Monday, May 30, 2005

Walk 108 -- Donna Nook to Cleethorpes

Ages: Colin was 63 years and 22 days. Rosemary was 60 years and 164 days.
Weather: We were caught in a hailstorm on the cycle ride! But for the Walk we had some cloud and some sunshine. The breeze was quite cool, but it remained dry.
Location: Donna Nook to Cleethorpes.
Distance: 9½ miles.
Total distance: 850½ miles.
Terrain: Some beach, but mostly grassy sea bank. Concrete walkway / cycle path for the last two miles. Flat.
Tide: Out.
Rivers: Nos.42, 43 & 44—The Seven Towns South Eau, the Seven Towns North Eau and the River Lud (Louth Canal).
Ferries: None.
Piers: None.
Kissing gates: None.
Pubs: The Crown & Anchor at Tetney Lock where we enjoyed Taylor Landlord and Bateman’s XXXB. We did visit Willy’s Pub & Brewery in Cleethorpes, but it was so noisy and crowded we left without having a drink.
‘English Heritage’ properties: None.
Ferris wheels: None.
Diversions: None.
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 in Cleethorpes which cost us £5! We didn’t want to waste time looking for somewhere cheaper, so we paid it. Then we cycled to the car park at Donna Nook where we padlocked our bikes to a fence. It was a long way, but we managed to chop two and a half miles off it by lifting our bikes over a couple of stiles. We stopped at Tetney Lock because the pub was there, and we sat outside with our beer. As we set off it started raining—then HAIL! We sheltered under a hedge and ate our pasties.
At the end, we had a cup of tea. We had a frustrating evening not finding a pub which did food on a bank holiday evening, and ended up with fish and chips which we ate in the car overlooking the sea. We returned to the campsite, and the next day we packed up and went home to Bognor.

We locked up our bikes in Donna Nook car park and went out to look again at the vast beach with targets and other odd structures on it. We found the sheer size of the beach there to be amazing, and we’d love to see it when it is covered with seals having their pups later in the year. We wondered if we would ever make the effort to come. We reminisced about the seals we had seen at Blakeney Spit the December before last when we were ‘round-Britain’ walking in Norfolk. We wondered how the animals coped with the RAF bombing them to hell most days of the week at Donna Nook — we were a put off by a notice asking us not to block a ‘crash exit’! We were glad it was a bank holiday and all was quiet.
We started today’s Walk on the dune path from the car park, but it very quickly deteriorated so we spilled out on to the beach. Apart from the lack of path, neither of us were wearing gaiters as it was too hot and the grass was wet after the hailstorm we had endured earlier in the day. The beach was flat and the sand firm—a much better option.
About a mile further on it would have been very easy to have missed the path along the seabank which we were supposed to take. Colin said, “Do we go there?” and I answered “No!” because it seemed to be going inland. The beach went straight on and looked the obvious way to go, but then I did a double-take. Referring to the map, I realised that if we did continue in a straight line we would be making the same mistake we made back at Saltfleet. The beach looked huge, and so did the saltmarsh. The map showed numerous creeks traversing it — so we turned to cross the Seven Towns South Eau and continued along a grassy seabank ’twixt marsh and fields where we couldn’t see the sea. But we did see a heron, pied wagtails, swallows, shelducks, oystercatchers and swifts so I suppose that made up for it. Further on we crossed the Seven Towns North Eau — another drain — we’d never have done that on the beach.
At the other end of the saltmarsh the public footpath really did turn inland to North Cotes and Tetney Lock before returning to the coast. It was a long way, and we were hoping that we would be able to continue along the seabank past a disused airfield even though it was private. When we got there we discovered that it seemed to be as public as the path we had just been walking on, so we were heartily relieved. On a gate were two notices. One warned us about barbed wire and metal stakes concealed by long grass (we didn’t come across any). The other told us that the land was jointly owned by the Humber and North Lincs Wildfowling Clubs and asked us to keep to the path at the top of the embankment. That suited us fine, and a neat well-kept path it was too.
The ‘disused’ airfield we were passing had planes on it! But they were only small ones, the complex had obviously been taken over by a private flying club. We were next to the vast beach again, unable to see the sea because it was so far away. But we could see ships on the horizon, waiting to go into the Humber Estuary. They looked as if they were on the sand!
We walked on to the Louth Canal—the canalised River Lud. It wasn’t clear from the map whether we would be able to cross the canal there, or would have to walk to Tetney Lock and back adding two miles to our hike. (Tetney Lock was where we had stopped at the pub earlier in the day when on our bikes, then got caught in a hailstorm!) We have never forgotten the ‘flood barriers’ back on Fobbing Marshes in Essex which looked like bridges on the map but turned out to be barred off with lots of spikes and razor wire causing us to have to walk scores more miles in order to cross deep dykes. However Lincs authorities are kinder, and there was a perfectly open bridge for us to cross without doing any harm to anyone. We were well pleased.
We carried on behind saltmarsh again. We were entering the Humber Estuary, and in the far distance we could see Spurn Head with its lighthouse. There was a spring in our steps because Spurn Head is in Yorkshire and at last we felt we were getting ‘North’! However, it didn’t last because walking across marshes is BORING — don’t we know it? — and we were getting tired. We ate our chocolate far too early, and the extra energy it gave us didn’t last until the end of the Walk.
We came to a T-junction and turned right past a row of caravans towards the sea. We walked alongside a large pool, and there were lots of people about because we were in a big car park and picnic area. At the end of the pool, a family were leaning over a bar looking at wildlife in the water. That was heartening to see — too many kids are growing up in a ‘virtual’ world of videos and computer games these days.
We took the path on to the beach, but had to wait ages for a couple to move out of the way — they were completely blocking the narrow path because they had stopped to make a mobile phone call to their teenage children whom they had obviously left at home. That’s another modern problem — people are encased in their own little worlds because of mobile phones, their minds are somewhere else and they walk into you or stand in the way like this couple were doing.
Are we the only people who live in the real world?
A notice at the entrance to the beach warned us of a deep inshore creek which is covered at high tide. Colin said he didn’t remember anything about a creek when he holidayed in Cleethorpes as a child, and he was a bit puzzled. But we weren’t in Cleethorpes yet, we just thought we were! I don’t know what had caused this ‘senior moment’ — if we had looked at the map properly we would have seen that we were at least three miles from the centre of that seaside resort. But that was on the next map which I hadn’t bothered to get out. Once we hit ‘civilisation’, wishful thinking had said to our brains “It must be Cleethorpes!”
We started walking along the beach, but the sand was rather soft and sinky making our legs ache. Sure enough, there was the creek which was exposed due to the low tide. In fact it was the River Lud meandering its way across the sands towards the Humber, and it doesn’t go anywhere near Cleethorpes! There were a couple of boys with golf clubs walking alongside it, and they kept deliberately hitting the sand to make it fly up all over the place. When some came flying towards us Colin yelled a few oaths at them, which only antagonised them into doing it again. I was too tired for a ‘scene’, but it didn’t come to anything and we soon left them far behind.
With relief we climbed on to a concrete walkway after nearly a mile — our legs were really aching. Then we passed a signpost which bore the legend, “Cleethorpes 1½miles”. We were aghast! We had quite thought we were within a few yards of our car. That is when we wished we had not eaten our chocolate so far back on the Walk! We plodded on, past ‘Pleasure Island’ which didn’t have a Ferris wheel, and past the Greenwich Meridian which we were too tired to notice. A dozen steps past it I suddenly came to and said, “Hang on! That was the Greenwich Meridian!” Colin wasn’t interested, and I turned round to find that the signpost erected there was surrounded by teenage kids all being loud and bothersome — at least to my tired eyes they were. I wasn’t interested either as I knew photos would be out of the question with that lot there. “I’ll do it next time!” I said, and we tramped on to where we had grudgingly parted with £5 to park our car that morning. There were a lot of youths about, being as it was a bank holiday, and they were all very loud.

That ended Walk no.108, we shall pick up Walk no.109 next time on the prom near the very expensive car park south of Cleethorpes. We had a cup of tea before driving off. We had planned an evening meal in a ‘real ale’ pub to celebrate four days of successful walking, but on a bank holiday it was not to be. We found one of Colin’s pubs — loud music, full of young people and no food. We didn’t find his other pub at all. We picked up the bikes, only to find several cars full of youths oafing about at the lonely Donna Nook car park. Fortunately they hadn’t noticed our bikes until we started unlocking them, so they weren’t damaged. We ignored all their comments as we strapped them to the car, and drove off as quickly as we could. I don’t suppose they meant any harm, but they had to show off to the girls who were with them.
We stopped at two pubs on the way back which said they did food, but they didn’t. We ended up buying fish & chips in Mablethorpe. We sat in the car overlooking the sea, hungrily devouring them, which we both rather enjoyed. The tide was in by then, and the action of the waves made it seem quite exciting! Perhaps it was just relief and elation that we had successfully completed four more Walks.
When we returned to the campsite, joy of joys! Nearly everybody else had gone, and once more our tent was in isolation. The next day we packed up and went home ourselves, but we were back within a week camping further North. Before we started Walk no.109, we cycled an extra quarter of a mile to the Greenwich Meridian signpost to take the obligatory photographs. We were now walking in the Western Hemisphere again, but we shall still have to cross over the Meridian twice more.

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