Wednesday 6 May 2015
Saltfleet to Grimsby
The Pink Butterfly B&B
A really early start this morning to try and beat the rain meant full cooked breakfast at 6am and on the road at 6.30am. This ensured at least a couple of hours of brilliant blue sky and sunshine as I made my way along the edge of the mud flats to Donna Nook with just the birds for company. At times it was difficult to see the sea; it looked so far away across the samphire beds and the flats.
It didn’t take long for the MoD warning signs to appear telling me not to stray into the bombing range. Donna Nook is well known for 2 things: the RAF bombing range and the huge seal colony (according to Alan from The Crown there were 1500 seal pups last year). I could easily spot the bombing range targets, which included fake tanks made of wire and netting, but the seals were harder to see as they looked to be at least a kilometre away near the shoreline. I decided not to venture out to see them.
From Donna Nook the coastline starts turning West towards the mouth of the Humber and I could see the lighthouse at Spurn Head. The next 7 miles were all on sea wall and the wind was starting to gust as strongly as yesterday so that made the going harder, and less of a straight line! At 0958 (according to my civilian watch) the RAF started bombing Donna Nook but I was already long gone. I watched a couple of jets dive down from the clouds and then climb up again quickly, but it was difficult to stand still in the wind and to see the aircraft with the clouds now covering the sky.
The rain came at 11 am, just as I reached Humberston, and I donned full waterproofs for the rest of the day. I walked past the village of pre-fab houses and arrived at the miniature steam train station at the same time as a train. What luck. No sense in walking 2 miles in the rain if I can get a steam train along the front.
I found out afterwards that I missed the Northernmost point where you can stand straddling the Greenwich Meridian, but instead I had a good chat with Geoff the train driver and 2 policemen, and got a tip for great fish and chips. I was happy with the trade off and made my way along the Cleethorpes sea front to The Captain’s Table for the best fish and chips in town.
Cleethorpes likes the Britain in Bloom competition and I would definitely vote for it. The best flower beds I’ve seen so far by a country mile.
After lunch I carried on to Grimsby having decided that camping in this weather was not going to be fun (besides I’d already passed my campsite on the train) and there was bound to be some accommodation in Grimsby. Four hours later I landed at The Pink Butterfly B&B where the Italian owner, Franco, made me a cup of tea and told me there is a shortage of accommodation in Grimsby. I was lucky. I had walked for miles through the town but hadn’t really seen a lot. Every cafe I found was boarded up yet I saw lots of houses being renovated. I know the rain didn’t help but it’s not the most attractive town. I walked to the Fish Dock but later found out it’s been many years since any catches were landed there, these days it’s full of fish processing factories owned by companies like Youngs and Birds Eye and the fish is brought in on lorries from Scotland. What a shame. All the industry now comes from the many power stations and wind farms (most guest houses up the Lincolnshire coast seem to be full of contractors, leaving few rooms left for coast walkers). It seems this area is an entry point for undersea crude oil pipelines, one of which I walked underneath earlier in the day as it rose out of the ground into a bridge over the sea wall.