Train to Southport. I have abandoned driving now as Public Transport is much more congenial. The coast fades away and I am walking the Ribble estuary. It is relatively recently reclaimed by sea grass, and very pleasant walking, even if the rain is trying unsuccessfully to start
The map tells me that there is not any way I can walk the estuary, as I have to negotiate not only the Ribble , but also have to cross the Douglas which flows into the Ribble before I can cross the river at Preston, quite a trek. It’s time for a rule. I cant cross the river by any method bar foot or ferry , but I don’t have to follow the river as the first bridge is some 20 miles upstream. Whilst I have walked the Irwell, Mersey, Goyt and Tame, I ain’t walking every river as religiously as it isnt the point.
However, that gives me the opportunity to walk the farmland between Preston and Southport, and it has an eerie fenlike quality. Very flat, lots of dykes and the smell of the onions and other veg growing in the nurseries is very soothing.
The roads crossing this fenland are all “Meanygates”, for instance Middle Meanygate, Bolton’s Meanygate and Sword Meanygate.
A Meanygate turns out to be a contraction of Mainway Gate – ie main thoroughfare. They may have been toll roads, but they give a little bit of Norfolk in Lancashire
After crossing these, I come to the Douglas, it is wide for a tributary, it rises on Winter Hill, and was once navigable from Wigan to the Ribble, but the Leeds Liverpool superseded it.
Only 10 miles today, but the drizzle defeats me, and I catch the bus from Much Hoole to Preston to return home.