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Sunday, 13 November 2011

Walk 49 Chapel St Leonards to Mablethorpe

Walk 49   Chapel St Leonards to Mablethorpe (Lincs)

(First leg of English Coastal Walk - Broadstairs in Kent to Berwick at the border with Scotland)

Map: L/R 122
Distance: about 10 miles
Difficulty: easy to moderate depending on the amount of sand walking
Terrain: pavement/road/sand
Access: parking at both ends
Public transport: buses at both ends

Rejoin the walk at Chapel Point and walk either along the beach or on the road - once you have made the choice you will need to stick to it for a couple of miles or so as I wouldn't recommend crossing the marsh!

At Anderby Creek there is a unique 'Cloud Bar' on the foreshore which is well worth a visit (free). It was constructed by the Cloud Appreciation Society and is Britain's only cloud spotting platform. An information panel gives guidance on how to spot the different types of clouds with comprehensive guidance on how they are formed and where to go for further information. Looking along the beach you may well see horses ridden along the soft sands.

Further up the beach either by sand or road is Moggs Eye/Huttoft Beach. This beach is recommended by surfers as being particularly good in the winter when the wind is usually from the west. (It is also featured in the Good Beach Guide). John Betjeman loved Lincolnshire and the nearby village of Huttoft provided the inspiration for his poem 'A Lincolnshire Church'.

A few miles further north is Sutton on Sea. A handsome new Edwardian resort was once planned for here but the plans were scuppered by the outbreak of the First World War. The names of the  beach huts along this stretch reflect the usual bracing weather here -  a few examples of those I spotted: Goosebumps, Wind Rush and Chill Out.

At Mablethorpe there are gated flood defences. The sea walls have regularly been breached right back to the time of the Romans. In the 1953 great floods 43 of the 307 people killed lived between here and Skegness. Three further floods have hit since then and several projects including dumping millions of tons of sand to create higher beaches have been tried.

I do hope the strange looking beach huts are still there - they are odd but fascinating. In 2007 there was a contest to explore different designs of beach huts and over 100 exhibits were entered. Some of them were left in situ and provide a great talking point.

Lord Tennyson used to rent a cottage in Mablethorpe for his summer holidays. He often returned to the town sometimes to see the spring and high tides and at other times when he was feeling despondent. However, it is said that he was disappointed when he found the area colder than his childhood memories.

It is worth exploring the northern part of Mablethorpe, first on the cliffs from some odd, but surprisingly comfortable, concrete seats, and then on  the sands. The sand train runs along the beach to the north and has being running in season since 1952. It was still doing good business when I went in October - a trip to the end on the train and a walk back along the delightful sands are a pleasant way to end the walk.

Photos show: the beach at Chapel St Leonards; the centre of Chapel; the cloud bar at Anderby Bank; one of the strange beach huts at Mablethorpe and the sand train at Mablethrorpe beach.

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