This is my last walk wholly in Lincolnshire (though it wasn’t when I walked it, as I did not do it in order), as this walk would mean I only had the Humber bridge to cross to cross from Lincolnshire into Yorkshire. This walk was therefore around the banks of the Humber. This time there was again some industry to negotiate, but fortunately less than I had encountered on the walk from Immingham to Cleethorpes.
Once again I was doing this walk for the day from home. This was the reason I was starting at Barton-upon-Humber rather than Immingham, because the train service to Barton-upon-Humber was infrequent (for reasons I will explain later) and so I wanted to get the part of the journey that relied on infrequent trains done in the morning.
I had booked train tickets around 3 months in advance in order to get a cheap price. From London to Barton-upon-Humber for £20.40 and returning from Grimsby Town to London for £12.
The down side is that I had to take 6(!) trains to get to Barton-upon-Humber. Something was bound to go wrong! First I took a train to London Waterloo. Then a tube train from on the Bakerloo Line from Waterloo to Oxford Circus, a train on the Victoria Line from Oxford Circus to Kings Cross. Then a train from London Kings Cross to Newark North Gate, a train from Newark North Gate to Habrough (wherever that is) and finally another train from Habrough to Barton-upon-Humber.
I got to London OK, got the tube across to Kings Cross OK and got to Newark North Gate OK. From there the train onwards to Habrough was a single carriage! Ridiculous and of course it was full, so I had to stand as far as Lincoln but from there it was quieter.
I soon got off at Habrough (which I later saw from the map is actually very close to Immingham). Normally when I change trains it is at a large station which usually means there are ticket barriers so I’m stuck in the station whilst I wait. Habrough was small (tiny really), and unstaffed (so not problems with ticket barriers) and so gave me the opportunity to explore in the half an hour or so that I had there to wait for my connection.
Well there was very little to see and very little that encouraged me to explore! The station itself consisted of two platforms, on opposite sides of the road. Opposite the station appeared to be the only facilities of the places, namely a pub (The Station Hotel) that looked derelict (many of the windows on the upper floor were boarded up), but was actually open (the door was open and a chalk board on the pavement), and next door a gun shop.
An interesting combination and there didn’t seem to be a convenience store! I’m afraid I was not brave enough to venture inside that pub, so I hung around at the station and made use of the shelter. It had been a mild October, but today it had turned cold – there was north easterly wind blowing off the Humber. Out of the wind it was fine, but in the wind it was cold.
Finally my last train – another single carriage train, although this one had more space, as it was lightly loaded. The guard raised an eyebrow on inspecting my ticket. I guess a ticket from London is unusual on this line or perhaps it was the cheap price (around £20), he didn’t say. We arrived at the small station (platform) at Barton-upon-Humber which is little more than a bus shelter really.
This railway line was once quite important. Serving the various settlements of North Lincolnshire and connecting them with the nearest major city, Kingston-upon-Hull. Barton-upon-Humber is on the south of the Humber and Hull is on the north side and so passengers were transported across the river by ferry from New Holland. The opening of the Humber Bridge in 1981 changed the fortunes of the line dramatically. Now there was a bridge people could easily drive over to Hull instead so the line became an isolated little branch line which is now lightly used. I’m surprised it has stayed open, to be honest. Tellingly, most of the passengers from the train headed across the road to catch the bus over the bridge to Hull – no need for a ferry now!
Still I was pleased that all my train connections had worked and I had arrived on time, a little before midday. I turned right (north) from the station and soon came to a place called Rope Walk, signed with a brown tourist sign. This turned out to be an out of town shopping centre with a large Tesco, which seemed to be the cause of most of the traffic (I had to wait a couple of minute to cross the road).
I thought about seeing if I could walk north through it but decided to stick to the “main” road. This had a stream beside it to the right which heads out to the sea, but I remembered from my previous visit here, that there is a bridge at the end of the creek near the sea, so I planned to cross there as I knew I could get along the left bank of the stream. I passed houses and various other buildings on the left and then reached the bridge.
The height gained as I crossed gave me a look along the muddy banks of the creek to the Humber and south through the reed-filled water.
Once over I could follow the path to the banks of the mighty Humber.
The Humber is one of the largest rivers and estuaries in the UK. It forms the boundary between the counties of Lincolnshire and South Yorkshire. The main sight, though, is to my left, which I crossed last time I was here – the Humber Bridge.
It was the longest of this type of suspension bridge when it opened in 1981. It is a toll bridge, with a £1.50 charge for vehicles to cross. I found it hugely impressive, it was a wonderful sight. It was also the first major estuary I’d encountered since Essex.
The good tarmac path took me past the unusual (copper clad) Waters Edge visitor centre on the right.
This is part of a country park I think formed by clay pits due to the number of brick works in the area. I think this area has had a lot of brick works over the years, but the industry is much declined now. Between the Humber and the railway line here the land is now mostly lakes, presumably formed from the clay extraction from the brick works. They are a mixture of the nature reserve, fishing lakes and lakes used by a sailing club.
There was good tarmac path right along the edge of the Humber here, although it later becomes a grassy/gravel path. After about half a mile I reached a remaining working brick works.
There were piles of earth and clay, finished bricks around the edge, but no activity, probably because it was the weekend. One of the towers was leaning. Oddly the footpath marked on the map is shown as going straight through the brickworks! In reality it goes along the waters edge, north of all the buildings. I continued on the sea bank along what has become a familiar landscape of Lincolnshire, a raised sea wall with salt marsh and muddy water beyond it, whilst to the right there are lakes rather than the usual fields.
I soon passed the building for the boat yard on the right and what looked to be an old pier or jetty on the left. Or perhaps it is still used, if the tide is in?
The path ahead now became more grassy underfoot, making for easier walking. I continued along the sea wall passing a small caravan park on the right. I was surprised to see this, it seems a rather bleak location for a caravan park. There are no beaches close by it is on the estuary and the view is of Hull and the industry that surrounds it! It might be popular with bird watchers over the lakes though I suppose.
Ahead I soon reached the muddy banks of Barrow Haven. This is another muddy creek that heads inland.
As I checked the map I spotted a detail I’d missed when planning this walk and became a little concerned – there were footpaths on both sides of the river leading up to the railway line, but the green dots did not continue beside the railway. I suddenly worried I was on a dead-end path. I headed along the south bank of the creek and on reaching the railway line I was pleased to see that there was indeed a footpath alongside it after all.
I crossed the path which I suspect was occupying the place where rail tracks once went, as the railway line was only a single track here.
Once over, I was surprised to find a railway station here, Barrow Haven, as it was a remote place.
I turned left back along the eastern side of the creek and back to the Humber.
There were very few buildings in the area hence my surprise a station exists at all. Once over the creek I turned left and back along the path along the eastern bank of the river, with views over to Hull.
This brought me into a Timber yard, which was unexpected because nothing is marked on the map here. It did not look like I should be walking here, but the path was marked on the map and I did spot a yellow footpath arrow. However another sign was right beside the footpath sign saying “No unauthorised access”, but I ignored it (it is a right of way so there is no need for authorisation) and walked through the yard, which was not operating at the weekend. I soon spotted the footpath sign on the other side, where I was soon passing beside another of the many lakes on the right, glad to be through the timber yard.
The grassy path continued right beside the Humber passing more lakes on the right. Ahead I was approaching New Holland Pier.
Until the opening of the Humber Bridge, this was where the ferry I mentioned earlier crossed the water to Hull, which I could see across the estuary and the railway line extended out onto the pier. Trains on the line to Barton-upon-Humber used to run along the tracks on the pier to reach the ferry, before reversing back to continue on to Barton-upon-Humber. That stopped once the bridge opened and the ferry ceased operating. Given all the cranes on the pier it is clearly still used, but not for passengers now.
As I approached though I was back to industry. I followed a path south alongside a building on the right to reach the railway and then turned left along the south edge of the building. Footpath signs were in short supply here and again it felt like the sort of area I should not really be walking. I was glad it was the weekend as the local business were not operating.
At the time I walked I was not aware of the history of the rail services out to New Holland, so I was surprised to round the corner and come across a lovely old signal box and the tracks heading out onto the pier. It looks like part of it is still used for freight, but the sidings off into the industry at the docks is now severed with tarmac across the road.
The path turned left here, but was not signed but bought me to a loading area of industry. I was surprised to find it in use and numerous high visibility jacketed people wandering about. Thankfully they ignored me and I could continue following a pedestrian route marked on the tarmac.
Once past the dock I followed this between buildings but it looked like I had gone wrong. The road off to the right was fenced off and ahead there were gates across the road. I thought I was going to have to go back, but just as I got closer I spotted the footpath signed off to the right over some scrubby grass. I followed it and was glad to be away from the dock area and this path soon returned me to the banks of the Humber and I could continue on the banks looking back to the rather run down buildings at New Holland.
Some swans flew low over head.
To the right was a mixture of fields and more lakes. At a place called Quebec cottages, after about half a mile there were some more works off to the right. To the left I was now more or less inline with Hull city centre and the heavy industry that surrounds it.
Just beyond Quebec Cottages I reached a derelict old farm building. Devoid of windows and with half the roof gone (and the other half looking like it would soon follow).
The land around was still farmed though so perhaps the two farms combined? Or perhaps it was to house workers as more lakes on the right hinted at more brick works in the past. I also wondered if, being built below the raised banks, it was liable to flood. Whatever it was the path continued along the bank of the river.
There were shells washed up in places here, an indication the sea was getting closer.
After another half a mile or so I was at the little hamlet of Goxhill Haven where there were a couple of cottages and a farm (Haven Farm) and a few vehicles parked up. There was a road heading inland here too but I could stick to the sea wall ahead. Across the estuary I could see the ferry terminal at Hull.
After the farm the path wiggled about along the top of the sea wall and I was soon back to familiar Lincolnshire walking – a sea bank path with fields to the right and marsh and muddy water to my left.
Beyond Hull on the other bank I could see the scene was now more rural as the flat lands head out (ultimately) to Spurn Head. I passed the oddly named “Dawson City Clay Pits Nature Reserve”, which made it sound American to me. There isn’t a city near here, apart from Hull.
The path was now turning south as I reached the mouth of the Humber. I was glad, because it meant the wind was now coming from my left, rather than blowing in my face, so I could warm up a bit. After another mile or two I reached another little stream, this one East Halton Skitter.
A road reached the coast here and beyond this the path became along a concrete sea wall.
Although I am not sure they are meant to, it was clearly used by cars and indeed further up I saw cars parked as people were fishing nearby. Ahead though there was more industry. I could see the large Humber Sea Terminal pier and there were a couple of boats moored up at it, which I would get to later.
In a little over a mile I passed another chimney on the right surrounded by the tell-tale lakes, presumably another old brick works, but now derelict.
Beyond this what I had assumed were fields on the right (they are just white on the map, like fields are) turned out to be huge car parks. It seems that lots of new cars are imported here and then parked up here, presumably awaiting sale. Passing the many cars there were then lots of containers and lorry’s, this was clearly used for freight too.
As I got closer I could see a near continuous stream of vehicles loading containers into the large ship moored up.
I was hoping this might all be closed at the weekend but sadly not. I hate walking through these industrial areas, especially when they are in use.
On nearing the jetty the path became hemmed in between high fences with various notices warning against trespassing into the various yards and loading areas around it. Soon I came to the road ahead leading to the pier, where many vehicles were crossing. Here the path came to a metal gate, thankfully I could open it by reaching through to the latch on the other side. I then had to cross the vehicles loading onto the boat, but the drivers ignored me so I could cross between lorries and spotted another gate on the other side. I assumed this was the correct route (but it was not signed).
Past more industrial buildings the path was separated from them by corrugated steel at some places. I then reached the public road at North Killingholme Haven. Here a footpath was signed both right and ahead, which was odd because there is no path to the right marked on the map. Attached to the post was a footpath closure notice, warning the closure of “the path” had been extended to April 2015 because of construction of a new overbridge.
I was not clear if this referred to the path ahead or the path heading inland, but I could do without this as I was now worried it was the path I was on and despite the notice about the closure continuing to April (it was now October), the work may still not have finished. In the absence of any alternative plan, I pressed on to reach a couple more lakes (Killingholme Haven Pits Nature Reserve), before it was back to the mile and miles of new cars on my right. I was back on the sea wall now though and heading away from the industry, albeit only temporarily, because there was more industry ahead.
For a while I had been able to see the numerous chimneys ahead and some flare stacks. I was concerned about the path closure or the possibility of it, so I could see on the map there was 3 lighthouses ahead and it looked like there might be a track off to reach the public road at the first of these. However it was not clear from the map if it was private, and it would require me to cross the railway line too. If I found the path ahead blocked this was my backup plan, but I hoped I’d not have to use it, and continued ahead.
After about half a mile I reached the first lighthouse (why there are 3 here I’m not clear).
It was rather tatty and run down, but all around it were cars in various states of decay and disrepair (I’ve managed to cut most of them out in the photo above). I suspect the owner liked to buy accident damaged cars, perhaps with the intention of repairing them but then seemed to just abandon them here. I continued past the first lighthouse and past some more cars. The area on the right was a sewage works according to the map but appeared to have been partly returned to grass.
The second lighthouse was more promising, painted red, it was more traditional and looked in good condition. There was even steps and a path leading to it, but it had a sign warning no access.
I continued to the last of the three lighthouses. This one again was in a poor state of repair.
I continued ahead passing a jetty and I knew I needed to turn off to the right soon. This is because I was approaching another large dock, that of Immingham and the path continued on the sea wall only for a short distance ahead and then was a dead-end.
Instead I would have to turn right along another path which lead to the road at Marsh Farm. This is the route I would have to follow (assuming it was not closed).
I could see from the map that this path started just after a round thing and sure enough there were steps down, but no sign of it being a footpath. I followed it and ended up in a sort of yard with various warning notices and some cars parked up. I headed towards a building but it said this was where you had to obtain a permit if working here. So I turned left and past the car park barrier onto a lane. The path followed this concrete lane and ahead I could see the reason for the footpath closure – the new overbridge over the railway. Thankfully it was now complete, so that path was open. It was traffic light controlled and the traffic light had been red for all the time I could see it as I approached.
Just as I got up to the traffic lights they changed to green. This seemed a bit odd so perhaps a security guard had seen me and was having a bit of fun – or had I really managed to trigger them? I assume it would be sensor in the road but I doubted someone walking over it would set it off. Anyway, I turned left and followed the steep road over the railway brdige and back down the other side. Oddly the original route which looked a like a level crossing appeared also to be open still. Not long past this I left the industrial complex, which turned out to be gas related, and picked up the public road. At least I was not going to have to turn back now!
At the end of Marsh Lane I turned left. There was no pavement on these roads, so I was glad there was little activity in the docks at the weekend. Soon I passed the fire station and came to the junction with the A160. There were road works here, apparently part of a road widening scheme. I followed the edge of the churned up grass verges to pass under the railway and then reach the roundabout with the A1173.
I had been dreading this bit. The next town was Immingham and the most coastal way (and only possible route without a long diversion) was to follow beside this dual carriageway. Dual carriageways tend not to be very welcoming (or safe) for pedestrians. Thankfully there was actually very little traffic presumably again because it was the weekend and so most businesses in the docks are closed today.
After passing the entrance to a building on the left there was even a bit of a pavement. This went behind some tress which separated it from the road. It made it so much more pleasant to walk. I suspect this was the original pavement for the road, but it had now become very overgrown, so I had to squeeze past bushes and trees and on occasion return to the grass verge beside the road because it was blocked by vegetation. The pavement of sorts would variously disappear and then return or there would be a grass verge path. The road narrowed to single carriageway after about a mile. The speed limit was then reduced and I was passing through an area of light industrial units (such as van and lorry dealers, car repairs etc).
At a junction ahead I took the road which headed into Immingham so I could finally leave the main road. Finally it was back to houses alongside the road, so it was a bit more pedestrian friendly. At the T-junction ahead I needed to get to the town centre to catch the bus. I had been aiming for the 5:30pm bus, with the 6pm bus the last option that would get me to the station in time for my train home. I assumed the town was ahead but I spotted a bus stop on the other side of the road. I crossed to read the timetable and found the bus I wanted stopped there and the times printed on the timetable corresponded with what I had assumed had been the times for the town centre. It was 4:50pm so I had 10 minutes to wait for the bus at 5pm instead. There was no point continuing south, because it would take me away from the coast unnecessarily and I could start my next walk (which is actually the previous one I published), from the same place.
The bus turned up a minute or so late and was going to Grimsby, so I got on board. The driver was quite a speedy bus driver (a rare thing these days), so we made it to Grimsby about 5 minutes early, which was nice. I now had over an hour before my train home (it is difficult to know exactly how long a walk will take, but cheap Advance tickets are limited to a specific train, so I tend to book a slightly later train to allow plenty of time where I can).
I headed to the station and once I had found it and confirmed my train was on time I found there was a Whetherspoon pub opposite, so I went there for dinner and pint before I returned to the station for the train home.
On my way home I’d been scheduled to change at Retford instead. Unusually trains on this particular stretch of line now only run on Saturdays (weekday trains were apparently cancelled for good in the early 1990s). I was glad that it meant I didn’t have to go back to Habrough again! I changed at Retford onto the last train onwards to London which I reached on time and continued by tube across to London Waterloo and then the train home, where I arrived just after 23:30 – it had been a long day!
I can’t say as I enjoyed this coast walk that much. It was mostly fairly uninteresting, running through flat countryside and some industrial areas. But it was nice to have the near constant sound of the water of the Humber to my right and the magnificent Humber Bridge to admire.
Here are details of the public transport needed for this walk. Other than a “Call Connect” bus that must be booked in advance, you have to take a train and a bus to get between Immingham and Barton-upon-Humber. Take the bus from Immingham to Stallingborough roundabout. From there it is a 10-15 minute walk (north along the road) to the railway station and then take the train from there to Barton-upon-Humber.
Northern Rail “The Humberlinc” : Cleethorpes – New Clee (request stop) – Grimsby Docks – Grimsby Town – Great Coates – Healing – Stallingborough – Habrough – Ulceby – Thornton Abbey – Goxhill – New Holland – Barrow Haven – Barton-upon-Humber. 9 trains per day, Monday – Saturday. 4 trains per day on Summer Sundays only (no service on Sundays in the winter).