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Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Walk 50 Theddlethorpe St Helen to Saltfleet and back

Walk 50   Theddlethorpe St Helen to Saltfleet and back (Lincs)

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

Map: 113
Distance: about 8 miles return
Difficulty:  quite easy, flat
Terrain: paths alongside dunes and some road
Access: Parking at both ends
Public transport:  There was an infrequent bus service but it is not clear on the website whether this is still running (you could walk to and from Mablethorpe adding another 6 miles or so).

Coastal walking from here to Cleethorpes is difficult with much of the sand dangerous due to unexploded shells and other ordnance. The walk is possible, but there are lengthy diversions inland and I only walked the section described here. I also drove to Donna Nook to have a look around.

The area around Theddlethorpe St Helen is part of a national nature reserve. The sands and saltmarshes are home to an array of birds and wildlife. It is one of the few remaining habitats for the Natterjack toad recognised by the pale stripe along its back and its way of running instead of hopping. At low tide the sea seems to disappear along this stretch of coast.

The walk along the edge of the sands to Saltfleet is 3 to 4 miles. Care needs to be taken on this stretch – keep to the path to avoid possible dangers of explosives. A notice at Saltfleet shore warns walkers not to veer from the path because of unexploded ammunition. The area was used as an RAF bombing range.

Saltfleet Haven is a quiet place dotted with boats. There is a lot of samphire or glasswort growing around here. It was once burnt to provide ash for use in the glass making industry. It was also known as poor mans asparagus – washed and soaked to remove salt, boiled for a few minutes and served with a knob of butter and lemon juice.

Saltfleet village has some interesting old buildings. These include a manor house, St Botolph’s church (not used now) and two pubs. In Roman times Saltfleet was a port.

I drove up to Donna Nook to look around. This is now a national nature reserve on the Humber estuary and an important site for wintering waders, ducks and geese. The mudflats are rich in bird food e.g. worms and crustaceans. The area is named after the ‘Donna’ a ship from the Spanish Armada which sailed off the ‘nook’ (a corner). A notice says that the nature reserve lives in harmony with the military planes.

Photos show: Saltfleet Haven; Saltfleet Shore; the sands at Theddlethorpe St Helen; Donna Nook with warning notice.

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