447am Frampton Marsh to Boston

[This walk was completed on the 9th July, 2021]

At the end of the public road at Frampton Marsh, a RSPB worker is fixing an honesty box to a post, along with a sign asking people to pay for parking. I wonder if that’s legal on a public road, but she tells me I don’t have to pay as I’m cycling!

I chain my bike to a wooden barrier…

… and set off down the footpath towards the sea bank. There are several raised areas to the side of the path – like mini passing-spots if this was a proper road – which seems a bit odd, until I realise they are designed so that wheelchair users can watch the birds on the marsh.

When I cycled past the RSPB hut earlier, a group of people were milling around outside with cameras and tripods slung over their shoulders. I wondered what they were so excited about. I’m not a bird watcher – lacking the patience – and I’m really more interested in the wild flowers growing by the side of the path.

Up on the bank, a young man is standing with his camera on a tripod. “Can you hear that?” he asks. I listen.

It takes me a few moments to tune my ears into the noise. A deep booming. It’s a low-pitched, mechanical, sound, and I could easily have assumed it was someone using a piece of machinery out on the marshes.

But this bird-watcher’s excitement is palpable. “There it is again,” he says, and peers down the eyepiece of his camera.

The penny drops. A booming noise? Excited bird-watchers? It must be a bittern.

I know enough about birds to know that a bittern is very rare, and not easily seen. I peer over the marshes, but without binoculars I know I stand little chance of spotting this elusive bird.

Onwards. I leave the bird-watcher in peace, and carry on along the sea wall. It’s a dull day today, making it difficult to take good photos. The view is pretty dull too, but I do love the pattern formed by these concentric circles.

The sea bank swings around, and I’m heading northwest, towards the town of Boston. In fact, I can just make out the Boston Stump in the distance. I stop at a bench…

…and take a self-portrait of myself staring wistfully across the marshes, as if searching for the sea. This is supposed to be a coastal walk, after all.

Crikey! In the sadness of leaving my husband, I lost some weight, but since then I’ve gained about 1/2 stone (for which I blame the COVID virus and lockdown) and now I am looking quite porky again. Oh dear.

Onwards.

I stop to take a photograph of this spiky thistle head. I do love the elegant geometry of these plants – although I wish they weren’t quite so prickly when you brush up against them.

Spot some cattle across the marsh. Glad the path is protected by a fence.

I reach a T junction in the path. Turning left would take me back towards the RSPB centre, so I turn right, heading towards the mouth of the river, which the sign tells me is only 3km away.

I’ve reached an awkward spot on my paper OS maps. It’s the junction where one sheet stops abruptly, and the next one begins with no overlap. I’m carrying the new map in my rucksack, but not the old map, so this part of my walk is off-the-map. That’s my excuse, anyway, for what happens next.

At first, I’m elated to be walking along this section of the bank, which feels like an avenue because the route is lined by trees. Makes a change from the bleak openness of the rest of the marsh.

Luckily, I’ve only gone about 1/2 mile when I realise my mistake. This footpath is heading eastwards and is a dead end. Yes, it would take me to the mouth of the river, as the sign promised, but after that there is no other way to go but backwards!

I turn back and retrace my steps. A group of cattle stand and watch me with disdain. Stupid woman. Lost again!

I head towards the Frampton RSPB centre, but haven’t got very far when I spot the correct footpath. This one is clearly signed as the Macmillan Way, and will take me north-west towards Boston.

The farmer clearly doesn’t want anyone using his gate, which is fastened with barbed wire. Hate the stuff, and think it should be banned… anyway, I have no choice but to climb over the rather rickety stile beside the gate.

I keep checking my map now. Frampton Marsh is behind me, and this is Wyberton Marsh. The bank carries a not-so-well used path, and has the advantage of being covered in a beautiful mass of wild flowers.

I stop to take more flower photographs. Too many to bore you with on this blog. But here’s a nice one of a red poppy, just past its best I think, and with crinkling petals.

Back in my school days, my art teacher used to say that dead flowers were far more interesting than flowers in full bloom. I’m not sure I agree with him entirely, but the aging texture to this poppy’s petals do seem to make it more characterful.

The “sea bank” makes a right-angled turn, and becomes a river bank. I’m now walking along the side of a waterway called The Haven. Past a pumping station.

The Haven is a lovely name. This stretch of river is formed by the merged waters of the River Witham and the rather uglier-named South Forty-Foot Drain.

River Witham? Sounds familiar. There is a similarly-named river near my old home town of Stamford. [Later, I learn this is the same River Witham, which takes a huge looping route up from Grantham, swinging by the city of Lincoln, and then back down past Boston, before emptying into The Haven.]

This part of the river is actually a tidal estuary, and marker poles on each bank should guide shipping along the correct channel. They seem rather superfluous at the moment, but I guess their guidance might be needed at very, very high tides.

On the opposite bank is a bright blue structure, which I assume is another pumping station.

Shortly past the pumping station, the path becomes a track. The surface is new – sharp gravel – and hard on my poor feet after the soft grass of the bank.

Luckily it soon becomes grass again (the reason for this short section of brand new track remains unclear!). Really the next mile of walking is pretty boring, with endless flat fields on my left, and the dead-straight river on my right.

I’m beginning to get hungry. At the next conveniently flat piece of bank, I’ll stop for lunch. Uh-oh, what’s that ahead? A man in a high-vis jacket is loitering by a gate.

I don’t normally feel uneasy about people I meet on my walks, but this man’s orange jacket indicates he is probably not a long-distance walker. Also, I know I’m getting close to Boston, which has a very bad reputation for crime. So I slow down my pace, and feel relieved when the man walks off down another footpath and disappears

When I get to the gate, I realise the man was fixing a new notice to the post. Unfortunately, he only replaced the paper, not its heavily stained waterproof cover, which makes reading the notice rather difficult through streaks of bird poo!

Anyway, looks like the footpath has been diverted – a diversion that was only supposed to last until March 2021, but has now been extended to end of October. Oh dear.

Through the gate, and the footpath along the bank is definitely fenced off. What a shame.

However, the diversion will be quite fun, won’t it? At least I’ll get away from the rather boring river bank.

This optimistic thought cheers me up – and just goes to show how wrong I can be!


To be continued…

Route so far:

About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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9 Responses to 447am Frampton Marsh to Boston

  1. jcombe says:

    Yes another walk of dull sea banks by the sounds of it. I was booked on a train from Boston for this walk and as I was ahead of schedule I decided to walk the dead-end path you accidently began to follow to the river mouth. I wanted to see the sea after all that walking along banks beside marshes and was glad I did.

    It sounds like you had problems getting into Boston. People wearing High-Vis jackets aren’t usually good news for walkers.

  2. owdjockey says:

    Hi Ruth, we are of the same mind about barbed wire. I hate the stuff and those people who run it along the top of gates should be hung drawn and quartered.

    • Chris Elliott says:

      If you hate barbed wire wait for the John O’Groats trail. In my opinion the most vicious in the country. Not just single strands but double about a foot apart. Very hard to climb over. I gave up and walked on rhe A9 in preference. That tells tou something. Hope it is better now!

      • Not sure when Chris was up on the JOGT but when I walked it in 2019 a lot of work had been done and stiles over the barbed wire were becoming established.
        I know it’s a long way off, but that trail is one of the best in Britain.

        • Chris Elliott says:

          Glad to hear it. I walked it in early 2018. One of the issues at the time in April was that there were lots of very aggressive cows with young calves. So one was not necessarily on the formal route. In 2018 the trail was still a work in progress. A lot of the trail was excellent but some stretches from south of Wick to north of Helmsdale were vicious. I met several other walkers who had also given up qnd moved inland. I look forward to reading about Ruth’s experiences on the new improved trail in due course.

          • Let’s hope the John O’Groats Trail improves, as the scenery is magnificent. One of the biggest problems is the bracken and due to Lockdown last year very little was walked. I’ve also read about vandalism to some of the new stiles and bridges, which is dreadful considering all the hard work the volunteers up there have put in to make this a successful route.
            Anything to keep one off the A9!

  3. Robin Lucas says:

    Ruth,
    I don’t think I could put up with so much flat featureless empty landscapes for so many days! It would have been a pretty dreary way to finish at King’s Lyn had you stuck with Plan A!

  4. It seems others are concurring with some of the things I said in my MacMillan Way summary. We have one (or is it two) bitterns at RSPB Leighton Moss about four miles from my home. I have been there many times but never seen them.

  5. I have just posted a comment but it has not appeared. This may be a duplicate.
    It seems others are concurring with some of the things I said in my MacMillan Way summary. We have one or perhaps two bitterns at RSPB Leighton Moss about four miles from my home. Despite many visits I have never seen them.

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