Day 127: Skippool to Heysham

Distance: 35.28 miles

Ascent: 1346 feet

Weather: Sunny Spells Morning, Rain Sometimes Heavy afternoon

Accommodation: Wild camp Near heysham


Well after a lovely rest day where I felt like a turkey being fed up for Christmas it was time to set off.  Unfortunately, the weather forecast had changed and it was now due to rain this afternoon. Due to it being a long day I set off at 7am and Kathryn was joining for the first stretch. The first stretch from Skippool Creek was a bit muddy along the mud flats but we were soon crossing over the Shard Bridge and starting to head back up the other side of the River Wyre.

This stretch up the river was surprisingly scenic, more because I had though it may be a bit boring, following firstly along the mud flats before joining very quiet, narrow country lanes all the way up to Knott End. Kathryn left a short while later, after a quick tea, and I was back on my own.

The Lancashire Coastal Path starts to do some weird things around here heading miles inland when there appeared to be embankments and walkable edges of mud flats. So, I decided I would try and keep as close to the coast as possible. Strangely at the first carpark after Knott End there was a sign saying No Public Access on the gate through to the Embankment, though just to the left there was a stile which took you down onto the mudflats which were solid at the edge and easily walkable, and in fact once down no fence to stop you getting back onto the embankment though I stayed down on the flats for this stretch. On reaching the second car park there appeared to be no signs this time saying I couldn’t walk along the embankment so from here I followed the embankment for the next 3 or 4 miles until it reached the road. I did have to climb the gate to get of the embankment onto the path again, and on the other side of the gate there was a strange sign (see photo below) which said ‘armed trespassers will be prosecuted’ does that mean walking that embankment without a gun was fine?

From here the path got quite interesting, firstly crossing over a rivers mud flats, passing a field where paragliders were landing as I went past with one having a pretty heavy landing. At the farm the path followed a little concrete embankment before joining the fields. Guess what some more bullocks (where are all the friendly dairy cattle?!) right on the path. They didn’t seem aggressive, though one did have a ring through it’s nose which did scare me a bit. But they seemed more scared of me though still interested in me. Slowly approaching and then panicking and literally charging and jumping away as they got scared. I got past easily without incident and soon reached the remains of Cockersand Abbey where I had some of my packed lunch before the rain started that I could now see approaching. The remains are some of the oldest I have seen on the walk dating back to 1184 though the only part that remains, the Chapter House, dates back to 1230.

Literally bang on 2pm the rain arrived as forecast at that time. Starting to begin to get heavy as I arrived at Glasson where I ducked under cover to get fully waterproofed up and also have a cup of tea. The next six or so miles were on a cycle way which I think follows the route of a dismantled railway. I am sure it is pretty but with the rain pouring down I just ducked my head and carried on.

I reached the edge of Lancaster and crossed over the River Lune on the pedestrian part of the railway bridge. The rain had started to lighten a bit at this point and I made a little diversion to get some supplies in an Aldi. I followed the path along the river to Oxcliffe. This is where I had proposed to stop as there was a caravan park and a pub and I presumed I would be able to get permission to pitch on one of them. Unfortunately no one was in reception on the caravan park, nor answering the phone so that was a no. I popped in the pub and asked and the conversation was bizarre, instead of saying yes or no, she said she wasn’t sure if there was any flat grass nearby. It was bizarre because they had probably the biggest, flattest, grassy beer garden I have seen on the entire walk.

But undeterred I carried on walking, though this stretch of road is tidal and surrounded by boggy ground so decided I would carry on to Overton 3 miles or so further on to find somewhere to pitch. It rained heavily on this stretch but as I arrived at Overton after 6 the sun came out and the sky went blue. On the way out of the village I found a good pitch spot just before the Sunderland Point tidal road. I had actually got the tent out then changed my mind. I looked along the tidal route to Sunderland Point which was passable at the moment (who knows may have been issues in morning) and with the sun out stuff would start to dry out so I thought even though already walked 30 miles I would carry on.

This little tidal road (the only vehicle access) was magical with the sun slowly starting to lower in the sky and Sunderland itself just felt beautiful as I arrived with some lovely houses. I went through Sunderland and found a pitch spot just of the mudflats on the other side. I was just about to pitch and then noticed the cows approaching. It turns out there are cows on these mudflats so there was no way I was pitching here.

I followed the edge of the flats and from Potts Corner there was no path shown on my map, but with the tide low enough I was able to carry on along the beach/flats in front of the static caravan parks. These Middleton Sands (though felt like more like mud) were amazing some of the flattest and most expansive I have seen on the walk and dominated at one end by the Nuclear Power Station. It was now almost 8 o’clock so I walked through the Static Caravan Park and back onto my route which went through Heysham Nature Reserve where I found a lovely place to pitch just before 8:30pm.

So a very long day, in fact the longest of the walk at 35.3 miles. This is actually quite useful as the mileage is long this week and there are some areas later in the week that could lead to some quite big issues.

charles compton