[This walk was completed on the 8th July, 2021]
Glad to be back on my coastal trek, I hide my bike behind the hull of an old boat. It’s in a ramshackle yard, beside Fosdyke Bridge.
The bridge itself is an ugly old thing. It takes the A17 across the River Welland and, as far as I can tell, the bridge can’t move. Which means that no large ships can get beyond this point up the river.
On the seaward side of the bridge is Fosdyke Yacht Haven, with a number boats on the water, and some others parked up on top of the wharf. A mix of motor boats and sailing yachts.
On the other side of the bridge, a footpath runs behind the Yacht Haven. It follows the river bank which, like so many river banks in the fens, is higher than than houses which border the river.
I walk along, trying not to peer through people’s bedroom windows – tempting at this level – until I leave the houses behind. A footpath sign confirms I can walk along the bank. A smaller symbol on a gate post tells me this is the Macmillan Way.
The Macmillan Way? I think of my friend Conrad, another keen walker, who walked 290 miles of the Macmillan Way from Boston down to Abbotsbury in Dorset, and then tackled another branch of the Macmillan way later the same year, and walked a further 280 miles from Boston across the country to Barmouth in Wales.
On the first route (Boston to Abbotsbury), Conrad must have walked along here. He had mixed feelings about the Macmillan Way and you can read a summary of his thoughts here: http://conradwalks.blogspot.com/2015/06/macmillan-way-summary.html
Through the gate, I stop to take some photos of a lovely orchid growing beside the path. I’m very ignorant about plants, but am always hoping I’ll spot something rare and exotic.
[I look this flower up after the walk, and it turns out to be a common Pyramidal Orchid. Might be as common as muck, but it is still beautiful.]
The bank I’m walking along is labelled the “New Sea Bank” on my map. Rather odd name, because there is no sea to be seen, and this is really the raised bank of the River Welland.
I pick up a text from my eldest daughter, who was waiting for a telephone consultation with her GP about a funny new mole on her thigh. She tells me the consultation was cancelled because the GP was off sick, and she’s been offered another one in two weeks time.
Two weeks! She’s already waited for over a week for this cancelled appointment.
I look at the photos she has sent me of her mole. It is black, irregular, and looks very inflamed.
The problem with being a medical doctor, is you know too much. Although I haven’t mentioned the words “malignant melanoma” to my daughter, I know we are both horribly aware that this could be the possible diagnosis.
I fret and fume, as I march along the bank. Two weeks for another telephone consultation, after already waiting nearly 10 days for this one, and then more delays if she needs to be seen face-to-face… I can’t bear it.
Past a little pumping station. This bank seems endless.
I mull over what I should do. I really want to end my walk now, drive up to Manchester, turn up at the reception desk, and demand to speak to one of the GPs immediately. This, of course, is exactly the sort of behaviour that would upset the GP concerned, whose goodwill I am depending on to get my daughter seen quickly.
There are other possibilities… some more outrageous than others… how can I concentrate on this walk when I’m so worried?
Looking at the photo on my phone (again!), I realise I still have a phone signal. So, I sit down on the bank and call my daughter. Tell her I’m not happy with a further two week wait. She agrees to phone the practice again and request an urgent appointment.
It’s a relief to have done something positive. The worry is still there, but some of the angry helplessness has gone.
As if to complement my better mood, a bird starts singing in the sky above me. A lark? I peer up. Yes, it really is a lark – I haven’t heard one for ages – flying so high and singing so beautifully.
The bank makes a V shaped detour. Past another pumping station. The lark still singing its heart out above me.
And then I’m too far away to hear it anymore. Distract myself from further worry by taking photos of these cheerful yellow flowers that grow in thick carpets along this section of the bank. Ragwort, I think.
The sea wall bends again. I can see cows further along on the marsh. At least they’re not on the bank.
And I begin to meet a few people – a couple out walking their dog, and a friendly old boy who stops for a chat. He asks me where I’ve walked from, and I explain I’ve walked from King’s Lynn, although not all in one day. He talks about the Peter Scott Walk, which he did (in one go) a few years ago.
As usual, I’m too shy to ask if I can take his photo, but snap a sneaky shot of his back.
I draw level with the cows. No… not cows… bullocks. Quite large ones, too. I’m glad they’re not on the bank and there is a dyke between us.
There is another field of cattle on the landward side too. Beyond that, a field of silver-green vegetables. Cabbages, I think, although I’m too far away to tell for certain.
I pass the end of a road (another “Marsh Road”, according to my map). This explains the sudden emergence of walkers on the bank – I should have realised there was a parking spot nearby.
I love this wind turbine, industrial looking, with its sails rotating in a purposeful manner.
The turbine stands alone, and I wonder if it’s owned by a local farmer? Or, more likely, by the environmental agency to power one of their pumping stations or sluices?
Onwards, along the never-ending bank. Look at all that marsh! Somewhere, out there, is the course of the River Welland, which will soon empty into The Wash near Boston. But the river itself is hidden among high grasses and meandering water channels.
To my left is more farmland. This is called Kirkton Marsh, on my map, although it looks far from marshy. Most of this land is intensively farmed, but occasionally there is a small untamed patch – a haven for wildlife – like this pretty little pool.
Another pumping station. This one is very untidy-looking, with a jointed pipe which crosses over the top of the bank…
…and empties into the marsh. A group of young bullocks stand by the edge of the resulting pool, staring at me. They look rather mournful, I think, and they certainly also look rather muddy. Mucky things!
I come to another gate, and beyond this the bank gets rougher. Very overgrown.
I am forced to slow down, careful with every step, because it’s difficult to see the ground and I don’t want to twist an ankle. Luckily there are no nettles or brambles, just a few prickly thistles to watch out for.
I stop at a bench. It bears a small plaque in memory of Ronald Sydney White, who was apparently one of the founder members of the Boston Ramblers group. What a desolate place, but I’m grateful for an excuse to sit down and have a brief rest.
I perch my camera on the bench and set the timer. The resulting self-portrait is not quite what I intended – more a portrait of the grass! Looks quite arty, though, and kind of sums up this section of the walk.
I reach another gate, and beyond this the grass is tamed. Whether it has been cropped by animals, or whether the bank has been mowed, I’m not sure.
The bank has been making a few twists and turns. This long curve catches my attention, because of the linear furrows along the slope. What has caused them? Sheep tracks? Something mechanical? Natural subsidence?
I’m nearing the end of my walk. Ahead is Frampton Marsh. Unfortunately, I can see a lot of cattle. Most of the beasts are scattered across the marsh, but some of them appear to be standing on the sea bank itself.
I can’t avoid this small group, and edge slowly past them. Luckily, they are busy munching the grass and take absolutely no notice of me.
Safely past the cattle, and I’m approaching the pools of Frampton Marsh, which is a RSPB reserve. Here a footpath joins the bank, and I can see its tarmac ramp ahead.
I had been planning take a circuitous route, via footpaths, around the marsh. But I don’t feel like walking any further today, and I decide to follow the straightest route back to my van.
The footpath merges into a road, and it’s a long mile or so back to the car park. I meet other walkers – people with binoculars slung round their necks, others carrying tripods and cameras, with hefty zoom lenses. Bird watchers, of course.
I drove here early this morning, when there were only a couple of other cars in the car park. At that time, the building (which I assumed contained public toilets) was closed. Now, as I approach the parking area, I see the building is open and it’s actually a RSPB information centre. Some A boards have been placed near the entrance, and apparently you have to pay the RSPB to park here.
I’m not carrying any cash, and I don’t feel like joining the queue outside the centre. So, feeling a bit guilty, I quickly hop into my van and make my escape.
Miles walked today = 7 miles
Total distance around the coast = 4,566 miles