Skegness & Horncastle - Eastern England - CycleBlaze

June 21, 2018

Skegness & Horncastle

long ride via Wainfleet over the Wolds

This B&B has a strict and narrow 30-minute window for breakfast, so the dining room is full with about 10 guests when I pop down at 8:30. By nine my wheels are rolling down the deserted main street of Mablethorpe and up onto the promenade where the sun is trying to shine and a stiff wind is coming down from the north, making me feel glad to have it at my back for a while. As expected, a wide concrete path runs south right beside the vast, empty beach.

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It doesn't take very long to get away from the few signs of Mablethorpe's humble existence. There are rows of colourful beach huts that are all waiting for their owners to unlock them, but other than them, houses and such like are out of view.

The wind is blowing dry sand along the path and at times it's going faster than me and in some places it's formed a drift and my eyes stay peeled because even cycling into an inch of it would be enough to bring me down.

There's the odd person walking a dog, otherwise it's all very serene, with intermittent sunshine lighting up the acres of flat sand and the concrete path just keeps going and going on ahead. A few small resorts come and go, but they don't really infringe on the beach. Occasionally fields full of caravans parked in regimental rows appear on my left but none seem to have any occupants right now.

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Scott AndersonGreat sky! Looks like a painting.
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3 years ago
Graham FinchThat was a nice day... had a strong wind blowing me along the coast.

The sky is nice, but maybe I've not accurately captured the lighter tones of the clouds, with perhaps a bit of overexposure.
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3 years ago

It's hard to know where I am as there are no signs with place names - this path is really just for walking - but my computer tells me how far I've come and I know the only place that's of any size is Skegness, a resort on the east coast that will be impossible to miss.

The sand on the path is deep in places and seems to be getting worse and one woman walking her dog tells me that it's literally un-rideable a bit further along, so I wheel my bike across a bit of golf course and climb over a low fence, then ride south along a narrow road to Chapel St Leonards, where I pop into a shop for a cold drink.

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It's not long before I rejoin the coastal path and get to see more seaside rides and parked caravans before reaching to a spot where there's a cafe called The View which has a glass-panelled windbreak out front with around 20 outside tables behind it on a terrace. 

It looks surprisingly very chic and more like Italy than Lincolnshire and as I haven't had a coffee, I instinctively lock my bike and walk inside and order a wedge of cake to go with my hot frothy drink.

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It's now 11 o'clock and I sit at one of the outside tables and enjoy the expansive view of the sand and distant sea and can just make out in the far distance the northern coastline of Norfolk, while the Ferris Wheel on the horizon tells me Skeggy isn't far away. My research says there are very few spots to sleep after the resort, which makes me wonder where I'll end up today.

Once I reach Skeggness, I make my way down a couple of busy roads and eventually find St Clements Church, which I have a Patterson sketch of. Unfortunately since he drew it a house has been built and it occupies the best vantage point and I'm too close to take a photo. The sun disappears and the 17th century church remains more like a silhouette. 

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After a few minutes I'm riding along the town's main shopping street, which has about six charity shops dotted along it and although I go in them all I don't find any bargains. At the end of the street there's a Victorian clock tower on a roundabout and also a fish and chip shop and as it's now lunch time it seems like a good idea to have chips with some curry sauce. 

Riding out of town, I stick to a road just a block from the seafront and follow it south and find my way onto the small road leading to Gibraltar Point. It's actually just a narrow lane and there are no cars and when I see a guy walking along I ask him if he knows about a route cutting across towards Wainfleet. He says he doesn't know, but thinks this lane is a dead end - hopefully it's not as it's longer than expected and having to double back doesn't appeal .

The lane comes to an end near a creek running through marshland and a rough track runs a short distance across to a new looking building. On the way to it I ask a guy carrying some serious bird watching gear if he knows a way to get directly to Wainfleet and he tells me there isn't one. Jeez.

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The new building is modern with lots of glass and clean and contains a gift shop and cafe upstairs. I wheel my bike up a long, gentle ramp and go inside and order a coffee and ask again about ways to get across to Wainfleet, but get told there aren't any, unless I swim. I sit with my drink at a table at the back of the building, facing the sea, which is out of sight and there's just flat marshland for miles.

On the way back north up the narrow lane I check out any way to get across inland and eventually there's a side track which says Private. I ignore that and ride past farm buildings and keep going on the rough surface as it bends left and right and after five minute reach a large and study metal gate. It must be 3m tall and is locked, with an adjacent fence extending down to a waterway. There's really no way to get around.

Withing a minute a small van drives to a stop and the driver rolls the window down and tells me in a nice way that his boss doesn't want anyone crossing his land. He opens the big electronic gate and I ask if I could go through, but he tells me there's another gate just the same at the other end, so I turn around and head back to Skegness. 

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A cycle path sign points me past modern homes on an urban road network on the south edge of Skeggy and eventually takes me to a junction with the A 52. This is a busy main road with not much shoulder, but it's the only way south to Wainfleet. It's crap for cycling, as I knew it would be, which is why I wanted to cut across from nature reserve.

After 10 minutes or more of pedalling there's a car repair shop across the tarmac and I go over and ask a guy standing outside about the side road just next to us. He tells me it'll take me towards Wainfleet, so I head down it and go through a small village named Croft and make a couple of turns before finding my self in the small town.

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There are some splendid Georgian buildings in the small center, which is a nice surprise. I had no expectations and my plan is to visit the local brewery, which isn't too hard to find. My bike gets locked in the small car park and I pop into the shop to see what they have to offer. It's possible to have a guided tour, but it'd take up too much time and it seems to find a bed for the night means riding across the Wolds to the market town of Horncastle. 

It's already gone 3:00 when I pay for a few red and black bar towels as souvenirs. They have the company's windmill logo on them. It's simply a case of heading back to the town center and after buying a drink and some snacks, I ride away to find the back lane that veers west-ish, which turns out to be small and has me checking my map at a couple of junctions. 

After going over a railway crossing I follow the route the left and eventually get to a junction with a bigger lane, but know this isn't right and after re-checking my map it's clear I should have gone left just before the crossing. Jeez

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Even though my map is detailed, I get a bit confused at a couple of other spots and have to ask people where to go but after dinky Toynton, I hit the A 16 and feel grateful to be able to ride down a path running along one side of it until I get to my turnoff. 

This lane is tranquil and finding my way is now easier as the villages are signposted and I ride through Old Bolingbroke and Miningsby and Mareham On The Hill, and small hamlets dotted in between. 

It's all up and down - this is the picturesque Lincolnshire Wolds, designated an of natural beauty.

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It's around 6:30 when I get to Horncastle and it's been a tiring day. The town doesn't have many sleeping options and my first choice is the Admiral Rodney where my daughter and I had tea last week. A room with brekkie costs me 60 quid, but it's huge and nicely decorated, and my bike is locked safely in a garage. 

After taking a refreshing shower, I have a tasty dinner of meat pie in the bar-cum-restaurant and two pints of Guinness go down well and zonk me out.

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Today's ride: 90 km (56 miles)
Total: 611 km (379 miles)

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