452a Low Road, Croft to Skegness

[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:

About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
This entry was posted in 23 Lincolnshire and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to 452a Low Road, Croft to Skegness

  1. Pathetic, Ruth – if you’d studied your maps carefully, you would have found the route through from the old bridge over the Wainfleet on the old Toll Rd and then could have gone to Gibraltar point – did it myself this summer on the E Coast Path

    • I am definitely a pathetic person and a terrible coward 😀 Think the route you describe is the way I tried yesterday, but was turned back by private signs. I know other walkers have made it through when coming from the opposite direction.

  2. Mike Otoka says:

    Bit harsh Heathkate1431 !
    Great photo’s and blog as per usual Ruth. We are planning to to that stretch up from Holbeach St Matthew some time next year. Merry Christmas btw !

  3. I too thought that comment was a bit uncalled for. I had a few chuckles at your disparaging account of trudging up that main road, and you, a doctor, being “squeamish,” but I don’t blame you for that. I applaud your motivation for wanting to visit Gibraltar Point. Whether you get there or not is of no matter, it is that desire to see round the next corner that I admire.

    • Wanted to be a surgeon, until I discovered operating theatres were terrifying places. Just writing up my next walk, and I’ve realised I’ve spelt Gibraltar incorrectly for the whole of this blog post! At least I’m consistent 😀

  4. Keith Case says:

    I was going the other way of course but leaving Skegness was a big problem for me. At first along the sands only to have to go all the way back to Skegness after finding myself nearly surrounded by water. I finally made it to Gibraltar point but I could find no way other than going back to Skegness again.

    Keith

    • Glad it’s not just me who struggled to find a way through, Keith. Wonder how the England Coast Path will navigate this area? I guess they’ll need to do a deal with the landowners, and I don’t fancy their chances.

  5. Not the prettiest of walks, but sometimes they are just as interesting and we have to move through them to get to the good stuff. At least there was ice cream!! 🙂

  6. Eunice says:

    Nice to see another post from you Ruth, although I think the first comment was rather uncalled for. I like the play on words on the little yellow car. Skegness is one place I’ve never been to, it certainly looks busy. The pigeon? I’m not at all squeamish so would have had no problem in dealing with it in the hope that its owner would eventually know what happened to it. I’m not quite sure why Gibraltar point seems so significant to many people but I’m looking forward to your account when you finally get there. Happy New Year by the way 🙂

    • Eunice – Gibraltar point: either one has that inherent explorer’s instinct or not. If the latter, explanations will fall on stony ground.

    • Gibraltar Point marks the edge of The Wash, Eunice, so I guess it’s a milestone and something to aim for when you’re trudging across boring marsh along endless sea banks! Skegness is not my favourite place, as you may have gathered, but it does have a fantastic sandy beach – much better than Blackpool – so I can understand why it’s popular with families.

  7. Robin Massey says:

    Good to hear about the next steps Ruth. Thanks so much for your wonderful continuing tale. Happy New Year from me too!

  8. Jayne says:

    Not the most attractive walk and definitely not an area I would enjoy, so even more kudos to you for sticking with this and not cheating, cutting out a boring section, or doing anything else to skip over the tiresome bits. I hope the second part of your walk was far more enjoyable.

  9. Barry arnold says:

    Given the current Avian Flu epidemic I think you were wise not to touch thepigeon

  10. tonyhunt2016 says:

    Buses. Yes, often when we’ve wanted to use them the driver hasn’t recognised the official name of the stop, and indeed without Bing or Google Maps we wouldn’t have even known where the stop was.
    Lack of information is a significant barrier to those of us who aren’t locals and haven’t been taking the same bus for years. It’s getting better with the introduction of electronic displays at the bus stops and indeed on the buses, but there’s a long way to go; no wonder people take to their cars, it’s easier, quicker and more reliable.
    That said, for the likes of us coastal walkers, they can be brilliant when you’ve done all your research and got it right.

    • Yes. You would think they would encourage people to use the local buses to relieve traffic congestion, but it’s almost impossible to work out the logistics unless you’re very familiar with the area. I would like to see proper route maps (like the rail-network) maps, so you can see where buses actually run. And, of course, proper signage so you can find bus stations and bus stops as easily as you can find railway stations. Thank goodness for Bing Maps and Google Maps, which at least show you where the bus stops are located, along with the route numbers.

  11. tonyhunt2016 says:

    I’d have gone through the same agonies and reached the same conclusion as you, Ruth, over the dead pigeon. Thinking further, though, I wonder if in future the best course might be to look up online either the local or a national pigeon fanciers club and alert them to the bird, complete with a grid ref. or a “What Three Words” location, or both.

  12. Russell White says:

    Hi Ruth – Great to hear you’re still in circulation, and a very Happy New Year to you, and all the readers. –
    This may make you smile, back in November I was walking from Amroth to Tenby, and you saved me a diversion. This is because the now infamous ambivalent finger post that sent you the wrong way on that walk, is still there and still very much ambivalent. Having read your post of that walk though, I was able to take the right route first time. As it was very wet and windy a beach detour would not have been welcome, so thanks for “pioneering that particular path”. Cheers Russ

  13. Nick says:

    Hi Ruth. Not sure how far you got last year but we did nearly all of Lincolnshire in June. The stretch around Immingham docks on the dual carriageway was so intimidating we left it. Seriously thinking of giving it another go on New Years Day when there should be less traffic.
    In my view nothing wrong with not starting off where you last finished. We are dotting about all over the place. Having a broader choice helps maintain the interest.

  14. jcombe says:

    After all that walking inland on a “coastal” walk it’s nice to reach the coast again at long last isn’t it? Even if Skegness is not the greatest of towns (but the beach is lovely). I also walked there and back to Gibraltar Point as well as I don’t think there is a (legal) way through anyway.

    As to the statue, well it’s the Jolly Fisherman which I think is something of an icon in the town (it was originally used on a railway poster to advertise the town), see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Jolly_Fisherman.

  15. The beach looks wonderful and the helter skelter made me remember my sister getting a nasty friction burn on the one at Skegness more than 60 years ago – though I doubt it’s the exact same one! I also like the statue and would have felt the same about touching the pigeon.
    I hope you’ve had a lovely Christmas and wish you all the best for 2022, happy, healthy and with lots of walking.

  16. Chris Elliott says:

    Dear Ruth – happy New Year to you. Great to read your new blogs. Can’t believe the rudeness of heithkate1431. Totally uncalled for. Well done in finally getting to Skegness even if now you are having to head south to Gibraltar Point. When I walked the coast here in the opposite direction, it was one of the most trying experiences of my entire walk. I first got to Gibraltar Point and then searched for a route to no avail. I searched everywhere until walking back to Seacroft. Then I learnt of the annual marathon so returned to Gibraltar Point. Still couldn’t find a route so eventually with some trepidation set off along the river trespassing along a flood embankment. I was so so lucky. When I got to the rickety old bridge which people like David Cotton climbed over, I was so fortunate to find some water board workmen, one of whom took sympathy and opened a locked gate to allow me onto another embankment which led to a nearby farmhouse where there was another crossing over the river. After i left the workmen I saw a farmer driving his 4*4 in their direction. I hoped they did not get into trouble. About a mile later I was caught by another landowner and there was no escape. I thought I was in for a real ticking off, but she was terribly nice and was merely checking I knew how to get back onto a public footpath. So I can sympathise with all your to-ings and fro-ings. There is no legal path. Goodness knows where the ECP is going to go. Because the bridge is so rickety I believe the annual marathon is on temporary hold. Even when they last ran it they had Health and Safety people on the bridge and only let one person across at a time so I believe. Well you are past the worst and not far from the Humber. Things are looking up. You will love Yorkshire once you are past the industrial bits near Middlesborough and then Northumberland northwards to Scotland and Fife are fab to walk. Enjoy after the monotony of Lincolnshire!!!

Leave a Reply to Russell White Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s