Day 123: Southport to Hutton
Distance: 20.45 miles
Ascent: 607 feet
Weather: Overcast/Sunny Spells Morning, Sunny Afternoon
Accommodation: Wild camp River Ribble
Well after breakfast, Dad & I headed off, a little later than normal at almost 9 o’clock mainly due to my faffing. We crossed over the marine lake and were back on the coast. This first part was not overly scenic walking along the side of a busy road. After a couple of kilometres, the Sefton Coast Path (which is not always coastal) diverted inland a few hundred meters away from the road. I would probably have normally followed the road as it is slightly more coastal, but with my dad in tow thought it might be nicer to follow the path which essentially followed parallel to the road but a couple hundred meters inland on the other side of a lake.
After crossing a drainage channel near the pumping station we followed Ralph’s Wife’s Lane (what a bizarre and great name for a road and I was intrigued by whom it was named after) into Banks to get some supplies. I had always known todays stretch would be quite tough for my dad due to it’s length and his legs were already aching a bit at this time but after a quick snack we were both ready to get going again.
It was not entirely clear what would be the best way back to the sea embankment as none of the rights of way headed to it, but a simple farm track actually got us their very easily and the farmer was very happy for us to walk along it. Once on the embankment the route got much more scenic and the sun came out. The mud flats here are so extensive that even on the embankment we could not actually see the river in the distance. On the OS map there was an annoying little bit heading back to the road to get across Hundred End Gutter, which would add a couple of miles of distance though during planning it had looked like the embankment went straight across (only 100m across). When we got there it was clear we could head straight across but would have to climb one gate. We easily got across, and I cannot see why the path didn’t go this way.
Just after this we stopped for our picnic lunch in the by now already quite fierce sun. It was a lovely little spot and dad even fell asleep for 10 minutes or so. From here the path just followed the embankment all the way along the estuary and then down the River Asland until we were next to Hesketh Bank. This is where dad would be leaving me and I would be getting some supplies for tonight and tomorrow. The only issue being there did not seem to be a way of the path to the village (only 100m away), so we just cut across a field and then small building site. We went into my first Booths of the walk (for anyone who hasn’t been to one it is a bit like a northern Waitrose) where I got some supplies and had a tea with dad.
My dad had found what he thought was a shortcut (3 mile shortcut) via the internet across the River Alsand by using an old utility bridge to cross (which apparently locals use). After our brief break, we both headed down to where this was located and at first, I thought there was no way I would attempt this, but as I got closer it seemed ok. The actual ‘bridge’ part looked fine, it was just whether I could climb up and down the little towers, but fortunately the truss design was perfect for my height making it relatively easy (would have been very easy but with 15kg on my back was not quite so easy) to climb. I got across and down the other side safely, and then waved goodbye to my dad who was getting the bus back to Southport.
From here I followed the Ribble Way on a series of embankments and paths, which were not always well signposted, until a pub called The Dolphin. On a lovely sunny Friday evening around 5pm it was too tempting not to stop for a quick pint which was so nice, but I had to get up and carry on. The final 4 miles were very simple with an ever widening embankment, reaching almost 50m wide by the end.
There were many spots to pitch but with the weather forecast to be very gentle I actually just pitched under some trees for shade at the edge of the embankment. This was a perfect little spot and I was wolfing down my dinner before I had even pitched my tent.
This was a day, though maybe not the most scenic, that I really enjoyed. It was great having Dad on the walk, great walking in the sun, always feels great to find shortcuts, and the utility bride was quite fun. A really great day strangely maybe in my top 10 which may surprise some people and my dad.