Like a miniature ghostly heron, a Little Egret shuffles around in the salt marsh near St Annes.
With its pure white feathers, black bill, long black legs, and massive yellow feet, it’s easy to spot – when not hiding in the reeds. During the breeding season it wears fancy plumes on its head and neck.
Little Egrets first bred in the UK in Dorset in 1996. Since then they’ve been on the move northwards and are now a common sight on the coasts of the UK.
They’re in evidence here in the North West, fishing in rock pools near Granny’s Bay, flying low along the edge of the estuary, lurking in the reeds and tall grasses.
It’s a striking, elegant bird.
Another fine October day for a walk far out to meet the sea. We follow the receding tide, leave St Annes Pier and the sandunes behind and join the promenade at Starr Gate.
Not far to go now
Harrowside Chippy has a bit of a reputation round these parts. Is it open at lunch time?
Up and over Harrowside Bridge a man hurries past clutching a white plastic carrier bag with a big blue fish on it. An unmistakeable aroma wafts in the air.
Yum! Sitting on a bench at the seaside tucking into freshly fried cod and chips with lashings of salt and vinegar. These are truly exceptional fish and chips.
Replete, the return journey is a bit of a plod. But F&C companion manages to burn off a few calories.
Look out Blackpool!
Later I ask a friend how far he’d walk to get fish and chips.
“I wouldn’t walk, ever! I’d drive.”
We walked a good 3-plus miles to relish freshly cooked fish and chips. Not only did we earn our just rewards we also had a fabulous walk that offered so much.
Mechanical swan lake
Harrowside Chippy is now a designated trekking destination with a fish and chip mission on the cards.
Shelducks and Winter Hill
Shelducks are back in Granny’s Bay. Distinctive, handsome-looking chunky ducks; bigger than a mallard, not as big as a Canada goose. Heads down, shovelling through the soft silt for tiny snails, worms and plants they occasionally stop, have a look around, tidy their feathers, and then back to more shovelling.
Shelducks and redshank
Fairhaven Lake and Granny’s Bay to Lytham Windmill is a regular favourite walk that’s never the same.
Autumn offers special pleasures. Big skies speckled with skeins of chattering geese on their way to wintering territory hang over the Ribble estuary.
Waders, waddlers, and a metal detector, sift the estuary’s rich pickings for their different treasures. Tractors and tethered fishing boats adjust position with the ebb and flow of the tide.
A crow stands on sentry duty. Lytham Windmill stands proud. I’ve reached my destination.
The return leg is like being on a completely different walk. The tide’s on its way. The light’s changed. Shelducks, en masse, have taken flight. Nothing stays the same.
41 miles of level walking, lock-free cruising, the Lancaster Canal wends its laid-back way linking Preston to Kendal.
We start at Salwick Aqueduct and walk north. The canal passes under the M55 and the vehicular drone reminds us that busy, noisy lives rattle along. Strangely it doesn’t spoil the walk.
Neither does it deter sky-dancing buzzards. A statuesque heron stands motionless at the water’s edge. Enormous dragonflies, too quick for a snapshot, zip in and out of velvety bulrushes. The unmistakeable iridescent plumage of a kingfisher flashes by; ducks and swans dabble; a moorhen scuttles into the safety of the undergrowth; cattle and sheep nibble lush grass.
Bright red hawthorn berries, the last wizened blackberries, and russet brown and orange hues of autumn remind us of what’s round the corner.
Farmers busy with harvest, fields full of maize, and evidence of a mechanical life.
Parlick and Wolf Fell loom ahead. Another walk for another day.
Parlick & Wolf Fell
A picnic and then it’s time to retrace our steps.
This really is an awesome amble on a fine October day.