Monday, July 11, 2005

Walk 113 -- Hessle, via Kingston-upon-Hull, to Paull

Ages: Colin was 63 years and 64 days. Rosemary was 60 years and 206 days.
Weather: Mostly sunny and very hot. A welcoming breeze on the waterfront.
Location: Hessle Haven to Paull, via Kingston-upon-Hull.
Distance: 13½ miles.
Total distance: 897 miles.
Terrain: A path through weeds with a dried-up swamp one side and a busy road the other—then miles of concrete. A disused railway line, and the last bit on a river bank.
Tide: Coming in.
Rivers: No.47, the Hull.
Ferries: None.
Piers: None, though there were a couple of jetties in Hull.
Kissing gates: None.
Pubs: ‘Minerva’ where we drank Butcombe Blonde & Roundhead’s Gold. ‘Ye Olde Black Boy’ (which has gas lighting!) where we drank Rooster’s Rooster & Hyde’s Elevation.
‘English Heritage’ properties: None.
Ferris wheels: None.
Diversions: No.31, we had to go behind a building where part of the waterfront was not quite finished. (A long footbridge took us over a coalyard in another part of Hull.)
How we got there and back: We drove up the day before, and had great difficulty finding a campsite that took tents. In the end, we had to camp at Skipsea which was miles further north than where we wanted to be. With bikes on the back of the car, we drove to Paull where we parked by the river bank. Then we cycled our planned Walk in reverse, on a hunch that Hull waterfront would be cycle-friendly. It wasn’t. Colin had to lift our bikes up and down several sets of steps, and he wasn’t a happy bunny!
At the end, we had our tea, then had to drive all the way through Hull to pick up the bikes. By the time we got back to Skipsea it was dark and I had a meal to cook, so I wasn’t a happy bunny either!

Today it is our younger daughter’s 33rd birthday. We adopted Annalise when she was just five weeks old. She was born in London, but she is half West Indian, a quarter Irish and a quarter English. She is an extremely attractive young lady with a colourful personality. Over the years she has led us a dance or two, but she is doing OK now with her new job as public relations manager for a firm that sells nebulisers to hospitals. She has steadied down a lot since she married Mark two years ago, especially as she had to support Mark through major heart surgery within a year of their wedding. She has provided us with our only two grandchildren—Jamie now aged sixteen and Kelly, fourteen. Despite her youth, she has made a smashing Mum—she ain’t a bad kid!

Today’s Walk was nearly fourteen miles long, but we didn’t start it until 2.30pm. This is why. We had driven up from Bognor the day before, confident that we would find a campsite somewhere around Kilnsea or Withernsea because the map was spattered with tent signs. We arrived at Kilnsea at the reasonable time of 5.30pm only to discover that neither of the campsites there allowed tents, despite the tent symbols on our map. There was a campervan in the car park, so we asked the driver if he knew of a local campsite. He told us that there were two ‘within walking distance’, but we discovered that one of them was strictly for caravan club members only, and the other didn’t exist!
So we started driving northwards, and it all became a bit of a nightmare. There were loads of sites marked with a tent symbol on our map—some were even listed in our 2003 campsite book (only two years old)—but each one of them was ‘caravans only’, some even had a sign at the gate, ‘NO TOURERS’. It was getting late, and I was beginning to panic. I even suggested we looked for a B&B instead. We came to Skipsea—miles north of where we wanted to be—and at last we found a campsite with a tent symbol! The youngish girl we knocked up to come to Reception for us didn’t seem to know what she was doing, and told us it was £10 a night. We thought this was a bit steep—after all we didn’t want a hook-up to the electricity or anything—but we paid for two nights because we were so relieved that we had found somewhere at last. The girl was very specific as to where we could pitch our tent, we had no choice in the matter. It was gone 8pm by then, so we pitched the tent hurriedly and I ended up cooking in the dark, which I hate.
The next morning the campsite owner (the girl’s mother) informed me that her daughter had got it wrong and the price was really £12.50! I just said, “Oh really?” but didn’t offer to pay the extra because I thought it was outrageous. However, we had to for subsequent nights. I asked her why there were so few sites in the area that allow tents, and she used some excuse that tents destroy the grass if pitched too long in the same place (So? Haven’t they always done so? Isn’t that what campsites are all about?) and that tents these days are so huge many of them actually take up two pitches (So why don’t they charge those particular tents for two pitches?) I think the real reason is that they can make more money out of caravans. We had the gut feeling that we were not really welcome the whole time we were there, and that they were glad to see the back of us when we left. Even on the last morning the owner’s husband came across to our pitch to make sure we really had packed up and were leaving. When we explained to him that the car wouldn’t start because we had inadvertently flattened the battery due to overuse of our fridge box, he said, “Well, I can’t help you, I have an appointment in town!” And he drove off and left us!
We got up early the next morning, but we were tired and not properly organised after our late night. We stopped in Hornsea to buy some pasties—we found a wonderful baker’s shop—and then drove to Paull to park the car. It was a long way, we had planned to be just down the road at Kilnsea.
We cycled North to join up with a disused railway, which we followed for a few miles. Then it was down to the waterfront where we hoped to cycle along the quays away from the traffic. It said ‘NO CYCLING’ but we carried on anyway—having seen an overturned lorry on a roundabout we had just passed, we didn’t fancy the road at all! A lot of the way was OK, but in several places there were steps. I found my bike was too heavy to lift up more than two or three, so Colin had to lift both bikes up. At a coal yard there was a very high footbridge, and Colin moaned like mad because he was really annoyed by then. To placate him, we diverted to a quaint little ‘real ale’ pub—it even had gas lighting. It sold the most delicious beer, and suddenly all was right with the world! Back on the waterfront we found a bench to sit on and eat our pasties. We carried on and found that people were generally very friendly, wanting us to stop and talk. That was all very well, but time was getting on and Colin hasn’t a clue about curtailing a conversation—his time management skills are zero. People thought we were mad to go so far—perhaps they were right! The last bit of the route was a bit dodgy—we suffered overhanging weeds, and it was bumpy and narrow. I was afraid of falling off and breaking my leg again, but I managed to hang on.
That is why it was 2.30pm before we actually started walking. Our Walk was the cycle ride in reverse, so I tucked the map away in my rucksack and we didn’t have to refer to it again.

Hessle Haven is a muddy inlet with a number of boats moored there. One of the barges had obviously sunk because, although it was exposed at low tide, it was full of wet sand. On the opposite bank were piles of scrap and several cranes—it was very ugly. We crossed the creek, skirted round a factory and followed a path which went through to the waterfront between high fences. We followed the overgrown path by the Humber that we had just bumpily cycled along—we don’t think it is often walked. We passed some brand new offices with their doors wide open where young men in formal shirts and ties were trying to cope with the heat—aren’t we glad that such days are over for us! The path was narrow between a main road and the Humber, but it was easier walking it than it had been cycling it earlier. Colin found a large caterpillar, so he was happy at last. That was the only wildlife we saw the whole Walk.
We reached the beginning of St Andrew’s Quay where we were able to move out to the edge of the river, a little away from the road—that was a blessing. We looked back for a last view of the Humber Bridge which was already two miles behind us. We also looked across at the southern side of the river and realised that the industrial complex we had got lost in on the Walk before last was a lot bigger than we had thought. We passed a retail park (full of B&Q-type shops) and, near a new domed shopping complex housing Subway and Jessops, we sat on the same bench to eat our sandwiches as we had sat on earlier to eat our pasties. Then we had left our pasty crumbs for the birds, and they were still there! That was the extent of the wildlife on this Walk—there was none! Not even seagulls which plague our life at home in Bognor because they nest in the chimney stacks of the houses behind us.
We carried on past an open derelict area from which the buildings had been cleared—ready for rebuilding, we assumed. Past some buildings we came to the lock gates for St Andrew’s Quay, and the footpath led us across them. At that spot we came across a memorial to fishermen who had died at sea. The attractive stone had been erected by the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes, whoever they are. The epitaph reads:—
Through these locks
passed the ships and men who
fished the Arctic grounds of
Murmansk, Greenland and Iceland.
In 1914 and 1939 men and trawlers
went to War. In peace and war
This tablet commemorates
the many who did
not return.
There were several wreaths of fresh flowers leaning against it, which made us wonder if there had been a recent tragedy.
Then we had to climb a lot of steps, for the footpath took us high over a coal yard—we were on a level with the roofs of the buildings. This had been done to solve the problem of having a public footpath going through a working yard where lorries reverse and unload. It gave us good views overlooking Hull—not really much to see! After about three hundred yards at height we came down again, twisted our way through the yard guided by fences, and crossed some more lock gates. There were new buildings and the paved waterfront area wasn’t finished, so we had to skirt round behind them. It will look very pleasant when it is completed, I’m sure.
We came to the ‘touristy’ part of Hull, if it can be called that — the Victoria Pier and the mouth of the River Hull. You see, the name of the city is not really Hull but Kingston — named by King Edward I when he bought it in 1293. To differentiate between it and Kingston upon Thames — which is normally called Kingston — this Kingston became known as Kingston upon Hull — and that has been shortened to Hull.
Even before Edward I came along, Hull (known as ‘Wyke’, meaning ‘creek’ in Viking language) was an important port exporting wool and importing wine for the Archbishops of York. Back then it was controlled by that strict order of monks, the Cistercians, so what do you expect? (Who said anything about poverty, chastity and obedience?— certainly not temperance!) Edward I not only changed the name, but granted permission to hold an annual fair which is still held each October. It is said to be the biggest in Europe.
In medieval times Hull was effectively the port of York, and at that time it’s main income came from the export of grain and cloth to the Low Countries. In 1642 the English Civil War began when the city’s governor, Sir John Hotham, refused King Charles I entry into Hull. William Wilberforce, who successfully campaigned to abolish the slave trade, lived in Hull. The city has prospered on oil-milling, paint-making, engineering, pharmaceuticals, transport, food-processing, but most of all fishing. For two hundred years, thousands of Hull citizens were employed in the fishing industry but the decline over the past twenty years or so has seen that once proud industry practically eradicated.
We came across an attractive sculpture of three crowns — which some oaf had desecrated with red paint — but we couldn’t find any information about the origin of this logo. Was it something to do with Royal Charters granted by Edward I? There was also another memorial, a Navy one. The epitaph reads:—
DURING THE 1914 - 1918 WAR,
THE 1939 – 1945 WAR
There was a single bunch of white flowers left at the foot of the sculpture.
We stopped at ‘The Minerva’ pub and brewery which boasted it had been CAMRA ‘Hull Pub of the Year’ in 2000, 2001 and 2002. I was surprised Colin hadn’t mentioned it, after all he had taken me to two other pubs in Hull. Then he pointed out that the latest date was 2002 and it wasn’t even in the Good Beer guide for 2005! I persuaded him to get two halves of beer because we were hot and thirsty. When he went inside to buy them he asked about the brewery and discovered that it had been closed for five years. The beer was passable, but not nearly as good as the beer we had enjoyed at ‘Ye Olde Black Boy’ on our cycle ride. That pub wasn’t far away, and still has gas lighting—a very interesting old place.Seated at one of the outside tables at ‘The Minerva’ was a young man dressed in cap and gown. I deduced he had just been presented with a higher degree because of the type of hat he was wearing. So I asked him, and sure enough he had graduated with a PhD in Environmental Sciences that afternoon and was there celebrating with his family. I congratulated him, and told him that my son had a PhD too, in Chemistry, which he achieved at Leeds University in 1995. Paul has always said that he wouldn’t recommend anyone to study for that particular qualification because it wasn’t worth the hassle and didn’t help him get a job. This young man said he already had a job, so that was OK. We then discussed the merits of being able to use the title ‘Doctor’. Both Paul, and our daughter, Maria — who is a ‘Doctor of Chiropractic’ - have found that they are treated with enormous respect when they sign a cheque, apply for an airline ticket, etc. The downside is that people start telling them about their ailments!
We passed a picture / sculpture of some kind of winged animal, not sure what it was. We looked up a road inland and saw an interesting church, but there really wasn’t time to divert in order to look at it. There were some brand new jetties at Victoria Pier, and we walked out on them all, looking across the Hull to ‘The Deep’. Tied to one of the fences was a sad sight — a piece of polythene round some discoloured straw which was originally a bunch of flowers. Did someone jump into the mud below? Does it really help to tie flowers to the fence where it happened? Out of water they would have died within hours. I still cannot believe that leaving bunches of dead flowers around is a good way to mourn — it is a phenomenon which has only come into being over the last twenty years or so. To me, a living plant is a far more fitting memorial for a loved one, and I have planted bulbs all over my parents’ grave so that there is a succession of colour every Spring.
We moved on, crossing the Hull on a new footbridge and skirting round the peculiar building that houses ‘The Deep’. We visited this ‘submarium’ last month when we were camping at Barton-upon-Humber. We really enjoyed the exhibition and thought it was very well done. The leaflet describes it thus:—
“Experience the dramatic story of the world’s oceans from the dawn of time to the present day and into the future. Using a unique blend of interactives, stunning audio-visual presentations and some of the best live aquarium displays in Europe we will take you on a journey from tropical lagoons to the icy waters of Antarctica, finally plunging down to the inky depths of the abyssal plain.
Ride the spectacular scenic lift through one of the deepest tanks in Europe, come face to face with sharks, rays, shimmering golden trevally and hundreds of other exotic species all housed in 2.5 million litres of water.
Walk the ocean floor in the world’s deepest viewing tunnel whilst the sand tiger and zebra sharks glide overhead. Touch the ice-cold walls of the Polar Gallery. Peer right inside the body of our unique shark hologram, and find out what makes one of the world’s greatest predators tick! Then enter The Deep’s amazing new exhibition for 2005 on the deep sea. Imagine a place of intense cold and of massive pressures, a place of bizarre, alien creatures where even light struggles to reach. A place so strange that even the scientists call it…
The Deep’s amazing new exhibition for ’05. Between 200m and 1000m down lays the Twilight Zone, one of the biggest but least explored environments on the planet. This is the realm of the giant octopus and giant crabs and of the nautilus and coelacanth creatures that were ancient before the first dinosaurs appeared.”A bit romanticised, perhaps, but we did enjoy our visit. We especially liked standing in the tunnel under the deep tank and watching sharks swimming overhead. I love seahorses—such sensible creatures because the male gets pregnant while the female b…..s off to do her own thing! I was thrilled to see real live nautiluses, only discovered in recent years. They are the only known ammonite-type animal that is not extinct. Colin liked the conga eel — it was huge. And the pulsating jellyfish were very beautiful. It certainly is a world of strange creatures that we live in!
Past ‘The Deep’ the waterfront has been redeveloped with flats and maisonettes. It was very neat with lots of flowering shrubs. In the middle of them we passed a dock which is obviously not used any more because it had ornamental fountains in it! It all looked very nice — a vast improvement on the derelict dock area we came to next. Part of a rusty ship, railway lines which were twisted with rust and leading nowhere, it is an area ripe for redevelopment. Our docks are not what they were, but at least there were no new cars rusting on the quay in Hull.
Ahead was the ferry terminal where ships leave for Rotterdam and Zeebrugge. A P&O ship was loading cars and passengers as we arrived. There was a man fishing in the dock just there, but the water looked filthy to me. I wonder if he caught anything.
I am indebted to Spud Talbot-Ponsonby for not getting into trouble over the next few miles. As I have mentioned before, this lady and her dog did the whole Round-Britain circuit a few years ago, and she wrote a book of her adventures called ‘Two Feet, Four Paws’. I had been puzzled by a public footpath marked on the map which continues for over two miles along the waterfront past the King George Dock (the ferry terminal) and then curves round by an inlet coming to a full stop in the middle of industrial-land. A railway and several factory-type buildings block the exit to the road. “Could we get through?” I wondered. If we couldn’t and had to retrace our steps, that would add five miles to our journey! So I referred to ‘Two Feet, Four Paws’, and this is what I read:—
“To avoid main roads we set off along the seaward side of the working docklands, crossing the tiny River Hull via the closed lock gates, and following a path which the O/S map said would lead us back to the main road. A massive coal heap began to grow behind an imposing wire fence on our left.
After a while the tangled vegetation on our right squeezed us right up against the fence, and I hung on to the wire with each stride like a monkey swinging from branch to branch. The fence turned abruptly left, and we had no option but to accompany it.
Tess leapt the brambles and sneaked under the gorse. The fence ended at a point where it had obviously been decided that no one would be silly enough to try and reach, but they had underestimated Spud and Tess. We were now in amongst the coal, and Tess’s white paws were instantly black as we clambered over piles of it until reaching an old railway line that led to the gate.
I tried to look innocent as we approached the gate, but felt distinctly silly. Two men came out of their hut. “What’re you doing here?” they asked. I explained, but they didn’t look amused. “Well, there’s no path through here. If you follow this road, you’ll join the main road. And don’t come walking through here again!”
Leaving a trail of black footprints and pawprints, we skirted the enormous hissing pipes of the BP works and arrived at the tiny village of Paull.”
We deduced that there was no way through! What is the use of a public footpath that doesn’t lead anywhere? I planned a more inland route to Paull—further, but it kept us off the main road (mostly) and I hoped it would be more interesting.
On reaching the King George Dock — the ferry terminal, and also the beginning / end of the Trans Pennine Trail — we turned inland to a main road. That should have been our route for the next two and a half miles, but we don’t like noisy polluted places and we had been a little put off that morning by seeing an overturned lorry on the roundabout there. (By the evening the lorry had gone but the barriers at the side, where we would have been walking, were totally destroyed.) Parallel to the road and a further five hundred yards from the shoreline runs a disused railway, now a cycle track. So we put into effect additional rule no.10 and made our way to it. I stood on an old station platform which was still there, but I think I would have had to wait a heck of a long time for a train!
We passed the Speedway stadium, in which Colin was interested, and noted that most of the lampposts which are supposed to give light to this cycle track after dark had been vandalised. There are lots of new housing estates adjacent, and I certainly would not have felt safe either walking or cycling along there after dark. Fortunately we are in July, and although we were running late it was still a long way off sunset. We met numerous children, out enjoying themselves after school. Unfortunately many of them were playing by a little bridge where there was a lot of broken glass. We followed two little girls sitting on one bike and trying not to fall off. They kept it up for ages, having a good laugh every time they wobbled — it is great to see children playing in the same time-honoured way they have done for generations.
The ‘railway’ came to a road, and we turned down it to the main road — which was up on a flyover at that point so we were able to cross the roundabout underneath in relative safety. We turned off on a minor road to Paull. We skirted a major chemical works which had all sorts of coloured smoke and steam issuing from pipes and chimneys, and we wondered how safe the air we were breathing really was. After a bridge over a stream, we turned off along the bank of the stream to regain the coast. A police van full of dogs roared up the bank behind us — we thought we were really for it! But the driver glanced at some people who were innocently gathered there, turned round and drove away. Obviously the wrong ones!
The P&O ship which had been loading when we passed King George Dock over an hour ago was leaving on its journey to Scandinavia. We were walking towards it on the bank of the stream, and it seemed huge. It was very close in to shore and it looked rather odd, towering above the houses. We reached the coast and turned towards Paull, where we could see a ship in dry dock being renovated.

That ended Walk no.113, we shall pick up Walk no.114 next time by the side of the partly renovated ship which was situated at the northern end of the hamlet of Paull. That was where our car was parked today, so we quickly had our tea from the flask in the boot. Then we had to drive all the way through the traffic of Hull to pick up the bikes. By the time we got back to Skipsea it was dark and I still had a meal to cook — I wasn’t best pleased!

We found Hull to be a lot more interesting than we had envisaged. We were pleasantly surprised.

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