218. Wrangle to Boston

September 2015

Having reached the town of Boston on my last walk and the crossing of The Haven, it was time to head back along the north banks of the river to the coast and then follow the coast north. I was again walking beside the marshy coast of the Wash and with poor access right along the coast I had to head a fair way inland to the village of Wrangle in order to find a bus service.

I had previously booked non-refundable train tickets from London to Boston in order to bring the costs down to a reasonable level (£30 return), but unfortunately I made a planning error. I had later subsequently also booked to join friends on a weekend away on the same day (mistakenly thinking it was the following weekend I was going on this walk). It was only when I went to check the train tickets I realised I had a clash.

I couldn’t do both and rather than let down friends I decided to postpone this walk and forfeit the train tickets. Instead as I was free the following weekend instead, I tried to book train tickets for that weekend but by the time I realised the conflict, they cost over £50. So instead I decided to abandon going by train and drive, as this would now be cheaper. It was a long way to drive there and back in the day but I did want to complete this walk before the days got too short to make it viable.

As a result of the long drive from Surrey I made an early start and headed up via the M25, A1 and A15. I found my way without any problem (other than getting held up behind a few tractors) and ended up at the long stay car park near the bus station in Boston. I had a choice of walking to Wrangle and taking the bus back or taking the bus now to Wrangle and walking back. I had not checked the bus times, and after arriving I used the toilet in the car park and then got my bag out the car and as I did so, I saw the bus I needed to catch (number 7) arrive at the bus station, so I was able to walk over and get it, avoiding any need to wait (which was just as well as it had just started to rain).

The driver did not seem very enthusiastic. He had not bothered to set the destination display on the front (only the route number), so I had to double check I was on the right bus. It was a tatty 10 year old bus and a few minutes after we set off, the women in front of me moved seats having found that her seat was damp, and looking up I could see water leaking through the roof above the (closed) window, which was still dripping down. It was only when I got off the bus, I realised my own seat had also been damp meaning I too now had a damp bottom. Not the best of bus journeys, then.

As it turned out doing this walk in this direction might have been a mistake, as I spent most of the day walking into a strong wind. If I had started from Boston I would likely have had it behind me for most of the walk. Oh well, a lesson for next time, perhaps!

I reached Wrangle after about 30 minutes and the bus turned off the main road where I spotted the Angel Inn, the bus stopping point listed in the timetable so I knew to get off here.

Wrangle

Wrangle

I wandered down to the church but there was work going on at the front, so I didn’t go in.

The church in Wrangle

Wrangle is not very coastal, it is about 2 miles from the coast, but it was as close as I could get by public transport. So I now had to make my way back to the coast. I stopped to check the map and realised I was already on the correct road out of the town, which was handy. I followed the road past the church and the last of the houses of Wrangle and continued down the road to the junction at Hall End where Wrangle Hall was marked on the map. I was hoping for a grand building, but there was nothing of the sort to be seen. However at least the rain had stopped.

Here I turned left and picked up the path heading south. This was a wide earth track between fields and was flat and easy to follow and was free from mud, so making for an easy walk.

Footpath near Wrangle

I followed this easily through the fields to Sandalfs Garden, but the peace was rather shattered by someone firing guns fairly close by.

As a result of the rain I was keen to avoid too much walking through wet long grass, as this tends to get my feet and trousers very wet. Here the footpath and road ran parallel to each other, and wanting to keep dry I opted to join the road rather than the path to go south to Sailors Home. Here I could pick up a footpath along the sea bank and then turn right along the sea bank around the Wash.

Path near Wrangle

I have to say this walk was a bit of a disappointment, as the views over the Wash were almost entirely over the few hundred metres of salt marsh that are immediately alongside, restricting the view to a distant glimpse of sand and mud.

The sea wall near Wrangle

The Wash near Wrangle

The path to the coast had quite long grass, so I had damp feet now (but not wet), but thankfully on reaching the coast the grass was shorter, so my feet soon dried out (and stayed that way).

The route was easy to follow, just keep to the sea wall. Marsh and shore to one side.

The Wash near Wrangle

Flat fields of crops to the other.

Crops in a field near Leverton

In around 1 ¼ miles I reached a pumping station. Here a new sea bank had been built but the footpath was signed as following the original sea bank, now a little inland of the coast. This is because the land here is largely reclaimed land, with new sea banks built further and further out. However the most coastal of the sea banks had a sign requesting dog walkers keep their dog on a lead. There was no sign to say it was a footpath, but there was a stile over the gate and short grass beyond, so I presumed it was a permitted route and so stuck to the most coastal of the sea walls.

Sign

I could now follow this sea bank for several miles. The view to the sea was limited but I did see a few people that had walked out over the salt marsh and managed to reach the sand and mud beyond. I did try at one point, but did not get very far before reaching wet mud, which I didn’t fancy trying to cross.

The Wash

The Wash near Leverton

Inland it was still fields, but with the odd drainage channel in between them.

Drainage dithc near Leverton

Marshes near Leverton

Cattle were grazing on the salt marsh and at one point they had gathered on the sea bank ahead of me. As they saw me approaching they walked ahead on the path. This was not ideal, as whenever I got within a couple of metres, they picked up the pace and ran ahead, only to slow down again.

Walking companions near Freiston

I wondered how long this would continue, and after a while a few dropped down to the left and stopped, so I got in front of them. Eventually I headed a bit down the slope to the left and managed to get past the rest of them, as I had visions of them walking up to the gate at the end and then panicking. I was glad to get through the gate and away from them though. Looking back they looked a little disappointed!

Walking companions near Freiston

Ahead the map indicated the outer most sea wall ahead had been deliberately breached to make a salt marsh, which turned out to be the case, so I needed to head back on the older sea wall a little further inland (this part of the coast seems to be in constant change). This soon took me to an area that had been flooded to create more salt marsh and was apparently a nature reserve visited by thousands of birds, but at this early autumn I only saw sheep there!

Nature reserve near Freiston

At the pumping station ahead there was a footpath sign on the gate ahead along the most coastal sea wall, even though the map suggested no right of way here (and that I’d have to walk further inland), so I was glad to be able to continue along the coast and take a more coastal route.

The sea wall near Freiston

There was soon a sign for a bird hide 1.5 miles ahead.

The Wash near Boston

However whilst I was pleased to find a more coastal route, one little pang of disappointment I had, the footpath I was expecting to have to follow appeared to head right through North Sea Camp, a prison. I was curious to see how that was going to work, but as I could follow a more coastal route, which was better, I never got to find out. Soon I could see the bank curving to the left and realised I was further ahead than I realised and more or less level with the prison, but there was little to see inland. All I could see were a few huts and a road telling me it was private and no access to the prison (except I think the prison is exactly where it did go).

The sea wall near Freiston

Soon I reached the river bank at Freiston Low and here I could turn left on a footpath to the brick building at the end, the lower floor of which is now a bird hide (the one signed earlier), but it was full of Polish beer cans and a broken chair, so was not very appealing! However the view was good as The Haven river flows out to the Wash here, finally giving a good view over the extensive mud flats and sands of the wash.

The mouth of the Haven near Freiston

The Wash near Boston

The Wash near Boston

I stopped here for a rest for a while, and then followed the path alongside the river into Boston.

The Haven near Boston

The Haven near Boston

This was easy to follow, keeping to the raised bank beside the river. After about a mile I reached the Cut End Road and a small car park.

The Haven near Boston

After another mile or so I reached the Hobhole Drain, a man-made river that drains the fields. Here I crossed the mouth of the river on the sluice gates, which also carried a road. On the right just past this was the old Jolly Sailors pub, sadly a pub no more.

Former pub near Boston

It was a shame as it would be a lovely setting, but I guess the remote location would make it hard to make it a success. Beyond this there was a memorial, but a family was sitting on it so I didn’t get to see what it was about.

The Haven near Boston

The path continued on the coastal side of the road and I could see I was now in Havenside Country Park. It was still a pleasant rural view and I could see the tall tower of the church in Boston ahead.

The Haven near Boston

The path passed the sewage works which thankfully were not very stinky. Ahead there were some large warehouses marked on the map but there are low rise and set far enough back I barely noticed them, although I was now only on a thin strip of greenery beside the river. The path continued to be good to Skirbeck, where there was a pretty church with a large pond in front , which made for a lovely scene which if you didn’t know different looks very rural, despite being in the middle of a built up area.

Skirbeck Church, Boston

Just ahead was another man-made drainage channel, the Maud Foster Drain, which had houses off to the right. Here the coast ahead was blocked by the docks and a big fence so there was no further access ahead along the river.

So I had to turn right, inland, on the pot-holed road along the right hand edge of the water (marked as a footpath on the map).

The Haven, Boston

When this reached the road and bridge I turned left and then followed this road until I reached the main road and then turned right following this into the centre of Boston.

The Haven, Boston

I passed some attractive buildings on the way.

Boston

Boston

Boston

Boston has quite an attractive town centre and market square, but I did not see it at it’s best as the Saturday market was in the process of packing up, and large amounts of rubbish were blowing about.

Boston market place

Boston market place

So I did not linger and instead made my way across the river to the bus station and the car park.

Boston

Boston

St Botolph's Church, Boston

It had been a pleasant walk but also an unremarkable one. However I am now nearly around the Wash, an area of coast I have to say I have not enjoyed that much (it is rather boring). Two more walks should see me at Skegness and back to the coast proper and I was looking forward to getting there.

It was time to head home, and it being a Saturday the traffic on the way back was fairly light so again I made good time.

Here are details of the public transport needed for this walk. Rather confusingly there are two bus companies operating largely the same route but with different route numbers. Between them, the service is around every 30 minutes (except Sundays).

Stagecoach route 57 : Boston (Bus Station) – Freiston – Butterwick – Bennington – Leverton – Old Leake – Wrangle – Friskney – Wainfleet – Skegness. This bus runs hourly Monday – Saturday and takes about 35 minutes between Boston and Wrangle. There is no service on Sunday.

Brylaine route IC7 : Boston – Freiston – Butterwick – Bennington – Leverton – Old Leake – Wrangle – Friskney – Wainfleet – Skegness. This bus runs hourly Monday – Saturday and takes around 35 minutes between Boston and Wrangle. There is no service on Sunday.

A combined timetable of both these buses is available here.

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

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4 Responses to 218. Wrangle to Boston

  1. owdjockey says:

    Hi Jon, most of this is still fesh in my mind from last week and a lot does not seem to have changed from 3 years ago. I can confirm that the IC7 bus service is now run by Stagecoach on more modern and waterproof buses! Was hoping to do a couple of days in Applecross this week, but it looks really wet. Probably head out to the East coast again. Am now faced with the quandry, like yourself, of getting to Kings Lynn. Either 3 shortish walks, or 1 big one and a shortish one. Then there’s the public transport situation.

    • jcombe says:

      I see you’ve now gone ahead with your plan and I’m glad you got another walk in. I know Applecross is very remote and I’ve heard the road there is not easy either, so probably a good decision to postpone that one if the weather is bad!

  2. Your disappointed cows picture made me laugh, but it did look rather a dull walk other than that!

    • jcombe says:

      Yes it was a bit dull. I think The Wash has been my least favourite bit of coast. I was a little nervous of the cows but I think they were just a bit curious and seemed a bit disappointed once I reached the gate they couldn’t cross and had to stop following me!

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