[This walk was completed on the 10th November, 2021]
I set off in the morning with a clear plan. I am going to cycle to Immingham and then walk to the northernmost tip of the Lincolnshire coast, following the coastal footpath.
But I end up wasting the whole morning, before eventually parking The Beast in Immingham, and pushing my bike along an entirely different route.
I had woken up with a sense of anxiety, because I’d driven along the A1173 yesterday and remembered a busy road with no footpath. I decided I better drive along it first and check it was safe. Good job I did. That section of road turned out to be horrible. The verge was muddy and narrow, and in places had a steep camber. There was a constant torrent of lorries and vans, hurtling along at 70 miles an hour.
So, I decided to skip this dangerous section and return to it later, maybe at a weekend when the commercial traffic would be lighter.
Instead, I drove straight to the start of the coastal footpath (where it restarted after the Immingham Dock). But I couldn’t find anywhere to park – because the only access was via narrow single-track roads, dominated by vans and huge trucks on their way to industrial sites that had sprung up all along this section of coast. I tried a couple of other access points. Both had no parking, nowhere safe to leave my Beast, and it wasn’t even clear if the coastal access paths remained intact – there were fences and gates everywhere.
It was now gone midday. In danger of losing the whole day, I decided to park in Immingham, push my bike, and walk as far northwards as I could using minor roads. And this is what I did.
Immingham is a pleasant little town. Quiet residential streets. I follow a curving road towards the church, where a footpath might take me safely in the direction of South Killingholme.
An information sign explains that St Andrew’s Church is identified with the story of the Pilgrims, the first settlers of the Americas. In fact, the footpath I intend to follow is part of the Pilgrims’ Trail through Immingham.
But, I discover the footpath is narrow and muddy, and goes through fields. I am pushing Scooty, my electric bike, and don’t want to gum up his chain or his gears at this stage in my trip. So, I decide to stick to the road instead.
From the residential street, a quiet lane leads out of Immingham, and I follow this. A perfect, pretty road, with a nice firm suface for my bike.
In places along the lane, I can see a huge building project going on just to my left. A new housing estate is springing up.
A couple of cars crawl carefully past me. They park further along, and I discover the lane leads past a large cemetery. People get out of the cars carrying flowers. I take a quick photograph of the graveyard, respectfully avoiding the mourners.
It begins to rain. I tuck my camera under my coat and carry on until I reach a T-junction at the end of the lane.
Here I was hoping to turn right, but a quick glance reveals it is nothing more than a muddy track which quickly becomes a non-vehicular path. There might be stiles and gates ahead, and my bike is too heavy to lift over any obstruction I might find. Oh dear.
To my left, the route looks much better. I pull out my map and check.. yes, I can go that way instead.
I reach another T-junction, where the track joins a road. On the corner is an attractive private house that I suspect was once the local school. Thank goodness the sun has come out, and this new road has a pavement.
It’s a day of showers and fleeting sunny intervals. I keep stopping to take photographs of the view across to North Killingholme. I love the way the light makes the fields shine a vibrant green, against the steel-grey backdrop of the oil refinery.
My quiet road, with its safe pavement, is coming to an end at a pretty place, with a thatched cottage and a church – but with no name on my map. I’m about to meet another road at a T-junction.
Oh dear. This road isn’t so good. No pavement, just a narrow and lumpy verge. Oh well, at least the traffic is fairly light. I take a quick photo…
… and stow my camera away, and put on my high-vis jacket. It’s beginning to rain again.
There is nothing particularly enjoyable about this section of the walk. I pass a number of footpaths, but they all look muddy and are not going in the right direction.
Finally, after a mile of unpleasantness, the sun comes out, and I reach a minor lane off to the right. I know there is a busy road coming up, so I decide to turn right down the lane.
I walk past a couple of farms, and through a collection of houses. I’m now worrying that there might be a dead-end ahead, as the busy A1077 lies between me and South Killingholme, so I ask a passerby if there is a route across.
Oh yes, he assures me. No need to worry – there is a flyover.
And he’s right, there really is a flyover. I huff and puff my way up the steep incline, pushing my heavy Scooty bike. The flyover takes me right over the horrible A1077, and provides great views from the top…
…of the oil refinery!
I know I’m weird, but I really do like industrial buildings. The light is perfect – sunshine keeps coming and going – and I stop to take a whole series of photographs of the refinery.
It’s half past 3 in the afternoon. I’ve spent hours getting nowhere, but I’m still hungry. Some nearby concrete steps provide a dry seat, and I sit down for a quick snack and a drink, while Scooty waits patiently for me to finish.
The road curves down off the flyover, giving a lovely view over fields, and with the trees beginning to put on their autumnal colours and positively glowing in the sunshine. Beautiful. It really is a surreal contrast to the view of the oil refinery on the other side.
I manage to find a quiet spot behind a bush for a quick ‘comfort break’ – always difficult when walking through a semi-industrial landscape.
Then, onwards, into South Killingholme. It’s a little place and almost entirely dominated, visually, by the nearby refinery. But, with people going about their ordinary business – walking their dogs, chatting to neighbours – it’s still a proper village.
On the edge of South Killingholme, I follow a dead-end road, hoping to pick up a cycle path that I saw earlier when driving…
… and the cycle path magically appears, right at the end of the road. It’s very tempting, at this point, to hop on my bike for the rest of my walk today. But, that would be cheating!
The cycle path is really just a pavement beside the road connecting South Killingholme with North Killinghome and beyond. I’m sure it seemed like a good idea to put a cycle path here, and I’m really glad they did. But I suspect it is barely used. The surface is uneven in places and cracked with weeds.
During my half hour walking along this path, I don’t meet a single cyclist.
Soon, I reach the turning to North Killingholme, where I am staying in a rather weird hotel in the shadow of the refinery.
My hotel is actually very comfortable and the staff are lovely. It’s only weird because it looks, superficially, like a country-house hotel providing holiday getaways in a rural landscape, but in fact is mainly occupied by business people and contract workers servicing the refinery and surrounding industry.
I don’t turn off towards the village. Carry straight on.
Stop to take more photos of the refinery, which seems to stretch forever. Love the drama of the flaring chimney.
I pass a major junction, where all the larger lorries and vans seem to turn off – heading into the industial zone. I could turn off too, and head towards the coast. But, there is no pavement, and I would be back with the problem of dangerous roads and nowhere to park to continue my walk tomorrow.
Straight on is the village of East Halton. I head towards it.
Here is a church – which appears to have been converted into a residential home, or an office. Next to the church, is a quiet private road leading to a farm. It’s 4:30 pm, and this is a good place to stop. There is plenty of room to park my Beast tomorrow, and enough seclusion to leave my bike safely.
I take a photo of my Scooty bike beside the entrance to the church-which-isn’t-a-church. Now, I must cycle back to Immingham and find the Beast.
Well, what a frustrating day this has been. I feel totally dispirited by my lack of progress.
Lincolnshire may have been my home county – in the sense that I lived here for 25 years – but I’ll be glad to have finished the Lincolnshire section of my coastal trek. It’s been a bit of a nightmare.
Miles walked today = 7 miles
Total around coast = 4,692 miles