Saturday 7th September 2019
Blackpool is to Manchester as Brighton is to London.
Never having sampled the delights of Blackpool and being just a train ride away in Manchester it seemed rude not to grab an Off-Peak Return and have a day out at the seaside, especially as the weather forecast was for day-long sunshine.
Up, breakfasted, and at Manchester Piccadilly for 0930 to catch one of Northern's finest Class 319s, Which was not as busy as I'd expected for a Saturday though by no means empty. It was about an hour and a quarter's journey via Preston to Blackpool North station, which is about a 10 minute walk from the North Pier. Which is as good a place as any to start the experience that is Blackpool seafront.
One pier out of three done.
I walked south along the prom. There's no getting away from that tower is there? Though I baulked at the £25 they wanted in order to stand at the only point in town where you can't see it.
Or from the great expanse of sandy beach, something that Brighton cannot boast, being like so many south east England beaches, all shingle).
They still have donkeys on the beach too, I'm surprised that the animal rights campaigners haven't had them done away with by now.
Pier two, Central Pier, dominated by its ferris wheel and funfair.
Central Pier contrasts from the more genteel North Pier, the emphasis being on family fun. And it would appear drinking given the big "Family Bar" sign painted on the roof of the building on the pier's seaward end. I'll give that a miss.
Onward south past and being passed by Blackpool's famous trams and the pleasure beach to pier three.
South pier is the newest and shortest of the three, originally called Victoria Pier.
It's now largely a funfair and another family bar.
Outside were parked horse-drawn carriages designed solely to extract the contents of the wallets of fathers with small daughters.
It's also on a part of the sea front devoid of any public toilets as attested to by the graffiti on the council information signs and I was desperate for a piss so headed back towards the pleasure beach where there are conveniences hidden away at the back and unsignposted. Head for the car park behind the round building which contains Costa.
I walked back up the beach to Central Pier, then had a mooch around the town and bought sticks of Blackpool Rock because you have to really don't you?
I couldn't come to Blackpool without going on a tram either so took a ride all the way south to Starr Gate, next to the tram depot and at the quieter end of the seafront - if you discount a few fast military jets operating out of the nearby airport. The beach here is dotted with warning signs about the danger of being cut off by the incoming tide but I still saw a dog walker and two anglers leaving it a bit late and being surrounded by the slow advance of the water.
Blackpool was everything that I expected it to be and having returned to the north end of the prom I bought a fish supper and headed back to the station to get the train back to Manchester. A train that was rather noisy with parents who'd been knocking back the lager and the gin all afternoon and their small charges who by this time were over-tired and fractious. The joys of public transport.
Here's a Flickr Album from the day which contains rather a lot of photographs of that tower.