Thursday, 14 February 2013

Guest Blog: A Favourite Lincolnshire Walk by Tracey Edges

Tracey Edges is a Writer, Artist and Radio Presenter whose pictures and stories I have enjoyed for many months. I am delighted she has written a guest blog for me (the first one!) This beautifully written piece takes you out of the Lake District and Sussex and into a part of the country I have never explored - Lincolnshire - and she has a few friends accompanying her....

My favourite walk always starts off with a drive. The first part is tedious but then, after about 10 minutes from my house in Grimsby, I turn into a world that has barely changed since I used to be excitedly raring to get there, cuddling an equally excited dog, on the back seat of my grandparents’ Austin Maxi. 

I now have 3 excited dogs in the back, one of which has been emitting high pitched whines since the turn that indicated which glorious run was to be had.
The 10 mile per hour speed limit frustrates some but, to me, it affords the opportunity to slow down, breathe and look. After the caravan park section you drive through an open barrier, (which can fiscally catch the unwary when it closes early in January and February), onto the little world, at Humberston, Cleethorpes, called “The Fitties.”
"Whatever the weather"
This area is one of the few remaining examples of ‘Plotlands’ where holiday chalets and bungalows of various sizes and sophistication, were all built on their own plots.  This land was reclaimed from the salt marsh and “Fitties” is a Lincolnshire term for this. Originally this area was just used for camping in tents but gradually shacks started to appear. They would be built out of anything that could be assembled to make 4 walls and a roof. As time went on, the chalets became more substantial; many wooden and built on stilts in case of flooding. A few non-descript, characterless brick-built bungalows have crept in but, thankfully, not many as it is the diversity which gives this area its character. From the peeling ‘vintage’ paintwork on the shabby, if not exactly chic, older ones to the newer designer ones which would not look out of place on the cover of Elle Decoration or Coast magazines.

After following the main road you eventually turn left into the potholed car park, adjacent to the Humber Mouth Yacht Club with its accompanying soundtrack of the wind slapping ropes against masts. You can pull up in front of the Nature Reserve lake and watch the glorious sunsets which transform the water into rich pinks, orange and reds.

Decanting from the car into the hubbub of a busy Sunday complete with camper vans and horse boxes or, alternatively, the peace and emptiness of dusk, you have two choices. You can turn left and walk along the wide, sandy beach right through Cleethorpes as far as the Docks at Grimsby or turn right and walk along the marram grass carpeted dunes through the RSPB Tetney Marshes Nature Reserve with the lake to one side and the sea, or rather the Humber Estuary, to the other. 

Although over 1,500 hectares of coastal mudflats, sat marsh, dunes and saline lagoons a barrier has now been erected to prevent people walking very far into the reserve. This is very frustrating for responsible walkers particularly as I have walked my dogs there for many years.  For a small bimble it is a beautiful spot though, particularly close to sunset. It is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and is a Special Protected Area. At least, 175,000 birds use the estuary during the winter months with, up to, 50,000 wintering and passage waders and wildfowl. Herons are a common, but beautiful, sight and the dogs get swiftly put back on their leads if they start to head in their direction.
"Mabel & the rainbow"
I love it down there, whatever the weather, and there is nothing lovelier than arriving home to a roaring fire and a cup of coca after being  lashed by the rain, or even snow. A couple of very cold winters ago the sea dramatically turned into ice floes much to the amusement of the dogs who enjoyed skating about on them.
To me, the experience of a walk by the sea is not just repeatedly putting one foot in front of another but more the whole sensory experience. The taste of salt on your lips, the pungent aromas wafting up your nose that change from season to season, and the sounds of the wildlife. The cacophony from the ducks swooping back to their lake, after a hard day at the office, and crickets chirruping away, on a balmy summer’s evening, are a delight. The sights and sounds constantly change depending on the time of day or season. 

Lincolnshire is renowned for its big skies and this is nowhere more apparent than on the coast.  

There is a huge difference in atmosphere depending on the height of the tide, it can be right up lapping at the shore, with swans bobbing up and down on the waves, or so far out you can’t even see it. It can be calm or madly wild.
It is a beautiful area and one that has inspired many of my paintings and photographs. I will never get bored of walking my dogs there as there is always something different, to rest my eyes on and recharge my batteries, every single time.

Tracey Edges is a Writer, Artist and Radio Presenter. Her paintings and illustrations can be seen in her photo albums on Facebook: Tracey Edges or on her website  Her short stories are on her blogs at: or
She presents “The Edges Review Show” on Estuary radio
You can follow her on Twitter:

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Tuesday, 5 February 2013

One Step Forward, Two Steps Down

Wintery morning skies
Snow is exhausting! I still love it though. With a blue sky or textured clouds acting as a back drop to brilliant white mountains, it is better than on a clear blue and warm summer day (sometimes). There is no doubt it is much more tiring though! A recent walk up to the Helvellyn ridge (specifically aiming for Whiteside initially) reminded me of this very quickly....

Skiddaw & Blencathra
I started from Thirlspot near Thirlmere with the wintery morning sun peering over the slopes of Helvellyn Lower Man promising some good views and I chose this ridge specifically to see into both the Ullswater and Thirlmere valleys as it is spectacular. With a real sense of anticipation I started at a fair pace (for me that is – speed is never my strong point) very optimistic about the walk. I had hardly walked a few hundred yards though before I knew my microspikes were going to be essential on the icy path. I stopped to put them on (it is really easy to do) and kept going along the quite gentle path stopping constantly to take photos of Skiddaw and Blencathra.

Before long the path takes you up a steep section that would be tiring at the best of times but sinking ankle-deep in snow each step it was a real challenge and tracking the path rather tricky. I was full of energy at that point though so as the views along St John’s in the Vale towards Keswick and across the valley to Thirlmere got better and better, there was plenty to distract me. Eventually the path levelled out and I thought I must be near the ridge. Sadly not. Looking very far away and very steep was Raise, which is the fell next to Whiteside. The summit I was aiming for was still not in view with the crags of Brown Cove in the way. 
Silky smooth snow on the Dodds

The ground was flatter now and I could see a path up the side of Brown Cove so I pressed on confidently. I was still sinking to above my ankles though so having to lift each foot higher each step. I took off my microspikes at this point as they were just collecting snow and making my feet even heavier. The ridge of Brown Cove seemed to take forever to get to but I knew once I was there, it would be a milestone and I would feel enthused about being so much closer to my goal.

Waves of snow
How wrong can you be? The summit was still out of sight from there. Raise still looked a very long way away. The snow was still soft and worse, deeper! As I started the ascent to Whiteside, it was a case of one step forward, two steps down as I regularly sank up to my knees in snow, sometimes staying upright and other times propelling forwards and landing in a sprawled heap on the snow and taking a breath before hauling myself up time after time.

With the deep snow unremitting and Whiteside not seeming to be getting any closer and having landed in a heap for what must have been the fifth or sixth time, I seriously contemplated giving up. I was really not sure I could make it as it was so exhausting. But at that moment, as I lay on the snow propped up on one elbow with one leg buried up to my knee, I saw a couple walking the ridge towards Raise. I reminded myself it was the view from the ridge I was after and summits did not matter so I changed direction and headed for the ridge. The great thing was that having spent so much of the ascent sitting down, I could really appreciate the textures of the snow that went from being as smooth as silk on Stybarrow Dodd to looking like waves as it covered the grassy tufts where I was.

The eastern fells
I made it to the ridge and as ever, the moment I did (just like reaching a summit) the pain of ascent was forgotten and I just revelled in the views towards Swiral and Striding Edges, Catsycam and the eastern fells and in the opposite direction to the fells beyond Thirlmere and towards Coniston. Breathtaking and worth every tumble and every breath.

With summits not being important, I ditched Whiteside and headed towards Raise instead as it was in sunshine and looked more inviting (and less steep!) The views from the summit were beautiful and the icy patterns and textures on the rocks and cairn were superb. The wind was a bitter chill so my stay on the summit was brief and I decided to head down via Sticks Pass and see the skiing area (yes – Raise has a ski lift) and admire the silky smooth Dodds beyond.

The walk down was long and microspikes were again essential but it was amazing. There were a few snowboarders about and it looked a much faster and more fun way to get back down whereas I was still wading thorough deep snow. It was less tiring on a downward slope than upwards and the views remained a distracting sight, particularly the pinks and wisps of clouds in the sky around Skiddaw and Blencathra.

Always a Herdy around....
I walked back along the lower slopes to Thirlspot crossing becks and streams and watching the sun set over the fells behind Thirlmere. It was a lovely walk but I think the ascent was possibly the most tiring I have ever done and comparable to the Grasmoor screes (although I think the screes edge the contest!) Entirely worth it though. I love walking in snow.

See more photos from this walk on my Facebook page.

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