Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Walk 114 -- Paull to Stone Creek

Ages: Colin was 63 years and 65 days. Rosemary was 60 years and 207 days.
Weather: Very hot and sunny.
Location: Paull to Stone Creek.
Distance: 7½ miles.
Total distance: 904½ miles.
Terrain: A street, a gravel path, a grass path and then an impossibly overgrown seabank. We had to go down on to the marshes where it was very uneven with hidden holes. We went back on the seabank for a couple of miles where it was passable, but we ended up on the mud which was a bit slippery. Very difficult conditions!
Tide: Out.
Rivers: None.
Ferries: None.
Piers: None.
Kissing gates: Nos.92, 93 & 94 round the new nature reserve at Paull. (No.92 had lost its ‘kiss’ and no.93 was locked!)
Pubs: None.
‘English Heritage’ properties: None.
Ferris wheels: None.
Diversions: No.32, round a new nature reserve at Paull. The seawall had been breached in several places so that a brackish pool would form, and we had no choice but to go round.
How we got there and back: We were camping at Skipsea. With bikes on the back of the car, we drove to Stone Creek where we parked at the end of the metalled road. Then we cycled along country lanes to Paull.
At the end, we had our tea, and then walked across the creek to investigate the path going on. Although designated a ‘courtesy path’ (which means it is not a right of way but the landowner doesn’t mind if you walk it), it was just as overgrown with weeds as today’s path had been. Feeling a little low, we drove the country lanes back to Paull where we picked up our bikes. We got back to camp earlier tonight, so I was able to cook in daylight.

We started today’s Walk at the northern end of Paull, near the ship that was being renovated. When we had arrived there yesterday, it was so late everyone had gone home. But today it was very busy—a lot of noisy welding was in progress.
We continued down the main street and along the waterfront. Paull was a tiny fishing village in years gone past, and it must have been of some importance because it has three pubs! It was a bit early to be visiting them, and none of them featured in Colin’s ‘bible’—the Good Beer Guide—so we carried on. We also passed a ‘Primitive’ Methodist Chapel, dated 1871, which has been converted into a house, and a notice on a gate which amused me because it said ‘HER PLEAS’! It didn’t look as if the gate had been opened for a very long time—I wonder what the notice originally said.
We came to a disused lighthouse, dated 1836, which had also been converted into a house. And then we were at the end of the village—it isn’t very big.A notice informed us that the footpath continuing southwards was closed because the surface was collapsing due to erosion. Just a tiny bit of it had fallen into the sea, and there was plenty of room to walk round it in safety. So we ignored it like everyone else had done. We have walked on far worse footpaths on this trek and not come to grief. I often think that local Councils renege on their responsibilities whenever there is a problem—instead of mending the hole they use it as an excuse to close the footpath, causing maximum inconvenience to walkers.
We passed a car park, and sat on a bench near it to eat our lunch. The sun was so bright it hurt our eyes where it was shining off the sea. Looking back towards Hull, we could see a P&O ship in dock, and there was a constant industrial ‘hum’ from the other side of the Humber. We carried on past an old fort—I don’t think there is much of it left except the grassy mound. We came to a kissing gate that had lost it’s gate, but I still made Colin give me a kiss! Soon we came to new nature reserve, and the kissing gate to enter it was locked. Don’t know why, this is all public footpath, but we had to climb over.
In the nature reserve we discovered that the sea wall, on which the public footpath runs, had been breached in several places. A new sea wall had been built further inland, and we were mildly annoyed that we had to lengthen our Walk by going three sides round a rectangle. However, we saw some young avocets in one of the pools—such an elegant bird! That partly made up for it. At the far end of the nature reserve, the brackish pools had not yet formed properly despite the breaching of the sea wall. By the time we got down there we were completely on our own — there weren’t even any birds! There had been a few people about at the northern end, near the car park, but no one walks more than a few yards these days — except us.
It was when we reached the further end of the nature reserve and regained the original sea wall that our troubles really started. The path was impossible! It was so overgrown we simply could not walk on it—and it is supposed to be a public footpath! We couldn’t see where we were putting our feet, and with thistles and brambles up to our eyebrows it was difficult to progress. We struggled on for a few yards, then gave up and went down the bank on to the marshes.
This brought its own problems. It was very uneven and we couldn’t see the holes hidden under the plants. So we moved further out from the sea bank to where the plants were smaller and the holes more obvious. But we got disorientated and it all became a bit of a nightmare. We made for some patches of dried-out mud where the walking was a lot easier, but they didn’t last for long and seemed to be taking us further out to sea. We made very slow progress.
Looking at the map, we saw that there was an indentation in the shore which could loosely be described as a bay. It was marked as a marsh above high water level, and because we were already walking in the marsh we thought we would be clever and take a short cut across this ‘bay’. Mistake! We were just getting further and further from the sea bank. We felt as if we were the last two people left in the world, and we were lost in a wilderness! The sun was very hot. We were still hopping from dried mud patch to dried mud patch when we came across a large desiccated pool. At four stations around this ‘pool’ were wooden hides—not for bird watching but for duck shooting! There weren’t any ducks to shoot today, but we found plenty of spent cartridges. We sat in one of the hides to have a rest out of the sun.
I was concerned that we were too far from the sea bank. Colin was just hot and fed up. Neither of us were enjoying ourselves. We thought there must be a path for the upper-class idiots (who think shooting birds is fun) to use when they come to take part in their silly sport—but we couldn’t find it. We tried to make our way back to the sea bank, but the going got even more difficult. It was really quite scarey. We came across a creek which we had to jump across—fortunately this was just about possible. One time my foot went down quite a deep hole, but I didn’t hurt myself. The potential for breaking a limb was enormous, that was what frightened me most.
We struggled back to the sea bank, but it was just as overgrown although we were three miles on. It was marginally better walking along the bottom of it avoiding the holes concealed under the marshy plants. I got ahead of Colin, and saw a gate across the sea bank ‘path’ up ahead. I thought I would go up and have another look, and I was so glad I did. A track led up from the fields at that point, and the sea bank path was mown from there on—we were so relieved! For a whole mile we marched on in good spirits—then the track turned back into the fields and we were left with an impassable wilderness once again. We had ignored an ‘escape’ track back to the road because we thought we were OK, but we weren’t and had to brave the marshes once again.
This mud was even more slippery, if anything. Colin thought we still had several miles to go, but I had been studying the map and said, “No! It is really under a mile.” We struggled on, me way ahead of Colin. We passed the radar tower and I thought we must be there. Colin didn’t believe me because we couldn’t see where Stone creek went in. I said it must be because it is round a slight corner and therefore not obvious. I climbed up on to the overgrown bank again—and I could see the car behind the hedge! I yelled back to Colin, who was trailing gloomily, but I don’t think he really believed me until he actually got there himself.

That ended Walk no.114, we shall pick up Walk no.115 next time at Stone Creek. We had a cup of tea, and then walked across the creek to investigate the path going on. Although designated a ‘courtesy path’ (which means it is not a right of way but the landowner doesn’t mind if you walk it), it was just as overgrown with weeds as today’s path had been—there was no way we could walk it, and we had had enough of stumbling across marshes. Feeling a little low, we drove the country lanes back to Paull where we picked up our bikes. We got back to camp earlier tonight, so I was able to cook in daylight—at least that was a bonus.

We were both exhausted, and voted today as quite the most horrid Walk!

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