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Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Walk 48 Skegness to Chapel St Leonards

Walk 48          Skegness to Chapel St Leonards (Lincolnshire)

(First leg of English coastal walk – Broadstairs in Kent to Berwick at the border with Scotland).

Map: 122
Distance: about 11 miles
Difficulty:  quite easy, flat
Terrain: paths and some road/pavement/sand
Access: Parking at both ends
Public transport:  No 1 and No 3 buses go regularly between the two points.
It is probably worth walking a mile or so to the south of Skegness to enjoy the views of the extensive sands which continue to Gibraltar Point. Most of this area, from which the sea has been retreating for 300 years, is part of a national nature reserve.

Retracing the journey back to Skegness two wind farms form a prominent part of the seascape. Skegness comes from the Scandinavian word ‘Sheggi’ meaning the bearded one. It is likely that Sheggi was a Viking leader whose force invaded and settled here although the original settlement was washed away some time later.

Skegness has impressive wide sands with a typical British resort seafront; fast food, outlets, amusements and holiday parks feature strongly. In fact the town is home to the first Butlins Holiday Camp built in 1936. The camp (which is near to the coast walk north of the town) has been updated to meet modern needs with one of the original chalets preserved as a listed building.  One of the original slogans for Butlins was ‘A week’s holiday for a week’s wage’.

Once the railway arrived in Skegness in 1863 visitors arrived in ever increasing numbers. Watch out for pictures of the iconic ‘Skegness is SO bracing’ railway posters – reflecting a time when this would have been an attraction! There are well tended flower beds adjacent to Skegness sea front, one of them contains a sculpture of The Jolly Fisherman - the character used on the railway posters.

The road from the beach into the centre of Skegness features the clock tower - a significant local landmark. It is 50 feet high and was built in 1898 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee. In 1998 a time capsule was buried under the traffic island beneath the tower to celebrate 100 years of laying the foundation stone.

Further along the front is Skegness Pier. It was opened in 1881 and was originally 1845 feet long, one of the longest in England. There were kiosks, seating, refreshment rooms and a concert area. Paddle steamers also crossed The Wash from here to connect with Hunstanton via Kings Lynn and Boston. Unfortunately, they stopped operating in 1910 when sand banks built up making it unsafe. In 1978 the pier was badly damaged in a storm and the end was removed in 1985. It is now much shorter but is still an attraction.

The walk along the promenade leaves Skegness then there is a choice between walking on the sands or going by road around the golf course before returning to the coast at Winthorpe. From here there is an almost continuous concrete barrier built after the devastating floods that hit the east of England in 1953. The path eventually arrives at Ingoldmells, not an attractive place unless you are a fan of massive holiday parks, caravans, amusement arcades, fast food outlets etc.

The walk into Chapel St Leonards is a pleasant one which passes alongside large stretches of sand. Continue to Chapel Point to the north which was once part of a major coastal defence during the Second World War. The gun structure and surroundings have been restored here to capture the views of the east coast. Walk back to Chapel St Leonards. The town became popular in the twentieth century with the advent of the car. Visitors used to pitch tents on the beach until chalets were built along the sand dunes in the 1930s. It is known locally as ‘Chapel’ and is named after a chapel dedicated to St Leonard built in ancient times. The church was rebuilt in 1572 then amended periodically and is the only one with a red steeple in Lincolnshire. A modern bell structure on a well kept green near the front provides an attractive oasis compared to the nearby modern buildings.

Photos show: Skegness sands, the clocktower at Skegness, Jolly Fisherman and flower beds, Skegness front and Imgoldmells.


  1. Many Thanks for the info--- interesting. 5 years on from your post we are walking this section of the coast tomorrow-- but the other direction as we have just completed walking the Wash. Like yourself we are walking the coast of England and plus Wales too.

  2. Good luck with the walk - not tried Wales yet!