Thursday, 21 February 2013

No 11 Sefton coastal path

Actually not all of it as I had to make it circular to get back to the car. I supose I could have used the train to make a linea run work but I also wanted to do what I thought would be the best bits ie. chop off a bit at both ends.
Start of the Trans pennine Way
It was cold but sunny as I set off along the sea shore at Southport with the sun beating down on Lytham across the estuary.
I stayed off the tramac for as long as I could but was eventually forced up onto the prom by wet sand. It was a relief to get to the southern end of the prom and cut onto the grass again near Birkdale. All the little twisty turny up and down bits made me feel I was running fast and it was forgiving under foot. I got used to recognising the marker posts although there were a few other white topped posts that were for other paths too.

  After Ainsdale the route cuts behind Woodvale airfield and follows the railway line and the edge of the forest. It was a lovely grassy path and a real bonus not to be knee deep in mud or water (for now!). To avoid the golf course there was a big loop towards the sea through gorgeous woodland and lumpy vegetated dunes. Then just before the squirrel sanctuary I lost the posts for a bit and explored some very wild looking dunes.

 At least I could just run as the whim took me today - most of my previous visits have been for orienteering events where navigation has mattered much more! I arrived at the car park to find a micro wagon grinding coffee beans and making delicious smelling coffee. Not normally my choice mid run but I could not resist. It fueled me for the next stretch to Lifeboat Road and a little exploration on the boardwalk to the beach.

I ran far enough along the beach to see the wind turbines  gently circling and the Liverpool skyline in the distance. I had thought of continuing to see the Gormley statues but I had done 14 miles so it was time to turn back, the soft sand was beginning to take it's toll anyway. Somewhere north of the squirrels I lost the marker posts and just ran roughly north. How hard could it be so long as I kept the sea on my left?

It was not my best decision and the next few miles through or around the Ainsdale nature reserve were punishing. The paths were tiny and went up and down like a rollercoaster. I found some white topped posts to follow but they took me through huge icy puddles and then a lake. I was now soaked from the knees downwards, but clean. Just when I had really had enough and was planning a break out to the beach I spotted the top of Pontins holiday camp.

A short stretch on tarmac was almost a relief and then there was the lovely twisty grassy path again past Birkdale again. My pace by now was snail like so I stopped for some food just before Southport and the long straight stretch along the prom past the sailing club and golf courses back to the car. Another 28 miles completed and I was tired.

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