I had decided that I needed to try out my injured knee on a shortish walk on the east coast, before returning to Scotland. So, I set off for Lincolnshire on a very drizzly wet morning but with the forecast set to improve throughout the day.
This particular section of coast is a bit of a pain, as there is the Steeping River to cross near to Gibraltar Point. There is a nearby bridge over the sluice, but Anglian Water make sure that it is well protected by high fences and barbed wire. To make matters, all of the roads inland are private and they don’t want you walking along them. The only alternative was to follow the busy A52 from Skegness to Wainfleet All Saints and rejoin the sea wall to the south east. Many coastal walkers have crossed the private roads only to return to the A52. However, there is good news in that there are proposals, now in the latter stages that the sluice bridge be opened up to public access in 2019 as part of the development of the England Coast Path. I opted to drive to the end of one of the many named Sea Lane’s and walk back to the main road to catch a bus. Unfortunately, upon driving out there I passed a large MOD control tower and was confronted with a barrier (open) but a large sign saying this was The Wainfleet Bombing Range! I returned to the main road and parked in a lay-by. As I waited at the bus stop I spoke to a lady about the bombing range, she said it was no longer used as a range and that the control tower was let out as a holiday home!
I caught the #57 bus to Skegness and then the #3 on to Ingoldmells. The drizzle had stopped as I continued south along the sea front. Eventually, the promenade ran out and I walked out on the sand. I found a good walking line on parts of the sand, before the prom at Skegness appeared. I did not intend waking out to Gibraltar Point only to retrace my steps back to Skegness, so I headed out along the A52. I did not plan walking the whole of the section along the A52, as after 2 miles the footpath disappeared and I would be left walking on a small verge alongside a very busy road. So where the footpath stopped I turned down a minor road and then almost immediately down a green lane which crossed fields to the small village of Croft. I continued along minor roads before taking another footpath which sent me through a caravan park. I reached the outskirts of Wainfleet All Saints and crossed the reason for this detour, the Steeping River. Here, the River was controlled with a sluice and is actually pumped out into Wainfleet Haven.
I entered the quiet village of Wainfleet and headed towards The Batemans Brewery. Bateman’s have been brewing there since 1874 and still remain an independent brewery. I have enjoyed a number of their brews over the years. I called in at the Visitor Centre and had a look around. It’s a very picturesque Brewery with a number of well-preserved and interesting buildings. You can even camp in the grounds!
The sun finally came out of the clouds and it became quite hot. Back on the A52 I had intended to walk out to the sea wall , then a couple of miles along it before walking a couple of miles back to the A52. This would have meant repeating a two-mile bit on my next section. I looked at the verge on the A52. My car was just two miles down the road. I opted for a bit of verge walking. Although the road was still busy, the verge was quite wide on either side and the grass not too long. The knee held up well and I now feel confident about returning to Scotland.
Distance today = 14 miles
Total distance = 4,279 miles
I was looking forward to continuing my journey around the coastline of the Scottish mainland now that Skye was out of the way and I had planned a 3 day trip. Sadly that did not happen, due to an injury that I will elaborate on later.
Because of the lack of available public transport I needed to bring forward my originally planned last day to be my first! Applecross does not have a great deal of public transport options, so few, that the only bus out of Applecross runs on a Wednesday ( I later found out that a bus also runs on a Saturday). You also have to call Lochcarron Garage, who run the service, to book a seat. I just had to be in Applecross on a Wednesday morning for 8:00 am. I drove up via Inverness the day before and stopped overnight in the car at one of my old Munro and Corbett parking haunts at Coulags.
I drove from Coulags to Applecross the following day via the Bealach na Ba and parked in the free car park at Applecross. I came across a stag in an enclosed garden close to the public toilets making a meal of some tasty looking shrubs. The mini-bus appeared with a few elderly ladies already on board on their way to Lochcarron. Because we were picking up other passengers in the north of the Applecross Peninsular we set off on the long drive around the coastal route towards Shieldaig. It was a really pleasant drive along the narrow, twisting and scenic road. Tornapress, a small hamlet, sits on the A896, next to the Applecross road end – the road that goes over the Bealach na Ba – (Pass of the Cattle), would be the start of my walk. However, I would not be returning to Applecross via the road , instead I would be picking my way along the trackless and rough northern shore of Loch Kishorn as far as the bothy at Uags and then heading north via Toscaig back to Applecross.
From Tornapress, I set off along the Applecross road which climbed slowly. I was aware that a private road veered off towards the former dry-dock facility built initially for the Ninian Oil Field back in 1977. The following link is to a short film in the National Library of Scotland about the construction of the platform at Kishorn –
The last work carried out at the site was the building of caissons for the Skye Bridge back in 1992. The facility then lay idle for some 23 years. Today the site is being used for the Kishorn Wind Farm Project, as well as Salmon Fish farm and a depot for Ferguson’s. A small quarry has also sprung up on the west side of the dry dock, producing aggregate from the Torridonian Sandstone. The bad news for me is that all this industry didn’t want me walking through their front door!! So I continued up the minor road, gaining height slowly, until I could set off across the open moor and head down to the shore just west of the quarry.
I started along the rocky shore-line of Loch Kishorn; high tide occurred about 90 minutes ago, so I had some beach to work with. However, it was difficult walking on the slippy rocks. I thought I was doing ok until I slipped and fell. My camera went in one direction, my walking stick in the other, I landed heavily on my left knee. I shouted expletives out in pain and annoyance. I checked out my knee, nothing broken thank God! It bloody hurt though! After the initial pain subsided I found I could walk, the knee was beginning to swell and it was really tender. I left the beach and decided to keep to the higher ground. I continued through long grass, bog, heather and rough terrain. I managed to cross the Allt a’Chois ok and decided to try to follow the route of the wooden power lines. Eventually, I caught sight of some ruins and the house at Airigh-drishaig. The cottage is occupied sometimes by a chap called Martin (I think), he didn’t appear to be in today. The cottage is set right amongst a large patch of gorse. Airigh-drishaig is also the meeting point of the path from Toscaig and the other from Uags.
I did contemplate about taking the shorter route to Toscaig, but my left knee seemed ok and I did want to visit Uags Bothy. I was having second thoughts about the next two days walking though and It gradually dawned on me that I could continue on today, but not for two more 20 mile+ days. Bugger!
Although a footpath is marked on the OS map from Airigh-drishaig to Uags, on the ground there is little evidence of it. I did pick up the occasional footprint, but I generally picked out what I considered to be the best route. The light rain which had began shortly after my fall now began to fall quite heavily. It seemed to take an age to finally locate Uags Bothy.
Uags Bothy has a superb location, right by its own little beach and very popular with Kayakers coming over from Plockton. From the outside bolt I could see that no-one was home. I checked out the Bothy and found stairs leading to two large bedrooms, with two metal bed frames and both rooms clad with wooden walls. Downstairs was another sleeping room with a carpet in and tables and another room with the fireplace, tables and a collection of home-made chairs. The bothy was in good condition and reading the Bothy Book’s comments is well liked by all that have stayed. The last entry was 4 days before. I rested awhile considered what to do about my knee.
I had originally planned to stay at Uags for an overnighter but the short distance from Tornapress, meant I could easily make Applecross in a day and was therefore not carrying no food or a sleeping bag. I rested for almost an hour before setting off from the Bothy along a well trodden path. I had read reports that this path was indistinct in places, but I found an easy to follow footpath.
By the time I reached Toscaig, the rain had finished and the sun came out. I now had about 4 miles of roadwork to get back to Applecross. The knee became slightly more stiff and I knew I could not do a 20 mile walk tomorrow. I was really disappointed. It also dawned on me that making Cape Wrath by Christmas was a bit of a tall order. So now I am looking at a more realistic target of Ullapool.
The Applecross Inn was doing a fair trade as I got back to the car after 8 hours of walking. The Inn had a small Airstream Caravan which had been converted to sell food. I bought a Fish supper for £8.50! Ok. Plenty of chips but expensive. The long drive home beckoned.
NB: I also publish all my Scottish Blog entries on the excellent Scottish Hills website, I use the same narrative, but larger photos and a few extra ones. They can be found here:
I decided to get a single days walking in on the East coast, which would be my seventh during August. I am now approaching the nearest point to the East coast from my home in Shropshire, which unfortunately does not make it any easier to get to!
I set off early from Shropshire to drive to just north of Skegness. I parked in a Council car park next to the large Butlin’s Holiday camp, at only £2 for the whole day I did not object to paying that. The £7 charged in Skegness – I did object to! I then caught the #59 bus to Mablethorpe. At Mablethorpe I caught the Call Connect minibus to Saltfleet. This is a bus service available only by booking, which I had done the day before.
I got dropped off next to the Haven at Saltfleet and continued my walk south. The sun was out by this time and very hot. The walk today would be predominantly along promenades, with excursions along sand dune footpaths and the beach itself. I set off through the Threddlethorpe Nature Reserve, close to the boundary with a MOD bombing range. The path had numerous shade coverings of trees, which was most welcome from the hot sun. The footpath was well-marked and deviated very little. I did not see the sea for the first 3 miles, as I was sandwiched between sand dunes and agricultural land.
At Sand Hills Farm the footpath turned inland and so I continued out onto the beach. High tide had been 2 hours before, so I was able to find some wet but firm sand to walk along. After two miles I neared the seaside town of Mablethorpe. The beach and sea front was very busy. The promenade contained all the usual features of a seaside holiday destination. It had a nice feel and I quite liked the place. I bought some additional water and a large ice-cream, which was lovely!
For the next 5 miles I continued along what was known as the Mablethorpe to Sutton-on-Sea Cycleway. This made for excellent progress as I continued past huge caravan and Leisure Parks. I passed through Trusthorpe, Sutton-on-Sea and finally to Sandilands where the cycleway finished. It was actually very difficult to see where one place finished and the other started as the caravans parks just seemed to morph into one another.
At Sandilands it was back onto the beach. I searched the beach for a good walking line, the sand close to the shore was hard going so I moved further out. A characteristic of this part of the beach was the slope, which was a steep bank with a large drop from the foreshore. I continued for some 5 miles along the bank, which although not great underfoot was much quicker than walking close to the shore. I continued on, passing Anderby Creek and then onto Chapel Point at Chapel St.Leonard’s.
For the remaining part of the walk I would stay on the promenade path all the way to Ingoldmells. The promenade footpath hid any views of Chapel St Leonards and I only got fleeting views of the town, which again was predominantly large caravan parks. At the outskirts of the Ingoldmells, the path became quite busy with a steady stream of holiday makers making their way to and from the sea front at Ingoldmells. I could now make out the large structures for thrill rides at the nearby Fantasy Island complex. I also picked up, across the sea, a land mass in the distance. This was Norfolk, the next county I would be walking through. By the time I had reached the large Butlin’s holiday camp the area was very busy and it was nice to see people enjoying themselves on this lovely sunny day.
Distance today = 22 miles
Total distance = 4,247 miles
I had sent the Ferryman a text on the previous evening asking if the ferry was running the following day and I gave him details where I would be to be picked up. Back in 2014 I did not use a ferry on this stretch as when I turned up there was no ferry to be seen.
I drove from my hotel some 10 miles away in the village of Wotton, on the southern flanks of Dartmoor to Brixton, a small village astride the busy A379 and parked up. I set off along a pavement out of Brixton along the A379. The pavement soon stopped but I knew a path alongside the road had been constructed. This was in fact the Coast-to-Coast Erme Plym Trail, which I would join again later in the day. I was very glad of the footpath as I could look down on the busy walled road and see that it would have been very dangerous to even attempt to walk along that road. After about a mile I crossed the busy road and set off up a minor towards Newton Ferrers. Although fairly quiet, there was still a flow of vehicles making their way to work. I crossed over one of the tributary feeders to the Yealm and turned down an even quieter lane, where only one vehicle passed me – the ubiquitous red postie-van.
I had told the ferryman I would be at Wide Slip in Noss Mayo at 10:00, which I would easily make. I slowed down my waking pace as I entered the village of Newton Ferrers. It was quiet a nice sunny morning now as I dropped down the hill and continued the walk around Newton Creek, a small arm of the River Yealm. The tide was well out and I worried that the may be an issue with the amount of water in the river channel. I crossed over a small indent of Newton Creek via an exposed path – only a trickle of water made its way through the small indent to the main channel.
I arrived at Wide Slip with about 30 minutes to wait. I flipped the ferry board to a white face, hoping that the ferryman would come early. It was lovely and peaceful in this sheltered river estuary. It was 10:00 when the ferryman showed up and I clambered down some rocks and onto the boat. The short journey took just 2 minutes which cost £3.50. Quite expensive as ferry journeys go!
I got off at Warren Point and headed up the hill towards the outskirts of Wembury. I skirted around Wembury via a footpath past Wembury House and then alongside some allotments. I then joined a very narrow lane for a mile which had traffic and had me leaning against the steep-sided walls. I joined up again with the Erme – Plym Trail which I would be on all the way into Brixton. At Hollacombe Hill the path crossed the road and dropped down into a lovely valley, which went over pastures and down a green lane. The hedgerows were abundant with ripe blackberries, of which some tasted lovely. I crossed over another small offshoot of the Yealm at Cofflete Creek and under an old railway bridge. The road into Brixton had ceased to have motor vehicles travelling along it many years before. I rejoined the busy A379 and walked the short distance into Brixton and back to the car.
Distance today = 11 miles
Total distance = 4,225 miles
I have had a serious re-think of my use of ferries to cross rivers and estauries on my walking route around the coast of Great Britain. When I was walking the South West Coast Path, the official path route advised on the use of ferries to cross over rivers and estauries. At the time I had no intention to walk around the whole of the coastline of Great Britain and thus made use of these ferries. Now that I have set myself the challenge of walking the entire coastline, I have had serious concerns about the ethos of using these ferries in my challenge. To this end I have decided that the sections of coastline in Dorset, Devon, Cornwall, Merseyside and Lancashire where I have taken ferries will become VOID. I will therefore walk around all rivers and estauries to their nearest bridging point to ensure I have walked a complete and full section of my walking record.
This will involve some additional 300+ additional miles which I will do as one-day walks over the next 12 month period.
The Ferries in question relate to :
Dorset: Sandbanks (Poole) to South Haven Point (25 miles approx)
Devon: Starcross – Exmouth (15 miles COMPLETED)
Devon: Teignmouth – Shaldon Beach (3 miles approx)
Devon: Kingswear to Dartmouth (25 miles approx)
Devon: East Portlemouth – Salcombe (13 miles approx)
Devon: Bantham – Bigbury-on-Sea (9 miles COMPLETED)
Devon: Wembury to Noss Mayo (11 miles COMPLETED)
Cornwall: Plymouth – Cremyll (24 miles COMPLETED)
Cornwall: Fowey – Polruan (16 miles COMPLETED)
Cornwall: St. Anthony – St. Mawrs – Falmouth (55 miles approx)
Cornwall: Helford Passage – Helford Village (8 miles approx)
Cornwall: Padstow – Rock (16 miles approx)
Merseyside: Birkenhead – Liverpool (48 miles COMPLETED)
Lancashire: Fleetwood to Knott End (15 miles COMPLETED)
I thought it about time I turned my attention to my “use of ferries” back-log, which I have neglected for some time now. Just to remind myself, the “use of ferries” is where I re-visit locations where I opted to use a ferry to cross over river estuaries when I first walked this section of coast. In re-visiting the estuaries where I did this, I would now walk to the first bridging point of the river or estuary and complete a circular route, linking up my walked route. I opted on this visit to complete two walks over two days and therefore booked into a hotel for the night.
My first walk would be around the Tamar Estuary, linking Plymouth (Devon) with Cremyll (Cornwall) . The walk would be quite long and involve quite a lot of road-walking, including some on the very busy A38. I was not looking forward to this ……one bit!.
I departed Shropshire very early and drove to the small Cornish village of Tideford, which sits astride the A38. I parked in the free car park there and set off down the A38, walking along a footpath. After 400m the footpath stopped , but fortunately I was able to turn off down a quiet lane which lead to the next settlement at Landrake. I crossed over the A38 and continued down another lane, which joined the A38 half a mile away. Unfortunately, there were no other options but to walk along the busy road for the next mile. It was certainly the busiest road I had walked along. With incessant traffic travelling at speed in both directions. The quality of the available roadside verge was poor and I had to cross over the road a couple of times, when a safe gap appeared. I was really glad when I was able to turn down a minor road towards the village of Trematon. I managed there to follow a footpath that cut across a number of fields to take me to the outskirts of Saltash. The walk into Saltash was thankfully along pavements all the way until the Tamar Bridge. The Tamar Bridge marks the historic boundary between Cornwall and Devon and sits alongside the iconic Royal Albert Railway Bridge built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel back in 1859.
The next 3 or 4 miles was through the suburbs of Plymouth. Most of this section was dominated by the large wall shielding the naval base dockyard at Devonport. I was pleased to arrive at the Admirals Yard and wait for the ferry to arrive. The ferry was quite full of people travelling across the estuary to visit Mount Edgcumbe park. The ferry only took 5 minutes and cost £1.50. As I stepped ashore in Cornwall the sun made a fleeting appearance and it became quite warm.
I headed out of Cremyll and shortly continued down a minor road alongside Millbrook Lake, basically an arm of the Tamar estuary and onto Anderton. The hamlet of Anderton merged into the large village of Millbrook, with a number of shops along its narrow streets. I popped into the Co-Op to get some food and a drink. I headed out of Millbrook along a quiet lane, that I hoped would be devoid of traffic.
I could have taken many routes back to Tideford, but opted for quiet lanes, avoiding the A & B roads and an off-road footpath. I arrived at Fort Tregantle which I had passed before back in 2014. I had great views then, but today the view was marred by some low cloud settling in; but I was still able to spot the Tamar Bridge in the far distance. I headed down more quiet roads to Sheviock and continued along lanes to the village of Polbathic. The last 3km of walking had been going down the infamous Cornish lanes with very steep sides, no verges and no means of letting vehicles pass other than leaning back against the steep-sided walls. Fortunately, all the drivers I encountered were aware of me. The last mile of walking was along a footpath across fields full of kale grown as a winter animal feed crop.
I arrived back at Tideford after 8.5 hrs of walking and was really glad to have got this section out of the way.
Distance today = 24 miles
Total distance = 4,214 miles
I thought it would be a good idea to have a visual representation of my progress to date in walking the coast of Great Britain. This is basically just a Google map of Great Britain with a red line indicating my progress, its rather crude, but does the job.
Just a few pieces of information:-
Besides my main line of progress, which is currently just completed Skye and back on the mainland on the West coast of Scotland, there are two outliers,the first is my “second front” on the east coast and second, the Norfolk Coastal Path which I walked some years ago.
For scaling reasons I cannot show the “Use of Ferries” sections in Devon/Cornwall/Dorset which I am currently walking when weather further north is not so good.