This walk was to be something of a milestone for me, as it was actually to be my last new walk on the coast of England. After completing this walk I’d have been to every single mile of the mainland coast in England that is accessible (I’ve not walked it in order). However there was also a reason this was to be my last walk – I’d been putting it off! This is because it would be mostly through industry and beside busy trunk roads.
(Well actually it later turned out this wasn’t my last bit of coast in England – I later discovered I’d missed a bit in Essex and subsequently forgotten about until writing it up – which I went back to complete a few months later. But I thought it was the last walk at the time!)
I was doing this walk as a day trip from home and had booked train tickets from London a few months earlier, for £15 each way. Oddly it usually works out cheaper to book tickets from London and buy another ticket from my local station to London than it does to book a direct from my local station. So the day before going on this walk I went to buy a ticket to London only to remember, rather too late, that most of London Waterloo station was closed during August 2017 for major works. As a resulted, a limited train service would be running, which would run much less frequently than usual, take longer than usual and to cap it all, there were warnings that it was likely you would have to queue to get on the trains.
I couldn’t be bothered with all that, so I abandonded the train and instead I drove to Hillingdon tube station (which is just off the M40 and has a large car park which is inexpensive at weekends), where I could then take the tube to London Kings Cross. It took a bit longer than usual going this way, but at least the service is frequent, it is cheaper and I’d not run the risk of missing my train because of queues to get on the train, even if it did mean making an earlier start.
Having made it to London Kings Cross in time, I took my booked train from there to Doncaster, where I was due to change for a train to Hull. Here I was rather lucky, as I managed to get an earlier connection than the one specified when I’d booked the tickets. This is because I managed to catch the train due to depart 4 minutes after I had arrived, which is considered too short to be a valid connection in the railway computers (which is why it was not offered) but it is perfectly possible to make if the trains are running to schedule, as they were. So I actually arrived in Hull 30 minutes earlier than scheduled (is that a first? I think it might be). Though I felt sorry for the passengers trying to get on the train I had just got off (which was going onto Bridlington and Scarborough), as there were far more people wanting to get on the train than there could possibly have been room for. A 2 carriage train from a major city to busy sea-side resorts on a sunny and warm Saturday in August just doesn’t cut it I’m afraid.
Having arrived at Hull I exited the station, with a grand looking hotel across the road.
From the station I headed down through the main shopping streets the water front area. I headed past an old burial ground and then reached the end of the “Hotel Dock” presumably named after the large Holiday Inn now here.
I made my way through Hotel Dock to a new office development and was able to pick up the path along the river here, and enjoy the views over the Humber.
At the end of this office development I met another dock and so turned left intending to cross the footpath over the lock gate, which forms part of the elusive Transpennine Trail.
However as I got there I was met by high-vis jacketed lady who told me I couldn’t come though here because of a music festival called “Sesh” that was taking place in the docks I wanted to walk through. As this was a paid for event I was told I needed a ticket to enter. I did show her my map of where I was trying to go and she did at least directed me on a route walk around the dock. This would take me around 3 sides of the dock rather than across it at the coastal side (and take me further from the sea), which was annoying, though the diversion probably only added 5 minutes onto my walk and did give me a view of this light ship.
These are interesting vessels, essentially lighthouse mounted on boats, though I’m not sure any are still in use for their original purpose. The Transpennine Trail had certainly proved elusive – I’d tried to walk it from both directions on different occasions starting from Hull and failed both times!
Once around the dock I made my way as best as I could back to the other side as many of the streets here were also closed, leading me on a longer diversion than I’d been led to believe.
So I turned left on the first street I could get onto, going past old warehouses and cars and vans trying to park and unload for the music festival. I was glad to be getting away from it all.
Soon I reached a barrage over the river and hoped to find a footbridge beyond it.
I soon spotted the bridge but was concerned that the music festival had taken this over too. Thankfully they had not – I could walk across the river, but not to the right (towards the docks).
Across the river I reached the car park for “The Deep” a large aquarium (you can see the building on the left above). I walked around the river side of this unusual building to reach the main bank of the Humber where I could turn left again and follow the river. The music from the festival drifted across, but it was more distant now.
Now I was passing a more modern housing development (in an area called Garrison Dock) on my left that reminded me of much of the Docklands area of London with the housing looking of similar vintage.
The houses backed on to the river on my left but there was a pleasant promenade too, which I was following.
I soon passed an old filled in area of the docks. It was probably meant to be a feature, but it had filled with algae and did not look all that inviting.
Beyond that I came to a much larger dock.
This was a bit odd. If it was London it would be packed full of boats. But it was empty and in fact I think was now entirely decorative (despite the lock gates) since it had fountains in it now!
Once across it I turned right back to the water front and continued on the banks of the Humber. As always there was a lot of boat activity in the estuary and I could also see across to all the industry at Immingham. Ahead I was coming to the docks and all the heavy industry that goes with it – I was not looking forward to it.
A large warehouse loomed ahead and here I had to leave the banks of the Humber and turn left. The Transpennine Trail was meant to continue ahead according to the map was actually signed away from the docks too. Liverpool is signed because it is the other end of the Transpennine Trail – the sign actually shows 179 miles!
I now had the industry and major roads to negotiate, and I was not looking forward to it.
The path I was now following seemed to have been recently upgraded and was at least reasonably clean and safe looking. As I headed away from the river I looked back and realised I was now far enough down the Humber that I could see the Humber bridge again in the distance.
The dock was odd, full of all sorts of tall chimneys (I thought) which I later found out are not chimneys at all, but blades for wind turbines.
I followed the path beside this warehouse to the edge of the main road. Here I could follow a new cycle path around the dock road. I crossed a roundabout and then the path continued on the north side of the docks. Here was a massive Siemens factory making blades for those wind turbines. They really are massive when viewed up closed.
Some were piled up vertically behind the buildings, like towers, others laying down in various states of completion. The path was obviously quite new and recent and it even had flowers planted, seats along it and some art work.
It was much better than I had expected. True the view was of the docks – but at least it felt cared for and that some effort had been put into it.
I suspect Siemens many have put money in to fund it. I caught sight of an interesting looking building just behind the main road, it looked a little like a castle but turned out to be the prison!
I continued past the massive turbine factory to a river ahead, Holderness Drain. I crossed this on the bridge and came to a roundabout ahead. Here the Transpennine Trail continues down to the ferry terminal. Oddly the trail splits into two routes here into the docks, both of which I suspect are dead-ends. The first returns to the Humber, crosses the massive lock gates to King George Dock but abruptly ends a mile or so beyond that on the wrong side of the railway line. Posts I’d found on the internet from other walkers suggested this was indeed a dead-end, as I had suspected. The second route turns east at the roundabout to end on the west side of the same dock.
I didn’t want to follow either dead-end route through the docks, because I’ve had a few issues trying to walk through docks on previous walks I’ve done (though not yet written up because I’m writing them up in the order round the coast, not the order I walked them). On my walks I’d previously been stopped by the police in Liverpool (who wanted to know what I was doing – even though I was on a public road) and had a run-in with a security guard that refused to let me walk on the clearly marked “shared use” cycle path through the docks in Dundee.
So instead I had to turn inland. This was the bit I had been dreading. I turned ahead to the main A1033 – a dual carriageway here. I turned right and followed a pavement along the south side of the road. There was at least a pavement, and soon headed under the railway line that serves the docks, passing over the road on a bridge. To my right were industrial units but on the left some housing, in amongst it all. It did not look the nicest of areas to live, right on the dual carriageway and surrounded by industry!
At the next roundabout I continued straight on along the pavement beside the road as far as a petrol station. Beyond here though the pavement continued a sign warned “End of path” so I suspected the pavement would soon end. Instead I headed a short distance back to a pedestrian crossing and crossed both parts of the dual carriageway and then continued on the combined foot and cycle path that ran alongside the north side of the road. Soon this was separated from the road by a line of bushes and small trees. It was only small but it made the walk so much more pleasant not being right next to the traffic.
I could continue along this past various industrial units to the next roundabout. Here I continued straight on, still with another mile or so of the industry to go.
I soon reached the “border” between the city of Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire beyond (Hull is one of those Unitary authorities, so whilst historically part of the East Riding of Yorkshire, it is technically a separate administrative area today).
After walking along this pavement, at the next roundabout I could finally leave the major roads behind.
The road here is an odd layout. Westbound traffic on the A1033 has a flyover over the roundabout, but east-bound traffic must go around the roundabout! I crossed the roundabout with difficulty (because of the volume and speed of the traffic) and then took the road to Paull. This is an unclassified road which would take me back to the shores of the Humber.
This was actually the worst part of the walk. There was not much traffic, but now there was no pavement and when the traffic came, it came very fast, as the road was straight and wide. Oddly almost all of it was coming towards me with hardly any traffic from behind. On my right was another mass of industry. This is the Salt End chemical works and I got the wiff of some unpleasant chemical smells from it at times.
It was a relief when I came to the bridge ahead over the Hedon Haven, as there is a footpath from here that takes me back to the Humber, so I can leave the road. I Hedon Haven via the road bridge and went to take the path ahead. However on the barrier at the entrance to the path was affixed an ominous “path closed” notice dating back to March this year indicating the path would be closed for 6 months for coastal erosion work (a new sea wall).
I was annoyed by this because after all that road walking my reward was that I could finally escape the road – except that I couldn’t because the one footpath I wanted to take was closed! Actually I decided to do what I normally do when faced with a path closure and no reasonable alternative which is to ignore it and continue along the path anyway. I had made good time so I had time to turn back if it turned out I could not get through.
Well it seems the work had long since finished and there was now a good path along the raised bank. I was also pleased to see dog walkers coming the other way as it meant clearly you could get through. I guess the work must have finished but no one bothered to take down the path closed signs!
I was soon back on the banks of the Humber away from all the heavy industry of Hull and also nearing the end of my walk.
I passed several dog walkers. There was even a small little beach ahead next to some industrial type buildings that were marked Ship Yard on my map. Ship Yard seemed optimistic, all I saw were derelict barges stuck in the mud and rotting away.
I’m not sure any new building of boats happened here now. I could look back to see the Humber bridge still.
I followed the main road through Paull. I counted 3 pubs in a short space – the people of Paull must drink a lot to keep 3 pubs going in such a small place!
I soon came to an interesting lighthouse type building which was indeed once a lighthouse., but I think now a house.
Beyond this there was a pavement beside the road and a glass screen had been built on top of the sea wall meaning you could still see out but presumably offering some protection from the wind and rain to pedestrians.
Ahead though I was annoyed to that when the footpath should have continued on the shore (as the road turned away from it) – yet another footpath closure! That’s 3 footpaths I wanted to use today and so far all of them have been closed (or at least signed as closed!)
I had to take a diversion round as here they really were repairing the sea wall so it was all fenced off and I couldn’t ignore it. Soon I could turn back down to a little park though and sit by the river.
It was nearly over – I’d almost walked around the coast of England!
I had a rest and a drink and continued along the footpath along the shore – this part was open. To my left was meant to be a fort, but it was all hidden by trees. So I continued on the path ahead. I soon reached the edge of the strangely named Paull Holme Strays Nature Reserve. This is an area where the sea wall was breached to create new marsh.
The path ahead ran over Cherry Cobb Sands Bank, the old sea wall to a couple of lighthouses. Although it was a dead-end now I wanted to follow it. Here I took my final few coastal walk photos in England!
The second lighthouse was in worse condition.
This was now the last piece of the coast of England I could stand at and say – “I’ve never been here before”.
Having take the photos I headed back and then turned right to follow the path around this new nature reserve.
The church of Paull was visible off to the left (it is just visible below if you look closely) but I continued around to the right on the raised sea bank.
I followed it past some sort of industrial looking buildings to the left and ahead I could see the nature reserve car park ahead where I had ended my last walk (though not published yet – that will be my next post). And that was it – I’d now walked the entire English coast!
I felt very happy, but at the same time slightly sad (which surprised me), because that meant I’d never again go to anywhere by the coast in England that was new to me! Still there is plenty more coast in Britain – and more in the world than you could ever see in a lifetime!
Having reached the point I’d been to previously, I stopped for a rest and then checked the time. Paull has a very limited bus service and the next bus from Paull was in about 4 hours! That was no good because I’d miss my train home. So I knew I would have to walk instead ahead and then inland to the village of Thorngumbald which is on the A1033 and therefore has a much more frequent bus service.
The bus from Thorngumbald was hourly – the next was in about 40 minutes. If I missed it, I’d have 1 hour and 40 minutes. I checked the map and realised I would be hard pressed to walk to Thorngumbald in 40 minutes. However there was not a lot to do in Paull so I decided to give it a go anyway (I could always explore Thorngumbald instead if I missed it) and so set off, walking briskly.
I measured the time at various points and soon concluded I was making good enough time that I would do it. By the time I reached the bus stop I had about 5 minutes to spare! The bus arrived on time and was surprisingly busy (usually buses heading out of towns and cities on a Saturday afternoon are busy, but not so much the other way). I took the bus back into Hull.
As I’d made good time (and had arrived in Hull early anyway) I had about 90 minutes to walk around Hull before my train home. As I mentioned last time, Hull does not have the best of reputations it seems but actually I thought the centre quite pleasant. Large and spacious there was a lovely square surrounded by grand buildings and with some of those fountains that pop up out of the ground.
I came across another nice square with some new buildings including the local BBC offices. There were numerous grand stone buildings around the centre.
Then I headed down to the older area beside the harbour. It was all quite pleasant, actually.
I also came across one of the cream coloured telephone boxes for which Hull is known. Unlike the rest of the country where such boxes are always painted red.
After an hour or so I wandered back to the station.
The station too is quite grand, with an overall roof.
I bought some food here for the journey home. I then took the train, quiet this time, from Hull to Doncaster and then the train from Doncaster back to London (where I could get more food from the buffet car).
This wasn’t really a walk I’d like to repeat. The walk for the first mile or so out of Hull was pleasant. After that I was navigating around miles and miles of industry, large docks and beside busy dual carriageways. It was only when I reached Paull at the end of the walk that I was back beside the Humber and had finally left the industry of Hull (and the Humber) behind. Still it was an important milestone for me, marking the walk on which I completed the coast of England. I also enjoyed exploring Hull. The outskirts might be mostly heavy industry, but the centre is actually quite pleasant and worth exploring. Having reached the end of the industrial Humber, the coast ahead now was also rural (and as I was to find also extremely beautiful) for well over 100 miles further north (the next area of industry is not until the Tees estuary, many more walks ahead).
Here are details of the public transport needed for this walk. There are two possible buses to use. The 79 which serves Paull (but not that frequent) and the 75, 76 and 77 that serves Thorngumbald (further inland), and runs more frequently.
East Yorkshire Motor Services route 79 : Hedon – Paull – Saltend – Victoria Dock – Hull (Paragon Station). 5 buses per day Monday – Friday. 4 on Saturday. None on Sunday. It takes around 30 minutes between Paull and Hull. Buses run much more frequently between Hedon and Hull on routes 77 – 78, but these do not serve Paull.
East Yorkshire Motor Services routes 75, 76 and 77 : Withernsea – Hollym – Patrington – Ottringham – Keyingham – Burstwick – Thorngumbald – Hedon – Hull (Paragon Station). Twice per hour Monday – Saturday and hourly on Sundays. It takes around 40 minutes between Thorngumbald and Hull.