Day 20

Tue 20 Oct:  Fleetwood to Barrow in Furness, via Morecambe

Under normal circumstances, missing the boat means just that. Either figuratively speaking or actually missing a scheduled sailing. Today I missed the 8.30 ferry from Fleetwood across the Wyre estuary to Knott End by just 3mins. But then, I didn’t! The Ferryman at the helm saw a crushed looking lone cyclist on the quay and immediately swung the boat around and came back for me. It turns out he’s also one of the crew on the Fleetwood Lifeboat and had heard I was intending to cross this morning.

Sometimes, special treatment can be a bit embarrassing but on this occasion I was just humbly grateful (sounds like a very old album I have somewhere). Thanks chaps, for another free ferry passage. Knott End and it’s Ferry Slipway was the subject of a number of paintings by local Lancashire artist LS Lowry. There now stands a very impressive Matchstick Man and His Dog sculpture, a tribute to Lowry at the top of the slipway. The grey, low light was quite atmospheric and maybe appropriate to some of Lowry’s work but this made it difficult to photograph this morning. Click here to see some stunning professional images and more information on this piece.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Another stroke of luck: a fellow cyclist caught me assaulting my failing Garmin and stopped to offer assistance. He put me straight on to the traffic-free cycle route (another ex-railway line, so we do have something to thank you for, Dr Beeching) into Lancaster, over the striking River Lune Millennium Bridge, then all the way to Morecombe promenade close to the RNLI’s combined hovercraft hangar/boathouse. RNLI Shop volunteers Sally&Jill proudly allowed me a wee peek at their lovely pair of rescue craft but they wouldn’t let me take the Hurley Flyer out onto the vast expanse of soft wet sand. One day, I MUST have a go on a real, modern version of the amazing Christopher Cockerell invention.

The lovely ladies tried to console me by making me a cup of coffee. A smile did return to my face further down Morecambe prom. A moment with the late, great Eric. Thank you so much Eric. You and the short, fat, hairy one made me cry with laughter more than once upon a time. You almost brought a tear to the eye again today, as we stood together on your home town promenade.  Another first for me and another place to revisit one day. I do like Morecambe.

A long haul to Barrow in Furness. I actually enjoyed having some big climbs to struggle up and belt down, through some beautiful Cumbrian scenery, passing many familiar Lakeland place names on signs pointing in-land.  Barrow’s must be the most exposed, bleak approach to a Lifeboat Station to date. I wouldn’t fancy that long walk along the narrow pier on a stormy winter shout. Thanks Paul (Barrow RNLI mechanic) for the local info, tips&advice and making an up to date electronic copy of my increasingly battered but valued progress chart. “Just in case.”

Just in case what?

Day 21