[This walk was completed on the 11th July 2021]
I really don’t like cows. So, since they’ve taken over the top of the bank, I decide to sneak round below them, and I climb down the landward side of the sea wall. But, they’re down here too! Some are behind a fence, but a whole group are sprawled on the grass in front of me.
I beat a retreat, climb back over the stile, and go back along the bank a short distance to look at a footpath sign.
Pull out my map. Yes, it looks as if there is an alternative way around. Basically, the sea bank divides into two at this point – an inner and outer bank. They form two opposite sides of a vaguely rectangular area of marshland, called Toft Marsh, before joining up again in about a mile’s time.
Excellent. I’ll leave the cow-infested outer bank, and follow the inner bank around. Here is the connecting path – but, oh dear, it is very overgrown.
It’s hard to tell from the photo above, but the grass is almost shoulder height, and full of thistles and other prickly things. I drop down onto a track at the edge of a field and begin to follow this instead.
The track looks promising to begin with, but then appears to peter out. I realise I’ve made a mistake. There is now a drainage ditch between me and the bank, and I can’t see anywhere I can get across.
Reluctantly, I turn around, and make my way back to the outer bank. Climb over the stile. Slide down onto the seaward side of the outer sea bank, and cautiously make my way past the cattle. Bullocks, I think.
I choose the outer side because there seems more room to negotiate a wide berth. I keep close to the edge of the marsh, but luckily it’s been dry and the ground is firm underfoot. The cattle watch me all the way, but don’t make a move.
Safely past the danger, I climb up onto the bank again, which curves round, giving me an excellent view of the cattle on the inner slope. It’s a good job I didn’t try that route. There are baby calves in the grass, and nowhere to escape if the cattle decided to charge.
Mixed feelings of relief and frustration. I’ve got past the animals safely, but it’s taken me half an hour to negotiate what amounts to only a couple of hundred yards of sea wall. No wonder I’m the slowest walker in the world!
Onwards. To my left is a gouged out area of muddy land. I presume they’re extending the marsh further inland.
It’s not until later (thanks to commentators on this blog) that I realise making a new bog is probably not their prime intention. They’ve simply used the earth from this area to shore up the sea bank.
Inland, across fields, I can see some sort of industry. Tanks and containers. I wonder what they are? Nothing is shown in that area on my map, only the village of Wrangle.
[Later, I learn from Wikipedia that Wrangle is an ancient settlement, and Wrangle Haven was the third largest harbour on this section of coast. The harbour was lost when the little river, the Wrangle, silted up.]
It’s time for a drink and a snack. I slip my rucksack off my shoulders, perch on the grass on the edge of the bank and look out towards the Wash. Acres and acres of featureless marsh. I can just make out a faint line of grey water in the distance. Such a dull view.
At least there are lots of lovely wild flowers growing along the edge of the bank. Love these cheerful daisies.
My path becomes a little wilder. More worryingly, I notice there are cows on the marsh ahead.
Luckily, the cows are a safe distance away from the bank, and I have no further diversions or deviations to worry about. Beyond the cows… ah, I see some large ships on the horizon. It’s very grey in the distance. Looks like rain out there.
I reach the point where the inner sea bank rejoins the outer sea bank. This is where I would have ended up if I’d taken the alternative route. Some joker seems to have twisted the footpath sign around, as it looks as though my onward route heads out into the marsh. It doesn’t, of course, just continues along the top of the bank.
Further along, the bank curves sharply around. I’m approaching an area called The Horseshoe, where there is a little pumping house.
At the pumping house – also built with the help of EU money according to a sign – the bank diverges again, into an inner and outer bank, both carrying a public footpath. The outer bank curves out, and round, towards a tower. The tower isn’t on my map, but I realise it must be on the edge of tbe “Danger Area” of Friskney flats.
My map, unfortunately, shows the public footpath along the outer bank stops after a few hundred yards. I’m not sure if the Danger Area is still used by the military – and there are no red flags flying – but I decide not to risk hitting a dead end.
So, I decide to follow the path along the inner bank instead. Very flat, very straight, very boring. Thank goodness I’ve only got 3 miles to go.
My map shows a gap in the footpath after a few hundred yards, which lasts another few hundred yards, before resuming. I’m hoping the gap on the map doesn’t translate into a gap on the ground.
I look across to the tower on the outer bank, and wonder if I should have tried that route. Well too late now.
I put my head down and march on. At least the rain clouds out on The Wash haven’t headed inland, although the air is dull and heavy.
Stop to take a few photographs of these brilliant blue flowers growing beside the path. I don’t know what they are.
After a while, checking my Garmin, I realise I’ve gone past the breach in the footpath without encountering any interuptions or obstructions on the ground. Thank goodness.
This path really is deadly boring. To my left is a dyke, where an occasional farm track crosses over via a bridge to reach the fields on this side of the raised bank. These bridges become way markers as I plod along.
I reach a very overgrown section. Large blue containers, filled with rubble, seem to act as some sort of obstruction. They’re placed accross the bank to stop vehicles, I assume, as walkers can fight their way through the weeds and carry on.
The overgrown section only lasts for a short stretch, and then a track joins the bank and provides an easy walking route.
Off to my right, a track bisects a field of cabbages, where a tractor and a collecting wagon are standing waiting. No pickers to be seen. Well, it is nearly five thirty in the afternoon. They’ll all have gone home by now.
Further on, across the fields to my right, is another tower. This one is marked on my map, and is a much grander affair than the first one, with a glassed look-out platform on the top. And what appears to be an airplane sitting close by.
Must be a military base of some sort. Perhaps the range is active after all?
Onwards. A building ahead of me has been steadily growing larger, and now I’ve nearly reached it. This is one of a small collection of buildings marked as “Coastguard Cottages” on my map.
The cottages sit near the end of a public road called Sea Lane, where I’ve parked my van. I’m pleased to have finished this walk, and also pleased to have covered a decent mileage today,
I drive back to Freiston Shore and find a couple are standing admiring my Scooty bike. They’re on holiday in the area, and have driven to Freiston Shore to see the boats. Boats? “Yes, if we walk to the sea wall, there’ll be some boats in the water, won’t there?”
I explain that the sea bank is miles from the sea. If they’re lucky, at high tide, they might just make out some water in The Wash. But they won’t see any boats.
They are quite disappointed. Where’s the best place to go to see boats? Probably the river in Boston.
I stop off at a supermarket on the way home. Tonight is the Euro cup final between Italy and England – and I’m not planning on going out anywhere to eat. There will be a lot of shouting and singing. And crowds. With my youngest daughter undergoing chemo, I can’t risk picking up an infection at this stage in her treatment. So I buy some salad, crisps and chocolate – things to eat while I watch the match on TV in my room above the pub.
The young English team have done very well to get this far in the tournament, and I really hope they win. We all need something to cheer about.
Miles walked today = 12 miles (a couple in the wrong direction)
Total distance around coast = 4,594 miles
Route (first part in black, this section in red):