Day 56 – Gibraltar Point to Skegness

I had an appointment in North Lincolnshire, so I grabbed the opportunity to come down to Skegness and finish the walk from the Bank Holiday weekend. My friend, Graham, who has heard a good deal about the walk, but so far has not taken part was, conveniently, free to come over from Nottingham, so he joined me here last night.

So, Skegness. Well, what can I say? And Skegness on a Saturday night, too! I wish I could say that we rode the roller-coaster and partied in the tasty night-clubs till dawn, but, sadly, not. We went for a very sedate drink and snack in the same hotel Rachel and I stayed in last time, but did not have the opportunity to admire the BollywoIMG_8175od antics.

This morning, I drove down to Gibraltar Point to pick up the path opposite the frustrating locked foot-bridge. For the first time since turning inland south of Hunstanton, I could actually catch a glimpse of the open sea. Not for long however, as the salt marsh has built up here into a huge nature reserve. It took the best part of an hour to reach the Clock Tower in Skegness where I had arranged to meet Graham – he declined to get up early and join me at Gibraltar Point, as, he informs me that he likes a leisurely breakfast.IMG_8187

Skegness was rather quieter in the day than it had been the night before. We walked down to the sea front, and at last I could see the ocean. The beach was golden and smooth, absolutely glorious. The weather was kind, too as we walked along the South Bracing, and then the North Bracing – I am sure the names are usually reflective of reality, but today they were not.

We divided our walking between the promenade and the sand close to the sea. The prom is hard under foot, but conducive to swift progress. The sand is slower and ruinous to boots, but pleasanter under foot when just above the water line.IMG_8206

We did not see much of any remark on our trip – there were lots of people around, children determinedly bucket-and-spading on the last day of the summer holidays. We marvelled at the terrifying rides at the funfair we passed. The roller coaster was shockingly high and steep, and I started to feel sick just watching people hanging upside down.P1060145

Sadly, many of the cafes and buildings along the front for the whole stretch to Mablethorpe are rather unattractive – concrete and corrugated iron with neon lights, garish colours and EXTREMELY LOUD MUSIC. Still, I suppose tastes differ and everything cannot be a twee tea-shop.

Sutton-on-Sea has set its face against modern development, but was not outstandingly attractive – some unusual beach huts – the roofs look rather pagoda-like in shape.P1060151

After an easy day, we arrived in Mablethorpe around 4.45pm, having done some 18 ½ miles. We were in time for fish and chips before catching the bus back to Skegness.


Day 55 – Friskney to nowhere in particular in Lincolnshire

Today did not turn out quite as expected. We had already decided that Sutton-on-Sea was too ambitious, but Chapel St Leonards seemed a reasonable target. We took a taxi back to where we finished yesterday – actually, a little further down the road so that we could get back onto the sea wall. The scenery did not vary from yesterday with mile upon mile of marsh and, just toward the horizon, the mudflats.IMG_7974

The landscape is strangely sinister. I don’t mind walking alone, but it was good to have someone with me as, despite not seeing a soul, it felt as though we were being watched. There were no bovine incidents today and we meandered on. We came to the end of the marsh, opposite Gibraltar Point, a noted wildlife reserve. According to the map, all we needed to do was cross the dyke, now wide and deep enough for various small craft. The map showed a slipway, but it was covered in thick, deep mud for at least six feet on either side of the water way.IMG_7979

We regarded it with disfavour and consulted the map for an alternative. No problem – a few hundred yards upstream was a footbridge. We approached it in due course, a rather rickety looking metal affair. We read the signing, warning of trip dangers and proceeded down the steps to the bridge. Unfortunately, the gate on the far side was firmly padlocked. The gate itself was a good 7 feet high. Clearly previous walkers had clambered over it as the evil-looking spikes on top had been bent over.IMG_7981

“Do you think you could get over that?” asked Rachel.

“Not sure, what about you?”

“I think I could.” I will add at this point that Rachel is very much taller than me with exceptionally long legs. She could probably have stridden over it in one step.

I looked again.  “I expect I could get over it if a bull were after me, but at the moment I am not too keen.”

We consulted the map again. It wasn’t raining, but it was pretty miserable and the ground was wet underfoot, soaking Rachel’s lightweight shoes.

According to the map, there was a further crossing point some 800 yards further. We trudged along, beginning to feel grumpy. This would add at least 3 extra miles to the day. On we went, towards the farm buildings that the marked crossing led to. Of course, the route was blocked with a barbed wire fence.

Now what?

We decided that were three options: we could trespass, not appealing; go back and try climbing the gate or wade across thick mud of unknown depth. We thought that if we were sure about the existence of the crossing place that we might risk trespassing, although we didn’t fancy it, but the reliability of the map at this point had been less than a hundred per cent. As we hummed and hawed we saw a figure approaching through the field ahead.

“Great, now we are going to be shot at by an irate farmer,” we thought.

We approached the fence and explained our predicament to the farmer. Fortunately, he did not have a shot gun and was willing to let us walk through his yard if we could get over the fence. I whipped out the map and folded it over the barbs, hopping over into a field which contained a good half dozen ponies.  Up came the farmer’s wife (or sister..?) who was very friendly and told us all about the horses – gipsy cobs, apparently. She was a mine of information about the care of the sturdy little beasts. Mrs Farmer was keen to talk – she probably doesn’t see many people out in the Fens.   She was a local girl – apparently Lincolnshire folk are “yellow-bellies”. The commercialisation of Skegness obviously upset her – she was adamant that it is Skegness, not “Skeg” and definitely not “Skeggy.” The renaming of the High Street as Chip-pan Alley was clearly a sore point.

We lingered for a while to chat, then asked advice on the best way back to the sea wall. The map showed a track called New Road, which we thought might be a route leading back to Skegness, but Mrs Farmer told us it went through private land and that the owner was distinctly unfriendly. More map reviewing…. Our only option was either to walk at least 5 miles along the busy A52 or to go to Havenhouse station and get the train into Skegness. We opted for the latter…unfortunately, on Bank Holidays there are no trains so another taxi was IMG_7983required.

By now it was pouring with rain so we decided to abandon the walk and console ourselves with the best fish and chips in Skegness.

We fetched our bags from the hotel and are now on the Skegness to Grantham train which is chock full of enormous suitcases and screaming children. A fairly low level 10 miles today but a fun weekend overall – the only disappointment being that the sea has not been visible at any point.

Day 54 – Boston to near Wrangle 24 August 2014

We have just returned from dinner, laughing so much we could barely eat. Our hotel, which is very pleasant and economical, despite its proximity to the seafront, has an Indian restaurant. All through the meal, 1970s Bollywood pop videos were being played against the wall. I was absolutely mesmerised, staring over Rachel’s shoulder and barely able to make conversation. In the end she turned round too and we were practically rolling on the floor as the Indian equivalent of a cross between Elvis, Roger Moore and Mr Darcy pranced and prinked around various sets, including, bizarrely, scenes set in the Austrian alps with all of the women dressed in dirndls.

It was a fitting end to a very pleasant day.IMG_7930 We still haven’t seen the sea, but it has been good all the same. We left Boston at 9.30 and walked down country lanes to get back to the sea front at Freiston Shore. We passed the small village of Freiston and saw there was a flower festival in the church to celebrate its 900th anniversary. IMG_7935We went in and were delighted with the sight of banks of sunflowers in the porch.IMG_7947 Inside were various beautiful arrangements denoting momentous events- weddings; Christenings; Silver, Ruby, Golden and Diamond weddings; the birth of a girl; a boy or twins. Even more delightfully the ladies, who could all have come from a Miss Marple set, were serving coffee and cake.

Another mile or so between enormous fields filled with brassicas of all descriptions took us back to the sea wall. After that, all was similar to yesterday, although the landscape was even more open, with enormous skies and marvellous cloud formations. IMG_7966We were told to look out for peregrines, which apparently have nested in the area and are now feeding their young. Although we didn’t see them, we did see egrets, starlings beginning to gather for the autumn exodus, skylarks, and heron, as well as more butterflies, a rather nice lurcher and the Red Arrows.

The weather was kind, but the bovines were far too prevalent and unnecessarily curious. I was not reassured by signs saying “Bull in Field.” At one point we had to pass a group that contained some youngish calves. We skirted around carefully, and I was pleased to find a dismembered fence post on the ground which I clutched defensively.IMG_7961

The last couple of miles were less pleasant as we were walking alongside a drainage ditch with almost stagnant water which was mozzie heaven.

Lunch was cheese straws for me and cherry scone for Rachel – I love having the excuse of walking to eat an appalling diet.

We covered some 25.9 km, ending at a little pub between Wrangle and Wainfleet. We will start there again tomorrow. I think Sutton-on-Sea is too ambitious, so we will set our sights on Chapel St Leonard’s.