Monday, June 21, 2004

Walk 103 -- Freiston Shore to Friskney

Ages: Colin was 62 years and 44 days. Rosemary was 59 years and 187 days.
Weather: Very heavy thundery showers with hot sunny intervals between. We were treated to a magnificent complete double rainbow at the end of the Walk.
Location: Freiston Shore to Friskney.
Distance: 10½ miles.
Total distance: 803 miles.
Terrain: Grass river banks, some tracks.
Tide: Out.
Rivers: None.
Ferries: None.
Piers: None.
Kissing gates: None.
Pubs: None.
'English Heritage’ properties: None.
Ferris wheels: None.
Diversions: None.
How we got there and back: We were camping at Burgh le Marsh. After a day’s ‘rest’ we were feeling in much better spirits. We drove – with bikes on the back of the car – from Burgh le Marsh to Friskney where we parked in a lane. Then we cycled to Freiston Shore Nature Reserve where we secured our bikes to an official rack.
At the end, we came out into the lane by our parked car. It was teeming down with rain, but the sun seemed to be shining everywhere else – it was most weird! The intensely coloured rainbow which had formed over the marshes gradually extended itself until it was a magnificent complete double bow! Colin magically produced a cup of tea from inside the car, and still it kept raining. The rainbow faded before the rain, so we never did get a photo of it. When it did eventually dry up, we drove back to Freiston Shore to collect our bikes, then back to our campsite at Burgh le Marsh. We discovered that nowhere else was as wet as Friskney – but then perhaps no one else had the rainbow spectacle either!

Today is the 15th birthday of our grandson, Jamie. It is difficult to believe that we have a grandchild of that age! When he was born in 1989, his mother (our ‘rebel’ daughter) was still only 16 years old. When I first saw the little scrap it was with very mixed emotions, and I really did fear for his future. But our daughter, after a shaky start, pulled on inner strengths and came up trumps. Jamie is an emotionally stable young man, a delight to know and full of fun. He is intelligent but lazy with his school work — a typical boy. But he can’t help being a teenager!

(By the way, on our last Walk we crossed the Greenwich Meridian yet again and didn’t even notice. It was around the area where we were being buzzed by that kid on a motor bike, and we didn’t think about it then nor when I was writing up the journal. Perhaps we have crossed it too often—we are now in the Eastern Hemisphere once again.)

We were in a much better mood than two days ago, despite the fact that it is not at all like Summer. Today is the longest day and the first official day of Summer, but the temperature in our tent last night went down to 5°C! However, it turned into quite a nice day, we managed to leave the campsite relatively early and do our cycle ride in the dry.
Freiston Shore was once a big seaside resort. In the 19th century they used to have horse races on the wide flat beach, and there were two hotels with more than a hundred rooms between them!
Nearby Skegness was recommended as a ‘quieter resort’ in the 1820s, but by the 1860s Freiston Shore was in decline due to the receding shoreline and growth of the marshes. Skegness expanded, and was promoted to become a major resort. Today, Freiston Shore is a quiet nature reserve with a spattering of houses, accessed by a very minor road. The ‘Plummers Hotel’ has been converted into fancy mews, and the other hotel is a derelict shell. There is nothing else there, not even the sea!

The only interest on today’s Walk was at the beginning. A lagoon has been formed at the nature reserve due to the deliberate breaching of the seawall. We sat on a bench there to eat our lunch. We watched a pair of avocets proudly taking their four chicks for a walk—four grey balls of fluff on long spindly legs. They were gorgeous! Then we watched a raptor—Colin thought it was a hobby—being harassed by a pair of gulls, but it still managed to sneak in and steal a chick from under their very noses. Fascinating stuff, but we were really glad it was a gull chick that got eaten, not a graceful avocet.
We got going, and once more it was a long boring Walk. Marshes to the right of us and fen-like fields to the left of us for ten and a half miles. Occasionally we had oystercatchers circling round us and chirping because they thought we were too near, but no other wildlife of interest. Unsurprisingly, we met no one. We could see a big black cloud which got nearer and nearer—suddenly the heavens opened. There was a tiny coppice on the edge of the field to our left, so we dived down there looking for shelter. It was chucking it down and still pretty wet even under the trees. After twenty minutes it stopped as suddenly as it had started, and we carried on in warm sunshine! There were some interesting colour effects in the sky because of the storm.
It was very clear and we could see the whole of the Wash. Hunstanton stood out in the sun, even the lighthouse under which I had stood and pointed unerringly to Skegness in the mist last February. Then our peace was shattered by military jets screaming overhead, bombing two rusty ships which were lying in the marshes. What a row! Colin noticed that the planes had stars and stripes on them—why can’t the Yanks go and bomb their own marshes? We were not very happy, the Americans are well known for their bungling warfare and so-called ‘friendly fire’! We thought they had packed up at 4 o’clock as there was a lull in their activities, but then it started up all over again.
As we approached the bombing range, we had a choice of three parallel paths. The one nearest the sea (and the bombers) was not a public footpath, the next one inland was only a public footpath for about a hundred yards, and the third one was a public footpath almost all the way to the car—just a hundred yard stretch in the middle, for some strange reason, was not. We chose this third path, not wanting to be blown to smithereens by the clumsy Yanks, and found that the hundred yard stretch was no different at all. Quite a puzzle. The sky began to darken once more, and the jets stopped—peace!
Colin decided to go on ahead of me so he could get the tea going. He didn’t quite get to the car before the rain started, and I had to stop and put on all my wet-weather gear. It was a real downpour again, but I arrived at the car just as he produced the tea. He handed me mine, and I went and stood under some trees to drink it. I couldn’t get in the car because I was so wet, and the rain continued for nearly half an hour. There was a perfect double rainbow—absolutely beautiful—but we couldn’t photograph it because it simply would not stop raining. All around us seemed to be in sunshine and even the sky above us turned blue. We couldn’t see where the rain was coming from—it was most weird.
That ended Walk no.103, we shall pick up Walk no.104 next time on the lane where we had seen the perfect double rainbow. Eventually the rain stopped, by which time the rainbow had completely disappeared. We returned to Freiston Shore to pick up our bikes, and there were dry roads in most places. On the way back to the campsite we saw a barn owl on a post—then it dived down to catch a vole out of a drainage ditch and flew off with it in its claws. Our best sighting of a barn owl to date!

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