It was a crazy idea, something only I would think of and actually go ahead and do it. I decided to walk 21 miles from Preston to Blackpool. I knew I was in trouble when I told my friend Liam about the idea.
Liam is a keen hiker and climber therefore any challenge suggested he will take. So, with the idea set I decided to make the journey by foot for the North West Variety Club charity.
The North West Variety Club help children in the North West with disabilities to have the quality of life they deserve. With this charity in mind we planned to make the journey on the Easter bank holiday Monday.
I was nervous. I got to Liam’s at around 8am. I surprisingly wasn’t tired and quite ready to get out into the sun. We set off at around 8:15am, walking past the Preston docks onwards to Freckleton, a small village that is home of the rich and country folk. We met a boar called Bruno which I found quite random and amusing. As we walked through the village we were shocked by the size of the houses (not to mention the men sweeping driveways and doing other chores for a small wage). I felt quite out of place in my leggings, hoodie and trainers.
We struggled for a good five minutes trying to find the next path, and as you can tell by the picture, you’ll know why. It’s a poor excuse for a public footpath and as we walked on, it became clear not many people dared to venture through the nettles and thorns. Residents had stashed bin bags and waste right along what was once a beautiful footpath. It’s amazing what people take for granted.
After struggling through, we got to a nice quiet part of Freckleton where I began to question where we were allowed to go as the public footpath went straight through people’s gardens. After passing through gardens, a yard full of old boats and junk, we made it to open fields where shade from the warming sun was scarce.
We finally made it to the edge of the bank after resting on a bench which looked out to where two rivers met to make one and then go out to sea. I know one of the rivers was the River Ribble but have no idea about the other one but the view was amazing. We even had a laugh at the two narrow boats trying to fight against the current…and failing.
We carried on up to an areodrome which took ages to pass as it was so big. We were greeted by a sign which made me a little nervous: “GUN RANGE AHEAD.”
We stopped for lunch by a swing which was made by some teenagers (assuming). It was made with a plank of wood and cable wire. I thought it was impressive and tried having a go on it but was beginning to feel the affects of the walk (we were about half way now) that I was unable to stay on for long before Liam had to save me before I fell off.
As we made our way, we could see Lytham St Annes in the distance which lifted my spirits even if it seemed as though it was moving further and further away.
When we finally entered Lytham St Annes, we caught our breath admiring the view out to sea. We briefly met Liam’s friends Jon and Flo (who did not walk may I add) before setting off again. At this point the pain was becoming unbearable and I was beginning to doubt my ability to do the rest of the walk. The breaks became frequent and the complaints were starting to get on Liam’s nerves. I am one of those people who will finish something once started. This was not going to be an exception.
Lytham felt like a forever winding road, walking past heaven’s waiting rooms along the shoreline. We decided to walk up some sand dunes to make the walk a bit more interesting and almost cried when I saw what was in the distance…PLEASURE BEACH! This image was stuck in my head and gave me strength to carry on and finish the challenge.
After another long stretch of road, we finally made it to the Blackpool electronic sign, which wasn’t working. As we entered the famous seaside town, it became apparent it had lost it’s appeal over the years. For about 30 minutes we saw very few people. This ghost town was an industrial bomb site waiting for someone to save it from fading away into the night and get forgotten. After hearing my grandparents saying what great holidays they had in the past in Blackpool, this was a sight for sore eyes.
At this point I wasn’t walking, more like scuffing the soles of my trainers into the ground with a great cloud looming over my head and a temper ready to blow. Sun burnt, chapped lips and feeling every blister rub against my shoes, I was ready to give up.
Me and Liam felt it was time to get our reward of Fish and Chips. Anyone who has ever been to Blackpool knows every chip shop is only there to cater for the drunk. Run down and dull fish and chip shops line the sea front but any excuse to sit down, we chose one and ordered. The food reflected the shop.
We knew it was a mistake sitting down the second we got up. Our legs had locked themselves and walking to the tower, our finishing point, was the hardest point of the journey. We became deluded and began laughing at this woman who was dressed in a revealing dress and shoes which were (brace yourself), canary yellow.
We made it in case you were wondering. Just about anyway. Our next challenge was to find the train station. At this point I was in tears which were hidden by my sunglasses, but the pain was so bad, I didn’t care if people stared. I was done.
That night I slept like a baby but went to university walking like someone who had an accident in the knicker department. I have so far raised £75 out of the £200 I am hoping to raise. In telling my story of determination and agony, I hope to reach my target. Please go to http://www.justgiving.com/naomi-havergal to donate what you can for the North West Variety Club. Thank you.
Please vote for me to be Miss Preston 2011 by texting: PR11 to 84205 (texts are 60p + standard rate.)