Day 59 Immingham to Barton on Humber 15th February 2015

Today has been a long day – 17.25 miles.

It rained heavily in the night but when I left grim B&B after a miserable breakfast of yellow cotton wool on toast, the sky was blue and the temperature very reasonable. The earliest bus I could get, being Sunday, was 9.25am. Having looked closely at the map, there was really no possibility of getting back to the sea front much before Immingham – the coast is a long line of factories and logistics plants. The bus deposited me at around 10.15 and there were a couple of miles to walk along a main road, before turning off into a lane, leading down to a public footpath, that, in theory, after a further 3/4 mile, and crossing the railway, led to the sea front.Killingholme

Aggravatingly, my map must be out of date (although I only bought it last week) as the path came to an abrupt halt at the railway with no possibility of crossing whatsoever. Even If I had been tempted to cross (I knew there were no trains on that line on Sunday, as I had considered it as alternative to the bus), there was a line of giant pipes and a very high, brand new metal fence. I could walk parallel to the railway line for a bit, but in due course, the gas pipes swung round and there was no alternative but to go back to the road, and follow it to Killingholme, which is a huge container terminal. Two enormous ships were disgorging their contents, and there was a permanent buzz of lorries and smaller vehicles with containers. Once there, the public footpath followed a narrow alley between enormous compounds full of cars. My feet were feeling a bit achey as I had now walked five or six miles on tarmac, but there was no improvement to be had for several miles, as although the path turned to face the sea, it continued as a concrete strip. At last I could see the Yorkshire side of the Humber Estuary. The sky had clouded over, and everything was hazy, but there was no mistaking the factories and chimneys on the distant bank.IMG_9107

Eventually, the hard track ended, and was replaced by a grassy bank, which carried on for several miles, turning west at last. I was looking forward to my first sight of the famous bridge, but the cloud had come down low and there was nothing to be seen. Eventually, out of the gloom, I could just about discern the suspension pier on the far bank. After that, it became clearer gradually but it was one of those faintly depressing situations where you walk and walk but the landmark never seems to get any closer….

The last five miles turned inland again, through a succession off muddy fields, with a strange mixture of rural and industrial buildings. I tried to imagine what the huge sheds could be used for, but there were no markings, no people, no goods in the yards, in fact, nothing but a sinister hum of machinery emanating from them.

Almost all of the houses in the village I passed were for sale. This did not surprise me – what did amaze me, was that anyone had bought them in the first place!

Barton on Humber is a fairly workaday town, but it does have two very interesting churches. One, St Peter’s, has an exceptionally fine stone Saxon tower, quite a rarity. St Peter's Church, Barton on HumberThe other, St Mary’s, was just a good example of English Perpendicular.

I am staying in a pub, which is nice enough, but ludicrously expensive. I suppose because it seems to be the only accommodation in the whole town.

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Day 58 – Donna Nook to Grimsby Fish Dock 14th February 2015

Today was certainly a “day of two halves”, but definitely a red letter day, as my last steps of the day completed my first 1,000 miles!

My B&B host kindly offered to take Tm and me back to my finishing point from yesterday, saving us a dull walk along the road. Marsh between Donna Nook and CleethorpesWe set off around 10.45 and walked for several hours on the edge of the salt marsh, the sea a long way out. The weather was fine, bright although not that sunny, with a moderate east wind. There were lots of birds to admire: curlews, brent geese – readying themselves to migrate north, oystercatchers and egrets. Brent Geese near Donna Nook

There were not many more people around than yesterday, although we did see a few dog walkers, including one lady with an enormous black beast the size of a bear.

Far out, we could just see the estuary, but for most of the day it was invisible. Around 3.30 we reached the outskirts of Cleethorpes, and came down to the lovely golden sands. The beach is wide and flat, with ribbons of black dust. I had picked up a shiny black stone yesterday, in the slim hope that it might be jet, but my hopes were dashed – apparently it is just shale. My learning point for today, is that jet is fossilised monkey puzzle wood from 120 million years ago!

We stopped for tea, cake, and half of the England-Italy match in Cleethorpes, then carried on toward Grimsby.

What a contrast! The whole stretch of sea front is a dreadful scene of ex-heavy industry, with the most appalling stench of dead things. Docks at CleethorpesIMG_9083Approaching Grimsby fish dock, the smell improved slightly, to fish, fish, fish. I certainly didn’t fancy having it for dinner. We found our way through the semi-derelict lots back to the main road, accompanied by the sound of roars from the football stadium. We concluded that Grimsby Town had won and, since it was Valentine’s Day, we imagined that the wives and sweethearts of Grimsby would be bracing themselves for a double celebration. The disgruntled Bristol team were being borne away in a coach, accompanied by a police escort.

I leapt on a bus back to Cleethorpes, where I am staying in a very, very functional guest house. Much of the next stretch of coast is inaccessible behind oil refineries and logistics plants so I shall take a bus to beyond Grimsby in the morning.

Day 57 – 13th Feb 2015 – Mablethorpe to Donna Nook

I didn’t know how much I was missing the walk until I saw the sea this morning at Mablethorpe. I had a horribly early start (5am to catch three trains and a bus and had been wondering why I wasn’t tucked up in my nice warm bed) but when I saw the huge expanse of golden sand and heard the sound of the waves I felt a surge of delight. The day was very straightforward, fortunately, as I have lost all my fitness, and am really feeling the 15 miles I have done. The first couple of hours were along the flat, firmly packed sands north of Mablethrope. The weather was hazy, but dry, and eventually the sun came out.IMG_8993 I don’t think I saw more than three people the whole day – it is probably the most remote the walk has been so far. Perhaps the fact that it was a working day in February added to the solitude. Looking behind me, I could see my lone prints in the sand – I felt like Lawrence of Arabia – especially as I was wearing my attractive snood headgear. On checking my map, I saw that I was approaching a red flag zone – I wasn’t sure if it were an MOD driving range or some other danger (quick sand danced across my mind for a fleeting, unpleasant moment). I decided to skirt around the zone by moving inland. At this point there was some salt marsh, but nothing too difficult to cross. There were quite a few birds and I am sure I saw a hen-harrier – I shall have to consult the expert, Tom, when he joins me tomorrow. He’ll probably tell me it was just a gull when he sees the picture. IMG_8996 The Humber Estuary is designated as one of the top ten locations for estuary life n the whole of Europe. There are many species of both plants and birds here that are endangered elsewhere. I saw quite a few egrets, but they seem positively old hat now. Apparently there are over 100,000 water fowl here in the winter, and there is also a flourishing population of both river and sea lampreys. It turned out that the danger was an MOD firing range, there were threatening signs around and lots of ugly concrete buildings and barbed wire, with no one and nothing to be seen apart from bits of old metal. Marsh near Donna Nook At Donna Nook, I turned inland towards North Somercotes. There was a very dull 2 mile stretch down a flat straight road into the village, and it started to rain, so I was glad to each my very cosy B &B (see review). I am now in the highly recommended pub.