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A visit to Skippool Creek

May 31, 2009

Tucked away in a bend in the Wyre estuary stands Skippool Creek.Close your eyes and you could be in a bend in the Mississippi in a scene that has little changed since the 1900’s.

Skippool Creek

Skippool Creek

It was first settled by the Saxons ,its name deriving from the Saxon word skiffs.

The area came to prominence in the 1700’s when it was the main port on the River Wyre before the development of Fleetwood.

Ships of up to 200 tonnes would unload cargoes from around the world with flax and cotton for the Lancashire mills.

It was also renowned as a centre for cockfighting as well as being a haunt for smugglers and press gangs looking for recruits for the Royal navy.

The opening of the railway to Fleetwood in 1840 quickly brought about the demise of the creek.

Today it stands rather like a time capsule for ocean travel,the wind rustling the leaves of the overhanging branches which cast a eery light across the boat yard.

Skippool Creek

Skippool Creek

There was little sound apart from the clanking of the metal masts and the lapping of the water against the salt marshes.

A line of wooden jetties extended into the water with wooden gangplanks leading to them.Some had planks missing,others buckled as you placed your feet on them.

Yet there was still pride in these individual wooden shacks.Keep out signs or health and safety notices warned trespassers away.Others had front doors firmly padlocked.

There was little activity.A sign advertised a boat for sale for £200.Looking at the boat,I doubted that it would survive even in the calm waters of the creek.Another sign asked for a good women with the stipulation that she should be able to cook,to clean and be able to gut fish.

“There is nowhere peaceful anymore”, said a voice. I looked up to see a rather dishevelled gentleman who dressed like a old sailor.His comment followed a speedboat racing out in the estuary sending wildlife flapping into the air.

Boat for Sale at Skippol Creek

Boat for Sale at Skippol Creek

“My house is on the flightpath to Blackpool airport” he said, “so I get disturbed at all hours.”

He pointed at one of the boats.”They’re doing that one up “,he said although it was difficult to see exactly what had been done to it.

He wandered off almost a quickly as he arrived.I walked back.The tide was going out and the evening sunshine was glistening off the newly revealed sandbanks.Two oyster catchers were probing the mud looking for food.

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