[This walk was completed on 17th August, 2021]
I park the Beast in a little residential cul-de-sac in Wainfleet St Mary. It’s raining, and I wait until the downpour has slowed to a drizzle, before I heave my Scooty bike out of the van. Wrap my rucksack in a plastic bag, pull on my waterproof jacket and set off.
I’m not cycling. I’m walking. But, I’m pushing my Scooty bike along with me, because I have a feeling I will be meeting a dead-end soon, and then I can ride back instead of walking, which will save me time and effort.
I head up into Wainfleet All Saints, where I cross over the bridge, walk past the church, cross over the railway crossing, and stop to take a photo of Wainfleet Station and its empty platforms.
Wainfleet is full of old buildings that no longer serve the purpose they were once built for. The windmill has become a brewery, shop fronts are now the facades of private houses, and this old cinema (I presume) has become… well, I’m not sure what. A museum? A centre for dustbins? It’s unclear.
The town (or is it a village?) has an pleasant centre – a market place with an impressive clocktower. There are two plaques on the tower. One is to mark the celebrations of the 500th anniversary of the granting of a royal charter to Wainfleet, although what the royal charter was for, exactly, is not specified. The other is to celebrate the fact that this was an Olympic torch village in 2012.
I park my Scooty bike using its stand – careful to avoid slicing off any more fingers or thumbs – and take some photographs of the tower.
A sign on the tarmac catches my eye. “No dog fouling.” I like the image. A simple, but effective, way of getting the message across.
I head down a side road, and take the turn onto Croft Lane. Walk past a lovely old cemetery, where a sign warns me to “Beware of uneven ground in this closed churchyard.”
Why is it uneven? Why is it closed? The sign is intriguing.
A kindly woman stops and asks if I need help with my bike. I explain the bike is fine, I’m just walking instead of cycling because… well, because I want to walk. This explanation sounds a bit lame, even to me, but the woman obviously accepts that I’m a bit soft in the head, and leaves me to it.
Past the cemetery, and here is something unexpected. Another windmill, the second I’ve seen in Wainfleet. The first one was owned by the brewery, but this one has been coverted into a private house.
Having bought a windmill in Anglesey last year, I’ve struggled to furnish the round rooms and would like to see how others have done it. But I lack the courage to walk up and knock on the door to ask if I can look round.
Nearby, this little vegetable kiosk catches my eye. It has an honesty box, and a sign saying the produce costs 50p an item – an elegant way to keep things simple. It all looks fresh and healthy, but I’m staying in a B&B and won’t be doing any cooking.
Further along, and the lane has a more rural feel. I’m leaving Wainfleet behind.
I cross over a river, where a sign tells me there is no public access along the river bank. “Anglers only.” Two fishermen are dangling lines into the water. From this distance, I can’t tell if they’ve managed to catch anything.
I check my map, and discover the river isn’t natural. It’s the “Wainfleet Relief Channel (Drain)”. What a boring name! Although Wainfleet feels like an old, established town, the countryside around is mainly reclaimed marsh and many of the waterways are drainage canals or redirected streams.
A nearby house has a couple of beautifully decorated dusbins standing outside…
… and a couple of brightly painted flower-pot holders on the wall. They make me smile.
Further along, the road runs beside a little stream, called The Lymn.
I turn off Croft Lane into Croft Road, although it hardly seems more road-like than the lane. It passes through fields and past a farm house…
… until I turn right at a T junction, walk past a caravan storage facility, and soon reach a busy road. This is the dreaded A52. I’m glad to spot a pavement of sorts, so I don’t have to walk on the overgrown verge.
The pavement soon ends, but at this point I cross over the road and head down another quiet lane. This is Haven House Road.
My map shows Haven House Road turns into a track, which should take me through to Gibralter Point. Another river (aka drain) stands in the way, but the map suggests there is a bridge over the river. I’m hoping I can cross the bridge and reach the Point.
That’s the plan, anyway.
Oddly, there is a station half way along the road. Haven House Station. It has a car park area – a layby really – with room for two or three cars. This is now completed occupied by a small car and a large transit van. The platforms are empty.
I know a train stops here occasionally, because I checked the timetable. Who uses this station? There is nothing around apart from a couple of farms and a few cottages.
I wander onto the platform, and take a photo of the tiniest waiting room I’ve ever seen. More like a bus shelter, and only big enough for one person, or a perhaps for a very friendly couple. Does Haven House station hold the record for the smallest ever car park and smallest ever waiting room?
There is a slightly larger waiting room on the other platform. And some cheerful planters. Somebody obviously takes good care of the station, although the stationmaster’s house is now a private house.
I continue down the road, and over the level crossing, where a couple of workmen are working on a box beside the railway line.
Onwards. Past a field of baled straw.
This is a typical Lincolnshire field. Stretching for miles, with no hedges or trees to break the monotony, or to create any much-needed biodiversity. At least the bales add some interest
I stand aside to let a tractor go past, pulling a trailer laden with bales. Pass various farm tracks, each festooned with “Private” and “No Unauthorised Access” signs. I’m feeling a bit nervous as I’m near the end of the public road. Will I be able to get through to Gibralter Point?
A clacking sound… ah, across the fields a train is passing by. On the way from Skegness to Boston. Wonder if it will stop at Haven House Station?
I finally reach the end of the public road, which now continues as a private track, and I stop beside a large “Private, no through road” sign. Prop my bike up and consider my options. Ahead, round the next bend, is an avenue of trees. Trouble is, the private road passes very close to a farm house.
Like many walkers, I’m happy to trespass when I’m pretty sure I won’t be spotted. But, I live in fear of being challenged. For a moment, I contemplate coming back in the evening, when the fading light will mean I’m less visible… but then decide that’s ridiculous. I’d have to bring a torch and, if I’m caught, how would I explain sneaking around in the dark?
I don’t know if I can get through at the end of the road, either, because the bridge might be blocked or a locked gate might bar my way. Yes, I might be able to climb over an obstruction, but how would I get my Scooty bike over? He weighs over 20kg.
If I couldn’t get through, I would have to come back the same way, and that means doubling the risk of getting caught. Wish I was braver.
Anyway, after 10 minutes of dithering, I turn back. This is why I brought my Scooty ebike with me. Now I can just hop on and speed back… past the field of baled hay, past the railway station in the middle of nowhere, across the busy A52, and down the lane towards Croft.
When I reach the point where I joined the lane earlier, I hop off the bike and carry on by foot, pushing the bike, towards the village of Croft.
The shortest route to Skegness would have been to walk down the edge of the A52, but I decided that is too dangerous. It’s the height of the holiday season, and the traffic is fast and furious. There is no pavement.
Onwards, I follow the road through Croft. At a triangle of green, stands a war memorial. So many names, so many young men lost. Here I turn right down Pinchbeck Road.
Croft has possibly the nicest village hall I’ve ever seen. It has a free car park next to it, and a children’s playground across the road.
At a bend in the road, I spot someone on a quad bike, pulling a trailer. As I get closer, I realise it’s a young lad, maybe 10 years old, pulling logs in the trailer. He turns into the drive of a nearby house and we exchange friendly waves.
Around the bend, the lane stretches ahead, running alongside a drainage ditch, fields on either side. I try not to think about the route I didn’t try, and the trespassing I could have done – if only I’d had the nerve. This might be the long way round (and nowhere near the sea) but it’s lovely.
A dog barks furiously at me from behind a gate. I was bitten by a farmyard collie a few years ago, while walking in Lincolnshire, and since then I’ve been a bit wary of unknown dogs. But this one can’t stop his tail from wagging. He’s safe behind the gate, and I believe his fierceness is just bluster anyway.
This is drained land, where the ditches run in grids of straight lines, and the roads do too. A sign suggests there’s a gentle curve ahead, but it’s just another sharp right-angled bend.
Round the bend, a footpath strikes off across the field, following the line of the water ditch. But I decide to stick to the road, where I soon come to a T junction. Turn right, heading back towards the A52.
There are no pavements here either, but the road is reasonably quiet. I meet a walker coming towards me, and a few cars zoom by.
I walk past a field of gocarts, which looks like fun. It has a cafe, and I’m tempted to pop in for a cup of tea and a piece of cake, but realise I might look weird hanging about with a bunch of parents and their go-carting kids. (It’s a sad sign of our times, that I avoid taking photos of children and, even when on the beach, try not to be seen staring at children playing.)
Here’s a large static caravan site. A holiday park. Who would want to come here? It’s miles from the beach, there is nothing around, and the view is… well, the view is very, very flat.
I finally reach the junction with the A52, where there is a garage on the corner From here, a good pavement runs along the main road all the way into Skegness. I could walk further… but I feel this is a good place to stop.
I hop onto my Scooty bike. The A52 seems too horribly busy for cycling, and so I cycle along the rural route – retracing my steps – back through Croft, Wainfleet and Wainfleet St Mary – to my waiting Beast.
It’s been a frustrating kind of day. I’ve literally only travelled 3 miles further along the A52 and still haven’t reached Skegness. I’ve missed the opportunity to do some bold trespassing. I’ve stuck to roads. I’ve been a coward.
Ah, well, tomorrow is another day, and I will definitely, finally, at long last, reach Skegness.
Later, I learn from other bloggers that the route to Gibralter Point via the private road is very passable. There is a gate blocking the bridge, but the lock is broken and you can just walk across.
Miles walked today = 7 miles (but most of it in the wrong direction!)
Total around coast = 4,608 miles
Route: First part in black, second part in red.