I would like to say it was an exciting day, that I had found fresh insights amongst the mundane, and in fact there are some lovely parts, such as the dunes at, but the reality was hard going. My feet, which seemed to grow stronger as I walked , which took each new hill with fresh vigour, fail against the monotonous flatness of the and . My ankles, the tendons across the front that lift the toe-end of your feet, were painful at the beginning of the day, screamed by the end and still hobbling-sore the morning after. I had thought this would be an easy stretch after , where I would make up time and distance, and maybe it is just the fatigue of daily walking catching up with me, especially the long day from to the .
The day started where the last day ended, at theat the far east end of . Whereas yesterday had been the port side of the , this morning it was the starboard side. Instead of the blue Transformer breaking out of the hull, this side was more a canvas of images, several with strong political overtones, on money and wealth. It is worth visiting on its own. Watch out for the blue and white ‘ ‘ and the pub opposite, another ‘ ‘, is open for food, but you have to go round the back, to the car park side, to get in, all the front doors are locked.
From there, the path follows the coast with mudflat to the right and ahead , where cranes are constructing wind turbine towers. From the train I have seen the turbine parts lying in endless lines in a vast fenced area on the foreshore, but on the dock itself are the towering cranes, one blue, one orange, to assemble the turbine sections, I assume to take out to sea and ‘drop’ into place. In the offshore wind farms in this area (small and far out to sea compared with the one planned for ), the turbines are supported on piles driven deep into the sand and mud that flows for miles out to sea from the and the .
On this piece of path the two points of excitement are a discarded tape measure and asign, shot through as air gun practice. I hope the marksman keeps a lookout for walkers, or rather I hope the marksman keeps a lookout and seeks to avoid hitting walkers.
In a tiny inlet before the harbour itself, maybe even the original, lie small fishing boats, in blue and orange to match the cranes behind, and then on the path broken plastic, also in blue and orange, as if the landscape had been painted in a limited palette or the football strip.
The path comes away from the foreshore whereblocks the way and follows the roadside, sometimes along the pavement, sometimes a few yards away. There is an alternative path that takes you a sightly longer, and I assume more scenic route through to , but I stick to the road route as I want to see the turbine field close to.
Just where the path joins the road is a pub,(originally called in ‘ ‘), which is, miraculously, open, but I decide to press on as I assume there will be beach caf&ecute;s later. However, only a short while on, opposite , I find – now a pub, café or restaurant I can pass by, but there is something about a road-side van, seeing the food cooked freshly in front of you, it is the ultimate cuisine.
As I eat one of ‘s breakfast baps (sausage, bacon, egg and black pudding) and drink my tea, I sit with some electricity board workers about to replace wiring where copper cabling has been stolen, a growing problem across the country in recent years. One of them chats a little about the walk, and the others talk about mountain biking along some of the trails at and downhill tracks amongst the flint hills to the west.
After, the road leads to , the ‘clear well’, where the well used to serve the village until the and was only shut off completely in . I pass one and at least four , all closed and residential or for sale. I note that one of them had an annexe, clearly built relatively recently, probably the last 20 years. I think of church repair and re-building discussions at my home in , and think again that the only church building that matters is the body of people, without them the remains are not holy, but simply empty.
Beyond, the next high point is the gas terminal at . The path takes a v-shaped path around a piece of empty ex-industrial land that I assume the path officer failed to negotiate access to, although the wording of signs suggest that this is work in progress, so maybe one day it will take a more direct route.
Although this part of the coast is not replete with obvious beauty spots,have worked hard installing well-designed cut metal information boards, exposing some of the long industrial and natural heritage of the area.
Rounding the hydra-like steel pipework of the gas terminal and set well away from the main complex, a tall tower with the distant roar of a pressure relief flame, the coast stretches due north through , past my first beach café (passed by as I was still full after ‘s breakfast), the tattered flag flying iconic of the decay of the great , and then on to itself. This is a turning point, both literally and because it signals the end of the and the start of the open sea.
The lighthouse on the point lies on a caldera-like cone of concrete far out on the sands, there being no rocks to sea on which to place it. It lies slightly to the west of the current , I assume where the land has shifted over the years. As I draw closer across the sand I realise that there is a figure looking out from near the light high on the tower, an iron man, , , watching out to the east, or maybe towards the .
I follow the path along the top of the beach, below the dunes of the nature reserve where endangered natterjack toads have been reintroduced, their breeding ponds protected by fences. ‘Endangered Predator’, the signs say, and I wonder aboutand whether he considered the environmental loss as he slaughtered a unique species.
Shortly after passing, which merits its own special bus stop, there is a sign announcing "Croeso, Welcome", to "The resort town of ", although clearly the administrative edge of , the town itself still far distant, the cliffs above, where I had walked three days ago, now beginning to loom and around the sea edge of the dunes, a red-roofed building occasionally appearing. The path through the dunes here is unclear at times, and I was trying to follow it rather than erode other parts of the sensitive environment, but eventually decided that if it were a problem they would sign more often, so just took a combination of the slightly more difficult (soft sand) path right by the sea edge, where waves broke against stone sea defences (the dunes would clearly like to move eastward towards the ), and easier trodden grass between the dunes. I saw no toads, but I think this area was pond-less and they are largely nocturnal.
Finally, the dunes and the once distant red-bricked building mark the east end of the long, which runs onwards into and . The building is a hotel, and I see a man pulling a wheelie suitcase and a sour-faced woman realising that the seafront hotel they had chosen is in fact a good mile from the centre of the town.
A man sits fishing, an image of patience, and I chat to a gentleman about cameras, walking and, after I mention that I am collecting partly for , cancer. He and his wife had lost two members of their family in the last year. Without rancour or self-pity he described weeks spent at the hospital waiting for the end, the simple courage of everyday people.
[completed April 2014]
After about half a mile of prom I get to the end ofwhere I had been just a few evenings before. I take some more photographs with the better light, but no selfies this time. It was after two and ‘s breakfast had begun to bed down, so I went into ‘ ‘, which seems appropriate.
Betweenand the prom just continues.
One of the floating cranes I had seen yesterday passes out at sea, looking rather like a powered oil rig, sections of wind turbines are stacked vertically ready to be lifted into place.
On the shore, on the outskirts of, there is an estate of those pitch-roofed pre-fabricated constructions that are midway between static caravan and bungalow. There is a four-foot wall to the same side and, where the tarmac prom path turns into the estate, huge metal gates to keep the sea water at bay. Nearby there is a sign entitled ‘ ” (the wood beneath the sea), about a drowned forest in the sea here.
The encroaching elements are not a new phenomenon, albeit accelerated by climate change. The lost land, the hoses struggling to protect themselves now, and the new turbines that will soon surround the coast, all linked.
I pass lidos and funfair rides, kiosks and cafés, but it is mid-May, well out of season for, and everything is closed.
Set back from the seafront are the lines of small hotels, B&Bs and apartments, many of which will be where thecast-outs have been placed. In the wide open I do not feel ill at ease, despite the warning I had been given, but I assume it is a few streets back, in the residential part of the town, where the streets are less safe.
However, . According to the web site it is not just the estate to the east which is at risk, but later parts of are below high tide level and depend on ageing sea defences. I’m not sure if this would give me confidence to buy a harbour view here.is trying to regenerate; at the far west end of town is the harbour and there is construction underway for a new marina and waterside apartments. Gentrification even for . Right next to the sign showing the new apartments under construction is one announcing the
The works on the harbour mean there is a small detour of the path, but soon I am back on, not really prom, but a concrete coastal path, with a substantial wall to stop the sea from flooding it. The tide is out and there is a wide sandy beach, so I walk along that for while, not entirely unconnected to a group of youths on the path and the warnings still at the back of my head.
Coming intothe first sight is acres of static caravans, all clearly below sea level. Through the fence at the edge of the site I see a tiny children’s fun fair, dragon and pirate silent in the evening air.
Although the map shows the path continuing along the seashore, the guide arrows send me crossing the railway line and across through the caravan site, so I enteralong the main road. It is clearly run down as some seaside areas are, but with a different air. It was evidently never a big funfairs and B&Bs holiday resort, and caravan sites have stood the test of time better than seaside guest houses.
I arrive at the station ‘‘ just in time for the 18:05; if I had missed it there would have been an hour and half to wait and I would have been forced to have a pint or two in the local pub, which would have been tough.