456pm Donna Nook to Tetney Lock

[This walk was completed on the 9th September, 2021]

I approach the gate with some anxiety. Will I have to turn back and complete this walk by trudging along roads? No! Thank goodness. It’s not a public right of way, but the sign says it’s a Permissive Footpath.

I slip through the gate, and continue along the sea bank. There is construction work of some sort going on just across the dyke, where a bridge links the banks. Perhaps they are dredging the channel? I stand and watch for a while, but then grow self-conscious when I realise all the workmen appear to have stopped working and are watching me!

The bridge seems to be part of an approach route to the marsh. Where does it lead? It’s screened off by fencing but, oh my word – look – is that a patch of sand?

I’ve found the disappearing beach!

Continuing along the sea bank, I leave the workmen behind, and now I’m quite alone. Just the distant rumble of tractors for company. Another huge Lincolnshire field is being harvested.

On my right, across grass and marsh, I can see all the way to… I check my map… that must be the raised sandbank area with trees at Donna Nook. It looks a long way away, but I think that’s an optical illusion created by the haze.

Onwards, along the bank. The sea is now a distant grey smudge on the horizon. Although I’m glad to have found the footpath continues, I must say this is really quite boring. Mile after mile of featureless bank.

With nothing to catch my interest, time seems to drag.

Ah, what’s this? An area of raised land with bushes, and a mysterious gate. I wonder if it’s worth exploring?

There is a broken sign on the ground which indicates the land is private, but another, much smaller sign, stuck to the gate, gives the game away. “Nudest Beach.”

I look through the gate. A path snakes through the dunes and disappears over the ridge to what is, I presume, a beach full of naked bodies.

I decide to give the nudist beach a miss. It may be quite innocent, and there’s probably nobody around anyway, but I feel a little uneasy at the thought of encountering naked people so far away from civilisation.

A little further along, and I pass through a gate on the bank itself. Here, another hand written sign, points the way to the nudist beach and suggests joining the snapchat group “for the crack”. There is even a little cartoon man drawn on the gate post to suggest what this means, in case of any doubt. Oh, it’s that sort of beach!

Well, the gate post provides a handy spot to perch my camera and take a self-portrait.

I’ve passed somewhere on my map that’s called “Northcoates Point” and now the bank begins a slow curve. Ahead are the Tetney Marshes and, in the distance, a line of ghostly windturbines.

Peering out to sea, I spot what I assume is a large boat. A tanker, maybe. It rises high out of the water and appears to be moored. I take a blurry photo of the ship across the grassy marsh.

The bank completes it’s gentle curve and now I’m walking along the bank of a waterway called Tetney Haven. I’m heading in a southerly direction towards Tetney Lock, which is about a mile inland of the edge of the marsh.

Ahead, two structures cross the Haven. One is a large pipe and the furthest one is… oh, it’s a lock with a bridge.

I’m quite pleased to see the bridge, because for the past 20 minutes or so I’ve been keeping an eye on a herd of cattle. They’re the first cattle I’ve seen today, and they’re grazing some distance from my section of the bank. But, where there is one group of cattle, there may be others.

I really, really, don’t like cows and will avoid them if I can. So – and this wasn’t part of the plan – I decide to cross over Tetney Haven at the lock.

The tide must be low, because at the moment the Haven is only a narrow stream running between wide, muddy banks. I stop on the bridge to take photographs of the curving waterway. It’s milky blue in colour, reflecting back the hazy sky.

A sign on the other side says “Welcome to Tetney Marshes.” And there’s a bench nearby.

I’m feeling rather tired. My walking distances this week haven’t been very long – in fact, they’ve been pretty pathetic – but of course I have to cycle to get to the start of my walk. Even with the Scooty bike, there is a fair amount of peddling to do. That’s my excuse anyway.

I decide to make use of the bench, to have a rest and a snack.

While I’m eating, a cyclist arrives and perches on top of one of the control boxes beside the lock to eat his picnic. I feel a bit guilty hogging the bench, but he looks much younger and fitter than me.

Feeling refreshed, I check my map, and decide to walk a little further along the coast, before heading back to Tetney Lock, where I’ve left my van. This will make tomorrow’s walk less arduous.

I turn right at a pill box, and continue along the sea bank. Pass under a huge pipe. What is this carrying? Water? Gas? Oil?

Out to sea, across a mile or more of marsh and grass, a few misty ships glide along. And there’s a lighthouse too… oh, check my map… that must be Spurn Point lighthouse! On the other side of the Humber!

I feel a thrill of excitement. If I can see Spurn Head, I must be at the mouth of the Humber. I’m leaving the sea behind and entering the estuary. And I must be nearly done with Lincolnshire.

But, first, I must finish today’s walk. Onwards. Past a collection of pill boxes.

There’s something else out to sea. Firstly, I can see few pleasure yachts, which seem to be moored in the grass, but must be floating on an invisible waterway in the marsh. Beyond those little boats is that same hulking ship I saw earlier. Definitely moored. Looks a little odd – strange shape.

I remember the huge ships without windows – built like enormous container lorries – that I saw near Portishead. They were carrying cars. I wonder what this weird-looking ship is carrying?

I’m about to reach the point where a footpath branches off across the fields. With a bit of luck, this path should take me to an inland track, which should, in turn, lead me back to Tetney Lock.

As I get closer to the footpath sign, a woman and her dog climb up from the path, and sit down on the grassy bank for a rest.

The dog lollops up to me, looking for a petting, and I get chatting to its owner. She confirms I can return to Tetney Lock along the path. If I don’t take it, there’s no other route off the sea wall until I reach Humberston. She also tells me that the strangely shaped ship isn’t, in fact, a ship at all. It’s an old fortress.

Now I look again, it is clear the hulk is not a ship, but a castle-like fortification. And there are two of them, one on each side of the Humber estuary. Guarding the entrance.

The new footpath leads across a dyke, and then along the edge of a drainage ditch across an enormous field.

The bailers have been at work. I’ve seen a lot of cylindrical bales, but these corrugated ones are a different look. Like giant loaves of sliced bread.

The footpath meets a track – called Newton Marsh Lane on my map. Here, there is a large turning space for machinery, and a deep, foul-smelling pit filled with murky water and a “Danger” sign.

It’s not a good start, but the track is easy to walk along. My progress is only interrupted when I have to stand aside to let two giant farming machines go past. What a lot of dust! Makes me sneeze.

About a mile along the track, I come to a collection of farm buildings, and a set of stables with a group of llamas standing in a field. After miles of empty fields, it’s good to see some livestock. And they’re not cows, so that’s an added bonus.

The track has turned into a road. I pass some residential buildings and realise, with relief, that I’ve nearly reached the village of Tetney Lock.

I come to a sort of T junction. To the left is a gated track, with signs to warn me this is not a public right of way, and the land belongs to something called the “Crude Oil Terminals (Humber) Ltd.” Crude oil? The signs look old, but I wonder if that is what those pipes were carrying – the ones I saw earlier which crossed the sea bank over my head. I’m turning right, anyway.

More “Keep Out. Private” signs.

I lived in Lincolnshire for 25 years, and I know the people are actually quite friendly. You wouldn’t believe this from my experience of trying to walk the coastal footpaths.

The lane is pleasant, with bushes and trees on either side, but I’m growing tired now, and begin to count my footsteps. (This is never a good sign!) Two hundred and three, two hundred and four… oh, a 30mph sign ahead. I’m nearly at the village.

The Beast is parked in a small parking area next to the romantically named Tetney Drain, and close to an old Methodist chapel, which appears to have been converted into a house.

It’s a warm day, and the inside of the van is hot. I fling open the Beast’s doors to let him cool down and take a few more photos of the area.

Well, it’s been a good day’s walking. No diversions this time, and some interesting and quirky things to see. Tomorrow I hope to make it to Grimsby (a depressing name that doesn’t actually fill me with much enthusiasm for the place). But that’s another day.


You can learn more about the Humber Forts on the Military History Fandom site.

Miles walked today = 9.5 miles

Total around coast = 4,663.5 miles

Route (morning in black, afternoon in red)


About Ruth Livingstone

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

16 Responses to 456pm Donna Nook to Tetney Lock

  1. I’ve walked on a lot of those dikes and agree with your mile-after-mile-boring comment but it looks as though things will now be getting more interesting

    • Sometimes, when you’re in the right frame of mind, there is something very zen-like about those featureless banks and huge open spaces. But most of the time… I’m just waiting for something interesting to see.

  2. Chris says:

    Hi Ruth!
    I must say the majority of my walks from Hunstanton down to the Thames estuary and beyond around the Kent coast to Dover was pretty uninspiring with long stretches of coastal banks and miles of muddy murk with short bursts of drain the far distance. Having originally completed some dramatic walks in North Cornwall which spurred me into coastal walking locally, I keep telling myself the scenery has to get better eventually! Hoping to restart my walks this year after a 2 year absence!
    Chris

    • C says:

      Change “drain” to “sea”!!

      • Chris Elliott says:

        Chris I appreciate beauty is in the eye of the beholder and we all have different views of what is beautiful but I fear you are going to be sorely disappointed by your coastal walk endeavours if all you appreciate are dramatic cliffs in north Cornwall. How could you not appreciate the fabulous fishing villages of north Norfolk or the pretty villages of Suffolk. As a man of Kent who had previously never been to Faversham how could you not enjoy Faversham and Whitstable or the spectacular walk from Walmer to Dover and Folkestone. Having myself completed the coast walk in 2019, I would encourage you to broaden your perspective, otherwise I fear you are wasting your time as with your current attitude is somewhat constricted. Walking the coast was the best thing and the most enjoyable thing I ever did. Most of our coast is fantastic, can I beg you to give the less spectacular parts a chance. If you really found Norfolk to Kent all boring, you might be better off just going up to Scotland and walking Mallaig to Cape Wrath and then calling it a day. Yours respectably.

    • I know what you mean. I’m actually glad I started my walk doing the Norfolk Coast Path, because I think nothing much compares to the SWCP! Also glad I’ve got Lincolnshire out the way.

  3. Robin Lucas says:

    Oh dear!!
    Humber and North Lincolnshire Wildfowlers Clubs seem to have a sign-writer who abuses apostrophes! There are two of them used on plurals! With the incorrect use of apostrophes in “club’s” and “area’s”, I’m surprised they didn’t write “dog’s” !!
    I hope your walks get into some better scenery soon, From the time you reversed direction, your accounts have made me wonder how you stick it! It’s such a flat and boring coastline!

    • Well, they provided a permissive footpath, so I’ll forgive them their misplaced apostrophes 😂 It is flat and pretty boring, but sometimes you just get into the rhythm of walking and into a zen-like zone. Of course, in the back of my mind, I was thinking “I should be in Scotland” which I think made me a bit resentful. And I was fed up with the constantly blocked coastal routes in what should be an easy section of the coast,

  4. John Goodall says:

    Hi Ruth
    What a coincidence – I am walking the coast too (though only England) and on the same day you walked from Saltfleet to Tetney Lock, I walked from Donna Nook to Mablethorpe – we must have passed each other on the way.

  5. jcombe says:

    I bet of you hard started the other way on your coastal walk you would quickly have given it up as a bad idea. At least you have got these stretches out of the way and I feel lucky the range wasn’t in use on the day I did this walk.

    Didn’t notice anyone on the nudist beach but then I tend to walk fairly close to the sea on larger beaches where the sand is firmer and I suspect anyone sun bathing would be in the dunes where I didn’t see them.

    Trying to remember now how far you got (The Humber Bridge?) but you might not be aware but the road to Spurn Head has gone and it gets cut off at high tides (though not every high tide I think, just when it’s higher than usual or stormy) so worth planning your walk out there around the tides.

  6. ShaunH says:

    I grew up in this area of remoteness and sparseness and I really wouldn’t choose to be anywhere else. It inspires my photography and my thinking with it’s loneliness and melancholy. The places almost give a feeling of a lost time way back when very similar to the Holderness coast.

  7. cliffgosden says:

    Hi Ruth! my wife and I are walking the coast and have been dipping into your blog from time to time since we started in November 2019 at Berwick upon Tweed going clockwise; we have now reached Dumfries. I remember Donna Nook well because we managed to get rather far out onto the bombing range but made it safely back to shore before the tide came in. It has been interesting to look at your blog for the route you used and interesting to see how much of the coast paths have changed or simply disappeared since you passed that way. I too am a retired GP (70 next year) and so we are just hoping we can complete the walk before we get past it. I am really impressed by all the detail and photos included in your account it is a huge achievement. Thank you for making so much information available for other walkers. I have a simple blog at justcoasting.home.blog but I don’t bother with social media.
    Good luck with whatever comes next in your life.
    Cliff & Jill

    • Hi Cliff and Jill. Wow, you have covered an amazing distance. Nearly home! Thank you for your kind words about my blog. Will check yours out. It’s interesting to see the different routes that people take. Best wishes for the final stages of your walk. Ruth

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