D35: English Coastal Path

Day 35:  INGOLDMELLS   to   WRANGLE

Saturday 4th July 2020

Today’s miles: 23.2  Total miles: 537.7

I genuinely love my walking trips. Ask anybody who knows me well, they’ll tell you how much I enjoy my time walking. Unfortunately this particular weekend turned out to be by some distance, the two worse walking days that I’ve ever had.
The pre-planned walking distance from Ingoldmells (North of Skegness) to The Horseshoe (near Wrangle) should have been a straightforward 15 Miles, in reality it turned out to be more then 23 miles, 23 hard miles. I arrived in Ingoldmells in the early afternoon and it’s incredibly busy and as a result I spent almost an hour driving around trying to find somewhere to park. I eventually pulled into the caravan park at Seathorne and explained my situation to Katie, the receptionist and asked for permission to park in one of their private bays. She took pity on me and happily allowed me to park behind her reception building. I now have the additional 1 1/2 mile walk back to my start point. The first hour was pretty good walking, my spirits were high, I felt motivated and the weather despite being overcast was dry.
Just before exiting the South end of Skegness I grabbed a takeaway coffee and a small bottle of cold water from a Seaside kiosk. Skegness town centre was also very busy and absolutely no sign of anybody social distancing. The long road down to Gibraltar Point has a golf course on one side and several million pound houses with perfectly manicured lawns on the other.

Gibraltar Point nature reserve

I arrived at Gibraltar Point nature reserve and after a quick chat with the reserve warden I headed off to start the long walk along the sea wall. The route I had planned for today was the same as that taken from the official English Coastal Path national trails website and also that recommended on WalktheEnglishCoastalPath.com.
I walked off toward the reserves entrance gate where the sea wall heads off North for 200mts towards the marked wooden footbridge. There’s a locked wooden gate impeding my way with a ‘do not walk on the sea wall’ sign stuck to the gate. I check my map but couldn’t see any alternative path. This footbridge is the only practical way to gain access to the sea wall before continuing South.
I tried to walk along the bottom of the sea wall but the vegetation was too dense. I climbed up onto the sea wall and just prior to the footbridge I bumped into another of the reserve wardens. Paul was a nice, friendly man and we had a good chat about the ECP and the current position with regards access around Gibraltar Point. The present situation is that the access gate across the footbridge is locked and according to Paul the rotten wooden planks mean it’s unsafe to cross. Lincolnshire Council have the option to either make safe the current bridge (for £20,000) or they can build a new bridge nearby (for £50,000). I can’t help myself, I’m going to have a minor rant here. I’ve walked across 1000’s of bridges, some well built and others less so. This particular waterway is no more then a few metres wide. I suggest a couple of steel girders, a 100 wooden planks and a simple hand rail. £1500 and job done. Paul also stated that walking across the sea wall near Gibraltar Point had a detrimental effect on the welfare of the wading birds. I can’t see these issues being resolved this year and that puts an enormous spanner in the ECP plans. He suggested that I should post something, somewhere to alert future ECP walkers. After waving goodbye to Paul I checked my map and decided to head back up Gibraltar Road. The next available access point across Cow Bank drain is via the New Toll Bar Road. I walked up that road (despite another ‘No access‘ sign) and at the first opportunity I knock on the door of a local resident. She tells me there’s now an 8ft high fence and gate across the Toll Bar road to stop any trespassers. That’s another additional mile walked for nothing. The only option now is to continue all the way back to Skegness and walk several miles down the busy A52.

The next 4 hours were absolutely torturous. More then 11 miles down cement roads and hard pavements which are doing my feet no favours. I took several short breaks but there’s nowhere along the A52 to stop for any decent refreshments. Just before Friskney I was finally able to turn off the A52 and head towards the coast. I felt a blister forming on the bottom of my right foot but continued regardless. It was already 8.30pm and I had an hour or so before it started to get dark. After a further mile I turned right and finally climbed onto the sea wall near New Marsh. As was forecast the wind had now increased to a point where it was now slightly impeding my progress. I needed to find somewhere to pitch my tent out of the full force of the wind and was fortunate to find a great place near to The Horseshoe. There’s a water treatment building just off the public footpath and the solid walls offer me some protection against the wind. After finally removing my shoes I pitched my tent. Not the day I had anticipated and I hope tomorrow is less problematic.

 

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