The Wyre Estuary is the last stretch of the River Wyre, A river that begins in the hills of The Forest of Bowland at Abbeystead. After passing through by Garstang and through St Michael’s on Wyre it then becomes an estuary all the way to where it meets the open sea on the Fylde Coast, with Fleetwood and Knott End on either side of the estuary.
The River Wyre is the only major river within Lancashire that is wholly within the county. Other major rivers for example are The River Lune that begins in Cumbria plus The River Ribble that starts in Yorkshire.
During my year living near the top end of the Fylde Coast, the Wyre Estuary has become the scene for so many of my local walks. I have walked along its banks on both sides and spent many a day getting in amongst the mud that comes with a big tidal estuary. Malc sure does love finding mud.
Changing With The Tides
An estuary like this is affected by the tides of the sea right at the end of the river. The river runs down and out to sea, but the tide brings salt water inland. The point where the tide effect ends is as far back as St Micheal’s on Wyre. This creates diversity in plants and animal species to be found all along. Plants and grasses that can grow in fresh water combined with somewhat salted water.
When the tide is in the estuary floods up and looks huge and wide, especially with a really high, high tide. When the tide is out it looks bare, mud flats showing and a trickle of the river out in the middle.
Stanah and Skippool
The main destination for people visiting The Wyre Estuary is the country park at Stanah. There are many directions to head to from here on walks. A common one is the couple of miles up stream towards Skipool Creek and the old boats. It is hard to believe now but Skippool was once the epicentre of trade arriving in the area. It was the main harbour in the area as far back as the middle ages. It lost its status only when Fleetwood Port was born in the 1840s.
Fish and goods came from all over into Skippool Creek and Wardley’s Creek over the other side of the estuary. Poulton was the main town for everything on the Fylde Peninsular back then. This is before Blackpool and Fleetwood existed in their current forms remember.
Speaking of ships. Another destination for many photographers are the shipwrecks near Fleetwood Marsh. The rusting metal remnants of these boats are either surrounded by water at high tide or accessible on foot at low tide.
I can see why they make interesting photography subjects. The surroundings around here are wonderful whatever the weather.
With the drone you get a real sense of the lay of the land and the boats lying, sinking into the mud, slowly over the years. The tides changing the mud and grasses around them each day.
As for Fleetwood Marsh Nature Reserve itself. Well they have a separated area for wildlife and birds and normally you can explore the other half wonderfully and happily with dogs enjoying the water and trails. However the local authorities are making it a mission currently to make it as anti dog friendly as possible. They seem to be spending more time and money on that but the road to the marsh is literally falling apart plus it is one of the worst places for fly tipping in the area. So be careful if venturing there.
The Estuary Meets The Sea
If you are on the western side of the estuary you will meet the sea at Fleetwood. A place that was born in the first half of the 19th Century as a major port. It was a planned new town by Peter Hesketh-Fleetwood, a local landowner. It was to be the main town on the Fylde as way back then, Blackpool was just a little village with less than 3000 population, no sign of what it would become.
In those days there was no railway line from London to Scotland on the western line due to there being no railway up through the Lake District. The town of Fleetwood was built not just to take incoming sea trade but also as a hub where the railway north ended and boats took passengers onwards to Scotland from here.
On the front there is the fantastic looking, curved, North Euston Hotel, a hotel built for the travelling folk to stay after travelling by train from London Euston, hence why the hotel is called North Euston. After rest they could catch the boat to Scotland.
Alas not long after the town was finished. In the 1850s the railway line was built connecting Preston to Glasgow and Fleetwood began to fade before it really got going.
On the other side of the end of the Wyre Estuary is a much smaller place. Knott End. In fact the other side of the estuary is more small villages like Preesall, Hambleton etc. An area collectively known as Over Wyre.
It may be a small seaside place but it has some fame as The artist LS Lowry came often to visit in the 1940s and 1950s. In fact if you look at a lot of his paintings that have sea views, you will see they are done at Knott End.
Out To Sea
From these two towns the River Wyre ends and the open sea and coast awaits. The Fylde Coast, Rossall Point and beyond one way and Lancaster and Morecambe Bay the other. A beautiful coastline and area to discover. Great for walkers like me.