224. Immingham to Cleethorpes

July 2016

The coastline of Lincolnshire is not my favourite. To the south is the large estuary of the Wash, where most of the paths are raised sea banks, with marsh on one side and boring flat fields on the other. It is not the most varied. North of The Wash there are some nice beaches, as I found on the last couple of walks. However the north of the county has many areas of industry around the Humber and it’s that area I’ve reached on this walk, so this is largely an industrial walk.

However despite being an industrial walk, it was also to be my last in Lincolnshire (I’m not walking the coast in order, and had already done all the coast of Lincolnshire apart from this bit, including north of Immingham, though I have yet to write it up here).

I was starting this walk in Immingham and walking to Cleethorpes (so heading south). The reason for this is simple, most of the walk is through an area of heavy industry and only Cleethorpes (at the end) is a resort with a beach, and it seemed like a much nicer place to end the walk than surrounded by the industry of Immingham (which is not even on the coast, but as close as I can get).

I had booked train tickets for this walk a few months earlier in order to get a reasonable price. Immingham doesn’t have a station, so I had booked a single ticket from London to Grimsby Town station for £13.50 and another single from Grimsby Town to London for the return journey, also for £13.50.

So I set off from my local station, taking a train to London Waterloo, the tube to London Kings Cross. Then a train from there to Newark Northgate. From there I changed onto another train to Grimsby Town. Well when I say train, I actually mean a single carriage, because that was all that was provided! The train went first via Lincoln and was completely inadequate for the crowds wanting to use it (I was lucky in that at least I had got a seat, but many had to stand). At least beyond Lincoln there was a bit more space, but a single carriage train in 2016, really isn’t sufficient.

Still at least it got me there (and cheaply), and arrived at Grimsby on time. I had booked an additional “Plus Bus” ticket which I could use on the bus from Grimsby to Immingham (which I suspected would be cheaper than paying for the bus separately). As I had been to Grimsby before I found the correct place to wait for the bus this time. Checking the timetable, the next bus was due in 10 minutes. 10 minutes came and went, but no bus arrived. A few minutes after that a bus did arrive, but although it was the right route number, it wasn’t going as far as Immingham (it was turning short due to being so late). I was about to abandon my plans and take a bus to Cleethorpes instead (and do the walk in reverse), when a bus to Immingham finally arrived. I took this to Immingham and got off opposite the point I had finished another walk (not yet written up), which I had ended at Immingham.

Immingham largely grew as a town as a result of the building of the docks just to the north of the present town. The docks still exist today and are very much in use and part of a continuous strip of industry along the banks of the Humber. Unfortunately, it’s the presence of those docks that mean Immingham is where I’m starting today, because there is no access along the coast through the docks. The nearest the public can legally get is the A1173 around a mile inland, so that is where I’m heading and I have to follow this busy road to get around the docks.

Once off the bus and after a few minutes of faffing I headed off down the correct road, Pelham Road and even in the correct direction. Immingham is a run down town which seemed to have little going for it. On reaching the main road, Kings Road (also the A1173), I turned right. I passed houses initially but soon these gave way to run down industrial units on one side of the road. There was still a pavement but by now the majority of traffic was lorries. After a couple of isolated houses beyond the industrial units I had to cross the road as the pavement ended on my side of the road. There was however still a pavement on the other side of the road.

At the roundabout ahead I turned left (still along Kings Road). Helpfully the pavement continued down this road albeit now narrower, because there was still a lot of traffic. Rather than light industry, I was now approaching heavy industry although I was pleased that most of it seemed to be shut down for the weekend. The road soon turned to the right passing a railway freight yard on the left bearing the Deutsche Bahn logo, which seemed odd (I’m not in Germany, after all). I was back to light industry rather than heavy industry now on my left whilst on my right was a very run down set of houses. I could not work out if they were house, offices or abandoned, I suspect a mixture of all three!

Just beyond these was a modern looking factory/office building on the right which looked in rather better condition with some large letters spelling the company name placed individually beside the road. The road ahead began to rise as it approached the railway line and the the pavement ended. I ended up getting a wet foot when I walked through a large puddle beside the road that turned out to be deeper than expected. I now had to walk along the narrow littered grass verge to cross the railway where there was briefly a pavement again.

Thankfully as I headed over the other side of the bridge the road became wider as I approached the entrance to the Port of Immingham, a scrolling display extolling the virtues of this port – to no one in particular. Before the barriers into the port I turned right along Laporte Road, another road without a pavement. Things were beginning to improve as I now had woodland on my left. Near the end of the woodland I could – at last – leave the road and turn left on a bridlepath heading to the banks of the Humber (marked as Long Strip on the map). This was a pleasant walk initially through woodland and later with trees just on one side. At the end the path raised up to reach the concrete sea wall that acts as defence from the Humber.

The Humber at Immingham

The Humber near Immingham

This actually went to the left as well but looking at the map showed it would be a dead-end, with the harbour wall just ahead. So I turned right along the banks of the Humber.

The Humber near Immingham

There were numerous large boats out in the estuary including some DFDS ferries. To my left were the muddy waters of the Humber, but it was nearly high tide so at least it was mostly water not mud.

The Humber near Immingham

To my right was heavy industry and jetties, with more I could see ahead. I rounded a little creek and continued on beside the sea wall.

The sea wall here is wide, almost a road and with a lower path below, which is difficult to get along. There are wider parts with what I think are flood gates and the wall had graffiti at various intervals, but of the crude rather than artistic type. I continue ahead soon approaching a jetty and a large industrial complex beyond. This was an odd place with a sign warning that if the alarms sounded you were to leave the area immediately, but it was not clear how or where you were supposed to go!

The Humber near Immingham

There were some unpleasant smells coming from the factories too, and I was separated from them by two sets of high fences. I find it difficult to relax in places like this. Although on a right of way, it feels like you should not be here.. It also feels like the sort of area that attracts anti-social behaviour and with little access back to civilisation there is little you could do if something was to happen.

Beyond the first large industrial complex it sort of felt rural again since there were fields to my right, but surrounded by heavy industry I wondered what was grown here and whether it is safe to eat!

The Humber near Stallingborough

I was soon approaching more industry with a power station marked on the map a bit inland. This looked like a gas fired one to me but it looked like there were the disused remains of a coal fired one nearby too. There were a few people out fishing on some of the wider areas of the sea wall one with a car and one a motorbike, I suspected they had to drive along the footpaths to get here, which were wide enough for a car.

The Humber near Stallingborough

Soon the piece was shattered by a motorbike riding at speed on the sea wall path. Exactly the sort of thing I was unfortunately expecting in this area. Thankfully (and unusually) there was only one and it did not come back (I often find when you encounter motorbikes on footpaths like this, they ride up and down it several times). Beyond more industrial works ahead the footpath marked on the map was shown as ending, there was then a brief gap and a permissive cycle path shown along the rest of the sea wall.

Thankfully there was, as I hoped, continuous access along the sea wall, so it’s odd that the status of the path seems to change. (Subsequently, in more recent maps the path is now shown as continuous, so the maps must have been updated).

The Humber near Stallingborough

The Humber near Stallingborough

Ahead I was feeling a little nervous again because I had only seen a couple of fisherman, but I could see a single man ahead in a hooded top. He wasn’t walking a dog and had no bag with him and was walking slowly along the path and kept turning around to look back at me. What was he up to? I was suspicious. He was walking slowly and as I continued past more of the industry I could see I was soon going to catch up with him.

But as I got nearer he turned round and saw me getting closer and turned off and headed right down a road through the industry, still looking back at me. I am not sure what that was all about, but I was glad our paths were not going to cross!

The Humber near Grimsby

The Humber near Grimsby

The Humber near Grimsby

At the end of this permissive path I went past concrete bollards at the sewage works and was back on the public road at a place called Pyewipe (doesn’t sound too nice!). With mixed feelings, I had felt nervous throughout the sea wall path but at least I had the sea to my left. Now I was back walking on busy roads through industrial areas. Although I somehow felt safer with people around albeit in cars.

I was now approaching Grimsby Docks and followed the road heading south. To my left were many many new Toyota cars all lined up in neat lines, presumably imported and waiting to be delivered to garages to be sold. There were so many it did make me wonder how long they sit out here before heading to a garage.

I continued on the road (thankfully with a pavement) down to the busy A180. I was now on familiar territory as I had driven this road 2 weeks earlier for my previous walk. I followed the pavement around the left edge of the roundabout where it abruptly ended at the edge of the A180, here a dual carriageway. A path had been worn into the grass verge ahead but not knowing where it went I didn’t fancy following it, as I suspected it would abruptly end, leaving me to try and cross the dual carriageway.

Instead I crossed the roundabout. Easier said then done when you are crossing a dual carriageway at a roundabout as there is an almost constant stream of traffic round the roundabout none of whom are willing to stop and let you cross. I eventually made it across to the south side of the road and was pleased to see a proper pavement here and set a bit back from the edge of the road too, so I followed.

Soon however this pavement descended down, away from the main A180 to an access road alongside more light industrial units on my right. This turned out to be Adam Smith Lane, (whoever he was). This at least had a pavement and it was eerily quiet other than a learner driver practising on the road ahead.

I was beginning to wonder if I was approaching a dead end but when the road ahead turned sharp right there was another path back up to the A180. Thankfully the pavement now resumed alongside this busy road. The reason was soon clear because I had reached the edge of Grimsby Docks ahead and the A180 went over part of the water-filled dock on a bridge. I soon climbed up with views over the docks and warning signs on the bridge warning “No jumping”, as if you would want to jump into the murky waters of the dock!

Earlier when walking along the sea wall I had spotted a large tower in the docks and I was getting closer to it now. It looked like the minaret of a mosque as I got closer, but there was only one and I never did get close enough to find what it was. Once at the roundabout at the other end I passed a Burger King on the left and continue ahead alongside the A180, but there was a quieter access road to the right I took.

This passed the grimmest looking hotel I have seen in a long time with a shirtless man standing in the door smoking. It advertised “Hotel and Chinese and English Restaurant”, but the curtains at the window looked dirty. I walked past quickly.

I continued along this access road as the A180 alongside had lost it’s pavement again (how careless). The A180 soon headed up onto a flyover but I continued ahead on the access road alongside, which didn’t.

This time the flyover was over the railway line, so I had to work out how to cross that, as it was blocking my way ahead. I was near Grimsby Dock station and I guessed that would have a bridge over the line, but I could not see the station or it’s entrance either. The road I was on went under the road and headed into the docks. I suspected it would be private or the road blocked and it did not look a nice area to walk. However I noticed that under the flyover was one of those long zig-zag slopes which took me up onto the top of the A180, so I followed that.

Here there was a briefly a path between the two lanes of the dual carriageway to cross the railway and back down the other side. This brought me back down onto another access road beside the A180 but it was starting to feel a bit more like a town centre and less like an industrial area. I turned left along this, Railway Place. At the end of the road I reached Riby Square and turned left into Riby Street, which soon turned right and ran parallel with railway, behind some very run down businesses to my right, one of which was a boxing club. It was very run down and grubby, and mostly deserted. All I can say is that the first 4 letters of the towns name accurately describe it! (I later realised I hadn’t taken a single photo in Grimsby, but there was nothing at all photogenic to photograph).

At the T-junction at the end of this road, the road to the left headed over the railway into the docks, which I suspected would prove a dead-end. So I turned right and then took the first road on the left, Thorold Street. This passed an Aldi and then turned left to pass New Clee station, which also looked grim. I continued with the road through an area of light industry and then when the road turned to the right I could continue ahead on another road, Harrington Street.

At last, I was out of the industrial centre of Grimsby and now in a residential road, with rows of terraced Victorian houses on the right, and the railway on the left, behind a high fence.

I continued along these quieter residential roads until there was a footbridge over the railway line. I had initially planned to continue ahead on the road, but looking at the map, if the tide was out I should be able to walk along the beach instead. So I crossed this bridge and the railway line over an area of scrub-land. I found the tide was still too far in, but there was a concrete promenade I could follow along the banks of the Humber towards Cleethorpes instead, which I could now see ahead. So I followed that, heading towards the fun fair.

Soon there was some sand to my left and I could head down onto it, now on the edge of Cleethorpes.

The beach at Cleethorpes

I was surprised how quickly the landscape had transitioned from industrial to beach resort!

The beach at Cleethorpes

Cleethorpes was busy on the promenade but not so much the beach (it was quite windy) and so I soon headed down onto the beach, glad to be away from roads and industry.

The beach at Cleethorpes

I passed the fun fair on the right and continued to the pier. I headed along the pier for a view south along the coast. Cleethorpes is a traditional resort and there were even donkey rides available on the beach.

The beach at Cleethorpes

The beach at Cleethorpes

Having explored the pier, I continued south along the promenade. On my last long walk I had finished in Cleethorpes, but was too tired to really bother exploring or taking in my surroundings. Today I had plenty of time to spare before my train home today, so I continued south, away from the town, to explore this area I had hurried through last time.

The promenade was busy with pedestrians and cyclists. I passed a man-made cascade with a stone pelican.

Cleethorpes Cascade

There was also a road “Dotto” train.

The promenade at Cleethorpes

The beach soon narrowed at an ugly blot on the landscape ahead (the Leisure Centre).

The beach at Cleethorpes

Beyond this, marsh has taken over the beach, so the promenade has fields on one side and marsh on the other, where once there was beach.

The beach at Cleethorpes

Last time I followed the promenade, this time I decided to head in front of the marsh. There was a thin path, part sand and part mud through the marsh that I followed.

The beach at Cleethorpes

Near Pleasure Island and a caravan site there was a path further out where at least I could reach the shore again.

The beach at Cleethorpes

The beach at Cleethorpes

I had met up with where I walked last time and explored the coast properly. I still had time before my train, so sat on the beach here for a while. The tide was coming in a bit (I initially thought it was going out) so I soon headed back inland, as the waves were getting closer.

It was lucky I did, as crossing the marshes again, the water was filling up into the various creeks and muddy channels as I watched. I had to take my shoes and socks off to get through this bit.

The beach at Cleethorpes

I couldn’t see that the water was coming in behind me and a little longer on the beach and I could have been cut off from behind and forced to wade back through muddy channels to get back to dry land (or even cut off entirely). A lesson not to head into such areas without being aware of the tides, as I had done!

Safely back on dry land I retraced my steps back to the promenade. I continued along this, soon passing the Greenwich Meridian line again.

Greenwich Meridian, Cleethorpes

Greenwich Meridian, Cleethorpes

I continued along the promenade back to the pier and stopped here for a takeway before heading to the station for my train home.

The promenade in Cleethorpes

Cleethorpes Pier

I had to take a local train one stop up the line to Grimsby Town. I changed again there for the train to Newark and from there back to London and home, and all the trains were on time this time.

I had not been looking forward to this walk and was glad to have made it through without any problems. In fact it was better than I expected (though I hadn’t expected a lot), with the path alongside the Humber easy to follow and offering good views, if you can ignore the industry to the right. However Grimsby itself was very much “Grim” and I was very glad to get through it and reach Cleethorpes. Cleethorpes is a nice town and I enjoyed my explore of it, now that I was not so tired and was surprised how quickly it had changed from industry, estuary and mud to beach!

Here are details of the public transport needed for this walk. On Sundays there is a direct bus, on other days of the week you need to change buses in Grimsby.

Stagecoach Lincolnshire route 5 : Cleethorpes Pier (Sunday only)Grimsby – Wybers Wood – Healing – Stallingborough – Immingham – South Killingholme. Every 20 minutes Monday – Saturday . On Sundays, this bus runs hourly and starts from Cleethorpes rather than Grimsby (but it also passes through Grimsby). It takes around 25 minutes between Grimsby and Immingham and 45 minutes between Cleethorpes and Immingham.

Stagecoach Lincolnshire Simplibus 3 : Cleethorpes – Grimsby. Every 12 minutes Monday – Friday, Every 15 minutes on Saturdays and every 30 minutes on Sundays. It takes 22 minutes between Cleethorpes and Grimsby.

Here are the complete set of photos for this walk : Main Link | Slideshow

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223. Mablethorpe to Cleethorpes

June 2016

This is another section of coast that was difficult to plan and I had puzzled about how to walk this section of the coast for sometime prior to this walk.

The problem was simple  – lack of transport. Lincolnshire seems to have particularly poor public transport. Having got to Mablethorpe previously the obvious solution was to walk north from there. But to where? There were a few obvious destinations. Saltfleet? North Somercotes? However although being fair sized places none of them seemed to have anything other than a once-day weekday only bus service or one you had to book in advance (and register before you could do that). The next sizeable town, Cleethorpes was, I estimated, around 22 miles and that assumes I could follow a direct route along the coast (which may well not be possible, because there are no footpaths in places). 

So I had puzzled about the best approach. Stay somewhere on route was a possibility, (except I couldn’t find anywhere). Walk up and back, as two walks? In the end I settled on a plan to do the (almost) marathon-length walk of Mablethorpe to Cleethorpes in one day. If I couldn’t make it, I could always call a taxi (albeit probably at high cost) to get back. The problem is the route is over 20 miles – if I can walk direct, but with no clear route for parts of it I wasn’t sure that would be possible, so I could well end up having to walk further. In addition Mablethorpe is a right pain to get to from home, the earliest I could get there by public transport was around midday (via Skegness) which itself is only served by a very slow hourly train. This would not give me enough time to walk to Cleethorpes in time to get public transport home again (or even back to Mablethorpe). 

So I decided I would have to drive there but then there was another problem, I’d need to get back to my car, as even getting between Mablethorpe and Cleethorpes by public transport is a pain. The A1031 provides a fairly direct route between the two towns, but despite this there are no direct buses that run between the towns . Instead to travel between them it takes well over 2 hours and involves 3 buses. (Or 2 buses and a train) and the service stops running quite early in the day. I had also already done the walks north from, Cleethorpes and south from Mablethorpe, so I didn’t really want to go up for the weekend with only one walk to do. That is why I decided to try to tackle this long walk on one day.

In the end I finally worked out a plan. I would do the walk in mid June, so there is plenty of daylight. In order that I could make a reasonably early start, I would drive (most of the way) after work on Friday, stay overnight and make an early start on Saturday. 

I’d also drive to Grimsby, not Mablethorpe or Cleethorpes, due to the bus connections. This meant from Grimsby I would take a bus to Louth and then another bus from there to Mablethorpe. Then I would walk back to Cleethorpes, where there were regular buses and trains back to Grimsby, until late into the evening.

I had therefore booked a room at the at the Travelodge Scunthorpe, because it was most of the way there, near to the motorway and (primarily), because it only cost £29 for the night. I left home around 6:45pm hoping the worst of the traffic had cleared by then. It hadn’t. Traffic was moving very slowly on the M25 and not much better on the M1. I was north of Milton Keynes before I was finally able to reach a speed above 60mph – but not for long. Beyond there I had two long sections of road works (with 50mph speed limits) to negotiate as well. It was only the last 90 minutes or so traffic was clear and so I reached the glamorous location of the Scunthorpe Travelodge at around 10:30pm.

Thankfully the staff were friendly, my room was clean and a fairly good size. Annoyingly however I was woken at 4:30am by the sound of a lorry stopped but with the engine running right outside my window (the hotel is on the edge of an industrial estate I think) and struggled to get back to sleep after that (it gets light about then at this time of year). So I didn’t wake quite as refreshed as I might have hoped, though I hadn’t slept too badly either. One problem with the Travelodge is they don’t serve breakfast other than a “Breakfast Box” of cereal and fruit juice to eat in your room for about an extra £7! Instead I opted for McDonalds across the road instead, though it was surprisingly slow (I had to wait for them to cook it and bring it over, usually fast food places are, well, fast).

I then set off for Grimsy, via the M180 and A180 . When I reached the town, many of the roads in the town centre were closed for some reason (road works I think), including the one I wanted to drive down (or at least, that my SatNav wanted me to drive down). So I took the next turning instead which took me to the Town Hall car park. This is open to the public at weekends, but not weekdays so as it was a Saturday that would do.

The next problem was that the Pay and Display machine in the car park insisted on me entering my car registration before I could buy a ticket. Not a problem except that the machine only had a numeric keyboard (no letters). Nor was there any key to make it switch to letters that I could see. I tried typing a first digit of 5 and pressed 5 again in the hope it might then toggle onto letters, but instead I ended up with 55. I tried looking for any other buttons that might toggle it into letting me enter letters, but I couldn’t get it to. So I opted to just enter the digits from my car registration plate instead (57) in the hope that would be accepted. It wasn’t, the machine rejected this as too short. So I tried 575757 but it rejected that too and would not accept any money until I’d entered a valid registration, which seemed impossible. I was getting nowhere and embarrassingly had been defeated by a parking meter (there was no one else about at the time, as it was before 8am).

I gave up with the car park and as a result of the delays as I drove out of the car park again I spotted the bus I had hoped to catch just leaving, so I knew I was now going to end up starting my walk later than hoped, as that would cost me 1 hour.

I wondered about a plan B – driving on to Cleethorpes in order to catch a bus back to Grimsby in time for the next bus to Louth but was not sure how long that would take either so in the end decided to stick to Grimsby. I turned out the car park I had failed to buy a ticket in and found another large car park near the station. 

I wondered if it might have the same type of machine, but this time I could not find any pay and display machines at all, only signs saying “Have you paid and displayed?”. Wandering around I headed to the entrance to the car park where I then spotted a sign saying that both the parking ticket machines were out of order and had been removed for repairs (no wonder I couldn’t find them). It added that as a result of no machines, parking in this car park was currently free. Result!

I headed into the town to buy lunch and then locate the Bus Station (which was clearly marked on my recently purchased Ordnance Survey Map), which the bus timetable showed the buses to Louth departed from. I couldn’t find it and after asking someone for help he told me that the the bus station marked on my maps had been closed “for a while” and directed me to some stops on the street instead where he thought the buses now stopped. I found the bus shelter with the correct timetable eventually (it was the last one I got to!). (The bus timetables still, even now, show as departing from the bus station, which doesn’t exist)

Thankfully the next bus left on time and I bought a day ticket (as I’d be using another bus by the same company later and it would be cheaper than two singles). I was travelling to Louth, where I had to change buses. As we approached Louth I noticed we were a couple of minutes behind schedule, a possible problem because I only had 5 minutes to change onto the hourly bus to Mablethorpe at Louth (and didn’t want another 1 hour delay). I was getting a bit nervous as we reached the town centre and then around half a dozen pensioners wanted to get on, further delaying the bus! I was a bit irritated by this, because it was the stop before the bus station that they all got on – so they were only going one stop (to the bus station), which could be walked in a couple of minutes.

We arrived only 1 minute before my onward bus to Mablethorpe, but I was relieved to see the bus to Mablethorpe waiting there so I hadn’t missed it. When I got to it, there was no driver, the doors were closed and several passengers were already waiting. Eventually I spotted the driver just finishing a cigarette. Once he’d done that I hoped he might come and open the doors and let us on, but no – now he wanted to stop for a chat with the driver of the bus I had just arrived on! I needn’t have worried about missing the bus – by the time he got around to getting on it and opening the doors, it was already 7 minutes after it should have left. By the time he’s sold all the tickets, it was 10 minutes late leaving. Still after all the hassles of the morning I had reached Mablethorpe, albeit a bit later than planned at around 10:40.

Still I had reached the sea and now I could relax as I had many hours to get to Cleethorpes if needed and it was nice to hear the sea again.

The beach at Mablethorpe

The beach at Mablethorpe

It was a nice beach but largely deserted, as it was quite cool for mid June (the forecast high was only 13 degrees) and there was also quite a strong wind coming from the north east. This was blowing the sand around, but thankfully mostly not high enough to get into my eyes or mouth, but I soon had quite a lot of sand on my trousers! I stuck to the the promenade initially, but soon headed down onto the beach itself.

The beach at Mablethorpe

The promenade soon ended anyway and the beach was then backed by dunes, a lovely unspoilt place. 

The beach north of Mablethorpe

It was a beautiful beach and I was surprised to see also had a “sand train”, a little train running not along the promenade, but along the beach itself (I’ve not seen this done before). The reason is that behind the beach, and out of sight to me was a large caravan park and I think the train was designed to serve that.

The sand train north of Mablethorpe

But there was no one on it when it went past, making it look rather forlorn!

I continued on the beach trying to find the firmest sand to walk on (it got a bit soft in places) and enjoying watching the ever changing patterns as the sand was blown about by the wind.

The beach north of Mablethorpe

Thankfully even on the beach it still was not blowing high enough to get in my eyes.

I was now approaching a military firing range. I had checked on the map and the footpath is just outside of it, so I hoped it would not cause me any problems and in any case I doubted it would be in use on a Saturday. As I reached it I came across the usual warning signs but no flags were flying (as I had expected).

Firing range warning notice

I had walked a couple of miles and I realised the area to my left was becoming salt marsh rather than beach, a seemingly common occurrence when the beach is very flat and the tide goes out a long way, as it does here. So I headed back closer inland, concerned about getting cut off if I stuck to the beach in front of the marsh, or having to try and get through salt marsh to get onto any sort of path.

I found a good path between the dunes and the salt marsh. It was not an official right of way that I could see but it was over some short grass and I soon passed a remnant of World War II, and old pill box slowly getting buried in the grass.

 

Old World War II pillbox at Saltfleet

I continued on this path as from here north, it was a good path and looked to have been recently mowed!

Saltfleet

Ahead the map indicated that the river of Saltfleet Haven and various other streams flowed across the dunes, so I thought it unlikely I would be able to get around on the beach so stuck with the path. This soon was marked as a track on the map leading to a view point. 

I headed briefly inland to see this but the view was not much better, it was only a few metres higher.

Marshes at Saltfleet

I continued north on this good track. I soon started to see more people, a sure sign I was approaching civilisation again and this time it was Saltfleet. The path I was following soon became a track and crossed the first part of Saltfleet Haven on a bridge (it splits to two channels just before the coast).

Saltfleet Haven

Saltfleet Haven

There were some lovely wildflowers growing on the grass beside the path here.

Daisies at Saltfleet Haven

The track soon continued to cross the second channel on another bridge and beyond that I was on the road and back (briefly) to civilisation.

Saltfleet Haven

As I said at the start this village is on quite a busy A-road so I am surprised it does not have a bus service.

I turned right along the road admiring a lovely old windmill now sadly sans sales and obviously a residence.

Saltfleet

I passed a lovely old red brick pub, which was huge and called the New Inn even though it was clearly very old.

The New Inn, Saltfleet

I continued on the main street. Just by the Crown Inn I turned right on a track (also a footpath).

Saltfleet

This passed some houses and then went between fences to go past a large caravan park turning left along the main drive through the caravan park where a sign advised you must stick to the public right of way unless visiting the chip shop! (However my map shows no right of way here anyway). A man was sat outside said shop who watched me pass but said nothing and I was then on a minor road. I turned right down this road to soon reach the sea wall.

There isn’t a footpath north along the coast here so I hoped I might be able to find some sort of route between the marshes and the dunes.

The beach at Saltfleet

However on reaching the shore, I was a bit surprised to see so many people walking out across the marsh. Presumably residents of the caravan site wanting to reach the sand, but I was reluctant to head too far out because I was worried I would have to cross the marshes to get back.

I was however pleased to find that there was a good and clearly well used path along the sea wall, so I continued along it with the marshes to my right. It was not signed as a public right of way, but neither were there any signs denying access.

The army “Danger Area” was still close by and a sign warned not to pick up any suspicious objects etc. Another sign just ahead told me I was now in Donna Nook nature reserve and confirmed, as I had hoped, that there was permissive access along the sea wall north.

Donna Nook National Nature Reserve

I continued for around half a mile with the marshes now to my right and the sea just a distant line of water beyond.

Donna Nook National Nature Reserve

After about half a mile I passed another car park and a little stream over the marshes – confirming my thoughts it was wise to keep to the sea wall!

There was now a channel of water on my right so I took the lower path just below the sea wall alongside this. It was initially good, but soon began too come overgrown. I tried the sea wall, but that was just as bad, so I battled through the increasingly thick grass, which was knee height in places and still quite damp.

Donna Nook National Nature Reserve

Soon though it improved and I again had some pretty wildflowers (daises). 

Donna Nook National Nature Reserve

After about a mile I came to a gate where there was a stile over but there was another gate beyond that, marked as a dead end with a warning sign there was no path beyond it and that I should turn right to continue to Donna Nook.

Donna Nook National Nature Reserve

So that is what I did, passing a nice little picnic site and then coming to the shoreline.

Donna Nook National Nature Reserve

Here a sign marked a footpath going both left and right.

Donna Nook National Nature Reserve

So perhaps there is a more coastal route that I could have followed, but I didn’t want to turn back to investigate, so I turned left now along the grassy path near the edge of the marsh.

Very soon there were dunes to my right. I made my way down through the dunes and back to this glorious and deserted sandy beach. I could see and hear the sea, but it was still some distance over the sands so I did not head out to it as I was concerned it might become muddy again. So I continued on the firm sand near the shoreline. I understand seals can be seen here in the spring, but I did not see any today. The sun was coming out now, too.

The beach at Donna Nook

As I neared Donna Nook there were a few buildings and from here a good path along the edge of the dunes. This led west to a car park for the nature reserve. Out to sea I could now see all sorts of odd structures, presumably targets for the nearby firing range. West of here a public right of way is once again marked on the map along the top of the sea bank so I was able to follow this. After a while the beach once again gave way to salt marsh.

Donna Nook National Nature Reserve

After about a mile I passed a stream flowing out to the sea, marked as Seven Towns South Eau and as it got further out, Somercotes Haven. It was, like most round here narrow and muddy.

Donna Nook National Nature Reserve

Ahead there is now a large area of saltmarsh. I had read reports from another coastal walker that the path marked on the map here wasn’t passable and he had had to walk further inland. But I was using a new map and was not sure if there used to be an old right of way further out and the land had been deliberately flooded or if he was talking about the path currently shown on the map. I hoped my map was right and followed the path. This heads a bit inland on the land side of this area of salt marsh and I did become concerned when I could see parts of the land to my left had also been flooded, presumably by the sea that there must be a breach in the sea wall. But I did not come across any.

Donna Nook National Nature Reserve

Oddly a little further up the path is marked as leaving the sea wall briefly and returning further up but the path on the ground did not seem to do this nor could I see any signs, so I continued on the sea bank. This then turned to the right and crosses another stream. This was called Seven Towns North Eau. I still don’t know what an Eau is, or what the seven towns are.

Seven Towns North Eau

A path was marked as heading out to a dead end over the marsh here so perhaps this is all that remains of an old path. Either way I now had a clear and arrow-straight path to follow over the sea bank to Horse Shoe Point.

By this time the brisk wind had calmed down and there was some hazy sun about. The view inland was typically Lincolnshire – massive flat fields surrounded by drainage channels and a few large farms. Not very inspiring. Out to sea, it was better.

The beach at Tetney Marshes Nature Reserve

Ahead I soon reached a place called Horse Shoe Point where there was a minor public road. I’m always glad of places like this on remote and long walks like this one because they bring the possibility that if I do get really stuck at least I can call a taxi and get back to civilisation and also the possibility that if the paths ahead are impossible I have a way out on the road.

There were also a couple of people parked up in the small car park here not sure if they had walked over the marsh to the beach or gone for a walk. One man had parked his car on the sea wall and was doing some bird watching and remarked on the cold wind and weather for mid June. I had to agree!

The path onwards continued on the sea wall but only for around 250 metres, where it seemed to abruptly end and the sea wall ahead had no right of way marked. This could be a problem. I hoped this was a mistake but as I grew nearer I could see a gate across the path with several signs on it, which did not look encouraging (usually such signs are to tell you it’s private).

As I got closer I could read them. The sign told me the land was owned by Humber and North Lincs Wild-fowling clubs and managed by English Nature. It seemed an odd combination, one organisation keen on shooting wildlife and another on preserving it. Thankfully the bottom half of the sign said that you should conserve the wildlife by sticking to the path at the top of the embankment, keeping out of the marsh and keeping dogs under control and warned that this was a permissive path and may be closed at any time.

Path beside North Coates Airfield

So since I wanted to walk on the embankment anyway this all sounded good news. There was a metal gate with a smaller pedestrian gate built into it, so I could open that and continue.

I continued on the sea bank but could here gunshots and see cars parked over to the left near the buildings of the airfield. That was a bit worrying given I knew I was in the “wild fowling” area and it was clearly being used. However nothing had indicated the path was closed, so I assumed it was safe to continue.

There were also the occasional small plane taking off from North Coates Airfield. I was not sure if the cars parked were to do with the wildfowling club or the airport. I decided to continue (and did not get shot or shouted at). As I neared Northcoates Point I came to another identical gate but this time the pedestrian gate was locked! However there was a stile alongside, so I used that. 

Now I was a bit confused about where to go next. The gate I had just got over had the same notices for those going back the way I had come, that it was a permissive path. However there were no signs on the sea wall ahead, or on the raised path heading inland (I suspect on a former sea bank). Was I meant to go along the coast ahead, turn inland or was this a dead-end path (and I was meant to go back)? The route inland became a footpath again after 300 metres or so, but here I could see there was a red-flag flying, presumably meant to indicate the permissive path I had just walked on was closed. Was I even meant to be here?

I decided not to take the path left with the red flag flying and continue on the sea bank ahead in the hope I was not in the area they were shooting!

Tetney Marshes Nature Reserve

I could soon see pipes ahead which crossed Tetney Haven. I continued on the sea bank where there was a passable path over the short grass.

Tetney Marshes Nature Reserve

At the corner by Tetney Haven I turned left and continued on the sea bank. I now needed to cross Tetney Haven (a river). There was a bridge ahead, but although it had a right of way on either side of it, there was no path marked actually across it. Before I got there though there was a pipe bridge crossing the river. On the other side of this was a right of way so I decided if required I would sit on this pipe bridge and slide over. But I continued on to the other bridge. As I approached I saw there was a man standing on this side of it watching me. He didn’t move for some time and I began to become concerned he was from the wildfowling club about to tell me off or worse send me back where I had come (I still wasn’t on a right of way at this point). But as I got closer he suddenly headed off carrying his bike over his head, onto the bridge and then got on his bike once over the bridge and rode off. Odd.

Tetney Marshes Nature Reserve

Still when I reached the bridge whilst there were no signs stating public access there was a stile at either end, which the man had lifted his bike over. So I crossed the bridge turned left on the track, passing a dog walker and then joined the public right of way which now resumed along the sea bank. Now I was back on a public right of way so had a legal right to be here and this continued all the way to Cleethorpes so I was relieved that at last I now had a clear route all the way to my destination so there would be no turning back and no further problems with access.

I passed under the pipes that led to the pipe bridge and continued on the sea bank path with the coast to my right becoming less marshy and more sandy. I could now see the large boats heading in and out of the Humber estuary which is now close ahead. After a mile or so along the sea bank path I was now seeing people ahead and a large caravan park (Humberston).

It might not be pretty, but at least it was civilisation. By this point, I had done over 20 miles. My original plan was to end as soon as I reached the edge of Cleethorpes and take a bus into the town, covering the rest of the coast into Cleethorpes next time. At the end of the sea bank as I approached Humberston the sea bank turned right. Again no right of way ran along this short sea wall but there was a car park at the end so I could follow this to the car park and back to the coast at long last.

The beach at Humberston

There was now a promenade ahead and a sandy beach to my right, where there were plenty of people walking. The sun was now shining, it was a lovely end to the day.

The beach soon narrowed and I was only just able to get past, as the tide was rising.

The beach at Humberston

The beach at Humberston

I continued for a little over half a mile along the promenade past some park type houses on, wooden cabins mostly. At the far end after half a mile was another car park. Since there was a huge holiday park here I was hopeful there might be a bus so I headed into the car park. With no sign of a bus stop and no desire now to walk down dead ends I continued along the promenade.

The beach at Humberston

This took me past the caravan park and then to a bridge over a stream.

The beach at Humberston

I continued ahead, now passing Pleasure Island on my left, a fun park, and soon some rather run down looking beach huts. To my right the coast was becoming a bit marshy again. I continued soon with a miniature railway on my left (still running). 

The beach at Humberston

Beyond the railway I came across something I hadn’t expected. I was crossing the Greenwich meridian line. I hadn’t realised it crossed the coast here. I sign helpfully gave me the distance to the north and south pole.

The Greenwich Meridian at Cleethorpes

A line on the path marked the route of the meridian (and is also the front cover of the Ordnance Survey map).

The Greenwich Meridian at Cleethorpes

An artwork boasted “The World revolves around Cleethorpes”. Well, if you say so.

The Greenwich Meridian at Cleethorpes

Beyond this were some boating lakes.

Boating lake in Cleethorpes

Boating lake in Cleethorpes

Just beyond these boating lakes is the main road which runs parallel to the shore and as I continued I soon spotted the roof of a Stageocoach bus going along the road inland of the boating lake. So I decided to head to the road as soon as I could and end the walk, as I was very tired now. I found a bridge over the boating lake and headed to the road, near a McDonalds and retail park. I soon spotted a bus stop and made for it. It indicated the buses were every 30 minutes, the next one due in around 15 minutes at 17:44. So I took up a seat and waited.

I saw a bus on the route go the other way and was surprised to see it was open top. But a few minutes before my bus was due another bus came around the corner showing a different route number and a destination I had never heard of, but I assumed it must first go to Cleethorpes town so hailed it, but it drove straight past without stopping. Presumably this is why the bus route was not marked on the stop I was waiting at. I waited for some time until the bus was now a few minutes late, but had not come. I waited and waited. Once it got to 10 minutes late with no bus coming I had had enough. I had been sat here for 25 minutes with no bus having arrived.

The rest it had given me though meant I felt less tired now so I decided to walk along the road keeping any eye out for the bus that might come up behind me, as there were regular bus stops along the road. I reached the next bus stop and still with no sign of the bus I decided to return to the promenade and give up with the bus.

Instead I continued along the promenade to head for the pier ahead, but I was tired and so making slower progress so it took a while to reach. I had spotted on the map the rail station was just beyond the pier. Having had the previous bus not come I resolved to try and take the train to Grimsby and my car instead of the bus (I had already bought an all day ticket valid on the buses, so the bus would not have cost me any extra). I found the next train due in about 20 minutes. Not ideal but I figured that it would likely be faster than the bus overall because trains are normally much faster than buses. So I bought a ticket and took the train, which arrived on time but left a few minutes late. Tired but happy I got off at Grimsby a few minutes later and made the short walk back to my car.

I was very happy to have got this walk done, it had been bothering me for a while that it was likely to be tough but the flat terrain and the fact I had not had to take any long inland diversions meant I was not as tired as I had feared. That was just as well, as I now had to face the nearly 4 hour drive home though (and stay awake doing so)! I headed out of Grimsby, having taken a probably rather longer route than necessary (road closures), then headed for the A18, M180, M18 and then the M1. Traffic was light heading home, as it often is on Saturday evening. I stopped at one of the services on the motorway for dinner, at about 8pm then continued south.

All went well until I reached the M25 where signs informed me that the motorway was closed beyond the junction I needed to exit at (11). This is the problem with the M25 in the evening, bits of it often get closed overnight. As I neared junction 12, signs warned of a queue ahead. I couldn’t face sitting in a queue for several miles and I knew if all the traffic on the M25 had to leave at the junction I wanted to use, the local roads would never cope with the traffic. So I left at junction 12 onto the M3 west instead. This would ordinarily be a longer route to get home, but I suspected it would be quicker tonight. As I headed under the M25 on the slip road I could see the traffic was already stationary, so it was the right choice. I could leave the M3 at the next junction and follow another road home, avoiding any of the traffic from the closure. I eventually made it home at around 11:30pm, tired but happy and with a great sense of satisfaction that I’d completed this walk.

This had been a lovely walk. Nice sandy beaches most of the way and the marshy sections had not proved any bother either, because I was always able to find a good path (even when one wasn’t marked on the map). It was a flat coast but still a very beautiful one and it was nice to be away from towns and out on unspoiled beaches. I was pleased I had been able to follow a route right by the coast all the way, despite my initial doubts. The only issue is I knew I now had a lot of heavy industry ahead on future walks as I need to negotiate the industrial Humber estuary, but that was for another day.

Here are details of the public transport needed for this walk. You need two uses 3 buses or two buses and a train. Connections work best going south. All the buses are operated by Stagecoach, so it is cheapest to buy a day ticket from the driver of the first bus (be sure to ask for the one that covers all of Lincolnshire).

Stagecoach Lincolnshiresimplibus route 3” : Cleethorpes (Pier) – Grimsby (Riverhead Exchange). Every 12 minutes, Monday – Friday. Every 15 minutes on Saturday. Every 30 minutes on Sunday. It takes 15 minutes to travel between Cleethorpes and Grimsby.

Stagecoach Lincolnshire route 51 : Grimsby – Scartho – Waltham – Holton le Clay – Grainsby – North Thorseby – Ludborough – Utterby – Fotherby – Louth (Bus Station). Hourly Monday – Saturday. No service on Sundays. It takes 1 hour and 5 minutes to travel between Grimsby and Louth.

Stagecoach Lincolnshire route 59 : Louth (Bus Station) – Legbourne – North Reston – South Reston – Withern – Strubby – Maltby Le Marsh – Mablethorpe – Trusthorpe – Sutton on Sea – Sandilands – Huttoft – Mumby – Hogsthorpe – Chapel St Leonoard – Ingoldmells – Skegness.  Hourly Monday – Saturday. No service on Sundays. It takes 40 minutes between Louth and Mablethorpe.

In addition trains run between Cleethorpes and Grimsby with between 1 and 2 trains operating per hour in total, on the following routes:-

Transpennine Express Manchester to Cleethorpes : Manchester Airport – Manchester Picadilly – Sheffield – Meadowhall – Doncaster – Scunthorpe – Barnetby – Habrough – Grimsby Town – Cleethorpes. Hourly, seven days a week. It takes 13 minutes between Grimsby Town and Cleethorpes.

Northern Rail Barton-on-Humber to Cleethorpes : Barton-on-Humber – Barrow Haven – New Holland – Goxhill – Thornton Abbey – Ulceby – Habrough – Stallingborough – Healing – Great Coates – Grimsby Town – Grismby Docks – New Clee (request stop) – Cleethorpes. Once every 2 hours Monday – Saturday. No service on Sundays. It takes 9 minutes to travel between Grimsby and Cleethorpes.

Northern Rail Sheffield to Cleethorpes : Sheffield – Darnall – Woodhouse – Kiveton Bridge – Kiveton Park – Shireoaks – Worksop – Retford (Low Level) – Gainsborough Central – Kirton Lindsey – Brigg – Barnetby – Haborough – Grimsby Town – Cleethorpes. 3 trains per day on Saturdays only (no service on weekdays, or on Sundays). It takes 10 minutes between Grimsby and Cleethorpes.

East Midlands Trains Nottingham to Grimsby and Cleethorpes : Newark North Gate – Collingham – Lincoln – Market Rasen – Barnetby – Habrough – Grimsby Town – Cleethorpes. Most trains terminate at Grimsby, but one on weekdays runs to/from Cleethorpes and 3 on Sundays. It takes 9 minutes between Grimsby and Cleethorpes.

Here are the complete set of photos for this walk : Main Link | Slideshow

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The perils of planning ahead

After the difficulties I had finding accommodation this year (and ending up at a dreadful hotel, as I mentioned in an earlier post) I thought I’d better book a couple of trips to Scotland next year, and that is what I did a few weeks ago (and quite a few places are already full for most of the summer).

On my previous trips to the highlands of Scotland over the last few years I’ve been travelling by EasyJet from London Luton to Inverness (where I then sometimes hire a car). This usually works out cheaper (and a lot faster) than driving my own car there and and back and by getting a morning flight there and a late evening flight back, it means I can get a walk in on both the day I travel there and on the day I come home, making the most of my trip. The downside is it means I have to go to Luton Airport, which is a longer drive, the car park is mostly made of gravel and the airport itself is very poor and always a building site (EasyJet do also fly from London Gatwick to Inverness, but the times are not so good for me).

A few years ago British Airways resumed flying to Inverness from London Heathrow, (having previously abandonded the route sometime in the 1990s). Possibly as a result of the hacking incident with their website earlier this year the prices were cheaper than in previous years and pretty good. It takes me about half the time to get to Heathrow as it does to Luton, so I thought I’d give British Airways a try next year.

Of course, I should have known. This afternoon the following email arrived in my inbox.

It was shortly followed by a second email.

Well thank you for that British Airways. I booked 3 flights with British Airways in the last year. These two (which are now both cancelled). Unrelated to my coast walk earlier, I also booked a trip to Austria (in order to go walking in the beautiful Alps, I don’t just go to the coast!) and not long after I booked that flight I also got this email.

So that’s three flights in total I had booked with British Airways in the last year and all three were subsequently either cancelled or significantly changed. A poor show, British Airways and I guess after my experience going to Austria I should have known better than to entrust my travel plans again with our so called “flag carrier”. They clearly don’t bother to finalise their schedule before they start taking bookings for flights. Of course if I had made the booking myself and then subsequently decided I wanted to change to a later flight, I’d have to pay an admin fee. If British Airways want to change it, can I charge them an admin fee? Well of course, we all know the answer to that!

Along with the hacking incident British Airways had earlier this year, I’ve had enough of them. They cannot be trusted. I can only presume their pilots don’t like working mornings. I cancelled my flights with them and got a full refund (with no admin charge, because the change was as a result of British Airways). I booked again with EasyJet, as I should have done in the first place. And frankly when you look at these prices, it’s not hard to see why!

It’s a very long time indeed since I’ve seen an airline selling tickets for less than £5 (and this is in July).

I only hope I don’t have my plans for next year changed again!

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222. Chapel St Leonards to Mablethorpe

April 2011

After my last walk was cut short due to train delays today was going to be a shorter walk, between Chapel St Leonards (where I got on my last walk) and Mablethorpe (where I planned to get on my last walk). I also realised last time that visiting Skegness (and the surrounding coast) during the peak summer season is not a good idea (especially when it comes to travelling).

My last walk was in August 2010. The cheapest “Advance” train tickets then were generally released for sale around 3 months prior to departure, so you had to book around 3 months in advance to get a reasonable price. That put me into the November time frame, and with the clocks having changed and the weather much less predictable by then, I decided to postpone to the following year. So here we are, now in April 2011.

So back in January I’d booked a single ticket on the train from London to Skegness for £13.80 and the same for the return journey, bringing the cost in at under £30. I was hoping that this time I’d have more luck with the trains. So it turned out. This time my train from London to Grantham was on time, and the train from there to Skegness was also on time. What’s more, going out of season, the train from Skegness was pleasantly quiet for once and I got a seat the whole way this time.

Even better, the weather was on my side too, with cloudless skies and quite warm for the time of year.

When planning this walk I’d spotted that the train timetable for the trains to Skegness listed Mablethorpe as a destination after Skegness. I was a bit confused as I thought there wasn’t a station in Mablethorpe and I had made a mistake. But looking more closely I realised I was right, there isn’t a station, and in the small print the connection to Mablethorpe was listed as”by bus”. The thing that shocked me most was the time. My train arrived at 11am. The arrival time into Mablethorpe from this same train was listed as 1pm. How can it take 2 hours to go by bus between two towns that are only around 10 miles apart (and linked with an A-road)? The answer turns out to be that I had mistakenly assumed that because the bus connection to Mablethorpe was listed in the train timetable, that the train company that operates the trains to Skegness, East Midland Trains, is owned by Stagecoach and the bus to Mablethorpe is also run by Stagecoach that there might have been some effort made to co-ordinate the time of the bus departure with the arrival of the train. There hadn’t been. The bus departs at ten-to the hour, the trains arrive on the hour. This means anyone arriving by train in Skegness has a 50 minute wait for the bus to Mablethorpe (the bus and railway station are in the same building) and this partly accounts for why it takes so long (the other reason is simply that buses take ages to get anywhere,  much longer than trains).

In the reverse direction the connections between the bus and the train seemed to work better, meaning I could depart Mablethorpe 1 hour and 35 minutes before the train departed Skegness (it was 2 hours in the other direction). Hence I planned to start my walk from Chapel St Leonards (which has a much more frequent bus) and walk on to Mablethorpe and take a different bus back from there, which also matched the direction I walked last time.  It was only when I checked the evening before this walk I realised that the times of the bus from Mablethorpe listed in the current train timetable did not match the times of the same bus route I could get from the Stagecoach website or from Traveline. It seems the different parts of Stagecoach don’t talk to each other (we just can’t seem to manage to do integrated public transport in Britain). I decided that since the walk should take me much less time than the time I had available to me, I’d worry about that when I got to Mablethorpe as I should have plenty of time to get back to Skegness regardless.

So I headed to the adjacent bus station and took a bus onwards to Chapel St Leonards. Another reason why it makes sense to go here out of the peak season, this time traffic was light and there were no delays so I arrived into Chapel St Leonards on schedule.

The beach was pleasantly quiet too, and it was a very calm day with barely a breeze, the sea looked more like a lake!

The beach at Skegness

I had got off the bus at the same place I got on last time, which meant the first half a mile or so of my walk was re-tracing the same route I did last time as far as Chapel Point.

The beach at Chapel St Lenoards

The tide was far enough out there was plenty of firm sand and it was a very pleasant and easy walk back to the familiar line of beach huts I saw last time.

Chapel Point, Chapel St Leonards

Chapel Point, Chapel St Leonards

South from Chapel St Leonards, the coast is built up (either with buildings or caravans) all the way to Skegness. Thankfully Chapel St Leonards marks the northern end of this ribbon of development and so north of here the coast was more rural.

The sea wall and beach huts soon gave way to dunes and a beautiful sandy beach, which was more or less deserted, it was absolutely lovely.

The coast north of Chapel St Leonards

The coast north of Chapel St Leonards

I continued north, the pools of water on the beach reflecting the blue sky and blurring the line between the sea and the land.

The coast north of Chapel St Leonards

A couple of car parks north along the coast meant from time to time there would be a few people on the beach near these, but it was very far from crowded.

The coast north of Chapel St Leonards

I made quick progress to the next place on the way, Anderby Creek. This is a small village – from what I could see of it from the beach it looked to consist of about a dozen houses, at the back of the beach! (I think there is a bit more there than that, but I didn’t see it from the beach).

Anderby Creek

Onwards along the beach and the few dog walkers at Anderby Creek were soon left behind and I was back to beautiful deserted beaches.

Anderby Creek

When I found a nice quiet area I headed up to the dunes for lunch. Having had lunch, I continued along the beach.

The coast north of Anderby Creek

Further north there were a couple more car parks of the variety that allow you to park directly on the beach, so the beach was busier again.

The coast north of Anderby Creek

However the public do not walk far from their cars on the whole, so soon the beach was largely deserted again.

The coast north of Anderby Creek

Ahead however there was soon a further line of beach huts. I was now reaching the edge of the built up area that includes Mablethorpe.

Sandilands

As I found north of Skegness, these coastal towns, in order, Sandilands, Sutton-on-Sea, Trusthorpe and finally Mablethorpe seem to more or less merge into one, so it’s hard to tell where one finishes and the next begins. So from checking the map, it must be Sandilands that I had reached and given the amount of sand nearby, I could see how it go it’s name!

The beach huts were all of different designs, which I liked. Some were also double aspect, meaning they had a window at both the front and back so I could see right through them!

Sandilands

I continued right by the shore, it was much more pleasant there so I didn’t investigate the town further. A lot of starfish seemed to have been washed up. I don’t know why and I suspected they were dead, which was a shame and I wondered what had caused them to die and be washed up.

Sandilands

I continued past more beach huts, now clearly with a proper promenade behind the beach with a sea wall and a line of street lights visible.

Sandilands

I continued along the beach, it was an easy walk soon passing through Sutton-on-Sea and the smaller Trusthorpe, where there were lots of caravans.

Sandilands

Sutton-on-Sea

Sutton-on-Sea

The beach ahead was soon becoming much busier and I could see some fair ground rides behind the beach. This must be Mablethorpe.

The beach at Mablethorpe

It felt like quite a big and busy resort, more so than I had expected, and many people were out enjoying the fine spring weather.

The beach at Mablethorpe

The beach at Mablethorpe

I continued north to the end of the promenade and looked north.

The beach at Mablethorpe

Here I was pleased to see that again the coast was lovely and rural ahead.

The beach north of Mablethorpe

The beach north of Mablethorpe

However that would have to wait until next time. North of here there were only small villages (with minimal public transport) until I reached Cleethorpes, which was I estimated a little more than 20 miles ahead. So there was no point in going any further today, as I was not going to get as far as Cleethorpes so I’d just have to walk back again.

Instead I stopped for an ice cream and a wander around Mablethorpe. It seemed a pleasant enough sort of holiday resort, and certainly a step above Skegness.

Mablethorpe

Mablethorpe

I was a bit puzzled why the crazy golf was flying the flag of Wales and Australia (but not England or Scotland).

Mablethorpe

Mablethorpe

I’ve seen some resorts that are rather tired and like ghost towns out of season, but even in April Mablethorpe was busy and the fun fair seemed to be doing a good trade.

Mablethorpe

There was, as I found in Skegness, Donkey Rides available too, it is nice to see these traditions kept going (as long as the donkeys are well cared for, of course), which they certainly appeared to be.

Mablethorpe

Although why did a “99” ice cream cost £1.10 (I always though the 99 referred to the price, but perhaps not).

99, for £1.10

Having explored the coast I headed a bit further inland. Here it was a little more tacky, with lots of takeaways and arcades.

Mablethorpe

Mablethorpe

Mablethorpe

I decided to seek out the bus stop to confirm exactly when the buses went to Skegness. It turned out that the Stagecoach website and Traveline were correct and the train timetable was wrong. I had about 20 minutes to wait for the bus to Skegness so I decided to take this one to avoid any worries about getting back to Skegness too late for my train.

The bus arrived on time and this time it was a double-decker bus so I could enjoy the views of the coast and beaches, as we headed south (and caravans, as we neared Skegness). The amount of built up area and nice weather meant that the southern part of the bus journey was very slow (I think we must have stopped at every bus stop on the way, or certainly most of them), so I was glad I had plenty of time. It took 1 hour and 10 minutes to get back to Skegness (it is only around 10 miles) but it had made for a nice rest.

As I had nearly 2 hours before my train I decided to stop for a takeway (it wasn’t particularly good) and then re-walk some of the coast south towards Gibraltar Point, as it was a nice evening and I knew the coast quickly became rural as I headed south.

The beach south of Skegness

By now the tide had come in and so there wasn’t much firm sand left, so it was a bit harder going.

The beach south of Skegness

Despite this having kept an eye on the time, I was surprised to find I had enough time to get as far as the start of the nature reserve section before I had to turn back to head for Skegness and the station.

Gibraltar Point, Skegness

The beach at Skegness

This time there was less of a queue for the train (I’d discovered the odd arrangement at Skegness station last time), but with fewer people waiting this time the staff opened the gate to the platform earlier, so I could get on the train and sit down, rather than stand in a queue as last time.

Again on the way back the train was not crowded and so for once it made it a pleasant journey. This line across the flat marshy land of Lincolnshire is not spectacular, but with the sun just getting low, it was causing the sun to reflect off the water in the numerous drainage channels and streams (sometimes with a Heron in site), it was actually rather beautiful in the warm light as the sun neared the horizon.

I reached Grantham on time and my train on to London was only a few minutes late. From there I took the tube to London Waterloo and another train onwards home. In truth I could have booked to travel home on an earlier train, but I decided to stick with a later train in case there were any delays again – I didn’t want to have the same problem as last time, where I ran out of time to reach Mablethorpe as a result of train delays and had to come back again!

This was a lovely and rather relaxing walk (as being shorter than I often do, I knew I would have plenty of time to complete it and it was all flat). I had passed along miles and miles of glorious sandy beaches, much of it backed by pleasant sand dunes and some attractive beach huts. I’d also had pretty much perfect weather for it which always helps. Mablethorpe was quite a busier and larger resort than I had expected, but it was also quite pleasant and I enjoyed looking around it.

Here are details of the public transport needed for this walk :-

Stagecoach Interconnect bus route 59 : Skegness – Ingoldmells – Chapel St LeonardsChapel Point – Hogsthorpe – Mumby – Huttoft – Sandilands – Sutton-on-Sea – Trusthorpe – Mablethorpe – Maltby Le Marsh – Strubby – Withern – South Reston – North Reston – Legbourne – Louth.  Hourly (more or less), Monday – Saturday. No service on Sundays.

Here are the complete set of photos for this walk : Main Link | Slideshow

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221. Skegness to Chapel St Leonards

August 2010

I had originally planned to walk further, but things did not go to plan so instead I had to settle for a shorter coastal walk, but it was a nice walk all along beaches.

For this walk I was travelling from home. About 3 months ago I’d booked train tickets from London to Skegness and back for £21.30, which was a good price. However as is usually the case, this limits me to travelling on the specified trains only. I was planning to walk from Skegness to Mablethorpe but as you will see I had to cut my walk short.

I took the train from my local station to London Waterloo, then two tube trains to London Kings Cross. From there I took another train to Grantham. This was where things went wrong (it’s ALWAYS Grantham that gives me problems). Just outside Grantham the train came to a halt. There was an announcement about problem with the track ahead (signalling problems I think)? We were stationary for around 40 minutes or so before the train moved off slowly into Grantham station. That meant the train arrived 45 minutes late into Grantham. I had 16 minutes to change trains at Grantham onto the train to Skegness so of course the connection had not been held and so I had missed it.

The problem was the next train to Skegness (they only run hourly) was not due to stop at Grantham. The one after that did. That meant I had over 90 minutes until I could catch a train on to Skegness.

I went to the “Station Managers office” to see what the situation was. I had been beaten two it by another lady who was in the same situation. Unfortunately I could hear the news was not good. The lady was arguing that the train company should provide a bus or a taxi, as she had (apparently) had done before. The manager refused stating “we can choose to provide a taxi, but we’re not required to, and we’re not going to”. She did say that it said in the passengers charter that they should provide a taxi (I was sceptical of this claim), but he denied that was the case. He sounded a real charmer. Next it was suggested that instead of a taxi it could be arranged for the next train to Skegness to make an additional call at Grantham to pick us up. “Not possible, we’re East Coast Trains and the train to Skegness is East Midlands Trains, they won’t delay their trains for us”. Of course this is one of the (many) problems with rail privatisation, there are so many companies involved, none of which seem to be prepared to work together to minimise delays, presumably to avoid an argument over who pays compensation for any additional delays.

The only offer was a £10 catering voucher (which to be fair is better than nothing), which could be spent only at Grantham station. So I got a sandwich, crisps and a drink at the “Pumpkin” cafe on the station which was as far as my £10 voucher would stretch and had 90 minutes to sit in there to wait for the next train. This meant I’d arrive two hours late at Skegness.

As my cheap tickets were “Advance” tickets that are only sold as single tickets, I was not permitted to travel back home on a later train (I asked that grumpy “Station Manager”, who confirmed that to be the case). This meant I had two hours less in Skegness which meant I would likely not have time to reach my planned destination for the day, Mablethorpe, which I was annoyed about (as it meant I’d have to make another trip to do that part of the coast). (See the end of this post where I tried to find out, unsuccessfully, why the the rail company had not provided any alternative transport).

So after much boring waiting around at Grantham station the next train to Skegness finally arrived. Now of course when the train arrived it was already busy and was only 2 carriages long (why so short on an August weekend?). Along with the passengers already on the train, we had the passengers who had originally intended to catch this train along with those (like me) that had missed the earlier connection also wanting to get on. There was not enough space, so I ended up standing all the way to Skegness. The train was also full of stag parties, hen parties and loud families, so it was far from a relaxing journey.

I arrived in Skegness, eventually, 2 hours late (a little after 1pm) and in a rather bad mood.

I followed the main road, Lumley Road through the shopping area to the clock tower by the sea front. From the shops I saw, Skegness did not seem to be an especially wealthy town, with a large number of charity shops, £1 shops and the like. Past the clock tower I continued ahead along Tower Esplanade. Things improved now, as the road has pleasant gardens on either side as well as ice cream kiosks, doughnut kiosks and so on.

At last I had reached the beach, and the stresses of the day were melting away. The beach at Skegness is good, being a large sandy beach and there were many of the traditional attractions of a seaside resort, such as a fun fair and donkey rides on the beach.

Skegness

I could follow the promenade north, but as the tide was out I preferred to head down to the sands of the beach and walk along the firmer sand nearer the shore. It was less crowded and quieter there.

The beach at Skegness

The beach was busy, but not as crowded as I might have expected for a summer Saturday but then it was quite overcast (though warm and humid).

I soon passed the rather pathetic pier to my left, even the end of the pier was some distance from the shore!

Skegness Pier

Beyond this the crowds melted away and the beach was nice and quiet. It was easy going.

The beach at Skegness

There are trees and bushes behind the promenade in Skegness, so much of the town was out of sight, making it feel more natural on the beach than I had expected.

The beach at Skegness

Soon however the beach started to have groynes along it, which make it a little more awkward to walk along the beach, as you have to keep climbing over them and the beach tends to be different levels on either side.

The beach at Skegness

I had soon reached the edge of Skegness and now behind the beach was a golf course (North Shore Golf Club) though down on the beach near the shore line I couldn’t really see any of it. The back of the beach had now be lined with “rock armour” defences though there was still enough sand between the rocks and the shore for me to walk on easily.

I enjoyed the patterns the waves had made in the sand along the beach.

The beach at Skegness

Another mile or so along the beach and I began to see the buildings of the next town, Seathorne.

The beach at Seathorne

In particular there was a rather large and grand building, the Derbyshire Miners Convalescent Home. What a contrast to mining a view over the sea must be – but it’s a reminder that in many ways we have things much easier today, with few people still working underground in mines (at least, in the UK).

Derbyshire Miners Convalescent Home, Seathorne

Out to sea I could see a wind farm and some rig like structures. I suspect these rig type structures were being used to build more of the wind turbines.

The beach near Ingoldmells

I do think these off-shore wind farms make much more sense than putting them on top of what would otherwise be beautiful hills.

Continuing along I soon passed the large Butlins holiday camp. In fact this was the first such camp, opened in 1936 of which there were soon numerous, all over the UK. This is one of only 3 that remains open today (the others I have already passed, in Minehead and Bognor Regis).

Butlins Skegness

Taking a look at it, I was beginning to wonder if that was 3 too many. The place looked more like a prison, behind high wire fences. I wondered if the purpose of these fences was to keep the public out, or keep the residents in! Not my sort of holiday at all.

I’m not sure how popular these places are, there did not seem to be many people around, though there were enough people for the donkey rides to be doing some trade.

Beyond the Butlins (or perhaps it was still part of it) were caravans, caravans and more caravans. In fact caravans line the entire coast for the next 3 miles or so (and they spread at least half a mile inland too). There must be tens of thousands of these ugly metal boxes along this stretch of coast. Still from my position near the shore line I couldn’t see most of them. This aerial photograph (link to Google Maps) gives a good indication of just how many caravans there are here! Pretty it isn’t – I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many caravans.

The beach at Ingoldmells

Mixed in with it was a fun fair, too (Fantasy Island) though it was far enough inland only the taller roller coasters were visible.

The caravans continue unabated through Ingoldmells which seems to be almost entirely caravan parks. Thankfully the coast was mostly lined with trees, bushes and dunes, keeping many of them out of sight.

As I headed north and finally left Ingoldmells, things began to improve as I soon found the promenade was now lined with attractive and colourful beach huts and the caravans out of sight.

The beach at Ingoldmells

I continued north through Chapel St Leonard’s. This is more of a village and less a holiday resort, though there are still a lot of caravans. I continued north as far as Chapel Point where the tide had come in far enough that it was lapping against the concrete sea wall here.

The beach at Ingoldmells

The beach at Chapel St Leondards

I checked the map here and realised this is more or less the last part of the continuously built up coast north of Skegness. North of here, the caravans end and there is unspoilt beach ahead.  Other than one small village, it is more than 5 miles to the edge of the next major town, Mablethorpe. It was now nearly 4:30pm and I had to catch a train from Skegness at 18:14. I was clearly not going to have time to get as far as Mablethorpe and catch a bus back with enough time to catch my train home.  Reluctantly I had to conclude this was as far as I was going to get today. Instead I took a view along the beach north from here, it looked lovely.

The beach at Chapel St Leondards

The beach at Chapel St Leondards

Returning to Chapel Point I stopped to enjoy the view here – it was not so much the view of the coast that caught my eye as much as the scene of the British enjoying the coast!

Chapel Point, Chapel St Leonards

People making tea in their beach huts, sitting on chairs on the promenade and children making sand castles on the beach. It felt like if you went back to the same place 50 years ago, it would look little different. I stopped to join them briefly for an ice cream.

I knew there was a frequent bus service from here back to Skegness though I was not quite sure exactly where from. I decided to re-trace my steps half a mile or so back along the beach to then follow the road to where a post office was marked on the map. The start of the road was not especially pretty.

Chapel St Leonards

I felt confident the buses would depart from near there and as I headed inland I soon found signs for the “Bus Station”.

The bus service is very frequent, it was every 10 minutes during the summer then (though I think it is less frequent now), so I didn’t have long to wait. Although scheduled to take half an hour to get me back to Skegness it took about 45 minutes. The reason was that once we reached Ingoldmells, the road was very congested, with stop-start traffic for much of the rest of the way. The bus filled up and was soon full. The problem really is this is the peak summer season, most of those many thousands of caravans were occupied and the roads simply can’t cope with the huge increase in the population here in the summer. The bus driver told me “it’s always like this in the summer”. I didn’t envy him the job of trying to run a bus to schedule in those conditions!

I had hoped to get something to eat before heading home, but the delay to the bus meant I didn’t have time and needed to head straight for the station. Here there was another unpleasant surprise. It seems those that run Skegness station have been taking lessons from Ryanair. When I entered the station I was met with a massive queue snaking it’s way around the building. It seems the train company (East Midlands Trains) won’t let passengers onto the platform until a few minutes before departure and instead tells everyone to join a queue where they then check the tickets of every passengers before they can get on the platform. So that meant I had to spend the time standing in the queue. Given how busy it was and how many people were arriving if I left the queue to use the toilet or get some food I was worried I’d not be able to even get on the train, so I had to spend the 10 minutes standing in the slowly moving queue.

When I finally got on the train all the seats had been taken, so I ended up standing up the whole way back to Grantham where I had to change. I ended up standing beside 4 seats arranged around a table where the elderly couple sitting there had tried to occupy all 4 seats for themselves by putting bags over the two seats by the aisle. People in front of me tried to persuade them to move their bags on to the luggage racks so they could sit down, which they refused “these bags have our food for the journey home, we can’t keep getting up to get things down from the rack” but eventually reluctantly moved their bags onto the table in front of them instead (after much complaining), so that others could sit down.

This couple then spent much of the time complaining out loud about “all these people standing in the corridor” and “what are we meant to do if we want to get to the toilet, with all these people standing in the way”, glaring at those of us standing in the aisle. To cap it all the man then announced “they shouldn’t have let them on the train, once the seats are taken they should close the doors and stop letting more people on”. Well I was hardly there by choice, if I didn’t catch that train I wouldn’t get home and I’d much prefer to be sitting down too, but what can I do if the train company insists on running two carriage trains to a very busy resort in the height of the summer season?

It was a frustrating end, but at least at Grantham, where I changed onto the train to London I had a reserved seat the rest of the way so I could sit down (unfortunately, seat reservations aren’t possible on the trains to Skegness). I’m not a fan of the train service to Skegness! After that my journey home went smoothly.

This had been a rather frustrating day because of all the travel problems that meant I ended up splitting what should have been one walk into two. Still at least it was quite a nice walk and easy too, the whole way along lovely sandy beaches. It it always wonderful to be walking along beaches, with just the sound of the waves next to you. However Skegness in the height of summer had been a revelation (and not in a good way) because the infrastructure was completely overloaded with the numbers coming here. I decided that next time I came here, I’d make sure to avoid the peak summer months!

Here are details of the public transport needed for this walk:-

Stagecoach Lincolnshire bus route 1 : Chapel St Leonards – Ingoldmells – Fantasy Island – Butlins Skegness – Skegness (bus/rail station). Every 30 minutes, seven days a week. I believe it runs more frequently in the summer months. It takes around 30 minutes between Chapel St Leonard’s and Skegness.

Here are the complete set of photos for this walk : Main Link | Slideshow

Postscript

When I got home I checked the East Coast trains passengers charter. I was surprised to find that sure enough, it said this

If you miss a connection because an East Coast train is running late or is cancelled, we will help you re-plan your journey to keep the inconvenience to a minimum. We will arrange alternative transport to get you to your final destination if:
• The next connecting train is more than 60 minutes later than the one you should have caught; and
• Alternative transport will get you there quicker than waiting for the next train.

Well, the lady arguing with the station staff was right. The next connecting train was more than 60 minutes away and surely a bus or taxi would get there quicker than waiting over 90 minutes for the next train (plus the time the train took to get there)? So I sent an email to East Coast trains asking why they had not done so. I also sent my tickets by post requesting a refund (as you are entitled to a full refund if delayed by more than one hour).

I got a reply to my email 9 days later saying they could not answer until I sent in my tickets (which I had already done):-

I would ask you to forward your original travel tickets to the following address along with a copy of our email correspondence. I would also ask that you include your full postal address in your correspondence. Please note, as the tickets are required for audit purposes, photocopies are not acceptable. Upon receipt of your tickets, our Customer Relations team will investigate the claim and prepare a full written response.”

So they wouldn’t answer why no alternative transport was provided until by email I sent in my tickets by post (which I already had done). Another month later (so about 6 weeks after this journey) I finally got a letter in response. In it I was told that they had asked the station manager why no alternative transport was arranged on this occasion but “the incident was some time ago so he was unable to remember why alternative transport wasn’t provided on this occasion.”. How convenient. Refuse to to answer in an email and insist I send the tickers in my post instead, take weeks to reply to that and then tell me that it was now too long ago to remember (well whose fault is that?). I suspect it was simply that they didn’t want to pay for it, but they had avoided answering the question. What a shambles. Now I appreciate that getting your money back and a £10 voucher for food for a 2 hour delay isn’t unreasonable but I also take the view that if they promise to provide alternative transport in such a situation, that is what they should have done here (and if they had done so perhaps I’d have got there early enough I’d still have been able to walk as far as Mablethorpe).

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Progress as of 2018

As we are nearing the time when the clocks change I’ve probably now completed my last new coastal walk of 2018. As you may know, I am miles behind writing up most of the walks I have done on this blog, so here is a map of my progress to date, as at 2018. (It’s high-tech and as you can see I spent a long time constructing it!)

Coast walk progress as of 2018

This year I completed the coast of Wales, the north coast of Scotland and made a start on the south coast of Scotland and the west coast of Scotland. The remaining mainland coast I have left to walk is all in Scotland between Dalbeattie (Dumfries and Galloway) in the south and Lochinver (Sutherland) in the north. At my current rate of progress and with the time allowed filling the gap is still likely to take several years to fill.

I’ve completed the coast of England and Wales, plus a couple of the crown dependencies (All of the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) as well as other islands such as the Isle of Wight, Lundy and the Isles of Scilly.

I’m still not sure if I will also do Northern Ireland or not (though I do plan to do the Causeway Coast Way which takes in the Giants Causeway). Similarly for the many Scottish Islands (though I certainly hope to walk around some of them).

Sadly on my most recent trip to Scotland a week or so ago it looks like I may have lost the photos for a couple of my walks. Having filled up one memory card I swapped it for another, putting the full card in my camera bag (along with several others). However when I got home and tried to read the first card, neither my computer (I tried a couple) or any camera I own would read the card (the second one was fine, as were all the others in my camera bag). I did get it to read for about 10 seconds after which my computer reported that “the directory is no longer available” and any later attempt gave me the message that the card is not formatted and asked me if I’d like to format it (errrr, no).

The photos I may have lost are the walk between Stoer and Lochinver and a circular walk around the Point of Stoer to Clashnessie, other than a couple I took on my (not very good) phone. I’m a bit disappointing about this especially as on the last one I passed the beautiful rock formations at Old Man of Stoer in lovely evening sunshine. My local camera shop has been unable to recover the photos either. My last hope is a company in Dresden, Germany where I have sent the broken memory card which claims to be able to recover photos from memory cards where others have failed. Time will tell if they are successful. When travelling away from home by my own car I often take a laptop with me to backup the days photos at the end of my walk. Sadly I didn’t do that this time (as I was travelling by air, on a cheap hand-luggage only ticket, so did not have the space).

Update 29/10/2018: I’m pleased to report that the company in Dresden (Recoverfab) were able to recover 100% of the photographs from my broken memory card, which I’ve now been able to download, so if anyone else finds themselves in the same situation I strongly recommend them. Here are a few of my favourites.

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Clach Toll beach

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I’ve also learnt a lesson for next year. Accommodation in the North of Scotland is scarce and fills up early. On my most recent stay I had to book 10 months in advance in order to be able to get a hotel room for 5 days in a row in October (I wanted go earlier, but this was the first time I could find available rooms). Even then I ended up in what was rated the worst hotel in the town because it was all that was available. That means I need to start planning my walks for next year already. I’ve found finding accommodation in the North of Scotland is hard and what does exist, sadly, often seems to be of poor quality.

On that note, I’ll end with a slightly humorous “review” of the hotel I ended up staying in this time. As you’ll probably have guessed, I won’t be booking that hotel again (even if it is all that is available). It amazes me that not only do places like this still exist but seemingly have no trouble filling up their rooms. I guess that means they have no incentive to invest.

If you arrive at the hotel by car, your first impression might be where is the advertised car park. Having driven round the entire hotel you will then realise the entrance is the un-signed drive around the side of the hotel. As you enter the car park you might notice the exquisite collection of damp old mattresses the hotel seems to be curating, thoughtfully displayed in a skip in the car park, as well as an interesting array of mosses growing on the hotel roof. 

P1070348

You can park you car anywhere you choose in the inviting car park, arranged around an interesting collection of mostly derelict out-buildings. The owners have helpfully marked the areas in which you can park with some clear signs.

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Before you enter, pause to admire the magnificent example of 1970s architecture, finished in attractive grey pebble-dash.

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On entering the hotel you’ll quickly realise that all the beautiful period features of the 1970s are still very much intact (albeit somewhat worn) and the walls decorated by an interesting collection of mostly faded photographs. You’ll be greeted by a friendly receptionist (actually, she was very pleasant) who’ll hand you a key to your room, depicting the logo of a long-defunct chain of hotels. You then head through the corridors, brightly lit with bare fluorescent tubes, and up several flights of stairs (sorry, no lift) to your room. Watch you don’t get you hand caught in the fire doors, which close with the same force as Arkwright’s till, sending a loud bang along the corridor as they do so. 

Once in your room you’ll be greeted by an interesting array of cobwebs hanging from the ceiling for you to admire.

P1070344

You’ll be helped to acclimatise by the fact the heating (a small and old electric heater) has been switched off and the window left open. The decor is very colourful, with one white wall, one red wall, a blue carpet and brown curtains. Regrettably, you won’t be able to admire the view of a tree out of the window owing to the fact the seal in the double glazing has gone, and the window is all misted up.  You might also notice a half drunk bottle of water has been left on the floor beside the bed for your use (presumably by the previous occupant and ignored by the cleaners, assuming that there are any….).

P1070346

On inspecting your en-suite bathroom you might be surprised to find that there is a toilet and a shower, but no sink (or indeed any soap, or shampoo). Though there is a bath mat, which might be nice if you had a bath (but you don’t).

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Look further and you realise the sink is in the room itself, meaning you are reluctant to touch the bathroom door handle, knowing that the cleaning leaves something to be desired and it has been presumably well-used by the previous occupants of the room, having had no opportunity to wash their hands after using the toilet. Perhaps you might now want a cup of tea, until you realise that the switch to turn on the kettle has been broken off.

Ah well time for bed. You’ll need to get an early night to prepare for the 2:30am alarm call you will receive when the hotels fire alarm goes off (yes, sadly, this did also happen).  You’ll be lulled to sleep by the restful sound of creaking floor boards and banging fire doors.

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220. Wainfleet All Saints to Skegness via Gibraltar Point

May 2016

This was my last walk around the Wash and I was looking forward to finally getting this frustrating and rather dull stretch of coast done. This was however really a walk of two parts, the first a rather dull walk along minor roads and the odd footpath into Skegness and the second what I hoped would be (and was) a lovely walk along a glorious beach.

For this walk I was travelling from home as a day trip by train. A couple of months earlier I had booked a single ticket from London to Wainfleet for £16.50 and a ticket back from Skegness to London for £15.30. I’ve no idea why a ticket from Skegness to London is cheaper than from London to Wainfleet given Skegness is further away, but then there is no logic to rail ticket pricing. However all in the total (£31.80) was pretty reasonable I thought but the downside is of course I’m tied to returning on the specified train.

I took a train into Waterloo, two tube trains to get to London Kings Cross, a train from there to Grantham and finally another from Grantham to Wainfleet. It was a fine summer Saturday in May where lots of people were heading to the coast. Trains to Skegness only run hourly and so of course the train company (East Midlands Trains) had scheduled this service to be run with just 2 carriages. I walked through the train but only when I almost got to the end did I spot a seat that should be free if the person sat next to it had not put their bag on it. I asked if they’d mind if I put this on the luggage rack so I could sit down (it should not be necessary to ask, really) which they agreed albeit reluctantly, so at least I didn’t have to stand, though the train was hot, noisy and crowded and I was glad when we reached Wainfleet and I could get off.

Thankfully the trains arrived on time so I reached Wainfleet a little before 11am. I was surprised how hot it had become – it seemed that summer had arrived the previous day, so I stopped first to apply some sunscreen.

I first headed from the station in Wainfleet through this pretty if unremarkable village which seems to have a large centre but few actual shops (I suspect there were once many more shops).

Wainfleet All Saints

I followed the main street to the market square which like many places is today mostly used for car parking. Here is where there are still a couple of shops. I continued north past an attractive little street I remember passing the last time I was here where all the houses are to the same design, and continued north away from the village centre.

Wainfleet All Saints

The most direct route to Skegness is along the A52. This is also (possibly) the most coastal route I could follow, but it is a very busy road with no pavement and the traffic is heavy and fast moving. I decided that it was too dangerous to try and walk along this road the whole way so looked into alternatives.

A minor road runs east from the A52 to Haven House station (a bizarrely remote station which seems to serve just a single farm) beyond which the road narrows and then some point the map suggests the road becomes private, but that it continues as a track (New Road then Toll bar Road) to reach the coast road south of Skegness near Seacroft Golf Course. However I was not sure if I would be able to get through if the road was private so checked on Google Street View (this is so useful!). Sure enough the Google car stopped at the point the road became private (no longer yellow on the map) where there was a warning sign that the road ahead was private and there was no through route. I also checked the other route which had similar signs though these also barred pedestrians. That is a shame but I didn’t want to risk trying to trespass along this track to reach the coast.

Plan B was therefore a a more inland route via the village of Croft.  This was further from the coast, but on more minor roads that would be safer to walk on, at least initially. So that is the way I went.

After a short distance from the centre of Wainfleet I forked off the (not very) main road onto Croft Road. This past alongside a cemetery to my left and fields and a hedge to my right. I soon passed an old windmill by the looks of it, with new build houses around it.

Old windmill in Wainfleet All Saints

I soon reached (I think) the edge of the village of New England though it seems to merge with Wainfleet All Saints, so it is hard to know where one ends and the next begins. I then crossed the Wainfleet Relief Channel via the bridge. This is a man-made stream built I believe to prevent the surrounding area from flooding (most of Lincolnshire is very flat).

Beyond this I continued along the minor road, Croft Lane, now out into the countryside. The road did not have a pavement but there was not much traffic and grass verges on either side so traffic was not a problem.

Croft Road near Winfleet All Saints

I soon reached the small number of buildings to the south of the village of Croft where there was an attractive and welcoming looking pub but it was too early for it to be open, so I continued.

Croft, Lincolnshire

Behind the pub (perhaps in their car park) rather strangely was a caravan site. A footpath was marked on the map as going through this so I took it as a little shortcut. The caravans were very close together, it did not look a nice site, but they soon ended and the path continued through the edge of a couple of fields to the road ahead. Here I turned right and resumed on the road, having cut a little corner.

Just after this I turned right off this road and onto Washdike Lane. This dead-straight took me straight into the village centre of Croft, a few hundred metres ahead. Here I reached a junction with the war memorial ahead and continued ahead along Pinchbeck Lane passing the church just beyond.

Croft, Lincolnshire

It was quite an old and pretty looking church, though I did not go inside.

Croft, Lincolnshire

I followed the road ahead for around 3/4 of a mile to reach Croft Drain. A weed-filled channel of water that looked rather stagnant.

Croft Drain

Here I could leave the road and follow a footpath which runs alongside Croft Drain to re-join the road ahead (another slight shortcut). So I took that, keen to get off the tarmac for a while.

This path crossed a couple of footbridges and then rejoined the road. Here I turned right along this now busier road to reach the A52. I couldn’t escape this road entirely, but at least here I only had a mile or so to go now to Skegness. As I joined the road it was lined by houses. I’m not sure if these are part of Croft or another settlement but only a farm is named on the map (Retreat Farm), so I’m not sure. However what it did mean is that the road had a pavement!

The houses soon ended and the pavement narrowed but thankfully did not disappear entirely. I passed a caravan park on the left (as I found there are a LOT of these around Skegness) and soon the welcome to Skegness sign decorated with the Jolly Fisherman logo, which the town seems to have adopted.

Welcome to Skegness

The Jolly Fisherman dates from a railway posted created by John Hassall in 1908 by the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) originally as a holiday advertisement, with the slogan “Skegness is SO bracing”. It seems a strange way to advertise a town (bracing tends to be associated with cold), but it was I believe quite successful and seems to have been adopted as the towns logo, 100 years later.

The pavement continued, sometimes very narrow and often with grass growing over it (I guess it is not much used) but it did continue all the way into the town. My welcome to the town was B&Q and various other shops in a retail park. I continued along the busy road, passing the railway station and onwards to the beach.

At last here I was. I’ve rounded the Wash and finally returned to the open sea. Whilst I did not much care for the town itself, the beach at Skegness was beautiful. Lovely soft sand with few people about, despite it being May, though this was perhaps because it was quite windy.

The beach at Skegness

Of course my main route onwards along the coast is north from Skegness. However to the south there is about 2 miles of coast I’d otherwise have missed out, being a narrow peninsula with the coast on one side and drainage water channels on the other. There is no public access over these drainage channels, making it in effect a 2 mile dead end, at the far end of which is Gibraltar Point (how it came to be named I’m not sure).

I had allowed time to walk down to this, though I’d then have to walk back again. So I turned right and walked along the beach.

The beach at Skegness

Whilst there weren’t many people on the beach in the town, there was soon no one at all as I headed further south. The tide was low and it goes out a long way here, so the sea was still some way away.

The beach at Skegness

As the hard sand was criss-crossed with numerous areas of water I stuck to the sands nearer the back of the beach to avoid having to keep wading through the water. However it was lovely to be back beside the open sea walking on sand, backed by dunes and with the sea to my left.

Gibraltar Point is a nature reserved managed by the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust. In a little under 2 miles I reached the edge of their reserve.

The beach at Bramble Hills, Skegness

Here sadly I had to leave the beach. A barrier had been put across the beach “Shorebird Sanctuary Do Not Enter”.

End of the accessible beach

So here I turned inland on the paths to reach the marshes of the nature reserve.

Here I followed the looping path over the extensive marshes behind the beach. This was quite pleasant and interesting though I did not see much in the way of wildlife (I expect there is more activity at dawn and dusk).

Gibraltar Point Nature Reserve, Skegness

Gibraltar Point Nature Reserve, Skegness

Gibraltar Point Nature Reserve, Skegness

Gibraltar Point Nature Reserve, Skegness

Having rounded the nature reserve I met the road.

For variety I intended to walk back along the road rather than come back the same way along the beach. It only went to the nature reserve so I was not anticipating much traffic, but it was nice to come across a parallel foot and cycle path alongside which I had not expected to find (as it’s not marked on the map).

This path ran through trees and initially had the feel of an old railway line (though I don’t think it is).

Cycle path to Skegness

Later it seemed to have been made deliberately wiggly!

Cycle path to Skegness

Sadly the cycle path soon ended and I was back on the road. I continued on the road for around 1 mile to soon reach the first houses of Skegness. After a further 1/4 of a mile there was a footpath marked on the map heading right back towards the coast.

I was alerted to the point this started by a dog walker who was just ahead of me and then disappeared along the path (it was easy to miss), so I followed this over the golf course where I came to an unexpected lake.

Marshes near Bramble Hills, Skegness

Unexpected, because it is not marked on the Ordnance Survey map at all! It is just marked as marsh land on the map. On reaching the edge of this I turned left, hoping that I could find some way past it to get to the dunes and the beach beyond. Footprints showed others had been here before me and at the south edge of the water I could follow the sand and mud at the edge of the water to get closer to the coast. It was however rather muddy underfoot.

Having made it past this marshy lake I found a fairly well worn path over some more slightly marshy ground and then into the dunes, where I could continue back to the beach.

The beach at Skegness

My alternative route had turned into rather more of an adventure than I had planned. Still I was now back on the beach and so continued north back to the town centre.

Here I found a site you don’t often see these days. Children still having rides on donkeys (I remember my late grandfather always giving me money before we went on holiday for a “donkey ride”, though he continued to do it long after I was far too big for that to be a possibility!).

Donkeys on the beach at Skegness

I had a bit of time before my train home so I continued to the towns rather pathetic pier. Pathetic because this is the view from the very end of it!

The beach at Skegness

Yes it doesn’t even reach the sea any more (at least not at low tide). Of course it used to be much longer. The rot set in in World War II when the pier was closed during the war. A storm in 1978 breached part of the pier, leaving the old pier head isolated from the rest of the structure. This isolated end of the pier was demolished in the 1980s. The main pier itself was also shortened following further storm damage and fires leaving just a little over 100 metres left. There is nothing to be seen of the old pier head now.

Still I enjoyed the view along the lovely sandy beach in either direction before leaving and heading for the town.

The beach at Skegness

The beach at Skegness

I didn’t have time for a sit down meal, so found a takeaway (which wasn’t very good) before heading to the station.

Skegness station is very odd because rather than be able to go on the platform they block the platforms off and tell you to form a queue at a gate to the platform. You are only allowed on the platform a few minutes before the train is due to leave. It is not a friendly system as you have to stand in a long queue to stand any chance of getting a seat so if you want to buy something or go to the toilet you lose your place. I arrived a few minutes before the train was due only to find I was near the back of the queue. This meant when I got on the train I had to stand, the whole way to Grantham. I didn’t have the option to go on a later train as my ticket was only valid on that specific one.

As well as having too few seats the train was disgusting. It looked like there had been an explosion in a crisp factory inside, with bits of crisps all squashed into the carpets, left on the seats and the tables, along with fast food wrappers and all sorts of other rubbish. I presume this is all the mess that had been created today. It is a shame people leave such a mess but also a shame the train company doesn’t seem to bother cleaning it up until the train goes back to the depot at the end of the day.

Despite the filthy state of the train it go me to Grantham on time for my onward train to London (where I did get a seat) and then home.

The first part of this walk through villages and along roads was quite dull. However things improved greatly by the time I reached the beach at Skegness. It was lovely to be back beside the open sea again, on a lovely sandy beach. I was glad I’d made the effort to explore Gibraltar Point too, as it was a lovely and remote beach out there. The town of Skegness itself did not seem especially nice, but at least it has a good beach and I knew that my next walk along the coast would finally be beside the open sea, rather than marshes and mud flats.

Here are details of the public transport needed for this walk. You can travel back either by bus (routes 57 and IC7) or train:-

East Midlands Trains The Poacher Line : Nottingham – Netherfield – Radcliffe – Bingham – Aslockton – Elton and Orston – Bottesford – Grantham – Ancaster – Rauceby – Sleaford – Heckington – Swineshead – Hubberts Bridge – Boston – Thorpe Culvert – Wainfleet – Havenhouse – Skegness. Trains run approximately hourly seven days a week (though there are some longer gaps). It takes a little under 15 minutes between Wainfleet and Skegness. Note that one or two trains on this route do not stop at Wainfleet. Many of the smaller stations on this line also have a very limited service (perhaps only one or two trains each day, with most running through without stopping).

Stagecoach bus route 57 : Boston (Bus Station) – Freiston – Butterwick – Bennington – Leverton – Old Leake – Wrangle – Friskney – Wainfleet – Skegness. This bus runs hourly Monday – Saturday and takes a little under 15 minutes between Wainfleet and Skegness. There is no service on Sunday.

Brylaine bus route IC7 : Boston – Freiston – Butterwick – Bennington – Leverton – Old Leake – Wrangle – Friskney – Wainfleet – Skegness. This bus runs broadly hourly Monday – Saturday and takes around 10 minutes between Wainfleet and Skegness. There is no service on Sunday.

Here are the complete set of photos for this walk : Main Link | Slideshow

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