It was a good day to start something – fresh blue sky, a rainwashed town, smell of new air. Reached the end of the pier, took a look around, and started walking towards Brighton. (But on this day aiming only to get as far as Ormskirk, where I live.)
The sea is famously distant from Southport, hovering beyond miles of sandflats, and I was expecting to write about the treacherous, shifting landscape – land, sea and sky hard to distinguish – unfixable like future memories (or something). But today the tide was in – so to stand at the end of what is ‘the second longest pier in Britain’ according to the official website, was to be standing out at sea. The territory at the foot of the pier has a name on the map – The Bog Breast – and further out there are ‘places’ called Bog Hole and Angry Brow – probably not named by the Tourism people. But I just saw sea, and a cloud standing above it…
As I set off, the pier was busy, the low sun rendering people as dark figures to my camera (reminding me of ‘A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many, I had not thought death had undone so many’):
(The motherlode of pictures is on Flickr, so I’ll only pick out a handful that interest me, like these two serendipitous signs:)
Saw the signs, and lots of other things, on a long hike around Ainsdale. After that I crossed the Moss, sometimes on the Trans Pennine Way, taking a few pics of water pooling in fields, making patterns that I fancied looked like runes or hexagrams.
Quite a long day, probably 12 miles in the end. I had expected to be on the Cheshire Lines (disused railway and now part of a long Euro-route), but when it came to it other routes always seemed more direct. I ended up surrounded by darkness, picking my way along lanes, navigating by the illuminated spire of Christ Church Aughton.
Distance: 13.5 miles approx