Day 18

Sun 18 Oct:  Flint to Southport, via West Kirby, Hoylake, New Brighton and the Mersey Ferry

Returned last night to Flint Lifeboat Station, the point I stopped pedalling three days earlier, now with the fully serviced, sparkling Fondo. Ready for the next link in the intended unbroken chain of day rides around the coast. An early night after another fine Welsh fish&chip supper. The last before crossing the border tomorrow.

The sound of the Curlew at dusk or dawn on an otherwise silent estuary has to be one of the most atmospheric, wonderful sounds. Just as good here this morning on the River Dee estuary as it was recently on the Menai Straits and on Anglesey’s Four Mile Bridge ‘inland sea’ fifty years ago.

My first thanks of the day go to Allan, Flint LOM, for the use of your crew’s facilities and to Bill (mech) for turning up with fresh orange juice and a BLT! Allan, current National Road Race Champ (senior category) kindly accompanied (guided) me today on his race training bike for the first 16 miles before turning back. He couldn’t keep up. Well, he was carrying a heavy mobile phone and a key. Sorry Allan. Truth is, you were great company and it probably was tiresome having to match my steady touring pace.

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All quiet on the West Kirby front ILB Station but neighbouring Hoylake ALB was positively buzzing with life. A new record: at least 8 crew in attendance, including James Lodder, Chairman of both W Kirby and Hoylake. What a great bunch. A privilege to meet you on your regular Sunday morning gathering. Thanks Andy D, Richard M, David D, Howard O, Nigel M, Alistair M and Robbie L.

On to New Brighton, via the very busy Wirral Way with lots of walkers and an awful lot of dogs on those lethal extending leads. A few near misses and one minor incident. It’s supposed to be a National Cycle Route!

Sadly, I missed the New Brighton crew’s morning exercise with the hovercraft. They don’t keep it in a boat house. It has a hangar. They’d had their fun & gone home for Sunday lunch. Quite right, just jealous. Thanks Vicky (rnli vol.) for signing my chart.

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Hey, I’ve done it! I’ve been on the Ferry, across The Mersey, with the ghost of Gerry Marsden in my ears (on the Tannoy) as we docked in front of the Liver Building. A tear in my eye? No, but yet more coffee spilled down the front of my once white RNLI T-Shirt as I laughed helplessly at my hilarious new Scouse pal’s “sick of it all” thoughts on Liverpool’s reinvention as a tourist destination. I need to go back there soon.

Reached Southport (a compact, up market resort) in time for a rare overnight treat in a small but perfect Hotel. Great meal at the local gastro pub. Two huge, tasty courses and a pint of good ale for £9.97. Why don’t we all move up here?

Day 19