This blog , in the form of a letter to our Grandchildren Rosie, Lauren, Stanley, Jake, Rowan and Maisie, is named ” StillOEngland ” and is the natural successor to 58 Episodes of ” WalkingOEngland” another series of letters, which described the first two thousand or so, mile walk around the coastline of England. Adding in Offa’s Dyke Path and Hadrian’s Wall Path to square the circle, or rather complete the circuit, …..whatever!
It is hoped that “StillOEngland” will have enough capacity to see out the remaining seven hundred odd miles needed to complete the venture
An extra feature , at no extra charge, is the estimate of miles to complete. This figure should be treated cautiously, and relies on not getting very lost, and a fair bit of guestimation, and a bit of interpretation from Natural England about their version of the coastal route. A plug here for Natural England’s England Coast Path which is on target for 2020 completion. I haven’t been able to totally complete their proposed route, many footpaths are not in place yet, but I religiously keep as near as practically possible to the shoreline, and rely heavily on The various National Trails employing the Acorn icon to adorn their signposts.. When these run out I get in trouble, or when footpaths are diverted but the signage isn’t. This trip identified other reasons for going off piste – frisky ponies and nesting birds – we’ll come to that later.
More colourful creatures on the map below, Crimson Worms indentify the extent of my walk, so far, superimposed on Natural England’s Proposed Stretch Map. These can be viewed in greater detail on separate maps for each of the eight regions on Natural England’s website. I’ll make no promises but might try to insert the relevant East Coast Stretch Map in the text, later.
-aside- I tried – but keep running into gremlins – the link is the best I can do. The regional maps are very informative. You can compare the status in more detail of my actually walked route with Natural England’s proposed route. I keep the full set of marked up OS Explorer Maps 1:25 000 Scale for reference, showing where I think I have been.
The walk completed so far extends from Combe Martin (3) to Fosdyke (48) and Maldon((34) to Branscombe (10) plus the Isle of Wight (16) and Hunstanton to Cley next The Sea (46).
Are you sitting comfortably?
Then I’ll begin.
Dear Rosie, Lauren, Stan, Jake, Rowan and Maisie,
All the stuff above is for the benefit of curious adults who want to know what I’m doing when I disappear for several days at a time and return exhausted. I just give them the Magic Word ” https://still0england.wordpress.com ” or for previous episodes ” https://rdmaccord.wordpress.com “.Even within days of completing a trek, I really cannot remember all that I have walked and the only way is to refer people to these blogs. Even then much of the detail has dissipated.
Last week I drove to Lincolnshire and established myself in a small campsite in Old Leake, not far from Boston, on the A52. Old Leake Caravan and Camping Site on Shaw Lane.
The sign on the A52 should really say ‘ Goodbye Skegness’; the camp site, my home for three days at Old Leake, where the BG number plate was nearly as plentiful as GB; Number Seven Stagecoach was my alternative to walking the A52; The A52 was devoid of footpaths and dangerous for walkers, fifty mph was the minimum speed.
Four Crimson Worms
This Episode 60 took place on 5th to 7th June ,2016, Walking Days 169 to 171, staying at Old Leake Leisure Park Camp Site in Lincolnshire, walking 44 miles from the previous completion at Skegness to Fosdyke on the River Welland, via Boston on The Haven
Stagecoach Bus Route No 7 is our favourite, plying for business along the A52, which Nanny and I knew well in our youth , when real Stagecoaches linked Derby to Nottingham. But out here in the sticks The A52 is a series of country lanes joined together to give the impression of continuity between Stoke and Skegness.
June birthdays;Great Uncle John’s 71st, Uncle Donald’s 42nd and Rosie’s 12th. And Richard’s, which I’m guessing is somewhat nearer Uncle John’s than Rosie’s?
Explorer Ordnance Survey Maps 249, 261 and 274 were used and found wanting as was my interpretation of their advice.
2295 miles walked to date.
44 miles walked from Skegness to Fosdyke.
Grand Total Miles now completed 2339. Miles to complete the walk round England 730.
The first day’s walk started from Skegness Railway Station and I reluctantly struck out on the A52, trying in vain to get over the Wainfleet Haven or Steeping River to Gibraltar Point; but all the tracks did not provide access or were private and gated, or the bridges down and I was advised to keep away from yet another designated Miltary Danger Area. I gave up after seven miles, at Church Lane and vowed to take a different approach when I resumed walking the next day. I had quickly realised two or three distinctly unhelpful features of the landscape; there was no one around and very few buildings, and the fields were generally cauliflowers, peas, potatoes, cabbages and wheat, very big fields and very repetitive. Easy to get lost! And no one to advise. If the mind wanders and mine does. So if something was labelled like Coddington’s Yard it got its picture taken for future reference when I was lost.
On the second day, I found a very accommodating business down Church Lane, called Storit, who allowed me to park in their forecourt, while I caught the bus into Boston, that dropped me off near The Stump. I walked back to Storit, where I’d parked, some 25 miles ,all the time trying to walk the sea bank wall keeping the Wash out of the low lying fields. As you can see the vista is quite flat and features for navigating are hard to find .Although the Stump is visible from anywhere. I walked on top of the earth bank and navigated by counting the Pumphouses which were common but all very similar. When I estimated I was nearing the Danger Zone I cut back inland and eventually found the A52 and more specifically the route of Bus number seven. Which I JUST missed . I was walking in the road, as the bus crept up on me; it tootled me for getting in the way; and I reacted with gestures for it to stop; but these were mistaken for reaction to being tootled! I had already done twenty miles that day It was two hours for the next bus – so I headed for the car on foot and arrived just ahead of the final bus. I hadn’t intended it, but I’d walked a full 25 miles that day, and it was now dark. Fortunately I remembered where the car and campsite were. Slept well that night. I had now added Boston to the Crimson Worm by completing the Walk from Skeggy. The following pictures starting at Boston taken every mile or so tell the unfolding tale of the very long journey
Leaving Boston via Custom Quay , looking back along the Haven, past the Parish Church of St. Guthlac at Fishtoft and into open flat countryside, these fields freshly planted, as far as the eye can see. Any hedges?
At last I think I’ve regained the seashore, at Freiston Shore, but one peek over the sea bank and there’re acres of salt marsh and nothing to reference except an RSPB Nature Reserve.
Very much the same scenery mile after mile, except a herd of cattle, cows and very young calves, had been keeping pace with me and then turned towards me looking decidedly uncomfortable. They weren’t happy either. Time to head off to safer pastures for me. I had been a bit up closer and personal, before my retreat; but only stopped for the picture when well out of their range. So my attempt to fully walk the shoreline was thwarted on several counts; it wasn’t really the shoreline except on the map; the Military Danger area was looming ; access was denied and bridges were not safe, and intolerant cows..
I was tired and didn’t want to stop, so only two more shots in the last ten miles , mostly on the A52- not a lot to see here; except the sunset through an irrigation machine and a still Wainfleet Relief Channel Drain. Back to the car and so to tent.
The next day, still tired from yesterday’s marathon, I planned a much shorter walk of twelve miles to extend the Crimson Worm even further, to Fosdyke on the River Welland, along the seawall, keeping the Wash on my left until I arrived at The Ship for Scampi and Chips and hopefully a bus back to Boston, The following pictures were taken at about mile intervals showing the changing nature of the Wash scenery as I walk away from Boston.
Leaving Boston along The Haven, this time on the West Bank, quite forlorn in places until the start of the MacMillan Way. Yes, related to the MacMillan Charity, a series of footpaths crossing England . This one ending up in Abbotsbury, some 290 miles away on the other side of the country.
Still snapping every mile or so, the scenery gradually changes from rubbish tip to mass production planting. When level with the tractors I rested and pic-nicked on apples, oranges, salami, cheese and water, in full view of two more horses ; all of us watching the ebbing Haven River from atop the flood bank. It subsequently transpired that ebbing was good for a rest.
I had to push my way past the two horses, it was probably a mistake to get so close. They must have a whiff of the very sweet apples and oranges I was carrying. I talked them out of raiding my gear, and thought it good to move quickly away. I was rapidly well clear and safe . Or so I thought. Suddenly I was pushed from behind and thought I was being mugged, but on turning round the horses had silently crept up on me and I was being frisked for food. Biting my ruck sack, going in my pockets. They wanted whatever I’d been eating. I talked to them, and photographed them, but they were determined, and one started getting frisky and kicking out. There was nowhere to go , I would never get to the end of the sea wall before them. I moved down the sea wall bank, and so did they. The ebbing tide had revealed the coarse rocks forming rip rap below high tide level.. It was slippery and full of holes but I ventured over it just out of reach of the horses. I progressed slowly in this way until the horses got bored – they wouldn’t risk stepping on the rocks.
Eventually, first one and then the other disappeared. I RAN FOR THE GATE AT THE END OF THE SEABANK! Sorry Shouting! And then I saw them again, waiting in their paddock. I checked very carefully that they were secure. I had to pass close by to continue and I’m sure they were laughing. For quite some time after that I kept checking my rear view mirror , so to speak. Glad tidings of comfort and of joy.
The Witham Mouth is some three miles downstream as The Haven enters the Wash in its lower South West corner. The MacMillan Way continues alongside the Haven on the sea bank, but there’s two miles of Frampton Marsh Nature Reserve, one of the largest areas of saltmarsh in the UK, before reaching the banks of the River Welland Outfall, which also empties into the Wash. The Norfolk coast is 17 miles away and can be seen on a clear day.
Many birds of prey inhabit these marshes; the rare Motague’s Harrier, Peregrines, Merlin, Short eared Owls, Barn Owls and Hen Harriers. And more rarely Kestrels, Sparrow Hawks, Ospreys and Red Kites. Pylons are more common and beneath you can just see the top of the Welland cut.
The end of the line for now, The Ship Inn at Fosdyke on the River Welland and no buses.
The staff suggested a local taxi firm could take me back to Boston after my scampi and chips and a pint of shandy(medicinal). That warrants a mention in the blog, as does the taxi firm run by Mike and driven by son James, who took me back to the RAV4 which took me back to the campsite at Old Leake. Go home tomorrow via Baslow, Jake and Maisie., but not before correcting an error in Old Hunstanton. Refer next blog…..