458am Grimsby to Immingham

[This walk was completed on the 9th November 2021]

I’m staying in a weird hotel in a little place called North Killingholme. There is no direct bus route from here to Grimsby, but I have a cunning plan. I will drive to Immingham, a nearby village, and catch the bus from there.

I probably get off at the wrong stop in Grimsby – a confusing town whose geography I’ve never quite worked out. But at least I have my Garmin and can orientate myself. I need to head towards the docks.

It’s a pleasant walk past a lake and a park. The lake has more seagulls than ducks.

I walk along streets around the perimeter of the docks, hoping they will open out so I get a good view of the port. But, I never do get to see the wharves. After following the road…

… and more by luck than anything else, I arrive back at the YMCA – the point at which I ended my previous walk in September.

I take a photo of the YMCA, just to prove that I really got back here. And then I turn around, and retrace my path around the docks, following the roads again, towards the point where I hope to get onto the sea/river wall.

The roads are busy. Luckily, there is a cycle and walking route provided, so the route is safe, but rather noisy.

I do like taking photographs of ports and of ships, but it’s hard to get a decent shot because I’m separated from the quayside by roads and barriers. Rather incongruously, just below this particular flyover, there is a small marina of yachts – you can see their masts in the photo below.

At a roundabout, I turn off to the right, leaving the main road and following a minor road that loops around the western edge of the docks. Here, behind a protective fence, are rows and rows of vehicles waiting to be exported – unless, of course, they have just been imported and are waiting to be distributed to dealers around the country. It’s hard to tell.

Beside the road, a little figure catches my eye. Buzz Lighyear, hiding in a bush. I wonder how he got there, and if some small child is missing him? Maybe he fell out of a pushchair?

I walk past the Western entrance to the port, which has a rather grand sign.

And then past a railway crossing, complete with railway signage and flashing lights. It’s hard to tell if this section of line is ever used now. Look at those weeds!

The traffic is quiet along this road, which basically provides access to an industrial zone beside the docks. I spot a single shoe, lying abandoned in the gutter. Covered in dust.

It’s not uncommon to find a single shoe (or boot) abandoned by a path or roadway. But it’s always a mystery where these single shoes come from. How do you lose ONE shoe? What happens to the other one?

Sadly, the shoe isn’t the only thing abandoned. Just past a sluice gate, someone has tipped a mess of black bin bags by the side of the road, in a parking spot. Fly tippers really are the lowest of the low.

Close to this unpleasant mess, is a gate and a path beyond. I think this is the path I want. The notice attached to the gate says that vehicular access beyond the gate is now denied due to “unsocial activity on the Humber sea bank.” They changed the locks, apparently, in 2015.

Vehicles may not be allowed here anymore, but there is still plenty of “unsocial activity” going on – if you include littering in that description. What a mess!

The path winds through a patch of litter-strewn scrub land, passes through a pair of concrete blocks – a barrier designed, presumably, to restrict any vehicles that do manage to get through the gates – and ends up running along the sea/river bank.

I look back towards Grimsby docks – across a bay of marsh and water – to where the tall dock tower provides a stunning landmark.

Inevitably, there is some graffiti on the river wall, but none of it has much artistic merit! Still, these two faces made me smile – Mr Sad and Mr Happy, side by side.

The path stretches ahead of me. For miles and miles. In the distance is another port – with jetties and ships. That is Immingham Dock, my next destination.

A sign informs me about the wildlife I could see along the bank… or, rather, it tries to inform me, but most of the writing and illustrations have been obliterated. Possibly they’ve been worn away by the weather, but I suspect the main culprit is vandalism to the signboard. A shame.

The sun has gone behind some clouds. The tide is out, or going out, and there is plenty of mud. A host of wading birds are having a feast in the shallow water that remains. I look across the brown waters of the Humber to the strip of distant bank – and wonder when, if ever, I’ll be walking along that other side.

To be honest, the inland view is more interesting, with strange pieces of machinery and industrial structures. What are those blue pipes for, and what is being manufactured or stored there?

I wish they would put signposts up explaining the industry I can see because, to be honest, I find it more interesting than the mud and the ubiquitous sea birds.

Further along is a large factory complex with a quartet of slim, elegant chimneys, and a mass of large blocky buildings.

I pass a young man walking his dogs, the first person I’ve seen on the bank..

Meanwhile, on the foreshore, the water has receded further, and leaves little furrows in the mud. I stop and take photographs of the patterns the water had made. The view is all brown and grey, with the only bright spot being a warning sign for shipping, stuck on a post at the end of a drain pipe.

I was wondering where the dog walker had come from, and then I pass the end of a public footpath which connects the river bank to a place called Great Coates.

More industrial complexes can be seen across the fields. I take far too many photographs of chimneys and pipes, and enigmatic windowless buildings.

Again, I have no idea what is being manufactured, processed or stored in these places. My map just labels the structures as ‘Works’.

Eventually, I pass another sluice gate and the Mawmbridge Pumping Station.

Here, the Mawnbridge Drain empties into the Humber. The tide is well and truly out, and I stand and stare at the patterns. It’s November, and the low sun makes the water channels stand out in stark relief. There is something both hypnotic and beautiful about these etchings in the mud.

Onwards. I’ll never get to Immingham Docks at this rate.

To be continued…

Route so far:

About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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14 Responses to 458am Grimsby to Immingham

  1. Mike Otoka says:

    Very interesting Ruth. We did Gibraltar Point to Cleethorpes in late May…. We were supposed to walk to Grimsby…. But our friend didn’t want to leave his car on Grimsby’s backstreets 😂.
    So your providing some good pointers for our next walk on that coast….. Not sure when that will be though.

  2. Weather looks exceptional for November. It looks like you will have coastal path all the way to the Humber bridge according to OS.

  3. jcombe says:

    Well I found the first 4 letters of Grimsby was a good description of the town! I did brave parking my car there (though in an official car park) and it was still there when I got back, which was something (though it is not an expensive car – my car is cheap, 14 years old and has done very many miles, so it’s at the point it roughly doubles in value when I fill it up with petrol, which probably helps).

    You can generally tell (if you can see enough) if cars are for import or export depending on whether the steering wheel is on the right side or not.

    That tower in Grimsby puzzled me a bit. I thought it might be for a mosque but was on it’s own once I got to it.

    This walk was pretty grim, I remember feeling a bit apprehensive on the sea wall. People did drive along parts of it then, perhaps the lock on the gates was broken or had been left unlocked, but fortunately not in an anti-social manner.

    This was one of (very) few of my coastal walks I would be happy not to repeat, but even then it did have some nice views.

  4. Steve H says:

    Very interested to read of your walk from Grimsby docks to Immingham docks. My Dad was based there while serving for the RAF at sea! He was in the Air Sea Rescue service that had to speed out in aeroplane engined boats to rescue ditched pilots from drowning. A service that is very little known. For more on this please see my Facebook group “RAF Air Sea Rescue WW2”

    • What a brave man your father was. I bet those boats were fast and not very reliable. Will check out your Facebook group. Very interesting.

      • Steve H says:

        Thanks for your reply Ruth. The boats were 60-70′ long and made entirely of wood. Powered by 3 aircraft engines these so called “whalebacks” were capable of speeds of 38 knots. Faster than the cars of the time. Yes, they were very brave crews that had to travel through minefields and were often under attack from German fighters as they went to snatch the downed airmen from the cold North Sea and English Channel. Actually around the world as well. Saving some 13,000 lives, this branch of the RAF is so little known. I am trying to change that and am working on rescuing and restoring what is probably the last Air Sea Rescue boat of it’s type left in the world. For more on that see Facebook “Whaleback for the world” Thank you.

  5. 5000milewalk says:

    I wouldn’t describe that as grim – apart from the fly-tipping of course. Sections like this might not be beautiful, but they’re often interesting. Like you, I like the industrial bits of our walks – the bits most people seem to hate! I like busy ports, and big ships, and buildings with lots of pipes!
    I also like the industrial bits which have gone – empty derelict sites… they seem so sad and ghostly. Much more interesting than 10 miles of sand and seagulls anyway!

  6. Karen White says:

    Fly tipping is always hideous and it is impossible to comprehend the mentality of those that do it. The single shoe made me smile. More than once I have come across single wellington boots discarded in the forest and wonder how on earth someone can manage with just one wellie!

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