244. Hunstanton to Dersingham

Well this trip turned out to be a disaster in more ways than one! I had awoke about 04:00 and had planned to drive to Kings Lynn and catch the bus to Hunstanton and then walk back to Kings Lynn. Unfortunately I wasn’t feeling very well, my stomach felt upset and I was also feeling quite tired. I should have just gone back to bed there and then. Instead I drove on, knowing that I was not feeling 100%, hoping that I could just “walk it off”.

I caught the 07:23 bus to Hunstanton, which dropped me off at the bus station. At that time of a Sunday morning the town was almost deserted. I made by way down to the promenade and headed south, still not feeling that good. It was a very grey overcast morning, but with reasonable visibility and I could may out part of the shoreline down to the head of The Wash. I walked past the small town of Heacham and continued onto Shepherds Port. I passed a dead seal on the beach before Shepherds Port, but I did not investigate, as it had turned black afer being exposed to the sun.

The section south of Shepard’s Port I knew from previous reports was difficult. Previous walkers had faced confrontation from beach hut owners and some ‘officials[?]’. I had planned a route which I thought would be able to get me inland to bypass this area of no public access. I had read a sign back in Shepherds Port with  a map indicating public rights way in the immediate area. The map was probably the worst map I had ever seen, upside down and with a multi-coloured sections cross-hatched (God help you if you were colour-blind) denoting variety of restrictions. I did see a sign for Dersingham, which I was planning to head for. However, on getting the end of the first lagoon, signs disappeared and there appeared to be an additional lake not on my map. I headed for the sea bank, but was confronted with signs telling me that this was not a public Right of way. I spoke to a local who advised that getting to Decoy Wood (where I knew a public footpath was) would not be easy and would involve some trespassing. I pondered what to do, I could see a lagoon disappearing to the south with no visible means to cross over. It gradually dawned on me that I would have to get to the road that ran to Shepherds Port from A149. This new route would involve quite an additional mileage to my journey, plus I would need to walk along the A149. Most of the land around Shepherds Port is owned by the King Lynn Angling Association who look to be constructing more lakes for fishing close by.

I reached the A149 and donned my hi-vis vest. There was a reasonable verge to walk along, as the constant procession of cars in either direction passed me at break-neck speed. After an additional two hours I arrived at the point on the A149 where I would have emerged from, if my original route was available to me. I’d had enough of the A149 by this point and headed into Dersingham, passing the long closed Dersingham railway station. As I walked through the small housing estate; fatigue, not feeling so good and the effects of the large detour began to have their toll and  I doubted I would be able to complete the walk. I found a seat by a bus stop close to the co-op and decided to call it a day. Fortunately, there is a regular bus service, even on a sunday and I had only had a 10 minute wait until the next bus.

These things happen and although disappointed I live to fight another day!

The Green at Hunstanton
There’s certainly a message here!
Looking back to the North Cliff and the banded Red Chalk and Ferriby Chalk formations
Heading south along the sea wall at Hunstanton
Heading along the beach south of Heacham
New fishing lakes at Sheperds point

 

The old railways station at Dersingham

Distance today = 12 miles
Total distance = 4,419 mile

 

 

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243. Sutton Bridge to Kings Lynn

I checked out the forecast and could  see that the East coast of England would be in for a couple of days of sunny dry weather, so I opted to do a day’s trip to Lincolnshire.

This section would see the back of Lincolnshire and entry into Norfolk. No problems with public transport were envisaged, so I drove to and parked in Kings Lynn. I used one of the council car parks at a charge of £2.70 for the day. I don’t mind paying for parking, as long as the charges are not excessive. I walked along the small quay in Kings Lynn which is a charming and very interesting small market town. I headed to the bus station and caught the #505 bus service to Sutton Bridge.

I got off the bus close to the swing bridge. The morning traffic had started to get busy, however, I immediately turned up a minor road and walked alongside The River Nene, the road was quiet with only the occasional vehicle. Todays walk would be mainly on Sea dykes and minor roads. I walked along what is known as the Peter Scott Way, a trail from Sutton Bridge around to the Ferry to King Lynn, although part of the walk was also known as The Nene Way. Sir Peter Scott had a strong connection with the area and bought the East Lynn lighthouse in 1933, which I soon passed. At the time The East and West lighthouses marked the entrance to the sea, however, subsequent reclamation from the sea has since pushed the sea wall much further out into The Wash.

It was a lovely morning with bright sunshine and a gentle breeze. The grass on top of the Sea Dyke was cropped very short, but heavy with dew. I passed a couple of dog walkers and later on some ‘twitchers’ with large lenses. I passed within  500m of the Inner Trial Bank and could still make out the Outer Trial Bank out to the west. The Norfolk Coast was becoming much clearer now and somewhere around this point I crossed over into Norfolk. The walk was very peaceful, with the occasional sound of a Curlew and the hum of tractors working the huge fields.

Cross Keys swing bridge across The Nene at Sutton Bridge
Walking north along The Nene
Three Barnacle Geese in the foreground and four Brent Geese in the background on the banks of The Nene
East Lynn lighthouse (Peter Scott lighthouse)
The Great Ouse entering The Wash

The path began to bear around to the south-east and a couple of wind turbines just north of Kings Lynn come into view. I was now walking along The River Great Ouse, one of England’s longest rivers with its source back in Northamptonshire. After passing a large sewage works, with some real ‘heavy’ odours I  joined a long straight Hawthorn edge that accompanied the path until I arrived at West Lynn, just across the river from Kings Lynn. The small port and quay of Kings Lynn, presented some of it most attractive features and buildings from the opposite side of the river. I carried on heading for one of two bridges that cross the Great Ouse about a half-mile from Kings Lynn. I was surprised to learn that Kings Lynn, prior to 1537 was known as Bishops Lynn.

After crossing the bridge over the Great Ouse I headed along a cycleway back into the town. An attractive feature of Kings Lynn is the absence of tall large buildings. The most notable building include the double-towered Kings Lynn Minster – St Margarets and the quirky Greyfriars Tower, a remnant from a Franciscan Friary with quite a large lean.

General cargo vessel “Ernst Hagedon”, built in 1989 flying the Antigua & Barbuda flag berthed at Kings Lynn dock
Looking across the Great Ouse to Kings Lynn
Crossing the Great Ouse upstream from Kings Lynn
The quay at Kings Lynn (taken earlier that morning)
The Custom House Kings Lynn (taken earlier that morning)

Distance today = 17 miles
Total distance = 4,407 miles

 

 

239. Sutton Bridge to Moulton Marsh

This was the second leg of my walk around the head of The Wash. I had opted to do this leg on a Sunday for one reason. When I do these ‘one-day’ walks the drive to the start of the walk is normally done in the early hours and the traffic is very light. However, when I have finished the walk, invariably the drive home is done through ‘rush-hour’ traffic which can be anything from 14:00 – 19:00! Its frustrating and quite stressful at times. So this was to be a Sunday walk and hopefully a bit less traffic on the drive home.

I needed to fill in a 6 or 7 mile public transport gap on this section, which meant the use of my bicycle again. I drove to and parked at the Moulton Marsh car park and then began the cycle ride to Holbeach. I used the quiet back roads which took me to the small market town. The roads were virtually empty on a Sunday morning and the almost flat terrain, lack of wind made for an easy ride, apart from the almost freezing cold morning and I had forgotten to bring my gloves!

I cycled into Holbeach secured my bike in a bike rack at Tesco’s in the town. I then walked a short distance to a bus stop where I caught the #505 bus to Sutton Bridge. I had opted to do the walk in reverse because of bus timings, the bus running eastwards was at least 3o minutes earlier. I got off the bus close to the large swing bridge that spans the River Nene. I decided I would take a closer look at the bridge on my next visit.

I followed a straight road that ran alongside the River Nene, which was at low tide. I walked straight through the small dock that forms Ports Sutton Bridge. Being a sunday there was nobody about. The tarmac road I was on disappeared and I continued along a green lane heading towards two lighthouses, one of which was on the opposite bank of the river. The western Nene lighthouse, which I walked past, was at Guys Head and is now a private dwelling.

The swing bridge across The River Nene at Sutton Bridge
Heading out of Sutton Bridge alongside The Nene
Fisheries Research vessel moored at Sutton Bridge quay
Western Nene lighthouse

Shortly after passing the lighthouse the sea bank veered to the NW following the edge of the outer salt marsh and the outlet into The Wash for the River Nene. I could now see the Outer Trial Bank, an artificial island built in 1976 as a water storage scheme. Unfortunately the Trial determined that the scheme was financially unfeasible. I  approached the RAF Holbeach Bombing Range, with its string of control towers and warning notices. The public footpath that runs along the sea Bank at the perimeter of the range is open even during live firing so I was not unduly worried if a red flag was flying. As it turned out there was no activity as I passed by the range, apart from some people returning from a walk out to the targets on the range.

I passed a number of people out with their dogs and got totally ‘slobbered-on’ by two friendly Boxers with drool gushing out of their mouths! When I reached The Fleet pumping station I was very fortunate to see how the process works. I heard an  alarm siren sounding, then the pumps starting up and the sound of gushing water. I checked the seaward side and could see a large discharge of water flowing  into the outlet channel.

I could now make out St Botolphs Church (The Stump) in the far distance. The Sea Bank  gradually swung around to the SW as it approached the River Welland at Fosdyke Wash. The small wood at Moulton Marsh where I had parked my car, came into view. After arriving back at and my car and changing my clothes I set off back to Holbeach to collect my bicycle. The traffic on the way home was busy around Peterborough, but ok.

Looking out to Outer Trial Island
Looking along the Holbeach Bombing Range
Approaching the Helipad at RAF Holbeach
Walkers returning from a visit out onto the range
A surge of water outflow at The Fleet pumping station
Looking back at the Sea bank, a typical vista in this part of the country

Distance today = 17.5 miles
Total distance = 4,332 miles

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238. Boston to Moulton Marsh

I had planned for a 2 or 3 day trip to Scotland, but the forecast of heavy rain had put me off. So I turned my attention to continuing my journey along the East Coast, more precisely The Wash. The coastal walk from Boston to Kings Lynn is dissected by three rivers The Welland, The Nene and The Great Ouse, all requiring lengthy inland incursions to reach the nearest bridging point. To this end and given the availability of public transport in the area, i opted to split the section into 3 separate days of walking.

The first leg of walking would be between Boston and  Moulton Marsh, located a few miles down the River Welland after passing Fosdyke Bridge. Because my next leg would require the use of a bicycle, I needed to include a small bike ride on this leg. So I drove to the Moulton Marsh Nature Reserve car park and left my bike chained to a post. I then drove around to the small village of Fosdyke and parked at the Village Hall. I then waited for the #7B bus which I had booked the day before to take me into Boston.

As we drove into Boston we picked up 3 more people from the scattered and isolated hamlets in the area. The bus driver mentioned something about a footpath diversion, close to the docks. I got dropped off at the Bus Station and made my way back towards The Haven. I could see a number of signs  on the large flood prevention scheme which intended to save 15,000 houses in Boston from Tidal flooding. The footpath diversion was well signed and hardly an inconvenience. After a short while I was able to gain the Sea Bank and continue walking along the banks of The Haven. The grass, initially, was overgrown and seemed to receive  little foot  traffic. I could easily make out my previous walk, completed a week before, on the opposite bank of The Haven.

The old Railway Swing Bridge across The Haven rarely used now
Construction works on the flood prevention scheme
Heading downstream along The Haven on an overgrown footpath
Fishing boat returning to Boston
Juvenile Cormorant perched atop a Port-side marker on The Haven
Looking back towards Boston with fishing boats heading out to sea

Other footpaths joined this riverside path and by the time I had drawn level with the Pilgrim Father’s Memorial on the opposite bank, the long grass had disappeared and the going became much easier. I passed onto and through Wyberton Marsh and had the option to do an out and back to the mouth of The Haven. As I already visited the mouth, albeit on the opposite bank I continued  SW over Frampton Marsh. I passed a few ‘twitchers’ with huge zoom lens’ and the occasional dog walker. I was walking into a rather stiff breeze, but this did not bother me. I gradually approached the River Welland, which was difficult to see untill I was almost upon it.

I could see the small jetty on the opposite bank where I had stood in the morning. Even though the jetty  was only 100m away, it would take me almost an hour to get around to this point. I could begin to make out the traffic on the main A17 in the distance, about 1.6 miles away. I could also make out the steeple of the nearby village of Fosdyke, where I had parked my car. The roar of the traffic on the A17 got louder as I neared Fosdyke Bridge. There is not much at the bridge other than a small marina, a few houses and the Old Ship Inn. I crossed over the River Welland on a cycle/footpath and headed back up alongside the River Welland on the opposite bank. With the sun out and a stiff breeze at my back I soon arrived at Moulton Marsh car park where I had parked my bike. The ride back to the village of Fosdyke was only 3 miles, but even though the terrain is very flat, the headwind, hampered my progress.

The next leg of this walk, would be  longer, but I had shaved a couple of miles of it by doing an extra bit today and also set myself up for avoiding any cycling along the busy A17.

Wyberton Marsh looking out across the salt marsh of The Wash
Moulton Marsh car park across The Welland and where I had left my bike
Crossing The River Welland at Fosdyke Bridge
Moulton Marsh car park

Distance today =  14 miles
Total distance =  4,314.5 miles

 

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

 

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

 

234. Saltfleet to Ingoldmells

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.

Looking across the firing range to the Beach

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.

The Sand Train near Mablethorpe
Mablethorpe
Heading along the Cycleway

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.

The steep slope of the beach at Wolla Bank
Horse riders near Chapel Point with the Lincs Offshore Wind Farm in the distance
The North Sea Observatory at Chapel St. Leonards
The seafront at Ingoldmells
Butlin Holiday Camp at Ingoldmells

Distance today =  22 miles
Total distance =  4,247 miles