[This walk was completed on the 19th August, 2021]
It’s midday when I reach Vickers Point, where I spot a beach cafe and decide it’s time for a treat. I order ice cream with strawberries (fruit makes the snack “healthy”, don’t you know), but the serving lady picks the berries up with bare fingers to position them, artistically, on the plate
With her fingers? Should I say something? Demand another plate?
If it wasn’t for Covid, I wouldn’t be squeamish. In the end, the English fear of embarassment wins out and I say nothing. Seated at one of the benches, I stare at the juicy berries and then… yes, greed overtakes me… and I scoff the lot.
I have to eat quickly, as I’m surrounded by little black flies. They don’t seem to bite, but land on the table, on the plate – in fact, they land on everything.
Hoping I won’t regret my decision re the strawberries, I pull my rucksack over my shoulders and set off again. I’m still on the England Coast Path, and glad to be leaving the rubbish tip of Ingoldmells behind. Only 1.5 miles to Chapel St Leonards. I wonder what that will be like?
Well, you seem to get a better class of holiday camp here, so things are looking up. Lovely landscaping with this one.
I leave the promenade and head down to the beach. The tide is still out, but the morning mist has lifted and the sun is trying to shine. This is better. I enjoy walking on the wet sand, where the waves have left deep ripple patterns.
At the top of the beach, a few expensive-looking houses peep over the sand. Makes a change from holiday camps. What great views they must have from their bedroom windows.
I pass fishermen on the sands, and a few scattered families with children who are building sandcastles and jumping in the waves. My heart lifts at the sight of these simple, seaside pleasures.
In fact, I’m feeling altogether more cheerful. My last visit to Lincolnshire was blighted by worries – worries for my eldest daughter who had discovered a dodgy-looking mole on her leg, and for my youngest daughter who was undergoing chemo for breast cancer. Now, my eldest daughter has seen a specialist and the mole is, in fact, a benign haemangioma and nothing to worry about. And my youngest daughter has just finished her course of chemotherapy.
Watching your child, even though she is now an adult in her early thirties, go through cancer treatment is nearly unbearable. You want to lift the burden and carry it yourself, but you can’t, of course. And, with Covid rife, there is always the fear of infection which might threaten her life and would certainly interfere with her treatment. In fact, the Covid regulations make the whole experience even more awful, as she has to attend appointments alone and have chemotherapy without friends or family to keep her company.
It’s been tough and it’s not over next. She faces surgery next – the extent of which depends on the results of scans to check the effect of the chemo – and then she’ll need a month of radiotherapy. But she has weathered the chemo remarkably well, and the end is in sight.
Beach huts line the promenade. And ahead is an interesting building… ah, the North Sea Observatory.
There is a queue to get into the Observatory. People are being let inside in small groups, so I slip my mask on, and join the line.
After 20 minutes, I reach the head of the queue and am let in. What a disappointment! I was expecting – some sort of exhibition – but it turns out to be just a cafe! I’m taken aback, but decide it will be nice to have a rest and a sit down, and I order some soup.
There is nowhere to sit inside, so I must sit on the terrace, where the small black flies continue to plague me. Here they are, on my glasses case.
The soup is very nice, even if it does come garnished with flies, but I don’t linger. I’ve still got some way to go.
Back on the promenade, I stop to take a photo looking back at the North Sea Observatory. You see, there really is nothing to say it is just a cafe. A very nice cafe, but not what I was expecting.
I head down to the water, and stroll along beside the waves. This is glorious. The sun is out, the sky is blue, and it’s a perfect day for walking.
There’s a strange structure in the dunes – a pointed tower, steadily growing larger as I get nearer. What is it? Ah, some sort of artwork. “Structures on the Edge”, says a sign outside. I walk around to the back of the tower, where I discover you can climb the steps and go inside.
It’s a small space – just room for one person with a slit you can peer through to look at the water and sky. Apparently it’s a sound tower, but I can’t hear anything much, perhaps because the wind is blowing off the land and not from the sea.
Back on the beach, and I’m approaching an area where there are houses – and a crowd of people on the sands.
Check my map. Anderby Creek. It looks like a small village on the map but, judging by the density of people on the beach, it must be a very popular place.
A sign, half submerged in the incoming tide, warns me of some hidden danger.
I turn inland to take a look at Anderby Creek. The first thing I see is a raised wooden platform, which I climb up onto and discover it’s the Cloud Bar. I’d seen this on TV – a cloud viewing platform. Quite why you need to climb a platform to look at clouds, isn’t clear, because the one thing Lincolnshire really does have in abundance is wide skies… but it’s an interesting concept.
I enjoy the raised view over the beach and, looking inland, the view over yet another large holiday park. So many holiday camps in Lincolnshire. That explains why the beach is so crowded.
Would like to linger here, but a crowd of noisy children arrive and one of them engages me in conversation. Where do you live? How old are you? etc. A sweet child who has yet to learn to be wary of strangers. “Don’t bother the lady with your questions,” says an older sibling, and the conversation degenerates into a family squabble.
Leaving the platform, I follow the signs for the England Coast Path. This doesn’t run along the beach, but runs behind the back of the houses of Anderby Creek – following a private road called Sandy Lane.
A couple of men are ahead of me, walking their dog. The dog is so elderly, and walks so slowly, that I have difficulty keeping well behind them. They’re even slower than me!
At the end of Sandy Lane, we follow a path through a patch of woodland – rare in Lincolnshire – so I enjoy this section.
We emerge into grassy dunes, and the men turn towards the sea. I hesitate, but decide to continue to follow the path. This is the official, newly-opened, stretch of England Coast Path, and I would like to experience it.
The sand is soft underfoot, and the going is difficult in places. After a while, I reach a car park. “Welcome to Lincolnshire Coastal Country Park” says a sign. This place is called Marsh Yard.
On the other side of the car park, the England Coast Path continues as a narrow thread, running along the edge of a vast Lincolnshire field.
My Ordinance Survey map is 6 years old, and this narrow pathway isn’t marked, so I experience the odd little thrill of going off-piste, along with some anxiety as to the state of the path. But I needn’t have worried… it soon turns into a tarmac track.
I’m approaching a building site.
Not sure what they’re constructing here, but a sign says “Welcome to East Lindsey Huttoft Car Terrace”. What on earth is a “car terrace”?
At this point, the path joins a road. I have a standoff with an oncoming van, which seems to think I should jump into the bushes to let it pass. I stand firmly in the middle of the road (a trick I’ve learnt from long experience) and wait for it to come to a halt. Now, I can squeeze my way down the side of the stationary van.
(Sometimes the only safe way to get past a vehicle on a narrow road is to force it to stop. Otherwise you risk having your toes run over, and your shoulder – or your head – ripped off by a wing mirror.)
Up a slope, and I’m in a car-parking area. So, this is what a “car terrace” looks like!
At the far end of the car park is a track. A cycle path. It should take me all the way to Mablethorpe.
This is a very enjoyable section of the walk. I meet a number of dog walkers, and a few cyclists, some skidding badly on the soft sand.
There are couples out for a ride, a few families with young children peddling furiously on tiny bikes, parents with children in trailers, and even a couple on a tandem.
On the landward side, I look out over the flat fields, with the Lincolnshire Wolds a raised blue ridge in the distance. A road runs parallel to the path, a hundred or so metres away, and there are a few scattered houses. I’m pleased to see the familiar sight of a little red PO van – oh, I do love those vans.
Past a golf course, and I reach a wide strip of water. This is Boygrift Outfall. Interesting name.
Now the cycle route becomes a wide promenade, lined by beach huts. It’s been a fine afternoon, and there are a lot of people out enjoying the beach.
I pass huts with the doors open where people are brewing tea, lighting barbecues, sitting with their feet up, petting their dogs… must be nice to have a beach hut.
Meanwhile, down on the sand, a few brave souls are paddling in the water and families are huddling behind windbreaks. Unusually, the wind is still coming off the land.
After walking past an area called Sandilands, I’m approaching the centre of Sutton on Sea. I was hoping to continue on to Mablethorpe, but I desperately need the toilet and, in a built up area, there is nowhere discreet I can go.
I need to find a public toilet. Coming down off the promenade, I make my way through a small park – most of which is cordoned off, for some reason – and head into the village.
My map shows a PC (public convenience) somewhere nearby. I can see the building, but is it open? Covid seems to have provided a convenient excuse for many authorities to shut their facilities, so it’s a relief to discover this one is open and functioning.
When I come out, the weather has changed. Drops of rain begin to fall, and I decide to abandon my plan to walk on to Mablethorpe. Check my phone – thank goodness for smart phones – and discover there is only 20 minutes to wait for the next bus to Skegness.
The drops of rain turn into a torrent, and I am soaking wet by the time the bus arrives. It’s 15 mins late, of course. Still, it’s been a lovely walk today, and I’ve covered a decent mileage.
You can learn more about the Structures on the Edge project here: https://www.lincolnshire.gov.uk/coast-countryside/structures-edge/3
My daughter’s website, where she talks about cancer and treatment-related issues, is here: https://thecbomb.co.uk/
Miles walked today = 14 miles
Total around coast = 4,634 miles
Route (morning in black, afternoon in red)