I woke that morning to warm sun shining on the side of the van, and a quick peek through the curtains showed me blue sky and fluffy white clouds so it looked like it was going to be another nice day. The dogs were still asleep in their bed behind me so I lay for a while just savouring the peace and tranquility of the morning, the silence only punctuated by the occasional bleat of a sheep or the crow of the resident cockerel. Lying there with idle thoughts running through my head I was very tempted to drift back to sleep but the morning was too lovely to waste and the dogs would soon need to go out anyway. Once up and dressed I filled the kettle ready for breakfast, let the dogs out of the van, clipped their leads on and set off across the site - my route this time was a circular one along the lane, through the village and down the riverside path which lead back to the site. Back at the van I put the dogs' beds out on the grass and attached them both to their anchor so they could enjoy the sunshine while I had breakfast.
With tea and toast made I put my chair and small table outside the awning and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast while reading a magazine and watching the comings and goings of other site residents. It was so relaxing sitting idly in the sunshine that I briefly thought about staying there all day, but I'm not one for being idle for too long and I won't waste good weather if I can go out with the dogs somewhere, so I got out the map book to see where I could take them. I finally decided on Skippool Creek - it isn't marked on the map but I had once been told about it though never had the opportunity to go there before. Studying the map book had jogged my memory about it so that's where I decided we would go after lunch.
The drive to Skippool Creek was relatively simple - along the main road from the village in the direction of Blackpool, turn off and head for Fleetwood then turn off again and head for Thornton. The actual lane down to the creek is easy to miss though as even though it's signposted it's very narrow and the entry is partially obscured by a high hedge - I did miss it and had to drive half a mile or so further on before I found somewhere I could turn round safely and go back. A couple of hundred yards along, the lane widened out and I could see the beginning of the creek - or the end, depending on the direction of travel. At first it looked to be nothing more than an expanse of rough grass with a very narrow water-filled gulley running through it, but as I drove slowly along it widened out and there were yachts moored up at the many wooden jetties built out along the bank. Looking across to the far side it was obvious from the thick mud banks which lay between the grass and the water's edge that the creek was tidal, and I could imagine that 'low water' actually meant 'no water'.
A bit further on the lane widened out more and I could see a car park on my left so I pulled in there and parked up. After looking for a ticket machine and not finding one - the car park was obviously free - I released the dogs from the back of the van, clipped on their leads and set off to walk along the creek. I don't know how many boats were moored up there but there was a lot, so it looked like the creek was a very popular place.
Further on still the creek joined the main river estuary and the leisure craft gave way to fishing boats, many of which looked like they had seen better days - further on than that the lane ended in a wide concrete slipway leading down into the water, and the clubhouse and car park of a sailing club. The slipway was a hive of activity, with sailing boats being hauled out of the water on trailers and people in brightly coloured life jackets looking very busy - at first I thought that's where my walk would have to end but then I realised that the path continued behind the clubhouse so that's the way I went. Once I was away from the vicinity of the building I let the dogs off their leads so they could explore as they wanted and say hello to other dogs we met along the way.
Beyond the clubhouse the riverbank gradually widened out into an expanse of rough grass and there were many more fishing boats moored up at the ends of long jetties which stretched across it from the lane to the water's edge. Some of the boats had been moored about halfway along the sides of the jetties and were actually beached on the grass - it looked like it had been quite some time since there had been any water round them. Many of the boats were deserted, and being tilted on their sides made them look very forlorn and abandoned, but the hammering noise coming from one of them signified that probably some repair work was in progress. The last two boats were larger than the others and were beached further up the grass with large chocks to keep them upright - the grass had been fenced off into private 'gardens' and each plot had a shed, so it looked like both boats had permanent residents.
Leaving the boats behind, the path curved round to the right, with open fields on my left bordered by fences and hedges. Wooden bench seats were set at intervals alongside the path, a couple of them being occupied by walkers taking a breather and admiring the view, and another by three teenagers enjoying a picnic. Here the estuary widened out and the rough grass of the riverbank gave way to an expanse of saltmarsh interspersed by narrow water-filled gulleys, some of which lead down to the river itself.
Walking along with the dogs at my side I had no idea where the path would lead, only that I was heading in the direction of Fleetwood. Further along, and round a bend and up a slight incline, I came across a car park on my left and a sign on my right proclaiming the area to be the Wyre Estuary Country Park. Past the car park and round another slight bend and there was another car park with a slipway leading down to a wide channel off the main estuary - this seemed to be a popular place for water sports as the car park was full of vehicles and trailers, and in the water were several people wearing wet suits and zipping about on brightly coloured jet skis. Across the car park was an information centre and cafe, so I decided that this was to be my turn round point and I would stop for a brew before heading back the way I had come.
Outside the cafe were three large circular wooden tables with bench seats so I fastened the dogs' leads to one of these while I went inside, then with coffee and a slice of carrot cake on a tray I returned to sit at the table outside. This seemed to be a very popular place and it was very pleasant sitting in the sun, enjoying my snack and people watching. A couple of young children came and asked if they could stroke the dogs, and someone else's dog came to say hello to me. Eventually, with the coffee and cake finished and the tray returned to the counter, I released the dogs and made my way back across the car park, lingering for a while by the slipway and taking in my surroundings and the view. To my right across the estuary were gently sloping fields bordered by hedges and with farm buildings and houses dotted about, and in the far distance the hills of the Trough of Bowland. To my left, and across the far side of the car park, the path continued through countryside in the direction of Fleetwood, though the view was rather marred by the presence of the huge ICI chemical plant. Ahead of me, and a couple of miles in the distance, was Fleetwood itself, and I could just make out the stern of a large ship in the docks. The tide in the estuary was going out, quite rapidly it seemed, and the people with the jet skis were bringing them in and putting them on their trailers - what had previously been a wide, deep channel where they were having fun was now narrow, shallow, and had deep mud banks on each side.
My walk back to Skippool Creek was relatively uneventful, though I did encounter an odd coincidence. I got chatting to a couple who were walking their dog in the opposite direction, they said they often walked along there as they lived locally, but during the conversation it came out that they originated from my home town and had actually lived not that far from me. What a small world it is! After chatting for quite a while I continued on my way, back past the fishing boats, round by the sailing club and eventually arrived back at the van, then with Sophie and Sugar safely settled in the back I set off along the lane past the creek, out onto the main road and so back to the site. I don't know how far I had walked but it had been a lovely afternoon and it must have tired the dogs out as they never moved from their beds of all evening till it came time for their final late night walk round the site. And the combination of country air and sea air, and the peace and quiet of the site, guaranteed that when I went to bed myself I slept soundly all night.
- Hi! I'm Eunice and I live in Bolton, Lancashire, with my two dogs Sophie and Sugar and an assortment of cats - well it used to be Sophie and Sugar, now it's Sophie and Poppie. I first began camping back in 1997 when my then partner took me to Anglesey for my birthday weekend. We slept in the back of the car - a hatchback - using the cushions off the settee at home as a mattress, and cooked and brewed up on a single burner camping stove. The site was good, the views were great, the weather fantastic and I was completely hooked. Following that weekend we got a two-man tent and some proper accessories and returned to Anglesey two weeks later, then over time we progressed to a three-man tent followed by an old trailer tent, then a new trailer tent, a campervan and finally a caravan. When my partner decided that the grass was greener on the other side of the street - literally - in April 2009 and I suddenly found myself alone after fifteen years, I decided there was no way I was going to give up camping and caravanning if I could cope on my own. This blog is the story of my travels, trials and tribulations since becoming a solo camper - I hope you like it