Monday, December 05, 2005

Walk 120 -- Atwick to Bridlington

Ages: Colin was 63 years and 211 days. Rosemary was 60 years and 353 days.
Weather: Quite mild. Little wind and lots of sunshine.
Location: Atwick to Bridlington.
Distance: 9 miles.
Total distance: 963 miles.
Terrain: Some grassy paths, but mostly firm beach sand. Mostly flat.
Tide: Out.
Rivers: None.
Ferries: None.
Piers: None.
Kissing gates: None.
Pubs: None.
‘English Heritage’ properties: No.34, Skipsea Castle, which we visited back in the Summer when we were camping near it. No.35, Burton Agnes Manor House—which we didn’t have to visit because it is about three miles inland, but we called in there last Summer to have a look.
Ferris wheels: No.5 as we approached Bridlington, but it was out-of-service for the Winter.
Diversions: None.
How we got there and back: We were staying in a holiday cottage on a farm near the village of Rudston. With bikes on the back of the car, we drove to Bridlington where we parked at the southernmost car park—which was FREE at this time of year. We cycled to Atwick along rather hilly roads, and I didn’t cope so well today—I had to get off and walk up one of the hills.
At the end, we had our tea in the rapidly darkening car park, though we were pleased to find the toilets were still open. We drove back to Atwick to pick up the bikes, then north again to Rudston to our cosy cottage.

We were half an hour later getting started on today’s Walk, I think it was because I didn’t cope so well with the cycling. There was no way we could get down on to the beach where the road fell over the cliff at Atwick, so we followed a good track which led northwards parallel to the clifftop about thirty yards in. We stopped to ask a woman who was walking her dog if she knew the nearest point where there was beach access, but she didn’t seem to have much idea even though she was local. We wondered if we would be able to get down to where we really wanted to be before Bridlington.
About a mile further on we came to a caravan site, and that is where the public footpath ended. However, a notice informed us that we could continue along the clifftop if we liked so long as we did so at our own risk and didn’t trespass on the caravan park. Fine by me—I wish other landowners would be as accommodating. We don’t want to do any damage or cause a nuisance anywhere, we just want to quietly walk by. It was pleasant to walk along mown grass with views of the sea in the sunshine. We would rather have been on the beach, but there was no way down even though the cliffs were not particularly high at that point. We came to a tarmacked path which had been cut off by the erosion of the cliffs, depositing lumps of tarmac on to the beach below. But even there we couldn’t see a safe way down.
We passed a second caravan site, and there, at last, was a sloping track down to the shore. We were quite relieved because we didn’t know how difficult it would be to walk all the way to Bridlington on the clifftop. We were on Skipsea Beach — Skipsea was where we camped reluctantly last Summer, when we were walking in the area of Hull and Spurn Head, because all the campsites further south had given up tents in favour of caravans. (I think they can make more money from caravans.) A notice there explained that the soft cliffs are a loose consolidation of boulder clays left behind by the last Ice Age, and are very vulnerable to erosion. At least thirty villages have disappeared in this area since Roman times—and still they build on the clifftops!

Skipsea Castle

We visited Skipsea Castle last Summer when we were camping nearby. The guidebook describes it as, “An impressive Norman motte and bailey castle dating from before 1086 and among the first raised in Yorkshire, with the earthworks of an attendant fortified ‘borough’.” We didn’t find it to be so impressive. We looked at the grassy mound with bushes on it in the distance and said to each other, “It’s not worth the bother of walking over to it!” So I took a photograph and we left—I think we were feeling a bit tired and disgruntled that day!

Down on the beach it was glorious! The air was fresh, the waves were plopping, there was gorgeous lighting with perched seagulls reflected in the water, the sun was shining and it wasn’t at all cold. The sand sculptures left on the beach by the receding tide were worthy of any Art gallery!
This wonderful scene was spoilt by the occasional jet aircraft speeding over, just to remind us we live in an altogether noisier and more aggressive world. We had reminders of aggression in the past, too, as we sat on the remains of a wartime ‘pill-box’—which must have been built on the clifftop a mere sixty-five years ago—to eat the first part of our lunch.
We saw a fisherman who had come along in a dumper truck and was laying out nets on the beach.I was curious as to what he was actually doing, so we walked over and had a chat. He told us that the fish swim into the nets as the tide comes in, and then they are trapped. He comes back in twelve hours time, even if it is the middle of the night, to collect his catch when the tide has receded. He catches salmon in the Summer, but now it is Winter a lot of sea bass get caught this way. Sea bass have only appeared on this coast in recent years, and this fisherman reckoned it is because the sea is now a lot warmer through the Winter than it used to be. He sells to local restaurants, and makes a good living from it.
We walked on and on, really enjoying ourselves. We continually passed buildings and caravans much too close to the edge of the cliff to have an easy night’s sleep. There were broken-off service pipes sticking out from the cliff waving in the wind, and we passed lots of bits of brick and concrete down on the sand—much of it rounded by the waves.In one place the cliff had been shored up with concrete blocks, but the building at the top still looked redundant. Further on we came to a warning notice which had obviously fallen over the cliff. We concluded there was a road leading to the cliff edge at this point, but it had been cut off in a recent fall. When we looked in detail just how easily the soft clays cave in, it made us feel very thankful that we don’t live anywhere near this area. There were no outstanding features along the beach, so it was difficult to assess exactly where we were until we approached Bridlington.

Burton Agnes Manor House
Burton Agnes Manor House is more than a mile inland so we didn’t have to visit it, according to our ‘rules’. But we had visited it back in the Summer when we were camping at Skipsea, so I have included it. The guidebook describes it as follows—“A medieval manor house interior, with a rare and well-preserved Norman undercroft and a 15th century roof, all encased in brick during the 17th and 18th centuries.The undercroft was worth seeing, but that was about it really. Colin was much more interested in a nest of baby swallows he espied in a corner of the ceiling near the toilets! They were just at the stage where they were peeping over the edge squealing for food from their parents. He also chased a moth about until he managed to take a picture of it—I think he rates wildlife more highly than history.
As we got nearer to the fishing port of Bridlington, we noticed more and more concrete sea defences in the sand. Blocks and cylindrical columns, all very ‘wave-worn’—we assumed they dated from the Second World War when all our coasts were vulnerable. We sat on a drainage outfall pipe to eat the second part of our lunch. Further on we met two men who were looking for fossils amongst the rocks. One showed us a shark’s tooth he had found, the other had an ammonite. Colin was very interested, and wanted to hang about to look for fossils himself. But we couldn’t afford the time—we were already losing daylight and still had several miles to go.
We had to climb over some rocks which protected a cliff promontory, but it wasn’t too difficult to get past. There were some caravans on top at that point, and they looked much safer because of the rocks. We sat on a rock to eat our chocolate as we were in sight of Bridlington. After that the cliff lowered to just a bank, making it much easier to get up and down. The beach was getting a bit squishy to walk on, so we climbed up the bank and found there was a path along the top. We were struck by the colour of the long grass, glowing orange and red in the evening sun.
The sun set in a gloriously red sky to the left of us. We walked on into the next field, and that landowner had put up an electric fence, which was rather too close to the edge, to separate the path from the field. We felt we were being tipped off the bank. The path got a bit ‘iffy’ so we found a sandy channel to return to the beach. But that was difficult as well because that part of the sands was quite muddy. We crossed a stretch of beach where we were crunching on sea shells, they were so prolific. Then we found a sandy path which was a bit soft, but easier. We approached a Ferris wheel, but we knew from its angle that it was not in operation, but being stored for the Winter. So I missed my next opportunity for a ride!
We came up the bank there, and found the path to be a lot more user-friendly. We passed a horse in a field, but the photo I took of it (I don’t like to use flash on animals who are looking at me) was out of focus because it was too dark for photography. By the time we reached the car park where our car was waiting for us, it was too dark to see where we were putting our feet. It was ten past four in the afternoon.
That ended Walk no.120, we shall pick up Walk no.121 next time in the car park at the southern end of Bridlington. We had our tea, and were relieved to find that the toilets were open even though it was dark. We had to return to Atwick to collect our bikes, but it wasn’t so far out of our way this time, and we were soon back in our cosy cottage in Rudston. Colin’s cough hadn’t bothered him much while we were out in the fresh air, but once we got indoors it returned with a vengeance and was much worse.

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