[This walk was completed on the 18th August 2021]
I leave my bike behind and catch the bus this morning. Should be simple, but I have two problems. Firstly, I can’t find the bus station, and have to ask someone, because the buses are cunningly hidden behind the railway station. Secondly, the bus driver has never heard of Low Road. Luckily I remembered the name of the garage on the corner. Lomax garage? Yes, he’s heard of that.
There doesn’t seem to be a bus stop here – although Google Maps has got one marked. But the driver drops me off anyway.
I set off along the A52, glad of the pavement. This should take me all the way into Skegness.
It’s not the most scenic of routes. I pass a scrap yard…
… and more of the ubiquitous holiday camps, with their rows of metal boxes.
“Welcome to Skegness” says the sign, with a picture of a rather overweight person striding along the beach.
I’ve had my sights set on Skegness for days. Should have reached the town by now, but my progress has been thwarted by overgrown sea banks, dead-end paths, private roads, and a general dearth of public rights of way. But I’m here – finally!
This cheerful little yellow car catches my eye. Only Foods and Sauces. Makes me smile.
The path suddenly deviates from the road, taking me through an area of shrubs and trees.
This should have been lovely – a welcome break from the stream of traffic along the A52 – but this potentially-scenic stretch is marred by litter. Litter everywhere. Drinks cans, plastic bottles, carrier bags, and what appears to be most of the stuffing from a mattress.
I take photos of this unpleasant mess, but the photos don’t come out well in the shade beneath the trees.
Back beside the road again, a sign tells me this is Skegness Gateway. “Live. Work. Thrive.” Looks like an empty field to me.
I would like to rewrite the slogan. “Live. Walk. And tidy up your mess.”
Further along, I come across a dead pigeon on the side of the pavement. It has a blue ring attached to its foot. Recently, I heard on the news, there has been a spate of racing pigeons getting lost and ending up dying from exhaustion miles from home. I wonder if this is one of the lost pigeons?
I know I really should pick up the bird and take a closer look at the ring, which I believe may have the telephone number of its owner. But the bird is dead. I still have miles to walk, a picnic lunch to eat, and I really don’t want to touch a dead bird. I’m too squeamish.
Walk onwards, feeling slightly guilty.
More mattress stuffing (or something similar) is strewn along the verge.
I’m approaching an industrial estate. I stopped here yesterday – by mistake – when I was searching for a supermarket to buy food for my lunch today.
I’m on the outskirts of Skegness now. An estate of new houses – uniformly bland and boring – sits on the other side of another static caravan site, which sits on the other side of an empty field.
I wonder how long before this field, too, is taken over by new housing.
Pass the football club and its almost-empty car park. No match today.
Now, the road is busier, and residential houses line the street.
I come to the “Lumley Road Gyratory” – a confusing intersection which I had to navigate when I first arrived in Skegness in my Beast and was trying to find my B&B. Needless to say, I got in the wrong lane, couldn’t move out of it, and nearly ended up driving all the way to Mablethorpe!
Peep. Peep. A noise behind me makes me jump. It’s a lady in a pink hat on a mobility scooter. She scoots past me and pulls up alongside a gentleman, also on a mobility scooter. He’s trying to cross one of the busy approach roads to the gyratory, but can’t find a gap in the traffic.
The lady in the pink hat raises her arm and holds a flat palm out against the stream of cars. They dutifully stop, and she shouts “Follow me,” at the man, before leading him across the road. I catch up with them on the other side of the gyratory, where she is using a more conventional method of crossing the road – via a zebra crossing.
I pass the train station, where a sign with the railway symbol tells me that this is the Skegness Interchange. You will notice the complete absence of any indication that this is also a bus station. The buses are hidden behind a white fence.
There is a statue in front of the station. It’s a fisherman setting out to look for bait. Why he has a suitcase with him, isn’t clear, but I really do like this statue. Humorous and cheerful.
I walk through a shopping street and then, finally, see the clocktower ahead of me. It’s a sign I’m nearly at the sea front.
It’s August and the height of the tourist season. After days of walking alone, I really enjoy the buzz of the crowds.
Of course, I must have an ice cream. But every kiosk seems to be selling the same thing… which one do I choose?
Just pot luck really, but I choose the one with no queue. Doughnuts with ice cream seems to be the latest thing, but I dread to think of the calorie count – and I just buy an ordinary cone.
Ice cream in hand, I walk to the end of the street and onto the wide beach. Head out along the sand towards the sea, then climb up to a high spot on one of the dunes, and sit down to eat my ice cream. Great view of the beach, and a line of slowly ambling donkeys.
We brought our children to Skegness, many years ago, and the oldest one had a ride on a donkey. I remember the middle one was too shy to try at first, and I can’t remember if we managed to persuade her in the end.
I must say, I’m surprised to still see donkeys on the beach. In terms of animal welfare, it seems a strange thing to do. But there’s no doubt the children love it, and the donkeys seem to be healthy and well looked after. I can’t say the animals look as though they’re actively enjoying the experience of carrying small children on their backs, but they seem stoically resigned to it.
After finishing my ice cream, I walk to the end of the dunes and the sea. There is a controlled bathing area here, with a lifeguard post. And, out at sea, a host of wind turbines are turning gently in the breeze.
Theoretically, at this point, I could simply follow my rule number 5, turn left and head northwards towards Mablethorpe. But, I’m determined to see Gibralter Point. It’s a spit of land that marks the northern boundary of the Wash, a National Nature Reserve, and the place I’ve been trying to get to for days via footpaths – but so far have failed to reach.
So, I turn right, following a paved promenade, and head southwards.
Past a colourful fun-fair. A permanent fixture I think. Lovely to see a traditional roundabout and helter skelter.
The paved promenade leads me in a wide curve around the edge of an enormous car park. This promenade might once have run close to the shore too, but the water seems to have retreated and now a wide stretch of sand dunes hide the sea from view.
It’s midday. The car park is very, very busy. Cars circle slowly, looking for spaces, and there are queues for every ticket machine. What a bad way to start an afternoon at the seaside!
I pass a camper van, where the owner (I presume) has set out her paints in the car park, and is busy decorating the side window.
I’m getting bored of trudging along beside the car park. To my left, far away, I spot gaps in the dunes, and a tantalising glimpse of the sea. I should have walked along the sand.
Beyond the enormous car park, there is another, smaller, overflow car park. this one is practically empty – and with no queues at all for the ticket machines.
At the end of the car park, a gate prevents any vehicles for continuing further, and a path leads out across the dunes. I stop to take a photo of the gate, and feel my spirits lift.
Finally, I’m leaving the road and car parks behind. Gibralter point. Here I come.
[To be continued…]
Note: I have since checked and, yes, racing pigeons will usually have the telephone number of their owner on the ring, or marked on their wing somewhere. Or, they can be identified by the number on their ring and reported via the Royal Pigeon Racing Association website.
Route so far: