Greetings Fellow Adventurers!
Today saw us completing the last leg of the Dee Estuary. In true quest form, we had the endurance test of the heat, but with some shade and the coastal breeze we just about coped.
For most of the walks on this holiday, we were following the Welsh Coastal Path (WCP) – a long distance route that runs around the whole of Wales. Generally the paths are very good and the route marking is excellent.
Following the WCP, we had plenty of chance to enjoy the views of the estuary and the local wildlife. There were plenty of Gulls, Oyster Catchers, Egrets and other birds to keep us busy. All the while looking back down the Dee to where we’d been a few days before.
After a while we passed a small fishing port where the Cocklers ply their trade using techniques that have hardly changed over the centuries (Although I suspect modern boats, GPS and radar might have improved their chances).
Further along, with the sun beating overhead – we reached a very interesting sight indeed. A cruise liner dry-docked and seemingly abandoned in the middle of nowhere.
The ship happens to be the ‘TSS Duke of Lancaster’ – built in 1956 by Harland and Wolff (yes the same company that built Titanic!). She was among the last passenger-only steamers built for British Railways and operated as a ‘Silver Service’ passenger-ferry and cruise ship throughout Europe. She was later refitted with a modified deck and stern door to operate as a car ferry.
She was retired in 1979 and bought by a local company that brought her here. They opened it as the ‘Funship’ with shops and a planned hotel, but alas, due to issues with a low bridge blocking emergency vehicles and other unsolvable planning issues, the owners walked away and left it to rot. There were plans last year to open it as a ‘Zombie tour’ venue, but that has since fallen through too. Her fate at the moment seems a bit uncertain.
Maddie was very taken with the ship and we all felt a bit sad about her present condition – it seemed a rather poor end to a grand old lady. M’s very keen on raising money to buy it and restore it. Good luck to her is all I say, that is indeed a worthwhile ambition. After we managed to tear her away (and our Son Nathan away from the off-shore wind-farms).
Afterwards we carried on up the path to complete this leg of our walk. Goodbye to the Dee Estuary – onward to Rhyl and the wilds of Northwales!
Until tomorrow my Friends!