[This walk was completed on the 10th September 2021, apologies for the delay in writing up]
Welcome to Cleethorpes Seafront. But is it the sea, or is it an estuary? I really get the feeling that Cleethorpes sits on the dividing line between estuary and coast, much as Whitstable does in Kent.
When I was a teenager, I came from the Carribean to a boarding school in Yorkshire. School friends talked about going on holiday to Cleethorpes. It sounded impressive. Now, I look across a mile or so of mud and sand, and wonder what they saw in the place.
Well, at least Cleethorpes still has a pier. But, like so many coastal piers, it seems to have lost the section that sticks out into the sea. And the remaining stub has become one giant fish and chip shop.
[Later, I learn that Cleethorpes lost around 900ft of the pier, demolished in the war as part of the effort to protect our coast from invasion. The timbers were used to build a stand at Leicester City Football Ground.]
Further along is an amusement park on the sand. Whether this shifts with the high tides isn’t clear.
The sea front was crowded earlier, but becomes progressively more deserted as I head northwards. This interesting sculpture – almost a mirror image of the Meridian monument at the south of the resort – turns out to be a receptacle for plastic waste. Interesting. A functional and thought-provoking piece of art.
Just past the sphere is a series of wooden structures. “Work out, stay, play” says a sign, and explains these strctures were designed to be used for a variety of activities, including “exercise, relaxation and contemplation.” Unfortunately, they seem to be stuck some distance from the heart of the resort, and with some very ugly buildings in the background.
The only people using them have chosen the very obvious bench structure to sit on. Nobody is exercising. I am tempted to have a quick nap on the large reclining-seat thing – but decide its too uncomfortable.
Painted signs on the pavement mark off every 100 metres to the end of promenade. There is nobody about. A cyclist overtakes me, circles round a mini roudabout, and heads back past me again. The roundabout sits at the end of the official promenade and marks a dead-end in the road. But, as I hoped, it looks as if I can continue onwards.
I walk along the sand. The water is a grey-brown colour. Definitely more river than sea now. And on the other side is Yorkshire – or, specifically, the East Riding of Yorkshire. Look at all those seagulls!
When I first left my husband, 4 years ago now, I went and stayed in a Premier Inn in Hessle, just on the other side of the Humber Bridge. Crossing the bridge seemed a very symbolic and important act, and I can still remember the feeling of intense relief as I left Lincolnshire behind. I spent a few days walking up and down on that bank, over there.
I look across the river, and realise I don’t feel the awful shock and sadness I felt then. Things have moved on, and I have managed to build a new life for myself.
The sand is running out, and I’m heading into sticky mud, so I begin walking along the tiers of the sea wall, before climbing up onto the concrete walkway above. Ahead is some sort of factory. I’m hoping I can follow the walkway all the way into Grimsby. So far, so good.
The walkway narrows, curves around – and for one minute I think my way is barred by a high fence. But then I see the walkway passes through a gate and, by some miracle, the gate is open!
Through the gate, and here the wall has been liberally decorated by graffiti, some of it rather good. Love this cheeky seagull. He looks quite manacing.
As well as the usual pointless tags, there is some rather good modern art. I do enjoy a bit of decent graffiti.
A few minutes later, I meet a man walking his dog. I ask him if it’s possible to get all the way through to Grimsby. He says no, not any more. In fact, he was surprised to see the gate was open as this walk is often closed.
What a shame. I decide not to waste my time (and my feet) walking any further towards a dead-end, and turn back to the gate.
There is a path leading through a patch of wasteland, towards a railway bridge. I spotted this bridge earlier, and had it in mind as an escape route off the sea bank, if I came to a dead-end. So, now, Plan B.
I stop on the bridge and take some photos. It’s another dividing line between two worlds. To the South is the resort of Cleethorpes, with the bulk of its pier clearly visible, and beyond that the faint grey line of the open sea.
To the North is… well… I’m not sure where Cleethorpes ends and Grimsby starts, to be honest. But I have the almost surreal birds-eye view of an ordinary residential street.
My walk into Grimsby is uneventful. It’s not particularly pleasant. I have houses on one side, the grey fence of the railway line on the other. No view of the sea.
I pass a stadium of some sort. Football? Yes, I think Grimsby has a football club. £22 for a ticket seems a bit steep.
A train rattles past, a reminder I’m following the railway line and eventually, I come to New Clee railway station. It’s a tiny place.
The residential housing has petered out, and I’m now in an industrial area. “A fresh approach to seafood” says a sign. Yes, Grimsby really does smell of fish, the smell has been growing stronger for some minutes. I’m sure the fish in that facility is perfectly fresh, though.
I’m sticking to the roads which run closest to the coast, but find I’m walking through an increasingly grim area. It’s the sort of place that makes me feel uneasy. Few other pedestrians, just a few vans hurtling by at high speed, and I stick out like a sore thumb in my walking clothes, with my rucksack on my back, and my camera in my hand.
So, I head inland a little, and walk down shopping streets. More crowded, but not so intimidating. I end up back at the official entrance to the docks. “Fish Docks” says a sign.
I’m uncertain what to do next. Part of me wants to walk into the dock area and walk as close to the wharves as I can. But the fast moving traffic and the general pedestrian unfriendliness of the roads puts me off. The map is confusing too. It’s difficult to work out which road to take.
In the end, I do what I normally do when I’m uncertain what to do. Sit down for a rest and a snack. Unfortunately, the only ‘seat’ I can find is a low, grey concrete wall on the edge of a piece of derelict land, overlooked by the hulking remains of a red-brick building – maybe an old factory or warehouse.
I sit on the concrete wall (to the left in the photo above) and have something to drink, and eat one of my snack bars. After this, I’m still not sure what to do – specifically which route to take through Grimsby – so I decide to give up for the day.
This is my last walk of the trip, so I look around for a landmark for my next visit and spot a YMCA hostel. Yes. That’s a good landmark and this is a good place to stop.
Now, all I have to do is navigate the 2 miles through the centre of this confusing town, and find my hotel. The only interesting thing about this tramp through the streets, is looking down an alleyway and seeing two waiters crouching on the ground and offering a fox some leftover scraps. No photo, I’m afraid.
Miles walked today = 12 miles, not all in the right direction.
Total around coast = 4,675.5 miles
Route (morning in black, afternoon in red)