Quintin Lake

As his an­kle re­cov­ers, Quintin’s coastal jour­ney gath­ers mo­men­tum while Black­pool Tower beckons

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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.

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