Route details, maps, pubs, features, local history and folklore for a wide variety of walks focusing primarily on Norfolk and Suffolk

Friday, 27 November 2015

Lincolnshire Coast Path - Skegness to Mablethorpe

Mablethorpe donkeys

A 15.5 mile beach walk along the Lincolnshire Coast between Skegness and Mablethorpe

This walk follows the coastline using the proms and the beach throughout. An excellent beach walk by all accounts with acres of sand and under wide open skies. One cant really get lost, just keep the sea on the right, or left if walked in reverse.

Skegness to Mablethorpe Walk - Essential Information

Walk Statistics:

Start point
SkegnessView in OS Map | View in Google Map
End Point
MablethorpeView in OS Map | View in Google Map
Total Walk distance
15.5 miles
Walk difficulty
Easy
Terrain
Promenade and beach
Obstacles
Although this walk should be possible at all states of tide, consult tide tables to be certain

Accommodation:

Golden Sands Camp site View in OS Map | View in Google Map
Website
Description
Golden Sands is a holiday park including a campsite which is tucked away at the back of the site. The site is part of the Haven group and has entertainment and activities on site.

Transport:

Stagecoach - Bus Service
Service Number
9 - Lincolnshire Interconnect Service 9, operated by Stagecoach and linking Skegness, Mablethorpe and Louth
Timetable

Walk Data

Date of Walk
2014-09-14
Walk Time
10:00 to 16:30
Walkers
Griffmonster, Kat
Weather Conditions
Clear day mostly sunny but some high cloud

Walk Notes

1970's Golden Sands Style

Mablethorpe was the central base for four days of walking, including this walk, along the Lincolnshire coast. The specific base chosen was the Golden Sands holiday resort. Now Golden Sands wasn't just plucked out of a hat, or selected because of their cheap end-of-season camping deals, although it has to be said that this somewhat assisted in the selection. This particular holiday park had personal associations from long ago in the early 1970's when it was the destination of a series of family holidays, and as such, it would be something of a nostalgia trip to revisit it after over 40 years absence.

The memories from those times were of lazy days spent digging holes in the sand and swimming in the sea. One hole constructed in the dunes was so deep that I could stand up in it. I think this had been an investigation to determine a young teenagers curiosity as to whether Australia really was on the opposite side of the earth. Unfortunately the outcome of the investigation was never concluded due to the hole collapsing in on top of me resulting in my dad frantically digging me out.

Of all the family summer holidays taken during those distant days, I must say that the Lincolnshire weather was never always too kind to us, and I have distinct memories of conceiving a cloud extermination device, which would be unleashed by military jets to eradicate the grey skies above coastal resort areas for the benefit of Lincolnshire holidaymakers. Sadly such a device never achieved reality and on the days that the rains fell my dad would buy us kids comics from the Golden Sands shop. My brother was the envy of all us siblings because he selected a brand new publication by the name of Cor! complete with a free gift. His eyes fell on it first so he got it. Finder keepers and all that. That firmly places that particular holiday to the summer of 1970.

The evenings, being paid up members of the Golden Eaglets Club, we would be entertained by a kids cabaret hosted by a character who went by the name of Ali Ben Ali. Us kids were allowed a coca cola each, which under normal circumstances we were prevented from drinking due to that mullock is bad for you, the word 'mulluck' being an east Northamptonshire dialect for junk food. Little memory lingers about the cabaret apart from one young girl, probably no more than 10 years old, who wooed the audience with a perfect rendition of Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep, the hit song from that year by the band Middle of the Road. The song definitely places the holiday in the following year of 1971.

So, would the present day Golden Sands live up to its expectations? Would it bring memories flooding back of those halcyon days? The Golden Sands resort is still there, although in present day it is just part of the Haven Group. The main entrance is still at the same point along the coast road but the whole park has changed somewhat. There is currently a camping field which never existed back in those days, and the entertainment complex is completely rebuilt with fair rides and takeaways. The long plain hall which was used as the entertainment building has now been substituted with a purpose built auditorium styled theatre. There is also a notable absence of the official Golden Sands photographer who would pounce on unaware camp residents, snapping their shots which could then be purchased the next day from the reception. I still have many of these photos and each one has that unaware expression of the victim being photographed. There is, quite expectedly, no Ali Ben Ali providing entertainment for the masses. As for the town of Mablethorpe and the beach, the miles of golden sand are still there and the acres of dunes are still there and the beach train still runs between the town and the north end. The long seawall alongside the concrete road is still there although the Lincolnshire Road Car Bristol Lodekka double decker that used to ferry passengers from the north end into town was notable in its absence. The chip shop is still there on the coast road. Mablethorpe town looks the same, in fact it seems to have been left way back in that decade.

The Walk

So to the walk. Sunday. A bus journey to Skegness, or Skeggy as it is affectionately known to thousands who flocked their for summer holidays, although through my childhood years the only visit was an out-of-season railway day excursion. These days the coast between Chapel St Leonards and Skegness is taken up by a myriad of holiday parks with thousands of chalets and caravans. The number 9 interconnect bus service drops off at the clock tower from where there is access directly to the beach and the long walk back to Mablethorpe.

Having read various web resources contributed by other walkers it would appear that virtually all the coast on this section can be walked along the beach or promenades even at a state of high tide, therefore this was the intention on this occasion. The walk starts off with an easy amble along the seafront promenade at Skegness. This soon turns to a firm footpath through the dunes up to the North Shore Golf Club. At this point an insecure fence is placed across the walkway with a notice attached declaring 'No public right of way' but then goes on to state that 'The owners accept no liability for damage or injury caused to any person who trespasses on this land'. So, does that make this a permissive path? The definition of such a path on the Naturenet website would deem that with such a notice that absolves responsibility and declares it not to be a right of way would indeed make it a permissive path. The way ahead was not blocked, there was easy access around the fence which looked like the path was well used. Indeed, continuing along this route there was plenty of evidence that local people and holiday makers were using the path rather than traipsing across the fine beach sand. There are numerous exits from the path onto the beach along the walkway although at the far end, where it meets the hamlet of Seathorne, a more substantial fence blocks the way. We may have climbed over it, we may not have!

A promenade then leads the way ahead. It passes past some domestic houses, then heads past holiday camps. The first is a large stately looking building which heralds 'Derbyshire Miners Convalescent Home' in a large sign across the brickwork. Such a name sparks thoughts of 19th century home for recuperation but, in fact, this is still a going concern. Built in 1939 for miners families to have a holiday by the seaside, it was transferred to the Coal Industry Social Welfare Organisation in 2005. Interestingly, they also hire mobility scooters by the week. Perhaps that is where the numerous mobility scooter riders along the prom had obtained theirs from.

The OS map indicates public conveniences with a bright blue 'PC' marked at the defined location, and there was one such marking just beyond Seathorne. Being in need of a quick wazz and being in a built up area, it is only right that one should use the facilities provided. Unfortunately at the location indicated there was no evidence of a toilet. A roadway led inland between two pubs. The pubs were indicated on the map as was the car park behind. But there was no evidence of a toilet. No direction sign to a toilet either. Therefore, although it was early for drinking, 11.00 to be precise, it was thought the best policy would be to use the loo in one of the pubs. Obviously, out of politeness this would necessitate having a drink. The two pubs were named The Beachcomber and The Boathouse respectively, both being modern brick buildings there to serve the holiday trade. The decision between the two was swayed by an A-board outside the Boathouse which claimed 'Now serving real Ale' which was an obvious attraction to folk like myself who are discerning drinkers and revel in the regional tastes and palettes of local ales. Lincolnshire boasts the Bateman's brewery which is probably renowned throughout the country and although the county is not blessed with the plethora of breweries that some other counties have, there are a few microbreweries such as the Riverside Brewery which must have outlets for their brews.

As always, it is with a sense of trepidation and expectation when one enters such an establishment that advertises the fact that it has ales. The hope that a local microbrew is available, or at the very least a county based ale. The entrance to the Boathouse is through a conservatory and then into a bar room with the bar on the left, lined with a multitude of pumps and a barman or landlord standing behind the bar. A middle aged man but ageing fast. A grumpy looking old codger who stood rigid and stared at us two strays that had dared enter his premises. I scanned the bar. The pump clips seemed to advertise all the standard national keg beers and lagers, many of which I had not heard or seen for many years. It was like stepping back in time. Despite the plethora of pumps, it wasn't obvious where the ales were placed. That could potentially mean a tap room existed out back where the ale was served from gravity. Awesome. The barman stared at me. He didn't seem to appreciate someone who had to look across a range of beer pumps before coming to a decision.

'Ales?' I questioned. The barman mumbled. Whether this was an indication of lack of understanding of the word I uttered in an inquisitive tone or a definitive reply was unclear. A more emphatic and explicit vocabulary was obviously required to provide clarity as to the query I was seeking an answer for. 'Excuse me,' I started, confident and to the point, 'what ales do you currently have on tap?' This resulted in a response that was also clear and to the point. The answer was immediate, with no beating about the bush. 'We dont'. Then silence. Glaring eyes as if I had a given the wrong answer and feeling like the guilty schoolboy who had not done his homework.

Taken aback there was nothing to do but gander over the uninviting assortment of mundane national keg beer as thoughts poured through my head and the barman stared menacingly. Now, I was under the impression that when one advertises that ones establishment offers ales for purchase then such articles would indeed be on offer. The advertisement was blatantly untrue. Maybe the sign should have read 'NOT serving real ales', maybe it did, maybe the letter 'w' in Lincolnshire translates as a 't' to the rest of the world.

I gazed along the beer pumps. Kat was already using the toilet so I felt we should make a purchase of some sort. 'Mild' I eventually stated, adding 'Half', as the man set about finding a glass, keeping his beady eye on me. A half pint glass was plucked from a shelf and the man robotically filled with a black mild keg beer with all the finesse of a drinks machine. In all honesty I don't mind mild ale and have sampled keg milds that have been very palatable. It is a drink that is seldom on offer in southern pubs. Unfortunately this particular brew was thin and lack lustre. The name 'mild' is a reference to the mild hopping of the beer and nothing to do with alcoholic strength which many assume. Such beers generally use roasted grain to impart flavour to supplement the lack of hopping and is why many have a dark colour. Unfortunately this example appeared to have used roasted grain to impart only colour rather than flavour.

One thing the bar did have going for it was it was cheap. Cheap beer. Cheap food. Cheapness should be no reflection of quality and I certainly cant offer any review as to the food. But this cheapness appeared to be a general theme throughout this seafront with placards and banners trying to entice custom based upon price alone. Maybe things were not cheap, maybe we had really time-slipped back to the 1970's judging by the large selection of keg beers and lack of ale.

It was unfortunate that on this occasion, unbeknown to us, beyond the holiday park that encompasses Ingoldmells there is a pub with its very own microbrewery. The Countryman pub is the home of the Leila Cottage Brewery which brews a range of ales. The pub was found later in the week and visited on returning from Skegness. For any ale loving walkers who intend to walk the coastal route then an excursion inland to this haven in kegland is well worth making. Take the road inland just beyond the Ingoldmells Point and keep heading straight ahead for nearly a mile. Where it joins the main road at a double bend, carry straight on and around the right hand corner and the Countryman pub can be found just beyond on the left.

Continuing the walk along the prom past the hoards of folk out for lunchtime preambles, a noticeable observation was the amount of folk making use of mobility scooters. Now there is nothing wrong with mobility scooters or those who use them. These modern day transportation devices have clearly provided much freedom to those who would be otherwise incapacitated. But it appears that not all may need them and it seems to be a fad with certain holidaymakers to hire them for the sake of not being arsed to walk. This assumption was somewhat emphasized by the following scene.

It was somewhere close to Vickers Point that a couple came up onto the prom from a walkway, both driving matching mobility scooters. They were not elderly by any means and appeared to be holidaymakers. The walkway ramp led up to the prom and this couple had the intention of turning right and heading south towards Ingoldmells, in effect doing a nearly 180 degree turn at the point the walkway merged. Somehow, despite the wide girth of tarmac, the man managed to mis-negotiate the turn and ended up with the scooter wedged into the concrete seawall. The vehicle clearly would not reverse and he couldn't rectify the mistake by manoeuvring forward. He was stuck. Then, before being able to offer assistance to the tragic scene, something amazing happened. This man, meek and mild mannered and obviously infirm from years of toil, alighted the scooter and without change of costume, without the need to disguise his persona, in an instant turned into a superheroic Miracleman. Fearless. Able to perform feats which no mortal man dare attempt. His piercing eyes gazed down upon the tragic plight of the scooter, wedged and unable to release itself under its own propulsion. You could almost feel the gaze of the many onlookers watching in wonderment as Miracleman single handedly lifted the stricken contraption and placed it firmly in the centre of the promenade. I am sure a cheer or sound of resounding applause would have ensued but for the awe and wonderment of the onlookers who were transfixed upon the event. Then, without further ado or reward, Miracleman reverted back to the mild mannered, infirm ex colliery worker with a slightly bad back, got back onto the scooter and off the couple sped. Just a normal days work in the life of Miracleman.

Chapel St Leonard offered another opportunity to find a pub and maybe lunch. All we found was another bar that had little in the way of ale other than a token Batemans XB which at least was better than the previous bar, and lunch was made up of some savoury snacks from the shop down the road. Before purchasing the snacks, we sat on the bench outside the pub adjacent to a group of middle aged men who were seated on another bench, chatting and smoking with a lot of light hearted joviality and the occasional group laughter. Now a curious thing happened. Some tall lanky chap walked by on the opposite side of the road. At each laugh from the men he would fake a loud ha ha ha laugh. At first it was as if he knew the men and was trying to attract their attention. The men ignored this irritation. The lanky man persisted in his aping and it appeared to be a more antagonistic response or merely attention seeking. He didn't seem altogether with it, much like a man who clearly once had a complete marble set and one day a marble had gone missing. This was the sort of chap to avoid at all costs, bordering on the nutter category. Unfortunately on walking back to the beach, there on the edge of the dunes, was this lanky man with one marble missing from his treasured collection. 'Can you walk to Mablethorpe?' he announced upon seeing us, without introduction or pardon. I discreetly hid my os map and confidently declared 'I don't know', after which it was tempting to announce, 'Hey is that one of your marbles' and point to the ground beyond. Maybe not. A better tactic was to hide in the public loo for 5 minutes and then head off when he had gone. Luckily, I didn't trip on the loose marbles as I hastily made my way to the toilet.

The section from Chapel to Sutton is a beach walk in all its glory. With the tide being out, a vast expanse of firm sand was presented. There was a lot of standing water which required some bare foot walking but this just added to the glory of this section of walk. A five mile beach stroll and probably the best part of the whole walk. Solitude. The salty sea spray in the air. The sound of the waves gently breaking.

At the end of the day we ended up back at Golden Sands bar. The token ale, Wytchwoods Hobgolbin, was on offer but had unfortunately come to the end of the barrel and none of the bar staff knew how to tap another barrel. All in all, with the pubs and bars visited throughout the day, it did appear that the idea of ale was something of a novelty in this part of the county. This bore all the hallmarks of when I first started drinking in the mid 70's when keg beer was the mainstay of pubs and ale was something of the old distant past which the breweries thought was best forgotten about. Maybe we had gone back in time. Maybe this was 1971. Maybe we had gone through a space-time portal as we arrived in Mablethorpe which had whisked is back a few decades. Come to think of it, a 1971 Ford Cortina drove into the holiday park as we entered the holiday park, and 1970's string vests were in unashamed abundance with the men who we had passed on the prom. I swear I saw a Chopper bike, and a Space Hopper on route and what was that playing on the bar music, not Chirpy Chirpy Cheep Cheep, and wasn't that Ali Ben Ali who just walked by towards the cabaret. We must have looked so out of place tapping into on our 21st century communication devices. I sent a message 'Help, get me back to the 21st century' in a hope that the SMS service transcended the bounds of time and space.

Sutton-on-sea beach-hut
Sutton-on-sea beach-hut

Directions

Beach and prom walk along this part of the Lincolnshire Coast

The walk sticks to the coast throughout. Either the beach or the proms can be used. Head northwards along the prom from Skegness pier and at the end there is a footpath through the dunes. The section in front of the golf course appears to be a permissive path which leads through to the prom at Seathorne, alternatively walk along the beach. There are proms past Ingoldmells and through to Chapel St Leonards.

The section from Chapel through to Sutton-on-Sea is best done as a beach walk. This presents some wide open beaches with firm sand when the tide is out but with the high tide there is just the soft sand which makes for some hard walking. The alternative is to follow the coast road.

The final section to Mablethorpe is along more promenade

Skegness clock tower
Skegness clock tower

Pubs

The Boat House, Ingoldmells View in OS Map | View in Google Map

Image of pub
Address
Jacksons Corner, Ingoldmells

Located on the promenade this pub provides an ideal location for sea views from the conservatory as well as easy access to the sandy beach. The bar boasts a wide selection of beers, lagers and spirits and provides regular entertainment.

Review

This pub was selected on account of the advertisement for real ale that was being served. In reality there was no real ale and the barman did not appear to be particularly cordial to the request for such a drink. See the walk notes for a full description of this encounter

Trafalgar Inn, Chapel St. Leonards View in OS Map | View in Google Map

Address
St. Leonards Drive, Chapel St. Leonards
Website

Popular town pub. Cheap food. Cheap beer.

Review

From the exterior the pub does look a little run-down with the pub sign declaring 'TRAFAL A INN' under which it advertised 'FAMI ROOM'. Banners advertise cheap deals for a variety of keg beers. The open plan room inside has a bar on the right and one has to go to the very far end to discover the ale pumps, which on this occasion was Greene King IPA and Batemans XB. Glad to see Batemans but this does appear to be kegland and the ales appear to be a token gesture.

The Beach Bar, Sutton on Sea View in OS Map | View in Google Map

Address
Trusthorpe Road, Sutton on Sea
Website

Beach side bar

Review

Promenade bar which offers cheap drinks and a token ale which on this occasion was Sharps Doom Bar.

Seathorne looking north
Seathorne looking north

Features

The Legend of the Mablethorpe Earls DualView in OS Map | View in Google Map

The road into Mablethorpe from Arlford, the present day A1104, crosses a watercourse which is named on OS maps as the West Bank Drain. Driving along this road one would probably not even notice the crossing which is by way of a nondescript modern bridge that is just part of the road. This is known as the Earls Bridge and is the location of a legend of a bloody medieval duel between two Earls.

The dyke forms the boundary between two parishes, that of Mablethorpe on the seaward side and Maltby le Marsh on landward western side. Depending upon the account one reads, the duel was fought either over the right of land or the right of issue of rector to Mablethorpe's St Marys church with no definitive account as to which may be nearest the truth. Even the identity of the Earls is uncertain and the period is usually set in the 14th century although some stories diverge from this era.

The earliest recorded account so far found comes from the second volume of a publication entitled 'History of the County of Lincoln' which was published in 1834. This was authored by a gentleman by the name of Thomas Allen,a topographer and son of a map engraver. He began writing the the book in 1830 but unfortunately died of cholera in 1833 and never saw his work in print, his efforts posthumously published the following year. In this book, Allen quite simply states:

...it is traditionally related, that two earls fought a duel which proved fatal to both, upon which one of them was buried in the church of Mablethorpe and the other in that of Maltby.

This scant information is enlarged upon in later paragraphs, where he reveals details of the village of Mablethorpe:

This village [...] contains two parishes, which are denominated St Marys and St Peters; but the church of the former parish, which stood about a mile north eastward from that of the latter, is stated to have been destroyed by the encroachments of the sea, which have, at a former period, been very extensive in various parts of this coast.

The church of St Peter, which is yet remaining, is an unpretending edifice, consisting of a nave, north and south aisle, a chancel and a low tower at the west end. On the north side of the chancel is a tomb, over which is a recess, the back of which has once contained figures in brass, kneeling before desks, all of which are gone, the whole has been neatly wrought with tracery, and is in the style prevailed about the reign of Henry VIII. A broken iron helmet hangs near the monument, which is said to have belonged to the earl, who was killed in a duel, and buried in this church.

He appears to have confused the two churches here as St Marys church still stands and is thought to date from c1300 whilst it is thought St Peters was lost to the sea in a storm in the year 1276. The Mablethorpe town guide does state that in the Sanctuary is the tomb of the unknown ‘Earl Fitzwilliam’ and several publications refer to the fact that the church is still in possession of the helmet which is brought out to view on special occasions. The fact that the tomb and helmet appear to be connected by there close proximity in the church appears to have given the thought that Earl Fitzwilliam was the person involved in the duel.

The Fitzwilliam family were certainly landowners in the parish dating back to the 13th century. The family originally came from Yorkshire and married into the local Mablethorpe family when Thomas Fitzwilliam married Elizabeth Mablethorpe, the daughter of Robert de Mablethorpe in the late 1300's. There is plenty in the church dedicated to the Fitzwilliam family including a monument to Sir Thomas Fitzwilliam who died in 1403 and his wife Elizabeth who died the same year. There are brass plaques in remembrance of Elizabeth Fitzwilliam who died in 1522, a large slab dedicated to her father George Fitzwilliam who died in l536.

Correspondingly, in the now disused church of All Saints in Maltby there is said to be a stone effigy of a knight clad in armour with hands upraised and legs crossed, which is supposed to be a representation of the Maltby Earl involved in the dual. The church is permanently closed due to safety issues so one cannot view this effigy although there is plenty of evidence that it still exists. The British Listed building website dates the church's construction to being around 1300 adding a similar date to the the effigy of the knight. If this was the Earl involved in the duel and the dating is correct, it would then infer either the first Thomas Fitzwilliam (1300-1345) or Robert de Mablethorpe (1281-1332) as being the combatant.

In 2009, an investigation by a Mablethorpe film group, Visions, came to the conclusion that the knight Sir Thomas Fitzwilliam (1430 - 1497) was the Earl involved in the duel although there is no evidence on line as to how they came to this conclusion. If this was the man involved, then it would imply he was 64 years old when he fought the duel, a pensioner by today's standards.

This conclusion is in stark contrast to the information that is published on wikipedia, which states that two noble families of the time were the De Montalts and the De Mablethorpes who had been involved in a feud for 96 years over which family would present the rectors of Saint Mary's and Saint Peter's churches. The feud started when Roger de Montalt and Thomas, son of Endo de Mablethorpe in 1233, had quarrelled about the right of presenting the Rector of St Mary’s and a decision was made that Thomas should present the new Rector, Richard de Wyverton. Both Robert de Montalt and Robert de Mablethorpe died when the feud culminated in the legendary duel.

This information has no citation other than to the works of its own author Leigh Rayment, an Australian Chartered Secretary with an interest in British political history. Although his Peerage page website is comprehensive it does not include any reference as to where the information has been taken from and therefore cannot be relied on as a reputable source.

In conclusion it would seem there is probably some truth to the legend although it is difficult to determine the identity of the combatants or the era of the event. It is unfortunate that the two main parties involved in the research of the history appear to have not published either citations or foundations to their conclusions which contradict each other. Despite exhaustive searches to gather supportive evidence for either conclusion, none can be found. We can state that as both churches at Mablethorpe and Maltby are dated as being constructed around 1300 then the duel could not be before this date. If the date of the effigy in the Maltby church is correct, as referred by the British Listed Buildings website, then it suggests the Robert de Mablethorpe vs Robery Montault duel is the most likely combatants.

References
Anderby Creek houses
Anderby Creek houses

Images

Below are a selection of images taken from from the photo album for this walk. Feel free to browse through these or click on any image to view a larger version in the Gallery.

Click on an image below to view the Image Gallery

Maps

Below is the route depicted on the OpenStreetMap, Ordnance Survey Map and Google Map. Links to full page versions are found in the Essential Information

Summary of Document Changes

Last Updated: ... 2017-02-05

0 comments:

Post a Comment

Featured Walk

Saxmundham, Kelsale and Carlton Circular Walk

A 4 mile walk around Saxmundham, Kelsale and Carlton Using footpaths an country lanes, this short walk provides some fine views, historic ch...

Popular Walks

Maps