Collecting in aid of
Day 2 -
Saturday morning arrives and even after sharing a double bed with Alex and Ruth I still feel refreshed, excited and full of enthusiasm for the day ahead. 5 more piers today and another long slog to finish in Kilmarnock, but at least the weather gods were smiling.
However Tony Krug had texted saying he was now going to meet us at Southport as the weather in his neck of the woods near the Dales was pretty bad with heavy rain and strong winds. But I did take the opportunity to ask if he had any spare gloves.
An 8:30 start was on the books and whilst loading the car I spot three things. The restaurant next door didn’t open until 9 so breakfast would be on the road, Dav Michell was sat on the car park in his sparkly blue Rat to join us for the day and a large oil slick coming from behind Hazel’s buggy.
Thankfully it turned out Hazel’s issue was simply due to parking on an angle and overfilling the engine with oil. So off to the first petrol stop of the day (only 15 minutes behind schedule, getting better) until Dav comments that the one we planned for was closed. Dav duly leads us to another one nearby and once all fuelled up we are off to our first pier at Southport.
Now how should we cross the Mersy? Easy – hit the tunnel. The Mersey tunnel took over 5 minutes to pass through with a junction in the middle. It was like a mad game of OUTRUN.
It was now about 2:30pm and we had to get to Kilmarnock for the night stop . Pat said he would show us to the petrol stop in Poulton Le Fylde and headed off from the pier front with Tony and Dav in tow.
As we were about to set off Hazel revved up and something metallic shot out the back of her buggy. Once again, feeling bad about having no time to stop George and myself had no option but to hit the road and leave Hazel to sort herself out.
We would meet up with Hazel once more on Day 10 where we found out she had thankfully repaired the buggy and successfully made it back home later in the day.
A quick stop for fuel on the outskirts of Blackpool and many goodbyes later, for the first time since we started the challenge, we were now cruising on our own. Just 190 miles or so heading north left today without having to worry about piers for a while.
Our route took us up through the beautiful Lake District. Thankfully the road that had been lost into Lake Windermere during the winter floods had now been repaired. The weather was still being kind, giving us chance to cruise open top through this wonderful part of the country.
We were now running about 1 hour late and the time was around 4:30pm. After passing through Ambleside, George suddenly gestures to me and makes a sudden U-
We quickly headed back to Ambleside Pier and the pier café which has a paddle steamer moored up alongside it. This became our informal 58th pier of the 57 Pier Pressure challenge. We decided to stop for some afternoon tiffin and tea. After a frantic 2 days it was a nice welcome and relaxed stop, before we realised it was now 5:30pm and we still have the best part of 150 miles to go.!!
Heading back to the buggies on the car park we meet a Scotish guy who wanders over and utters the words ‘I have got one of these’. Now those long in the tooth buggy owners know this statement could mean anything from ‘I have a mobility scooter’ to ‘I have a jeep’ – normally followed by ‘Is it a GP?’
After a bit of conversation the guy asked if I had brought my kit from the Doon company and when I said no I designed the Doon, he said ‘are you Chad?’. Turns out he did in fact have one of my Doon buggies and had brought the kit off me some 8 years ago. Ray McKay lives up in Kilbarchan but was on holiday in the lakes at that very time – small small world.
We leave Ambleside and take a drive up the truly amazing A591 through Keswick. I know its good from the massive grin on George’s face in the mirror as will pull up at the junction with A595 as we leave the national park.
PIER 6 -
We arrive at Southport with no incident and we are dry but quite cold; my hands are suffering again from no gloves. Dav contacts Tony, who has son Arron and Dave with him. They have gone from a drive down the promenade as they were getting cold waiting for us. We also meet up with Rich and Sarah -
We take our pier and number pictures almost on the deck boards before parking up in the pre-
Soon we hear the burble of a V8 and along swings Pat Masters in his High rise Koyote II, complete with its swinging genitalia, quickly followed by Tony, Arron and Dave. Much to my delight Tony furnishes me with a pair of large welding type gloves and Dave gives us a pair of woolly type gloves
All too quickly it’s time to hit the road and off we pop to St Anne’s pier, but not unitl we have to bump start Dave across the promenade. This part of the trip unfortunately meant passing through Preston and its endless traffic lights. On the way out it soon becomes obvious we had lost Pat, Tony, Arron, Dav and Dave.
Top Gear rules apply so on we go until we find ourselves caught right in the middle of a huge and busy 1940’s day in Lytham St Anne’s surrounded by army folk and war time vehicles. By now Dav has caught us up but with no sign of the others. It turns out Dave was having issues and Dav had been sent ahead to warn us.
PIER 7 -
St Anne’s pier is a lovely unspoilt pier and we get permission to pull up right outside. The nice lady in the café not only fills our thermos mugs up with tea but also makes a healthy donation to our rattle cans. It appears all these pier folk are genuinely nice and welcoming.
The Pressure Crew along with Hazel and Dav are just about to head off when the others appear with Pat towing Dave into the car park. Unfortunately it’s looking terminal, so we push Dave into a parking space and leave him to phone recovery – Top Gear rules. A quick squeeze down the side of the pier for one last photo and off we head for the madness that is Blackpool.
Halkyn to Kilmarnock -
it’s the BIG ONE, The Tower, Vintage Trams, Illuminations, Stags and Hens dressed stupidly and throwing up in the street – we must be in Blackpool.
Now some love and some hate Blackpool. I have family in Fylde and spent many a memorable week there in my childhood, so I really do love all the theme parky, tackiness, kiss me quickness of it all.
The last time I was in Blackpool in a buggy was at Pat Masters wedding some 18 years ago, so it was good once more to be cruising down a packed sea front, on a Saturday in August, leading a group of beach buggies.
PIER 8 -
Blackpool was unique on the trip in that there are three piers all within a mile and half of each other. We knew it would be busy and with the added complications of tram tracks, wide promenades and hoards of holiday makers We had decided to spend a short while at both the South and Central Piers where there was less space and then stop for lunch at North Pier.
First stop was South Pier. I did have permission from the owners of all three Blackpool Piers to pull up outside but we had failed (not without constant trying) to contact the guy at the council who allows you to cross the tram tracks. Undeterred, we crossed the tram tracks and pulled up right outside South Pier.
So a quick photo stop and 10 minutes of collection tin shaking and we headed off to Central Pier.
PIER 9 -
Again we jumped across the tram tracks right to the front of Central Pier.
This time there was little room between the tram tracks and the pier front, so Pat had at least 6 inches between the front of his buggy and the passing trams. We really did restrict the time we stayed at Central Pier as we were aware it wasn’t the best of places to park and as we needed to finish the day in Kilmarnock, any time we could save now would help later in the day.
Next it was off to North Pier, just a short trundle up the sea front. This time Pat pulled out in front of the traffic lights and a Police car to block the traffic for us to get out.
The coppers took in all in good humour and I suspect they are well acquainted with Pat and his many forms of mad vehicles he has run around the streets of Blackpool for the past few years (Including a road legal speed boat !!).
A quick stop to get the obligatory Blackpool Tower photo, before we head to our last stop in Blackpool -
PIER 10 -
As we arrived at the North Pier The café owner from the pier came running over and quickly warned us of the keenness of the traffic wardens in the area but was soon calmed once we said we had permission (well we would have had permission if we could have actually spoken to the council bloke – don’t tell the others, what they don’t know won’t hurt them).
A nice relaxed hour with sausage and chips for lunch and all too soon it was time to head further north and leave the madness of Blackpool in our rear view mirrors. For me North Pier was the nicest pf the Blackpool Pier and being slightly our of the main centre had suffered less from the intrusion of amusement arcade frontages and florescent tacky billboards.
We leave Ambleside and take a drive up the truly amazing A591 through Kendal. I know its good from the massive grin that’s appeared on George’s face in my rear view mirror as will pull up at the junction with A595 on the northern edge of the Lake District.
We are now well into the early ebvening as we pass through Carlisle and onto Gretna Green, where we pass into Scotland. Today we started in Wales, passed through England and have now entered Scotland.
We keep putting mile after mile under our wheels before stopping in Dumfries for a quick splash of fuel. Even at this early stage we are both averaging around 35 mpg – not bad for a pair of old beetle air-
Now its just a final 60 mile blast left up to our stop for the night. The roads are empty and the light Is starting to fade, but the strange thing is we pass through a number of Scottish villages in which there are loads of cars but no people and no lights on in the houses. In fact it is quite creepy. The only place we actually see people is in the local cemetery.
The weather stays dry but not that warm. My hands are once again freezing as Alex has stolen Tony Krug’s big gloves and Ruth has stolen the fleecy pair. I really must find some leather driving gloves.
In the last light of the day we finally reach the Travelodge in Kilmarnock around 9:30pm with some 278 miles travelled today.
We are now feeling truly tired and hungry. Unfortunately the only food available is from the 24 hour McD's or the late night subway in the BP Station next door. We opt for a nice 6 inch which we eat in our rooms.
At least tonight we all have a bed each with Ruth sharing a double with Alex and George and Myself sharing a twin. We all take a little time winding down, having our customary cup of tea, downloading pictures and GoPro film, catching up on social media, setting the satnav for the next days trip and catching up with the Olympics on the TV.
Tomorrow is one I am really looking forward to with the promise of Scottish islands, more beautiful scenery, Edingburgh and 2 new piers, the only Scottish ones on our trip.