217. Sutterton and Fosdyke to Boston

June 2015

I have to be honest this was not a walk I was particularly looking forward to. It was one of the least varied coast walks I have done, continuing around the marshy Wash, often far from the open sea and starting some distance from the coast. Having said that, it was still pleasant and an easy walk too. Once again I was walking between two rivers. The River Welland, which I will be crossing at Fosdyke and then The Haven, a man made river which joins to the river Witham, which I can first cross in Boston.

I was travelling by train for this walk and in order to bring the cost down, I had booked a few months back to get return tickets costing £33.90, but these were valid on only one specific train. I begun by taking the train to London Waterloo, then the tube over to Kings Cross, then another train from London to Grantham. Finally, a train from Grantham to Boston. Trains to Boston also go on to Skegness and that seems to attract stag parties, hen parties and various other noisy groups, so the was rather crowded and noisy train.

Still everything went to plan and I arrived in Boston on time. I had to either start or end this walk from Sutterton, as it was the nearest place to Fosdyke Bridge that had a bus service (and it’s where I ended my previous walk). I also had more time than required to complete this walk, as there is an annoying 2 hour gap in the trains home. The one before this gap would be a big tight, the next would likely give me too much time, involving waiting around. I had to book the tickets in advance to get an acceptable price, so went for too long, to save having to rush. I could catch the bus at the start of the day to Sutterton and walk back, or catch the bus from Sutterton to Boston at the end. The end of the walk had a shorter connection between the bus and train, but I decided to have a little wander around Boston (which struck me as quite a nice town) and then take the bus out to Sutterton.

Last time I was in Boston there was a fairground in the Market Place so I couldn’t really see it all easily. Today there was a market, so I still couldn’t really see it all easily. Still it was nice to see the square being used for it’s original purpose.

St Botolph's Church, Boston

St Botolph's Church, Boston

The bus timetable listed the bus as going from the “Market Place”. However as I had found, the market place was big, so where exactly in the market square did I need to be? I found a couple of bus stops and none had the timetable for the correct bus. So I waited by the one I thought (and hoped) was right. It was, as the bus soon arrived. However rather confusingly the timetable I had printed off from the internet the day before showed the bus was numbered “B13”. The actual bus that turned up was showing a route number of 113, but the expected destination (Spalding)! Still I checked with the driver and it was the right bus and did indeed go to Sutterton.

Soon our ageing double-decker set off. The main roads in the area, the A16 and A52 do not bypass Boston but go through it, funnelled into a dual carriageway through the edge of the town centre. We needed to head south on the A16. The bus headed for the dual carriageway stretch, but a sign placed in the middle of the road said that road was closed. The driver ignored this and weaved around the sign only to face bollards closing the road ahead and an angry looking man in a high-vis jacket beckoning the driver to turn around. The work was apparently for a railway bridge which struck me as odd, as I arrived by train and there was no alterations to the trains due to these works.

The driver then had to make a rather awkward U-turn and head back into town. The traffic was stop-start but he followed the diversion sign. We then approached a traffic light junction where the traffic on the road ahead was backed up hence only 2 or 3 cars got through each change of the traffic lights. It took 10 minutes, but as we neared the junction the driver seemed to get confused, going into the right hand lane. This caused a flurry of activity from passengers downstairs where it soon became clear the driver (who sounded Eastern European, so probably not local) did not know where to go, and the diversion sign unhelpfully pointed the wrong way. Some helpful locals directed him onto the A52 west where we could pick up another road to Wyberton. When we finally joined this, we were 25 minutes late. As we neared the B1397 in Wyberton, the traffic ground to a halt again, as we needed to make a right turn. Another 10 minutes gone, 35 minutes late. Finally, once on the road to Wyberton the traffic eased. I later saw from the local newspaper there were 5 mile queues of traffic on all roads into Boston. I guess this is what happens if you route two major roads onto a single road and then close it!

So all in, I was glad that I had opted to catch the bus first – if I’d have done it at the end of the walk it might have been very late and that would quite likely mean I would have missed my booked train home (meaning I’d have to buy a new full-priced ticket).

Once in Sutterton although late I knew I still had enough time to walk back to Boston.

I quite liked this little village last time. I headed past the little village green and passed the church. I had to make my way to Algakirk but the Ordnance Survey map was not detailed enough, with all the residential streets, (many cul-de-sacs) not being clearly shown, and it was a bit of a maze. I resorted to using Google Maps aerial view on my phone, not really remembering the route I took last time. As much by luck as anything else I made it on the right route and soon reached the pleasant church at Algakirk.

Algakirk Church

From here I turned south on the road and followed it to the end of the village and eventually down to the A16. I crossed the A16, which took a couple of minutes, then continued along Church Lane. This is marked with the odd “Other Route with Public Access” on the map but is in fact just a normal road. At the end I turned right passing Woad Mill and reaching the A17. Suzy’s Cafe looked as closed as it did last time.

Drainage ditch near Fosdyke

It took a while to wait for a gap in the traffic to cross the road here, but soon across I followed the road past Kenton Farm, Poplar Farm, and Irelands Farm (as before), where the road was then a dead-end to Place Farm and Bank House Farm. I then picked up the bridleway along the old flood bank and reached Fosdyke Bridge.

The River Welland near Fosdyke

Fosdyke Bridge is the lowest point you can cross (on foot) the river Welland so I was now back on the coast (sort of), after around 4 miles of walking (all of which was needed due to the poor bus service).

The River Welland near Fosdyke

From here the route was easy, I joined the Macmillan Way which followed the north bank of the river along New Sea Bank.

The Macmillan Way

This is a long distance path from Abbotsbury and Barnstaple to Boston (all of which I’ll have been to on my coastal walk by the end of the day).

The River Welland near Fosdyke

The Wash has had much land reclamation and I could see a little inland there was an old bank, marked Sea Bank, presumably showing an older sea bank.

Earl Marsh

There was a little boat heading down the river, but soon the path turned a little away from the river and so I had salt marsh to my right and miles and miles of fields to my left – Lincolnshire seems mainly given over to agriculture. The walk was not especially interesting, the scenery being largely unchanging and the only “excitement” was passing a few pumping stations! These exist because much of the land here is reclaimed and below sea level and hence has to be drained by numerous artificial water channels and water pumped out to the rivers.

Soon I reached a point where, for no reason I could see, the sea wall turned a bit inland, round a small area of marsh and then you doubled back. There was some pretty wild flowers beside the bank and poppies starting to grow in one of the fields inland. It was lovely and peaceful and I had seen no one since leaving Fosdyke.

Earl Marsh

I passed marshes names after the various villages inland I had passed – Kirton Marsh and Frampton Marsh.

Earl Marsh

Kirton Marsh

To my right was now more than a mile of salt marsh, meaning that as the sea wall was only about 1 metre above it, there was no view to the sea, which was a shame.

Kirton Marsh

There is another of these little inlets at Frampton Marsh and then ahead I came to a small car park and the first people I had seen for several hours.

Drainage ditch on Frampton Marsh

This is because inland a couple of the fields have been flooded to create an RSPB reserve (Frampton Marsh). The path continues around the sea wall here, but there is a lot more wildlife to the left.

RSPB Frampton Marsh

I spotted Little Egrets amongst the various birds and the sound is amazing, of hundreds of birds calling.

RSPB Frampton Marsh

RSPB Frampton Marsh

RSPB Frampton Marsh

Near the end of the reserve I came to the banks of the River Witham or The Haven as it’s called here (I think the stretch from Boston to the shore is man-made and carries a different name).

This river flows out to sea here and the lowest point it can be crossed on foot is Boston, hence my walk ending there. The river runs for around 82 miles from Grantham to the coast here and is also fed by numerous drainage channels. A dead-end path, signed as 3 km follows the river to it’s mouth, whilst I worked out I had around 4 miles to go to Boston. Checking the time I could see that I had time to spare, so I decided to walk along this dead end path to the shore.

I wasn’t expecting to see anyone, but almost straight away a couple of walkers passed me. A few minutes later, a 4×4 drove along the sea bank (not sure it was meant to, it is marked as a footpath not a road). Further along two men walking on the other bank with a boat launched the boat and crossed to this bank. They got out the boat for a while then headed back again – I was not sure what they were up to and was a little suspicious. Further out the path was now right by the river and with the tide in it was mostly water rather than mostly mud. I had to past some cows standing on the path, but they did not give me any bother.

Footpath beside The Haven near Boston

I hoped the 3km estimate was wrong and I’d see the sea just around the next corner. As it was I probably did cover almost 3km until I got close to the water and – at last – I could see the open sea beyond.

The Haven (River Witham) near Boston

In the haze to the right I could make out cliffs – Hunstanton probably. It was lovely to finally glimpse the sea, but rather frustrating that I now had to walk back again!

Frampton Marsh and the Wash

Frampton Marsh and the Wash

The path was quieter this time and after about 35 minutes I was back where I left, making my way back past the cows and on into Boston. This time I forked right to take the path along the sea bank beside the river.

Initially there was salt marsh to my right, although with the river visible beyond. Soon as I reached yet another pumping station I was now right alongside the river, which was nice.

The Haven (River Witham) near Boston

There were a few people walking on the bank on the other side of the river, but oddly no one on my side. Soon I came to a couple of old ponds on the right and an area where the sea wall had obviously been rebuilt recently.

Frampton Marsh

The Haven (River Witham) near Boston

Beyond was an area of former landfill but if it wasn’t for the fence and the fact it was marked on the map I probably wouldn’t notice although perhaps might question the presence of a few hills in an otherwise flat area.

The Haven (River Witham) near Boston

To my right I now had industrial buildings on the edge of Boston. As I rounded the corner I soon had them on my side of the river too.

I was feeling slightly apprehensive here, I’m not sure why really other than I don’t like walking through industrial areas and docks and was wondering if I might meet any dodgy characters (I didn’t). The church of Skirbeck was visible on the other bank.

The Haven (River Witham) near Boston

I continued along the path and soon on the other side I was now passing the dock area. I never realised that Boston had such a big dock.

The Haven (River Witham) near Boston

The Haven (River Witham) near Boston

There were large yellow cranes presumably to unload from boats. Soon I could see the bridge ahead. I had been a little nervous what with the road closures earlier that I might find my route blocked so I was pleased to see the traffic moving.

The river Witham and docks in Boston

The bridge crosses a drainage channel into the river Witham, rather than the river itself. It marked the point where the walk really became urban, as from here it was road all the way. Or so I thought, in fact there was a raised grassy path just to the right of the road I could follow for a while until it ended. The traffic on my left was stop start and I was maintaining more or less the same speed as the cars. The traffic problems in Boston had persisted all day then!

Soon the area became residential and I had houses on my right. I stuck to the main road and soon reached the A16 bridge, where I could cross the river into Boston. I navigated the numerous pedestrian crossings and turned left to head north soon reaching the church and market place. I still had nearly an hour before my train, so got some food and then headed back to the station.

This time it was a pleasant journey home as the train was fairly quiet and it rattled it’s way over the Fens to Grantham where I changed (uneventfully) for the train onto London (Kings Cross) where I made my way over to London Waterloo and another train home.

This was not an especially interesting walk, it being alongside miles of salt marsh through a flat and fairly featureless landscape for much of the time. Having said that it was still beautiful in it’s own way and a very peaceful walk, helped by lovely weather and the great feeling of space this flat land and big sky gives you.

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

Brylaine Travel route B13 : Boston – Wyberton – Kirton – Sutterton – Gosberton – Surfleet – Pinchbeck – Spalding. Hourly Monday – Saturday, no service on Sundays. It takes around 20 minutes between Boston and Sutterton.

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

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3 Responses to 217. Sutterton and Fosdyke to Boston

  1. owdjockey says:

    Hi John, this should be my next but one walk. Fortunately, there is now a bus service running from Boston to Fosdyke #7B, its a call connect service (which I have already used in North Lincs). Although I may have to use my bike for the Kings Lynn to Fosdyke bit, although there are some services.

    • jcombe says:

      Thanks for the bus information. I had assumed those “dial a ride” type bus routes were limited to only being usable by residents of the relevant counties (as I found was the case in Suffolk), but it does seem in Lincolnshire they let anyone use them, which is good!

      • owdjockey says:

        Hi Jon, when you call them up they always ask for a Registration Number, but if you are an infrequent visitor they simply put you down as visitor. If the service is on Traveline it is generally a Public service in the truest sense. Hopefully, they have they have changed their stance in Suffolk?

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