Running, tail walking …. and twitching our way from Southport to Hesketh Bank

Friday 3rd February 2023

A day off coastal walking … instead we met up with a local running group – Red Rose Runners – for their 10.00am club run. I’d only gone along to have a solo poodle round while Steve joined them but they were very persuasive in encouraging me to join in. And they couldn’t have been nicer – every one of them. We ran over 5 miles and they were so inclusive – I was never made to feel a burden as they looped back and stopped for breaks and so genuinely welcomed both of us to their group. And the most amazing thing … the two run leads – Pete and Marian O’Grady – were, and in fact still are, Redway Runners. They moved up from Milton Keynes to Preston 10 years ago but Pete was one of the early members of RR and still maintains membership. We discussed many of our mutual RR friends (including Martin and Karen Lawrence, Michelle and Lee George-Barnes, Adam Sharman, Tina McGreal, Katie and James Down + others) and exchanged stories. We’re so grateful to them and hope to join in some other runs with them before we leave the area.

After-run coffee and biscuits with the Red Rose running club

Pete O’Grady doing the selfie and Marian O’Grady with the other red bobble hat

Saturday 4th February 2023

Another day off coastal walking but being a Saturday of course meant parkrun at 9.00am. And this week it was Preston parkrun and we had volunteered to Tail Walk (such a relief when we found it had the most horrendous hill and it was a three lap course)!! Still a beautiful course and an extremely friendly bunch of volunteers and runners. We had also volunteered as photographer and report writer, so busy, busy, busy! So many people chatted to us and were genuinely interested in our coastal walking and house-sitting adventures. Another tourist parkrun ticked off … and I can recommend – if you like hills that is!!!

And, before moving onto Sunday’s walk, I want to include two major milestones that happened this weekend.

On the eve of his 30th Birthday, whilst celebrating in Edinburgh, Tom proposed to Jess … and she said it was the easiest ‘Yes’ ever! We are bursting with happiness for them both and can’t wait to be back with them to celebrate. Are Engagement parties still a thing!?

Happy Engagement Tom and Jess xx

And today – 5/2/2023 – our beautiful boy turned 30. He’s an absolute legend, loved by all who know him … and it appears that he’s now ready to settle down!!

Happy 30th Birthday Tom xx

On a more sombre note, I also want to mention that Tom, since a child of 10, has always shared his birthday with such a sadness in our family – my beautiful niece Marsha was so tragically taken from us on this date. But we remember her today with so much love. It’s 20 years since you had to leave us Marshie but never a day goes by when you’re not in our hearts and thoughts. RIP sweet girl.

R.I.P sweet Marsha xx

Sunday 5th February 2023

Woke up to a covering of frost but the forecast was for higher temperatures and no rain. So, after walking the dogs we drove to Hesketh Bank where Steve had meticulously planned a place to leave the car, to catch a bus to Southport … and where the coastal path ended back in that area after our walk. The logistical planning of this whole project is a minefield!!

Easy bus journey into Southport and seeing different parts of the town today, we realised that it is possibly one of the smarter seaside resorts we’ve passed through. Spectacular hotels and department stores, trendy bars and cafes, tasteful amusement areas and an attractive marine lake. Sadly the only thing that lets it down is the beach – so not a resort to come to if you have a love of sandcastles and swimming. Still scenic but rather than sand, it is predominately covered in mud flats – so you’d get a bit messy making your way down to the sea and there’s certainly no convenient place to lay out your beach towel.

Glorious Southport

Red Rum is an icon in the town due to his success at the Grand National in nearby Aintree

Southport Pier

Southport Marine Lake

…. but this is the beach, not so glamorous!

Nesting on Southport Beach

Blackpool Tower and the ‘Big One’ ride in the distance
At the start of our walk – Southport Pier

We started our walk along the promenade but, as there was such heavy traffic, we opted for a path at the foot of the beach wall – obviously avoiding the mud. After Thursday’s shenanigans we weren’t going to risk that again. As we neared the RSPB Marine Nature Reserve, the path underfoot started to get softer so we made our way back up onto the safe promenade, which seemed to stretch ahead for miles. There was a large gathering of twitchers at the Ribble Estuary with their oversized zoom lenses, tripods and binoculars – all the gear! Their guide was ‘guiding’ them to something flying near Blackpool Tower – the magnification on their equipment must have been phenomenal. They were a very friendly bunch and seemed animated in their activities.

A ‘gaggle’ of twitchers.

And we came upon keen birdwatchers over the whole of today’s walk – it was obviously an important area for ornithologists. Steve tried to capture some of this in his fabulous photos.

Finally the coastal path veered off the promenade and onto a section of sea defence wall … an extremely long section – it stretched for miles, never-ending. But beautiful surroundings on what was a stunning day – farmland on one side, mud flats on the other, visions of Lytham St. Anne’s to the left and the spectacular Lake District mountains in the distance. After an hour or so of walking this stretch, we could see the turn off point ahead …. but it was like someone kept moving it – it took forever!

A bird hide … with a glimpse of the Lake District mountains in the distance

Never-ending sea defence wall

Brussel Sprouts in soggy mud

Some healthy looking cabbages

Nearing the end of the sea defence wall walking, reaching Hesketh Bank

Now, when we parked the car in the village of Hesketh Bank village, we imagined that it was just a small place … the thought process was that we would reach the end of the coastal path and there the car would be. Imagine our surprise then when we realised that we still had a couple of miles to walk to get back to our vehicle and take the weight of our legs! So that brought today’s walk up to 10 and a half miles – those final miles seemed to be the hardest for some reason.

Lots of farms along the route and we saw signs of early Spring – a flock of lambs (already), daffodils about to pop and snowdrops in full bloom.

But most importantly, Steve was overjoyed to soak up the smell of cut grass – we passed several newly mown lawns … now Steve is twitching to get back to mow stripes into his beloved lawn – any offers!!?

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