Monday, June 06, 2005

Walk 109 -- Cleethorpes, via Grimsby, to Pyewipe

Ages: Colin was 63 years and 29 days. Rosemary was 60 years and 171 days.
Weather: Cloudy, turning brighter. A cold wind.
Location: Cleethorpes to Pyewipe, via Grimsby.
Distance: 7 miles.
Total distance: 857½ miles.
Terrain: Concrete proms, seawalls and pavements. A grass verge by a main road. Flat.
Tide: Out.
Rivers: No.45, the River Freshney at Grimsby Docks.
Ferries: None.
Piers: No.25, Cleethorpes.
Kissing gates: None.
Pubs: Willy’s Pub & Brewery in Cleethorpes (quieter this non-Bank Holiday lunchtime) where we drank Willy’s Original Bitter and Dickson’s Major Bitter. No.1 Refreshment Room, also in Cleethorpes, where we enjoyed Highwood’s Dark Mild and Barn Dance.
‘English Heritage’ properties: None.
Ferris wheels: No.4, in Cleethorpes—but it WASN’T RUNNING!
Diversions: None.
How we got there and back: We drove up the day before and set up camp at Barton-upon-Humber. (The campsite proved to be rather expensive for its limited facilities, but it was the only one anywhere near where we wanted to be so we had to put up with it.) We drove, with bikes on the back of the car, to Great Coates where, after much argument, we parked in a Close on the edge of the village very near to an enormous industrial estate called Pyewipe. Then we cycled through Grimsby and Cleethorpes—me navigating with the map in my new cycling map-case screwed to my handlebars—to the Greenwich Mean Line signpost. We tried to call in at a pub in Grimsby on the way, but it wasn’t open. By the time we got to Cleethorpes Willy’s pub was open, so we stopped for a drink. After taking some photos at the signpost, we cycled back to the place where we ended the last Walk, and padlocked our bikes to a fence.
At the end, we had a cup of tea. Then we drove via the No.1 Refreshment Room (in Cleethorpes Station) to collect our bikes—and back to our campsite along main roads because it was quicker.

We had hardly locked up the bikes when Colin diverted into a Nature reserve to answer a call of nature. There he came across these wild orchids. I had already walked on quite a bit towards Cleethorpes, expecting him to catch up with me. I was reluctant to return, so I took these photographs later in the day when we came back to collect the bikes. A notice by the Nature Reserve informed us:
“The Humber estuary is of global importance for wading birds and wildfowl. It is during the winter months that bird numbers are at their highest when they might migrate from breeding grounds in Northern Europe to feed on the invertebrates that live in the mudflats and salt marshes.
The salt marshes and sand dunes are an important habitat for wildflowers, some of which are nationally rare. The council has designated the coast from Cleethorpes Leisure Centre to Humberston Fitties together with the old sand dune that dates back to the 12th Century on The Boating Lake as a Local Nature Reserve.”
The area they were referring to stretches from about three miles back—where we first went on the beach and thought we were in Cleethorpes—to a point about half a mile further on.
We continued along the sand-dusted prom, passing an abandoned shopping trolley on the way, and came to some gardens where stood the famous ‘leaking boot’ statue. That was the only thing Colin could remember about Cleethorpes from his holiday there as a child. He only came once, and he can’t remember how old he was—probably about seven. He was sure the statue had been moved, it didn’t seem to him to be in the ‘right place’, and he had a feeling that this was a replica of the original one which had been stolen. He was also convinced it was formerly in a round pond, now it is in a rectangular one. The garden, including the statue and pond with two fountains, is now dedicated to the memory of that tragic young lady, Princess Diana. An engraved stone bears the legend:
Memory of
Princess of Wales
1961 to 1997
“The People’s Princess”
The original ‘leaking boot’ statue was much older than that! If Colin remembers it from his holiday at the age of seven, that would be circa 1949—twelve years before Princess Diana was born.We sat on a bench near the statue and ate our lunch. We huddled behind a hedge to keep out of the wind, trying to remember that it was June!
Then we continued. Cleethorpes is a delightful seaside resort—it has a beautiful sandy beach where people were playing volley ball, a jolly little road-train, pretty lights (pity about the crane) and even a beach bum!! Colin noticed her before I did this time, so I knew he had recovered his senses!

We passed the ‘Leaking Boot’ chippie and Willy’s pub where we had earlier had a drink. There was a nice artificial waterfall in some gardens opposite.Then we came to the pier, which is very short. I don’t know if it was any longer in the past, we couldn’t find out any information about it. Colin said he didn’t remember it, but he seemed to have given up on the nostalgia front. We couldn’t walk down the short length of it because it was roped off while some workmen fixed the lights in one of the gantries.
The next part of the promenade was attractively laid out in coloured brick. We saw some donkeys on the beach—yes, Cleethorpes is quite a pleasant seaside resort despite its location in the Humber Estuary and right next-door to Grimsby. We came upon a Ferris wheel! It was only a small one—for children really—but it was closed so I didn’t get a chance to ride on it.Soon we came to the border between Cleethorpes and Grimsby—what a difference! Cleethorpes was all seasidey despite its plethora of notices about safety which we thought a little OTT even in this day and age. Suddenly we were in a depressed industrial area, just like that! The concrete prom continued but we lost the hand rails. To our left was a railway backed by dense terraced housing. No more pretty lights or little shops. Even the abandoned supermarket trolley was left to rust in the sand, not neatly parked on the prom!
We continued for about two hundred yards towards a large industrial building, then we came to a fence. We could have climbed through the hole left by vandals, but we didn’t see the point. We would only have had to turn back when we reached the dock, and got moaned at for trespassing—anyway there was a notice on the fence telling us there was no unauthorised access.
The only thing that concerned us was how do we get over the railway? We looked around, and saw that there was a footbridge a few yards back, so we headed towards it. As we climbed the steps we noticed a group of children standing on top.
They looked as if they were going to throw something at an approaching train as it passed underneath us, so I gave them my ‘teacher stare’ and they didn’t. A group of adults who approached from the other way did just the same thing, and it was amusing to see these cocky kids dissolve into nothingness—what our son, Chris, used to call ‘turned into a flat balloon’! The steps going down the other side were blocked by a group of ‘winos’ whom we had to step over. One of them waved his bottle at us and asked, “Have you been to lots of places?” We carried on walking purposefully while I answered, “Yes, quite a few!” Colin said, “You ought to try it sometime!” and the lad—for he was only young—replied, “Yeah, I think I will!” He tried to stand up but his legs thought otherwise, so he sank back down again on the steps. How sad that these young people, with their whole lives before them, can think of nothing beyond vandalism and how much alcohol they can consume.
Grimsby is a grim place—and so close to Cleethorpes which is delightful. We passed street after street of terraced houses with tall industrial buildings opposite them. No front gardens, and only room for a tiny yard at the back. Colin kept talking about the fish market his mother took him to in Grimsby all those years ago when he was a child. He was so impressed with the quantity and variety of fish for sale that he still remembers it. But we didn’t find anything like that. We looked through a gateway and saw a few boxes of fish, and we passed a fish retail outlet. On our last day we returned there to buy some fish to take home and put in the freezer, but most of it was imported! As we walked the streets the smell reminded us of Bolivia—we both thought of it simultaneously. It was back in 1993 that we toured that fascinating country where flushing lavatories are a luxury for the rich and for tourists—everyone else pees in the street. The smell of ammonia is quite nauseous, and it was in Grimsby that we were reminded of it!
We came to the entrance of Grimsby Dock. There was an impressive building with a clock tower, and in front of it a statue of Prince Albert. On one side of his plinth it said:To commemorate the inauguration and completion of these great works this memorial has been erected by Sir Edward William Watkin, MP, chairman of the Manchester, Sheffield and Lincolnshire Railway Company 1879.
On a second side we read:
Extract from speech of the Prince Consort on the 18th April 1849.
“We have been laying the Foundation of a Dock, not only as a place of refuge and refitment for our mercantile marine, and calculated to receive the greatest steamers of Her Majesty’s Navy, but I trust it will be the foundation of a great commercial Port.
This work in future ages when we shall long have quitted this scene, and when perhaps our names will be forgotten, will I hope become a new centre of life with the vast and ever increasing commerce of the world, and a most important link in the connection of East and West.”
A third side bore the legend:
The New Dock
Connecting the Royal Dock
with the old dock,
was opened by their Royal Highnesses
The Prince and Princess of Wales
On the 22nd July 1879
The fourth side told us that the statue was Prince Albert who laid the foundation stone in 1849.We were a bit puzzled as to where to go next. There didn’t seem to be any way across the railway for pedestrians, though a road was crossing it high above our heads. Eventually, hidden away, we found some steps which led us up on to the bridge. The road was very busy, but we did have a footpath to walk along—noisy and polluted but relatively safe. We descended some steps the other side and found ourselves at a road junction. One roadsign was pointing the way to the ‘Fish Docks’, and we did idly wonder if the elusive fish market that Colin remembered from fifty-five plus years ago was there. We decided that it was history, and everywhere looked barred off with barbed wire anyway. We could see the tower which marks the entrance to Grimsby Docks, but couldn’t see any way of getting there. In the end we decided to give it a miss on the grounds that it was all industrial (additional rule no.3) and, looking at the map, we found that it was a dead end as well (additional rule no.2).
We took a short loop through an industrial wasteland—if only to get away from that noisy road for five minutes—then we crossed the dock inlet. There we saw a fishing boat come into the harbour, one of the few that are left of the once proud fleet. We wondered what Prince Albert would think of the state of Grimsby Docks now—the fishing industry in the doldrums and no ‘mercantile marine’ nor ‘Her Majesty’s Navy’. Everything is imported these days, our roads are clogged by huge lorries carrying the stuff in, and many of our Docks have sunk into dereliction.
Except for the cars! Like Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey, Grimsby Dock was lined with rows and rows of new imported cars, waiting to clog our ever-congested motorways. To celebrate this folly, and also because we couldn’t find anywhere else to do so, we stood on the bridge over the dock inlet and ate our high-energy foods to charge us up for the rest of the Walk—a banana for Colin and chocolate for me!
Our way continued alongside a busy ‘Transport’ road, the main A180. After half a mile we were able to turn off past a sewage works and lots of factory chimneys belching out smoke. Delightful! (But at least no one pretended it was a way-marked footpath like the ‘Macmillan Way’ at Boston.) We concentrated our minds on the wild flowers which grew in profusion alongside all this muck. It is amazing how nature will take over. Eventually we reached the right-angled bend where I wanted to park this morning, but Colin had a major brainstorm so we ended up parking half a mile away in the village of Great Coates.
That ended Walk no.109, we shall pick up Walk no.110 next time at the right-angled bend in Pyewipe Industrial Estate where a footpath leads us back to the coast. We walked into Great Coates and had a cup of tea from our flask in the car. On our way back to collect our bikes we called in at the No.1 Refreshment Room in Cleethorpes Station for a snifter. Then we picked up our bikes and returned to our campsite along main roads because it was quicker, even though it was further.

1 comment:

Sarah22 said...

Hiya ive just read your blog and as i live and come grimsby found it quite interesting.Thank you for highlighting our bad points we are well aware of those but there is some very nice places in grimsby if you want to venture inwards a little bit weelsby woods is beautifull and full of lovely flowers and wildlife also peoples park is wonderfull and has just been regenerated the trees and flowers are wonderfull, we also have a fishing heritage centre which is very educational and interesting. You can also pick your own strawberries at the back of weelsby woods. So please come back and visit again and see the other side of grimsby thank you