Sunday, July 21

Coach Trip to Cleveleys

Following on from our recent excursion to Southport, the Beardsmores and I are primed for another coach-based classic as the fun of the Fylde coast awaits. Our destination is the seaside town of Cleveleys, situated midway between Blackpool and Fleetwood, where we hope the fickle Lancashire weather will be kind to us...

- St Stephen's Primary -
Saturday 20th June 2019 and the sun is certainly out in Wolverhampton as I undertake an opening walk through Heath Town. The Harvest Temple is duly harvested photographically while Woden Road offers further items of interest, namely the local working men's club and various glimpses of St Stephen's Primary (a typical Victorian schoolhouse with separate boys and girls entrances). Meeting up with Stephen and John, we join the party setting forth from Holy Trinity Church at 8:30am sharp. 

- Mary's Shell -
The journey goes well, taking around two and a half hours before the coach drops us off by Cleveleys Promenade just on 11 o'clock. Whereas at Southport the tide seemed to be miles out, here the sea is hurrying in to the shore accompanied by a stiff breeze. A windswept wander along the beach means we can admire the public art trail, comprising sculptures such as an ogre's head and the metallic Mary's Shell, a very striking steely swirl. The promenade looks like it has benefited from considerable investment with stepped sea walls, cast concrete shelters and lighting shards - very impressive!

- Tram towards Fleetwood Ferry -
We walk as far as Rossall then turn back past the Jubilee Gardens to explore some of Cleveleys town centre. Victoria Road West is the main shopping street and contains a variety of stores from traditional holiday gift emporiums to cafes, takeaways and a few High Street names, all punctuated with pretty potted palm trees. We then pause at the tram stop, Cleveleys being a timing point on the famous Blackpool Tramway which runs between Starr Gate and Fleetwood Ferry. Unfortunately we didn't get chance to photo the heritage fleet whilst the modern tramcars look similar in design to those on the Midland Metro. 

- Victoria Hotel -
Continuing along Victoria Road West, we reach a landmark pub that we'd spotted from the coach earlier. Owned by Samuel Smith's of Tadcaster, the Victoria Hotel is a 1930s roadhouse with a regionally important interior - the large lounge makes quite a statement with Tudor-style fireplaces and bits of hanging tapestry. Brewery policy means the use of mobile phones and other electronic devices is strictly forbidden which seems a tad heavy-handed to me; we heed the warning however as we don't want to miss out on sampling some Old Brewery Bitter, a nice pint in a memorable setting. 

- Anchorsholme Artefact -
Lunch is obtained care of the Jolly Tars Wetherspoons, housed in a converted former Kwik Save supermarket and named after a performance troupe who used to entertain summer season holidaymakers back in the day. With brunches and gammon digested, we feel ready for another gusty bout of prom patrol by aiming for Anchorsholme. Blackpool Tower stands tall on the horizon as we spy a rusty anchor and inspect a shard sculpture commemorating Fylde shipwrecks over the centuries, among the most recent of which was the 'Riverdance' container ferry in January 2008. 

- Cleveleys Bus Station -
Returning to Cleveleys town centre, we happen upon the local bus station as positioned next to a B&M store and just over the road from the Royal British Legion. Regular routes calling at the interchange include the 7 (to St Anne's Square and Clifton Hospital) and the 9 (to Blackpool Queen Street via Bispham); the 24 meanwhile links Cleveleys with Fleetwood and Poulton-le-Fylde. Another feature to catch my eye nearby is Cleveleys WMC a.k.a. The Top Club with hints of Boddingtons branding. 

- A Dickens Drink -
Our choice for a closing drink is the Dickens, a sports bar that also overlooks the bus station. Here we can keep tabs on the Open Golf and the Netball World Cup while supping respective pints of Worthingtons, lemonade and blackcurrant or Timothy Tayor's Landlord; it's a lively place, busy more so with locals than with daytrippers. The coach is due to pick us up at 16:45 so there's still time for a final treat as we indulge in 'twist cone' ice creams apiece before the trundle home to Wolverhampton. The whole day had proved to be a perfect escape, you can't beat a bit of the seaside!

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