Friday, May 27, 2005

Walk 106 -- Anderby Creek, via Mablethorpe, to Theddlethorpe St Helen

Ages: Colin was 63 years and 19 days. Rosemary was 60 years and 161 days.
Weather: Soft cloud, then hot and sunny. A cool breeze at times. Very light rain in the afternoon.
Location: Anderby Creek to Theddlethorpe St Helen, via Mablethorpe.
Distance: 9½ miles.
Total distance: 831½ miles.
Terrain: Sandy beach, mostly firm. Concrete walkways. Flat.
Tide: Out.
Rivers: None.
Ferries: None.
Piers: None.
Kissing gates: None.
Pubs: None.
‘English Heritage’ properties: None.
Ferris wheels: None.
Diversions: No.29, near Huttoft Bank Car Park because of sea defence works.
How we got there and back: We were camping at Anderby. We drove, with bikes on the back of the car, to a car park (free!) just north of Theddlethorpe St Helen. Then we cycled to Anderby Creek where we padlocked our bikes to a tree in the car park.
At the end, we had a cup of tea. Then we drove back to the campsite, collecting the bikes on the way.

Just where we walked on to the beach at Anderby Creek stood a water butt which was labelled ‘Drinking Water’. It was surrounded by security fencing and we were curious as to who it was for and how they got into it, because we couldn’t find a way. There was a spattering of people about on the beach, and we discussed with a man the purpose of a jetty in such an out-of-the-way place. That, too, was curious, and we came to no conclusions. When we told him we were walking to Sutton and Mablethorpe, he said it was ‘a bit far’!
We walked for about a mile along the wide sandy beach. It was very pleasant for it was quite warm with a soft cloud in the sky, and the sand was fairly firm. At Huttoft Bank we came to a ‘Beach Closed’ notice! There was a digger on the beach which seemed to be burying a large pipe, and out to sea there was a tug which seemed to be connected with whatever they were doing. Fortunately it was only the beach that was closed. The concrete walkway for Sutton and Mablethorpe started there, and we were able to bypass all these ‘works’ by moving up on to it.
There we met the same man we had been talking to on the beach at Anderby Creek, only he had driven there in his car. (Well, he would, wouldn’t he? Nobody walks ‘a bit far’ like we do!) He was very keen to talk again. He had asked at the cafĂ© nearby, and been told that the jetty at Anderby Creek was for tying up barges so they could load up. With what? Where do the barges come from? Why at such an isolated place as Anderby Creek? None of these questions had been answered, so we really didn’t know any more. Also, this man had been told that the digging on the beach was sea defence work. They were putting down wet sand instead of rocks to stop the sea encroaching on the flat land beyond the seawall. We found that very odd—can’t think how wet sand would keep the sea away. Anyway, we thanked him for the information which he had been very keen to impart to us, and walked on.
The concrete walkway stretched from there to the other side of Mablethorpe, and we stopped a couple of times along the way to eat our lunch in stages. At first there were dunes along the top of the beach and the fine sand had blown over, practically burying the pathway. At one point we saw rails where steps obviously went down to beach level, but they were completely buried by dunes. Just the rails were stuck out of the top of the sand, and they looked rather odd. Further on there were rocks instead of dunes—now that’s more sensible! These rocks had obviously been brought from elsewhere specifically to protect the coast.
Way out on the beach, near the water-line, was a lone cyclist. We wondered how firm the sand was out there—didn’t he know that the concrete walkway is also a cycleway? (Bognor Council take note!) Neither of us can understand why we, in Bognor, are condemned to ride our bikes on the road amongst all the traffic when there is a nice wide esplanade with plenty of room for both pedestrians and cyclists. So many seaside towns we have passed, like Mablethorpe, have no problem with much narrower walkways for the dual purpose of cycling and walking. There seems to be a big prejudice against cyclists in West Sussex, and we think it is pure snobbery! This Lincolnshire esplanade was also well used by elderly people in their little electric buggies—they were buzzing about everywhere.
We passed a row of beach huts that looked like Swiss chalets—curved roofs for holding the snow! The roofs were made of corrugated iron and the fronts resembled garages, so all in all they looked rather ridiculous. Then we passed the inevitable mess left from a burnt-out car. This one had destroyed part of the fence, and left a black mess on the prom. This is a modern problem, we see it everywhere these days, sometimes in the most obscure places.
Then the good news! We were informed that we were entering a ‘Seaside Award Area’. A beautiful sandy beach being enjoyed by young and old alike.
The beach huts were more sensible here, and a notice on one of them amused us. It read:
open evenings and weekends
broken toys math homework
hurt feelings skinned knees
2 wheeler lessons lost pets etc etc
Please repay with hugs kisses
and smiles

It sounded a bit American, and it had obviously been there a long time because it was quite rusty. But we liked the sentiment!
We passed yet more caravan parks with a wind-farm in the distance, each windmill whirling its three prongs — shows this is a windy place. There is a lot of controversy about these wind-farms. In their favour is the fact that they are a source of renewable energy, and run at minimal cost without pollution so long as the wind blows. Against them is the fact that each windmill actually produces very little electricity, so dozens of them are needed and they are so ugly on the landscape. Also, birds fly into them and are killed in their hundreds if they are placed on a migration route. We have passed a number of them on this East coast where it is flat and featureless—and therefore windy!
As we approached Mablethorpe we passed some hideous blue shelters with seats inside them. Whoever chose that colour must have no taste! I couldn’t live with that!
Then we came to the funfair which Colin insisted on leading me through, past all the rides. It wasn’t very busy, and he wasn’t impressed — said the rides were ‘tame’. I expect they suit a lot of people, but he is just a recycled teenager.
Mablethorpe isn’t much of a place, but it does have a lovely beach and there was a jolly little train running along the sands. Most of the people were obese—perhaps they had escaped from Skegness! We sat on the steps and ate some more of our lunch, feeling thankful that neither of us have let ourselves get so repulsively FAT. No chance of that with several thousand miles still to do!
Going out of Mablethorpe we passed some derelict and vandalised beach huts, which looked rather sad. In some parts of the country, beach huts are selling for thousands of pounds, but obviously not here. After that we lost the concrete walkway because, once more, we were out in the ‘sticks’. There were quite a few people on the beach because, behind the dunes, is one of those ‘Haven’ holiday parks where they provide Butlin-type entertainment for the caravan dwellers. The ‘train’ runs for about a mile along the sands because a lot of the ‘Haven’ customers use it to get into Mablethorpe. We walked along its tracks because the sand was firmer there and it was easier on the old leg muscles.
It became quite dull and tried to rain, though it never quite got there. But it was enough for most people to pack up their stuff and return through the dunes to their alternative ‘entertainment’. Even the train decided to pack up early, and came long collecting all its ‘stations’ which were plastic bollards really. We sat on a log to eat our chocolate—once more we were on our own.
The beach widened out to a vast expanse. I know the tide was out, but the sea disappeared over the horizon! I have never seen a beach so big, it seemed more like a flat desert. Fortunately we had walked out to the beach from the car park at Theddlethorpe St Helen before we started the cycle ride, just so we would know what it looked like when we got to it on the Walk. We marched along the deserted beach and thought we had come to the path leading through the dunes to our car park, but when we got there we knew it wasn’t the right one. We still had another mile to go—it seemed forever in that wide expanse. There were hundreds of razor shells on the beach, and Colin picked a few of them up. Eventually we did reach the correct path, and we recognised it straightaway. Somebody walked out to exercise their dog, and disappeared into the distance towards the sea—I swear it was at least a mile between high and low water mark, if not more!

That ended Walk no.106, we shall pick up Walk no.107 next time on the beach at Theddlethorpe St Helen. We had a cup of tea from our flask in the car, then we drove back to the campsite, collecting our bikes on the way.

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