As his ankle recovers, Quintin’s coastal journey gathers momentum while Blackpool Tower beckons
The explorer hits the trails with his newly healed feet and camera
After seven weeks’ rest, the tendon injury in my foot is starting to heal, and I return tentatively
to the trail. Progress is slow, and rests are frequent, but feeling the cool sea breeze on my face again makes me feel like I’m home.
Fortunately the ground is flat, as my ankle feels like it’s lost strength after being encased for the previous weeks. I shuffle along like a geriatric insect with two trekking poles. It takes me four days to reach Preston, when previously it would have taken me one.
Yellow and pink ribbons flutter outside every house and shop and on every lamppost in the villages of Tarleton and Hesketh Bank, in honour of two local girls who were killed in the Manchester terrorist attack on 22nd May.
This is an alluvial plain: a flat, fertile landscape that’s bereft of dramatic photographic subjects. I concentrate on making balanced compositions of the neat furrows of salad crops. This is the domain of officious and incomprehensible signs: “No bicycles, no alcohol, no guns,” reads one. Walking from Lytham to the estates surrounding Blackpool is a startling contrast between the haves and the havenots: an experience I’m growing familiar with walking through coastal towns.
The clatter and intermittent scream of the rollercoaster marks the gateway to the centre of Blackpool. For the first time, I start to hear lots of Scottish accents.
As I wander along Blackpool prom, surrounded by palm-readers and shops selling lurid candy shapes, a man with eyes like saucers grabs my arm: “Take it easy, my friend – British Knights all the way, never **** with Mossad”. “Local idiot,” his beer-holding friend tells me with an apologetic grin. It’s 9am.
Tonight’s B&B (nowhere near the cheapest) in Blackpool is £17.50 a night, the finest blend of stinky feet and fry-up aroma inclusive. The town is a challenging subject for the camera, as everything is very visual but there is a chasm between the image and reality that is difficult to portray without making a value judgement.
Most hotels near where I’m staying are catering to the elderly. In one, live music plays; in another, I see a white-haired old man seemingly dancing alone by the bar. Next door, a dining room full of hunched figures studiously write down their bingo scores; and at the edge of it all is the great democratising sea, with all its eternal and profound connotations.
Just when Quintin needed a rest from the wind, he found this Hobbit
like shelter by the river Ribble.