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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7 Responses to 224. Immingham to Cleethorpes

  1. owdjockey says:

    Hi Jon, full marks for attempting to find a way around this area. I’m quite glad really that I gave this area a wide berth, although I still had to head into Grimsby and managed to get into a cicrular walk around the docks because a path outlet gate was locked.

  2. snowgood says:

    Wow, that was a good deal on the train. I usually pay £18 one way Gatwick to Victoria, about 30 miles tops.

    • jcombe says:

      Yes it’s bizarre how you can often travel hundreds of miles for less than it costs you to travel a fraction of the distance. Though the downside in this case is that you do end up in Grimsby!

  3. Hmm, I guess this is the downside to your project! Sounds very grim indeed. I wonder if Adam Smith is “our” Adam Smith, 18C Scottish economist and author of The Wealth of Nations?

    • jcombe says:

      Yes indeed though I do find that the “bad parts” make me enjoy the “good parts” (which is most of it), much more!

      You could be right about Adam Smith. I did try searching for “Adam Smith Grimsby”, but all I could find was someone of the same name working at Grimsby Town Football club as “Youth Development Operations Manager” – but I doubt that warrants having a street named after you!

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