237. Friskney Eaudyke to Boston

September has been a bad month, walking-wise. After the injury in Scotland at the beginning of the month I had only managed a single days walking on the East coast since then. So I really didn’t need stubbing my toe on some furniture  when I went to the bathroom in the early hours two days ago! Although a ‘walking-wounded’ I  decided to get a days walking in again on the East Coast.

I drove to and parked in Boston and waited to catch the 7:15 #57 bus to Friskney Eaudyke. The forecast had been for a warm sunny day, but as yet the sky was overcast, with a slight breeze. I crossed over the busy A52 and carried on up Sea Lane out towards the shore of The Wash. I passed by the barrier and Control Tower of the former Wainfleet Bombing range. I noticed the curtains in the window of the Control Tower and further down the road met a couple who were staying at in the buildings. I enquired about the helicopter in the grounds, which apparently the owner had placed there as an  additional bedroom! The buildings have retained their high security features, including the high enclosure fence with razor wire. I reached the ‘shoreline ‘, although the actual shoreline is some distance out across the Friskney Flats, a mixture of salt-marsh with irregular water channels.

I turned south-west and continued on along the top of the Sea Bank. This was not a designated public right of way and it showed, with knee-high grass, making for slowish progress. The sea wall is at the fringe of the bombing range, with regular warning signs to keep off the marsh because of the danger of unexploded devices. The two dummy ships used as target practice are still tethered a few hundred metres offshore.

Heading along Sea Lane towards The Wash
The Control Tower for the former Wainfleet Bombing Range now holiday lets
Heading South West along the top of the overgrown Sea Bank
The end of the bombing range and start of the Wrangle Sea Bank construction site

I eventually came to the end of the firing range, marked by a large Control Tower on stilts. I could also see that a great amount of work had taken place on the Sea Bank. I could also see that this work was still  ongoing as I could see diggers and other large construction plant operating on the Sea Bank further on.  This is 3 – 4 mile Wrangle Sea Bank project which is currently rebuilding the sea defence and making it slightly higher. This was news to me and I suspect the public footpath which runs atop the bank would be closed. I did not see any signs, but there again I had come from a direction without a public footpath. Any detour looked really complicated especially inland, as well as the fields with many people working in them. I decided on the Salt Marsh approach, but I didn’t get far as within a few minutes I was thwarted by the myriad of water channels crisscrossing the marsh. I opted to walk alongside the sea bank, (which had been fenced off with barbed wire) and the salt marsh. I walked below the operating plant on the salt marsh side and was not challenged. I do this for about a mile, before climbing over the barbed wire fence and started to walk on the gentle slope of the sea bank. Although I could easy walk on the top of the completed Sea Bank, I would have stood out like a ‘sore-thumb’ and I do not want to be turned back when I have come this far. I did eventually venture onto the top of the Sea Bank and although there are public footpath signs in evidence, the absence of any footprints at all in the freshly raked top soil(probably for grass seeding), inevitably meant the footpath was closed. When I reached the end of the works at the Leverton Outgate pumping station my suspicions were confirmed with a Public Footpath closure notice attached to a gate. The notice did say that the work would be completed by 30th September, 2018 (3 days time). Glad I kept my head down now.

On the newly renovated Wrangle Sea Bank

I could have followed the outer Sea Bank, but I knew that this was not a designated right of way, more importantly, parts of the outer Sea Bank had been purposefully breached to allow lagoons to form. Because I did not want to retrace my steps I stayed on the inner Sea Bank. The old inner Sea Bank was a delight to walk along as it had been grazed by both cattle and horses. I kept a close eye on the cattle, as every cow seemed to have a young calf alongside them. As I approached Frieston Shore I had the option of diverting onto the outer Sea Bank. I met a group who had come from that direction and they re-assured me that the Sea Bank was continuous around to The Haven. I could see that this was a well-worn path, but was not marked as a public right of way on the map. I passed a conical memorial to the inmates who first set up the nearby former Borstal, North Sea Camp, back in the 1930’s. They had reclaimed great swathes of land at the time by erecting sea banks. Today North Sea Camp is an open prison for men.

I reached a man-made channel called The Haven. I would continue along this waterway all the way into Boston. Because of low tide no vessels were on the water, although it was possible to see the large tidal range enabling the small docks at Boston to operate. I passed a memorial to The Pilgrim Fathers, actually a memorial of their thwarted first attempt to sail to Holland. I continued alongside The Haven with St Botolphs church (The Stump) clearly visible. Boston is not a large town and I quickly found the car park near the bus station where I had parked.

Flooded lagoons at Frieston Shore
Memorial to the original inmates of North Sea Camp who built the original Sea Bank here (North Sea Camp is situated amongst the trees)
At the mouth of The Haven
Heading down The Haven
Approaching Boston and looking towards St. Botolphs (The Stump)

Distance today =  21.5 miles
Total distance =  4,300.5 miles

 

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236. Ingoldmells to Friskney Eaudyke

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.

Heading south from Ingoldmells
Skegness Pier
“Skegness is so bracing” as the poster adverts used to say
Heading across fields to the village of Croft
Rescue donkey at a farm near Croft
Croft village hall and church

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.

Wainfleet Haven/Steeping River
Main square Wainfleet All Saints
The Artefacts Room at the Batemans Brewery Visitor Centre
Batemans Brewery, Wainfleet All Saints

Distance today =  14 miles
Total distance =  4,279 miles

 

235. Tornapress to Applecross

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 –

http://movingimage.nls.uk/film/5973

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!

Cheeky Stag devouring shrubs in Applecross
The start of the Applecross road not sure why so many stickers!
Heading for the quarry
The route ahead
On the beach
Approaching Airigh-drishaig
Zoomed shot of the Skye Bridge

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.

The route to Uags!
Arriving at Uags Bothy
Main living room at Uags
One of the upstairs bedrooms
Approaching Toscaig
Suddenly my sore knee was not as great as other people’s problems!
Arriving at Toscaig
Looking across the Inner Sound to the Isle of Scalpay with the Red Cuillin on Skye behind from Camusterrach
Looking down from the Bealach na Ba on my drive home.

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:

http://www.scottishhills.com/html/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewtopic&t=24309

Distance today =  18 miles
Total distance =  4,265 miles