Date - 14th June 2020 Distance - 7.25 miles
Ascent -
Map - 286
Start point - Chapel Road, Hesketh Bank (SD 4374 2373)


Summits Achieved

No summits were reached on this walk



Allen strolled in and saw Southey and Tetley huddled over the laptop.

"What are you on with pals?", he asked.

"Looking at the pictures Dad took on the Brock valley and Beacon Fell walk", replied Southey.

"They have come out well, so there will be plenty for the story. That is once Dad has had time to edit them", went on Tetley.

"It was a super walk", said Allen. "I know we had done the Beacon Fell and Bleasdale sections before, but they were a nice repeat, and the parts in the Brock valley through the woodlands were just delightful."

"While visiting the Lake District has been off the agenda due to COVID-19, I have thoroughly enjoyed our explorations of Lancashire", enthused Tetley.

"I wonder if we might get to walk this weekend?", said Southey. He then quickly got the iPad and checked the weather. "Sunday is the best."

"Ooh tea" cheered Allen, going and getting the mugs and plates.

"Yes", said Shaun. "And I know what you are going to say." Then went on laughing, "I'm gasping for a cuppa." Then looking at Southey he said, "I heard your remark about a walk at the weekend and on that score I bring news."

"Tea and cake first though", implored Allen.

Grizzly laughed saying, "you are truly the arch cake stuffer and tea belly."

"Southey's not far behind", shot back Allen.

"True" responded Little Eric. Then he said, "the cake offering is chocolate caramel shortbread from me and Grizzly had made Chorley cakes again, as you were so complementary of his first effort."

So mugs charged and cakes on plates we tucked in with enthusiasm.

"I think the Chorley cakes are even better today", said Allen, with a look of ecstasy on his face.

"I agree", said Shaun.

"And your caramel shortbread is scrumptious too, Little Eric", said Tetley.

So having had our fill and our mugs refilled with steaming tea, Shaun gave us details of the proposed walk for Sunday. "It is another from the Lancashire book. We will start in Hesketh Bank and walk out and along the embankments near the rivers Ribble and Douglas. It will be a totally new area for us all, including Dad even if it is not very far from his home town Southport. As such it means that afterwards Dad can go and visit Uncle Keith, who he has not seen since mid March, due to the lockdown."

"Oh that will be great, both for Dad and Uncle Keith", cheered Grizzly. "So many people have been cut off from seeing loved ones due to COVID-19. Like Dad they must have found it very difficult at times."

Raising his mug, Little Eric said, "here's to Sunday."

"And to the best Dad in the world", added Southey.


The Walk

The drive was just under and hour, and Dad had said he planned to start the walk around 10:30.

So we made sure to be up and ready in good time.

"I'll lend a paw making the picnic", said Tetley.

"Thanks" replied Grizzly.

This done it was safely stowed in Allen's rucksack.

"I'm ready", called out Dad.

"OK", replied Shaun, as we dashed out and settled on the front passenger seat.

So off we went, Dad heading for the Bay Gateway link road, then on the M6 south.

"Which way is it after the motorway?, asked Little Eric.

"We skirt round Preston using the Tom Benson Way. Then along Strand Road and right up over the river and onto Golden Way, to leave this onto the Penwortham bypass that only opened at the end of last year. Then joining the A59 we keep on this until just after crossing Bank Bridge over the River Douglas. At the next set of traffic lights it is then right, first through Tarleton and Becconsall and on into Hesketh Bank."

So we chatted amongst ourselves as Dad drove along. Reaching the traffic lights, Shaun said, "basically straight on into Hesketh Bank, and when we see the church on the right, take the next left onto Chapel Road. This just a residential street so we will have to park in front of a house. We should go almost to its far end before doing so."

This accomplished Dad was soon ready. We had got settled in the rucksack, and then shouldering it he strode off.

Shaun instructed, "shortly we will come to the junction with Shore Road. There go a few yards right, and then take the wide track left past the buildings."

After the buildings we looked out over the flat landscape.

Grizzly gave us the benefit of his knowledge, saying, "this area, and much more as we will see when we drive to visit Uncle Keith later, is part of the huge market garden area of West Lancashire, where huge quantities of vegetables etc., are grown."

As Dad continued, this was evident from the vast fields either side.

Southey was helping Shaun today with the directions, saying, "we follow this track until crossing the deep ditch called Carr Heys Watercourse, then at the junction go left."

The track took us to Dib Road, where Southey instructed "turn right."

This narrow lane leads to Hesketh Lodge farm and then on to the RSPB car park for Hesketh Out Marsh reserve. There was a lot of noise of guns being fired, emanating from an area of woodland on the right.

Tetley pointed to a sign, saying, "this is Mere Brow Gun Dogs club."

"Phew", said Little Eric, putting his paws in his ears, "I'll be glad when we are past here."

The lane was edged with verdant verges. The grasses were tall and blowing gently in the breeze. Looking more closely, Allen said, "they are not all the same variety, as the flowers are different shapes. How about we include some pictures, which we can then ask our Hug flora experts Bracken and Moss to try and identify.

Later Grizzly said, "Bracken, Moss, Dad took some pictures of grasses. Do you think you can try and identify them for us."

"Hmm", said Moss, "there are over 10,000 different species of grasses, so quite honestly it is a bit of a tall order."

"However we will give it a go, but even with our knowledge we cannot guarantee 100% that our opinions are accurate."

They spent some time scruntinising the pictures and with some reference to the Internet, finally Moss said, "we think they are -

1. Top left - Creeping bentgrass
2. Top right - Wavy hair grass
3. Bottom left - Yorkshire Fog
4. Bottom right - Tufted hair grass

"Thank you pals", said Tetley. "We are so lucky to have hug members with such expertise."

Arriving at the car park, Shaun said, "although our route is right, the author suggests taking a short diversion left to the observation post on the top of the embankment."

From this there were fine views across the Ribble estuary, like this to BAE systems and aerodrome at Warton.

Dad recalled. "When I was working at Lytham, just before I retired, I remember seeing the Euro fighter aircraft taking off and landing, during its development stages."

"We are so happy you retired in 2001", said Tetley. "It meant we were able to do so many more walks over the years."

There was a seat here, Grizzly suggesting, "A good spot for our picture."

"And a good place to have lunch", said Allen, rubbing his tummy in anticipation."

"Oh yes", agreed Southey, as we formed a huddle.

After a while Dad said, "have you finished lads?"

"Yes", replied Little Eric. "Come on pals, time to settle in the rucksack again."

Striding out we returned to the car park and followed a track the soon led us onto the top of the embankment by this sculpture.

Looking closely, Grizzly said, "the bird represented is and arctic tern. The sculpture is called 'One Wing Amongst Many', marking the restoration of Hesketh Out Marsh East, funded by FCC Communities Foundation, 2016."

Arrow straight the embankment stretched out before us.

Hesketh Out Marsh was to our left with beyond that, but out of sight, the River Ribble. Eventually the embankment turned right now following the River Asland or Douglas. Again this was not clearly in view, but at one point Carr Hey Watercourse, that we had crossed early in the walk, emptied into the river. Southey commented, "the cow adds a bit to the picture."

In all we were to walk about 3 miles on the embankment. Tetley laughed, "makes that section from Bank End, on the walk from Glasson Dock seem so very short by comparison."

Seeing the sewerage works, Shaun said, "in another 500 yards the embankment will turn right again and a boat yard will be in view."

As we got closer he instructed, " we walk through the yard and along a lane to the road."

To quote the author of the walk, it was like stepping through some magic portal as now we were back in the familiar world of brick and tarmac.

At the end of the lane stands Becconsall Old Church.

"School time Grizzly?", said Little Eric.

"Yes pals. This is Becconsall Old Church, that stands on the site of a former chantry chapel that had been built in the 16th century as a private chapel of the Becconsall family. It was built in 1764 of handmade bricks that were supplied by Sir Thomas Hesketh, the lord of the manor. The porch at the west end was added during the 20th century. The church is dedicated to All Saints, but became redundant when a new church with the same dedication was built on a different site in 1926. After this, the old church was only used for funerals and for services on 'Old Church Sunday'. During the Second World War a bomb fell in the churchyard, damaging gravestones and causing minor damage to the exterior of the church, with shrapnel damage to the gravestones. By 1985 the church was in such a bad state of repair that it had to be closed. It was taken into the care of the Churches Conservation Trust in the 1990s. This charity carried out repairs and the church was reopened in 1995 for the Old Church Sunday services to be resumed."

Shaun instructed, "with the church at our back, we follow the street to Station Road and go right."

Just before the boat yard Dad had got into conversation with a local gentleman and mostly walked and chatted to him until we got the main church on Station Road. He recounted that his grandfather had been in the army in the First World War. His job had been to follow the troops into battle and decide of the wounded who would live or die. "How terrible a job was that", said Tetley.

He went into the churchyard to pay respects to friends who are buried there. Dad took this picture of the church for the story.

Once more Grizzly educated us. "This is All Saints church, and replaced Becconsall Old Church. It was designed by the Lancaster architect Henry Paley and built between 1925 and 1926. Plans had been made in 1923 for a church with a spire, but these were scaled back, and the planned spire was replaced by a tower with a saddleback roof. The tower was not built until 1935 having been designed by the same architect."

Returning to Station Road, Southey told us, "we go right then it is first left into Chapel Road to the car."

Striding along here, Little Eric suddenly called out, "look a post box. Last picture for our story, Dad."

"Thank you Dad once again for a lovely adventure", said Little Eric. "We are so so lucky."

"And thank you Grizzly for telling us about the churches", said Southey. "This adds so much more interest."

Now Dad went to see Uncle Keith. He was surprised and pleased to see him, as they had not met since the lockdown started. They spent a few hours together having a really good chat and catch-up. It did them both good to have the company.


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