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Thursday, 22 December 2011

Walak 53 Hessle to the east of Kingston Upon Hull

Walk 53   Hessle to the east of Kingston Upon Hull

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

Map: L/R 107
Distance: about 8 miles
Difficulty:  easy, flat
Terrain: paths and pavements
Access: Parking at Hessle Park and Ride.
Public transport:  Buses from the Park and Ride or from Hessle

The walk starts eastwards along the north of the Humber near Hessle following the Yorkshire Wolds Way to start with then on to the Trans Pennine Trail. On the way into Hull there are a number of derelict buildings by the river side (which may have been cleared by now) – one of them belonged to The Seafish Industry Authority now located in Edinburgh and Grimsby.

Hull is an interesting place and does not deserve the sneer I get when I mention it as a place to visit. Along the river front is the sculpture of some characters looking out to sea. It depicts a family from northern Europe having temporarily left ship here before going to Liverpool then by ship to America. From 1836-1914 over 2.2 million people passed through Hull en route to a new life in the USA, Canada, South America and Australia. The Wilson Shipping Line leased a separate landing wharf at Hull to cope with the numbers passing through. The outbreak of the First World War and immigration acts in the Americas almost ended the migrations overnight.

Further along near the harbour a inch anti-submarine gun points out to sea. It was recovered from the wreck of the SS Gretorria sunk in action on 27th September 1917. The large wheel of a superbly preserved horizontal steam engine is a short walk from here at the Humber Dock Promenade. The single cylinder winding engine was originally sited at the Victorian Dock Basin further to the east. It was made in 1866 and was used to draw vessels up from the Humber for repairs and refitting. It was relocated here in 1987.

The Humber Dock promenade goes inland and a walk into the city is convenient from here. The modernised space with fountains is attractively laid out.

Hull City Centre has some impressive buildings. There has been a settlement here for at least 800 years. As a port it predates Liverpool and has maintained links with the major Baltic and Scandinavian trading centres. The city is famous for William Wilberforce (anti slavery campaigner) whose birthplace can be found in the Old Town. Other famous people include Philip Larkin the poet (a Larkin trail was set up around the city soon after I walked there), John Prescott, John Venn (of Venn diagram fame), David Whitfield (the singer), Andrew Marvell, Andrew Motion and Stevie Smith (all poets), John Alderton, Ian Charmichael (actors) and the flying pioneer Amy Johnson.

Returning to the promenade and walking eastwards are the Victorian Pier and part of the old Victorian Dock. A statue of a man leaning out towards the sea is called Voyage. There is a sister sculpture in Vik on the south coast of Iceland and they symbolise 1000 years of trading with Iceland. It was erected after the 30 year dispute with Iceland - the ‘Cod Wars’.

Further along is ‘The Deep’ an aquarium praised for its architecture. It houses an impressive collection of fish – over 3500 types. A sculpture of a Grey Reef Shark stands on the riverside of the building. From here there is a swing footbridge which I was fortunate enough to see open and let shipping through.

The walk from here is a pleasant one with very helpful information boards detailing the history of each section. These include: a foreign cattle depot which once imported cattle from the continent – in 1887 52,000 sheep 2000 pigs and 9000 cattle were brought in and slaughtered on shore - refrigeration in ships stopped this trade. Several timber ponds used to store and handle wood – these were completely drained in 1991 and houses built and old flood gates which were superseded in 1987 by a new flood defence to protect the houses built on the old Victorian Docks.

Part of this new part of Hull is celebrated by a sculpture on the promenade commissioned by local residents to depict the movement of the sea and sky.

When I walked this stretch the remains of broken down buildings on the foreshore made a rather sorry sight. I spoke to a local man who told me that there were plans to turn this area into a 24 hour container port. Local people were vigorously fighting these proposals. I wonder if they succeeded?

It is worth a stroll along to the Port of Hull which is one of the leading trade ports in the UK. There are regular short crossings to Europe, Scandinavia and the Baltic states. It is the UKs foremost port for handling timber and related products. It is also the only passenger port on The Humber – one million passengers a year use the P&O super cruise ferries from Hull to Rotterdam. These large ships can be seen at close proximity.

This marks the end of the walk and a return to Hull centre.

Photos show: Horizontal steam engine on  Hull dock promenade, swing footbridge for shipping near The Deep, old floodgates and a ship in the Port of Hull dock.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Walk 52 Goxhill Haven to Hessle near Hull

Walk 52   Goxhill Haven to Hessle across the River Humber into Yorkshire

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

Map: L/R 107
Distance: about 11 miles
Difficulty:  quite easy, mostly flat
Terrain: paths and road
Access: Parking at Hessle or New Holland (there is a return walk to Goxhill Haven from New Holland).
Public transport:  The 350 bus leaves Humber Bridge north for Barton Upon Humber at 8:40 and 1:40 and trains leave Barton for New Holland every two hours or so. Always check as the bus services especially are in danger of being reduced or possibly removed.

Starting at New Holland walk eastwards to Coxhill Haven and then the short distance to Skitter Ness. The path does continue south towards North Killinghome but I decided that the view down there was sufficient. This is a bleak area with the large oil terminal of North Killinghome visible in the distance. It was near to this point that in 1607 the Pilgrim Fathers made their second successful illegal emigration to Holland. Near Goxhill Haven I spotted a rusty old boat tipped on its side – I wonder if it is still there?

The walk back westwards through Goxhill Haven provides good views across the Humber. This busy stretch of water has about 40,000 ship movements a year – the most in the UK. It is the UKs largest port complex and handles 14% of our international trade. A view across the river is dominated by Hull or Kingston Upon Hull to give it the correct name.

The next settlement is New Holland. The railway and pier here once served as a ferry to Hull (up to when the bridge was built). Oddly, cars using the ferry drove on and off along the station platform.

Further along is Barrow Haven the site of a pre 1848 ferry. The settlement has a station and is renowned for brick making using clay from the edges of The Humber. The impressive Humber Bridge dominates the view westwards. 

The path passes past the old clay pits before ending up alongside Waters Edge Country Park. Most of the clay pits have been turned into wildlife refuges. The path turns inwards alongside a busy quayside and then on to a road which leads to Barton Upon Humber. The Roman Ermine Street crossed the Humber near this point - it was possible to use a ford and a ferry was used later on. Not all were impressed by Barton, Daniel Defoe writing in 1725 said: Barton is a town noted for nothing that I know but an ill favoured dangerous ferry. It has to be said that his judgement might have been clouded as the open ferry took 4 hours to get to the other side and was carrying 15 horses and 12 cows!

The walk continues back northwards to the riverside next to the Humber Bridge. Follow the signs to the pedestrian walkway. Good views of the river can be appreciated especially to the east. The bridge is 1 and  1/3 miles long. It was opened by the Queen in 1981 and connects Hull with the south bank which was previously served by a ferry. At the time it was built it was the longest span suspension bridge in the world. As far as I can tell it is now the fifth longest having been passed by bridges in Denmark and the Far East. If you cross the bridge by car it is quite expensive – around £3 when I went.

On the northern bank of the Humber is an area of Hessle which dates form Anglo Saxon times and for a long time was an important ship building centre. The Ferry Boat Inn can be spotted not far from the bridge and is evidence of the arrival point of the old ferry from New Holland on the opposite bank; this closed when the bridge was built. The walking route into Hessle is marked - it passes through a car park then on to a main road and access to buses into Hull.

Photos show the quayside at Barton upon Humber and the wreck mentioned above.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Walk 51 Cleethorpes to Immingham

Walk 51   Cleethorpes to Immingham (Lincs)

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

Map: 113
Distance: 10 miles, a couple of miles longer if using public transport
Difficulty:  quite easy, mostly flat
Terrain: paths and road
Access: Parking at both ends
Public transport:  Bus and train service at Cleethorpes - the 46 bus runs from Immingham to Grimsby and Cleethorpes every hour.

Start near the car park at the Discovery Centre to the south of Cleethorpes or walk there from the town. Looking south the Humberston Fitties can be seen in the distance – this is a large conservation area. Also near here is one of the largest caravan sites in the country. Haile Sandfort built in 1918 can be reached by walking across the sands, it was reused as a defence housing soldiers in World War 2. However, be careful if you try this as the tide goes out about a mile and can rush in quickly and dangerously. A large theme park is behind the trees on the shore side.

Walking northwards there is an attractive area of small inland lakes. It is worth walking along the coastal road to appreciate some of the modern art adjacent to the road - this includes a deck chair called ‘forty winks’. The attractive front along this stretch includes a flower bed advertising the Grimsby Telegraph. This reflects the fact that Grimsby and Cleethorpes were merged in 1996. The Greenwich meridian passes through the town and there is allegedly a signpost showing various long distances e.g. New York. I don’t think this is too near the coast edge as I failed to spot it.

Cleethorpes was originally a fishing village and in 1801 had a population of just 264. Clee means clay and thorpe village. In the 1840s it became popular because of the medicinal qualities of the water. In the 1870s day trippers from industrial Yorkshire formed a large group of visitors. Cleethorpes is known locally as Meggie possible because a Meg (an old halfpenny) was the cost of a tram from nearby Grimsby.

Further along the promenade the pier comes into view. It was built in 1873 by the rail companies to encourage more visitors. It suffered badly from fire in 1903 and was rebuilt in 1905 – showing that fires on piers are not just a modern day problem. The current pier is a modernised version. The walk continues past Ross Castle on the left. This too was built by a railway company which was very keen to develop Cleethorpes as a resort. It is named after the secretary of the rail company - Edmund Ross. It was an attraction from 1885 when it was built together with nearby gardens. In later years it became less used and needed restoration in 2007. Now a listed building, many local people refer to it as a folly.

Follow the sea wall to the north out of Cleethorpes. Near to the coast are the floodlights of Grimsby FC who play at Blundell Park. Strangely the ground is actually within the boundaries of Cleethorpes. Past this point roads have to be navigated before entering Grimsby. It is worth a walk to the fishing docks. The town was founded by the Danes in the 9th century and became a fishing and trading port in the 12th century. There is an impressive tower rising out of the docks. This was built in 1852 and is 350 feet high – it provided water for the hydraulically operated dock gates. A stroll along some of the roads in the docks leaves you in doubt that you are in a modern fishing port - with both your eyes and nose! It is the UKs most advanced fishing port but some impressive older buildings remain in the docks. The fishing heritage centre in the town is informative and includes information about what constitutes bad luck on a fishing vessel – a bird tapping on a window is a sign of impending death – to say egg, pig, clergyman or rabbit aboard a trawler could all mean bad luck! During the Second World War a number of Danish fishing boats sailed to Grimsby to escape the German invasion.

After navigating some roads rejoin the coastal walk to the north of Grimsby. I can’t pretend this is a pretty walk with evidence of much industry all the way to Immingham docks. There is a path inland before reaching the docks. I was glad there was as not far from this exit is large chemical works with a public notice warning about the dangers of chemical escapes warning you to leave the area immediately if the sirens and flashing lights start. I noticed a sinister cloud billowing out of here and unbelievably the warning sounds went off. I have rarely walked as fast. On the walk inland to Immingham two fire engines sped past!

Photos show: lakeside area to the south of Cleethorpes; Ross Castle on Cleethorpes promenade; a view to Grimsby from Cleethorpes (Grimsby FC ground is in the picture); the tower at Grimsby fishing dock; the notice outside the chemical factory and finally the smoke billowing from the works which made reading the notice important (as described above).