Wirral to Gretna, 250 miles approx.

Emerging from the Wallasey tunnel I was rather disappointed with Liverpool.  No flags, no bunting  and no useful signs.

I had looked forward to seeing some of the refurbished and restored grandeur of the city but a total absence of brown "local attraction" signs made it difficult. Ok, if I can't visit the sights then show me how to get out of town...  but a total absence of green National route signs made that difficult as well.

I did get lots of white signs, local signs of no use to anyone that has not lived in the city for at least 50 years. I found myself in a rather down-at-heel part. Noticing a sombre looking building with a big gateway that I could pull over into I headed for it, stopped and consulted my maps.

Someone suggested that I look at the sign above the gateway.

"Her Majesty's Prison Walton". 

Albert!  Hurry!  Make good our escape!

Finally escaping imminent incarceration we found Crosby, the leisure centre and it's much-needed loo. Crosby is Sand, lots of it, stretching to infinity or piled up in huge dunes. Next is Formby, a nice golf club - Royal Birkdale, and sand dunes. Then Southport, a lovely shopping street, very grand and elegant, and a beach, a sahara of a beach, lots of sand, little sea. Then inland to Preston and back westwards to the Fylde coast.

Lytham is sand. St Annes is sand.


St Annes. No sun, no sea but lots of sand.

Lytham and St Annes do share a nice golf course, Royal Lytham St Annes.  A pattern is developing, a cunning ploy.  If you have a seaside resort without any sea then distract attention from the non-existent marine by plonking a golf course down.

All is not lost however.

Just down the road there is that British seaside Icon, Blackpool, and Blackpool does have a sea.


The start of Blackpool from Lytham

I like Blackpool. I like it not as a place but as somewhere unashamedly brazen, tacky and cheap. Whatever it does it does it well and if it wants to be unashamedly tacky then it raises tackiness to an art form, making Rhyl and Prestatyn look mere amateurs. If it wants a big dipper then it has to be the biggest. If it wants an entertainment building, come in Blackpool tower, the tallest. Why have a pier when you can have three. Illuminations? The brightest and most famous. Promenade transport?  The iconic blackpool tram.

Blackpool is brash, bustling, boozy and bold. Love it or hate it what it does it does grandly and I love it, but not so much that I did not equally love getting out of it.

Tower and central pier

Sadly after Blackpool there is only a long, slow journey inland to the lovely city of Lancaster, then back along the north coast to Morecambe bay.

Lancaster is nice, lot's of history, a castle which used to be a slammer, nice shops.  But Lancaster is inland, not on the coast, I am not allowed to blather on about history and this is not sa good prison guide.  Time to leave for Morecambe bay.

The first part of the bay is hugely avoidable unless you really have a deep need to gaze admiringly at Heysham nuclear power station.

The second part, the town of Morecambe, is probably a little less attractive than the first. A promenade with a rather run-down feel to it, the treacherous sands of Morecambe bay, distant views of the lake district fells, that's about it.

Morecambe bay from Morecambe

Continuing along the coast there is the delightful little bayside village of Silverdale, at the head of the bay is Arnside, where the train line crosses the sands to Cumbria, then the road heads Southwards into Cumbria, the South Lakes peninsulars and the first town in Cumbria, Grange over sands.

Grange is a pleasant place, if you like sand.



Morecambe bay from the other side, Grange. The outline of the lake district fells breaking up the monotony of the sandscape!

Now, following the peninsular inwards, the town of Ulverston is reached. I had a happy camper when he saw the town was twinned with "Albert".  I never had the heart to tell him it was Albert, a town in France,

Next is the furness Peninsular. At the tip is the industrial town of Barrow in Furness and the submarine base. Before then though there are the twin islands of Roa and Piel.





The spit connecting Roa island. Hell of a place to park a boat!

Roa is connected to the mainland by a spit of land and piel lies just off the tip of Roa.

Piel has a castle, a rather ruined one, a pub and a king. 

The tradition is believed to have started as a mocking of the landing on Piel Island of Lambert Simnel. In the reign of Henry the seventh a number of pretenders to the throne popped up, including the notorious Perkins Warbeck. A lesser known pretender was Lambert, who pretended to be the Earl of Warwick and was supported by John de Pole of Lincoln who led a most hapless yorkist rebellion against Henry.

for some vague reason Lambert Simnel was pardoned and spent the rest of his days working in the Royal kitchens as a servant. However his landing has been remembered ever since in a mocking coronation of the King of Piel.

Today, traditionally, the king is the landlord of the ship inn and he is crowned by sitting in an ancient chair and being drenched by buckets of water poured over him. Sadly the pub, and island, is closed from October to Easter so I could only look and imagine.




Piel Island, the castle and pub.

Continuing round the Furness peninsular the road goes inland again before continuing up the west coast of Cumbria to the small town of Millom and the neighbouring coastal borough of Haverigg.

At this point I pulled over to check my map. 


Something about this section, I seem to have a penchant for prisons. Looking up at the sign in my "car Park" I noticed it said "HMP Haverigg".

Haverigg coastline, a short distance from the slammer!

A short distance up the coast there is the small harbour of Ravenglass. This was an important port in Roman times and was an extension of the fortified system stretching across what is now Cumbria and linking to Hadrians wall. The Romans had a fort here for 300 years.

Today it is the start point for the Ravenglass and Eskdale railway, a miniature railway line stretching into the heart of the Lake District.

Ravenglass harbour

Continuing North it starts to get industrialised reaching the towns of Whitehaven and Workington and just before Whitehaven the Nuclear processing facility of Sellafield.

Shortly before Sellafield is the north-western edge of England, St Bees head. The first real headland since leaving Llandudno and a most delightful small village at the foot.

St Bees was founded as a Norman Monastry and has stood for 900 years. It is also the starting point for the coast to coast walk finishing at Robin Hoods bay in Yorkshire.


St Bees head and the village of St Bees.

Whilst the main road now heads inland to connect to the major arterial North-South Highways a small road continues Northwards for another 11 miles. This road is now following the Solway Firth, the wide estuary seperating England from Scotland.

Solway firth

This is a bleak, wild landscape of sand dunes, treacherous esturial waters and flat inland marsh areas of protrected wildlife habitats. Finally after 11 miles the small town of Silloth is reached, the most northwestern in England and another ancient Roman settlement.




Silloth, the end of the western English coast.

It serves mostly as a coastal resort but for me it was the end of the road, or at least the end of the western coast of England.It is now necessary to follow the Solway firth inland, pass through the large town of Carlisle and head north to Gretna, scotland and the Dumfries and Galloway coastline.


Goodbye England. 

Hello Scotland.

Onwards McAlbert!


Next page: Section 7: The Solway Firth