had any colour: it was all like a seascape by Turner with the colours drained out.
Next morning I left Blackpool and walked up to Fleetwood; a day of high winds and waves crashing on empty beaches.
Monochrome days of low cloud and silver light, with occasional flashes of colour –
© Nick Creagh-Osborne and manwalkstheworld.com 2015.