461am Goxhill Haven to Barrow Haven

[This walk was completed on the 12th November 2021]

Before I return to Manchester today, I’m determined to finish the Lincolnshire coast. I park the Beast in a public car park near the station in Barton on Humber, because today I’m catching a train instead of cycling.

Comes as a suprise to realise Barton on Humber is the end of the line. For some reason, I expected the train to travel onwards to somewhere. Oh, well. It’s a sweet little station. Not many of us on the platform.

I’m only travelling two stops, and I’m the only passenger getting off at New Holland station.

My plan is to link up with yesterday’s walk, and so I march through the streets of New Holland, heading for the track that should link up with yesterday’s footpath.

Pass a place called “Manchester Square” – which makes me smile. A bit like Brick Lane yesterday, this quiet green space bears no resemblence to bustling Manchester.

I turn off down Oxmarsh Lane. It’s a good, straight road, which ends in a track. The track is (according to my OS map) a public cycle way, and will take me directly onto one of the tracks I walked down yesterday.

It begins to drizzle with rain. Getting nearer to the end of the tarmac, I see farm building and a yellow gate ahead, blocking the road. A man in a tractor drives out of a nearby farmyard, gets down from his cab, and swings the gate open, before passing through. Oh good, that’s where I need to go.

Now the rain is pelting down. I stop to pull out my waterproofs and fix the cover over my rucksack. But there is nothing to stop the wind sweeping across this flat fen landscape, and the rain is driven sideways, getting under my hood and soaking my hair. I’m feeling thoroughly miserable as I approach the gate.

Suddenly, I hear a voice shouting at me from a nearby barn, “Where do you think you are going?” From the tone, I guess the man doesn’t want me be going where I am clearly going.

He stomps across the muddy farm yard and confronts me. It’s a private road. My map is tucked inside my rucksack, but I pull out my Garmin to show him the 3 green dots which mark the public cycle way and prove I’m allowed here – but the green dots aren’t showing on my Garmin. I don’t tell him this, of course, just say that the track is marked as a public right of way and I’m linking up with the footpath ahead.

He tells me I must turn back and use the proper public footpath, and points vaguely across the fields, the edges of which are lost in the mist of falling rain. While the wind whips the rain into my eyes, I ask him to explain in detail which way I should go. Eventually, he gives up and says, grudgingly, OK, just this once, I can carry on down the track.

I thank him and hurry on through the gate – before he changes his mind.

It’s a relief to meet the track – a definitely proper public footpath – and get off that horrible farmer’s land. I turn left and head towards the distant bank of the river. By now, the tractor, which went ahead of me, is busily ploughing the field.

I pass the track which leads to the builder’s merchants yard, relieved that I have finally managed to complete the link-up with yesterday’s route.

The rain eases off, and I pull out my camera, determined to take a photo of the tractor ploughing up the field. (To be honest, there is little else to photograph in this monotonous landscape.) The man driving the tractor waves to me. I wave back.

But, no, it isn’t a friendly wave. He actually stops the tractor so that he can lean out and shout at me.

“Don’t take my photograph.”

“I’m just taking a photograph of the tractor,” I shout across the field.

“Don’t,” he yells back. “No photographs.”

I’m quite startled. Firstly, I wasn’t photographing him, but the tractor, inside of which he is invisible. Secondly, I’m on a public footpath and am allowed, legally, to take photographs as long as I’m not invading anybody’s privacy. But, I decide it’s wiser not to enter into further debate, so I just hold my camera against my side and hurry on.

Such a relief to reach the comparative safety of the river bank. Two unpleasant encounters within the space of 20 minutes or so. I feel quite unnerved and jittery. But also angry. Knowing he can’t reach me here, I deliberately take another photograph of the tractor as it meanders on down the field.

Then I remember the Lincolnshire Council sign on the footpath post – the one I noticed yesterday. “If you have problems using this path, please contact us.”

Yesterday, I couldn’t understand why they’d fixed this sign to the start of an easy public track. Now, it’s beginning to make sense. Clearly there is a longstanding feud between the farmer(s) and the public – and I guess in the past they might have tried to close access to this track too.

Still feeling unsettled, I stare across the estuary. That’s Hessle, I think, on the other side. Part of Hull really. One day I’ll be walking along the shore over there. One day…

…but today I need to get on with this walk.

I set off down the bank, heading westwards. Decide there must be a working port at New Holland, because I can see a long pier jutting out into the sea, a red ship mored up by the bank, and storage silos. But what’s that beyond the pier? Yes – it’s the Humber Bridge. My first sighting on the walk.

To my left is a series of small lakes – filled in gravel pits or clay pits, I imagine. And a static home site. If you ignore the industry in the background, it’s actually quite a pretty place if you have to live in a static home.

On the edge of the port, the path makes a right-handed turn and takes me inland, along the edge of the caravan site…

… and then through a storage yard and a small industrial complex.

I’m still feeling on edge after the aggressive challenges I experienced beside the farm, and so I’m half-expecting to be challenged here too. But, no, everything is quiet and there is a clear pedestrian route marked out through the site.

A sign informs me the dock belongs to the Howarth Timber Group. Stange to think this is basically a timber storage site, in an area which virtually no trees! But, I guess that’s why they need the timber.

At the far end of the site is hut with a man pottering about outside – who might be a security guard. He waves at me as I pass through – a definitely friendly wave this time.

I’m glad to be out of the port and back on the road. Ahead is a signal box and beyond that is New Holland Station, where I got off the train just over an hour ago.

But where is the footpath? It’s not marked, but I think the route must follow this narrow road, which curves around sticking close to the railway tracks.

It ends in a scruffy car park – one of those unofficial car parks which isn’t marked on any map, but which all the locals seem to know about.

A piece of grafitti on the wall catches my eye. Maybe based on the mermaid purses that you sometimes find washed up on the beach. Cheeky little monster. Makes me smile.

I look back at New Holland Pier. Definitely looks like an active pier and it’s good to see coastal industry still operating.

Looking ahead… yes, it’s the Humber Bridge. Ahhh, the end of my walk is already in sight. Still a long way to go.

As I walk, the bridge gradually draws nearer. I spot a bench – something that has been in short supply along this stretch of the shore – somewhere to sit and have a rest.

There’s a sign on the back of the bench which at first I think must be a memorial plaque, but is simply a painted sign saying “Snails Trail”. Whether that refers to a real footpath trail, or to the pace of my walking, isn’t clear.

I perch my camera on the bench and take a self-portrait.

Onwards. The sky is still dark, so it’s hard to take decent photographs, but I’m passing a pleasant area of lakes and trees.

The bridge is definitely growing larger. I make slow progress because I keep stopping to take photographs. Love bridges. I can actually remember the Humber Bridge opening – way back in the 1980s. It was once the longest single-span suspension road-bridge in the world.

This little wall, forming part of the river bank, catches my eye. It seems to be made entirely of roof tiles, bound together with concrete. Roof tiles? How weird. Why make a wall out of roof tiles?

My walks along the North Lincolnshire coast have been full of little mysteries, and the roof-tile wall is yet another one.

I’m approaching a storage yard of some sort, with a variety of cranes towering over the stacks of… of what?

It turns out to be the Old Ferry Wharf at Barrow Haven and it’s full of stacks of timber. Really, this whole area seems to be a giant builders’ merchants storage facility.

I dutifully read the site map, as instructed in the sign. [What I failed to spot at the time was the yellow notice underneath, which asks pedestrians and cyclists to request assistance when passing through. Only on writing this blog did I actually spot this instruction! Although it does imply that assistance is only required when a ship is berthed at the dock.]

The dock is empty. No ships, no lorries, no people.

I walk through and out onto the road. Ahead is the railway crossing and Barrow Haven Station, which is even smaller than New Holland Station.

I was assuming I would have to follow the road to the bridge, in order to get across the little inlet at Barrow Haven. But there is actually a footpath running beside the railway line and going across the railway bridge – a quicker way to get over the little river.

From the bridge, I stop to take photographs of the inlet. Unlike Goxhill Haven, which was neither a hill nor a haven, Barrow Haven is a proper little harbour. What an interesting bunch of working boats. Love the place.

[To be continued…]

Route so far:

About Ruth Livingstone

Walker, writer, photographer, blogger, doctor, woman, etc.
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11 Responses to 461am Goxhill Haven to Barrow Haven

  1. tonyurwin says:

    What a strange man. I have taken a lot of photographs of tractors without a murmur. Must be something in the air!

  2. Eunice says:

    The cynic in me thinks the tractor man must have something to hide if he didn’t want you taking a photo. I like the photo of Barrow Haven, it must look quite pretty on a sunny day.

  3. Gemma Adele Barclay says:

    Hi Ruth,
    I looked on OS 25000 and 50000 – I cannot see any indication of Oxmarsh Lane turning into a public path/cycleway before it connects with the path leading towards the Humber, it looks like the next lane south (Peploe Lane) would have been better – BUT, the farmer was being extremely petty as you were not crossing any fields or going to cause any damage or hindrance to his business whatsoever. This ‘Git Orf Moi Larnd’ attitude from certain land owners makes the blood boil.
    I found parts of the Lincs coast very difficult without using ‘private’ tracks, so I did use them when necessary, and on reflection cannot see any conceivable reason how/why a landowner could make any charge that my ‘trespass’ caused any possible kind of harm or damage.

    I have recently read ‘The Book Of Trespass’ by Nick Hayes and it paints a dismal picture of England being extremely lacking in access to land that in the Enclosures etc, was ‘stolen’ from the common people, and a general attitude of entitlement rather than responsibility, fairness and equity from most private estates. A proper ‘right to roam’ act is the only way to correct some of the egregious limits placed upon us at present.

  4. Gemma Adele Barclay says:

    additionally, as I understand it, if you are on publicly accessible/owned land, you are at liberty to photograph/and or video anything that your eyes can see. A lot of ‘Auditors’ on youtube are making a point of this and correcting people who think they can infringe on this expression of liberty.

  5. Your “no trees – need timber” logic is impeccable.

  6. tonyhunt2016 says:

    Was the man in the tractor the same one as the angry farmer you’d met earlier? Some farmers really do their industry no credit at all.

  7. jcombe says:

    Lincolnshire certainly seems an unfriendly place to walk in. I have only walked the coast or as close as I can get, but I came across many poorly maintained or outright obstructed paths and many others have a lot of litter/fly tipping etc. Fortunately I did not have problems with being confronted as you did. Maybe it’s better in the Lincolnshire Wolds but I must admit there was nothing there to tempt me to come back and try more walks in the county. Still at least you have reached the end.

    I seem to remember a lot of those pits are I think for clay extraction because there used to be a lot of brick works in the area. I think that might be what it is. The owners of that wood yard where the path goes through have tried to divert the path away onto a road, but fortunately the Council turns it down.

  8. Mike Otoka says:

    What a couple of misery guts those farmers were ! Keep on walking Ruth

  9. Nick says:

    We have been shouted at twice so far and both times in East Yorkshire. I found the stretch between Spurn Head and Bridlington largely as trying as you found Lincolnshire. Many blockages by farmers, caravan parks and the military. Walking on the beach the best option.

  10. Janet Eccles says:

    We walked this section yesterday but we got the train from Barton to Goxhill and walked three miles down the road to join the coast at Goxhill Haven. The rapeseed oil was being harvested and there was a green tractor with yellow wheels which was probably the one you saw. Unfortunately it was too far away for them to see when I zoomed in on it with my camera to take a photo 😊

  11. Karen White says:

    It’s a shame some people (not always farmers!) are so unpleasant. I dislike confrontation and incidents like these set me on edge and spoil my day.
    Barrow Haven is a delightful little harbour.

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