Monday, 29 April 2013
We visited neither — there's only so much cake one should eat in a single day.
Saturday, 27 April 2013
Leith → Queensferry
Edinburgh's other fringe
« Not walked | Aberdour »
Head north from the Royal Mile and the Old Town; go a little distance beyond the New Town. It's a mile or so. The secret about Edinburgh which tourists seldom see is that it's a coastal town.
Leith docks is the easiest point to get to, so our walk started there. These docks are still worked, but investment has poured into the area in a way that's typical of other dockland areas. Now alongside the ships are tourist attractions, towering blocks of flats, cafe-culture-boulevards and government offices (as well as derelict land biding its time). Every so often real life intervenes, a prime example being the still working fishmarket at Newhaven Harbour.
West of Leith, Newhaven and Granton developments, we reached the beautiful parkland of Silverknowes, which is being rebranded as the Edinburgh Waterfront. Here we found ourselves walking against the tide of three hundred runners who congregate at the park every Saturday morning for an informal five kilometre Park Run.
The ferry across the River Almond at Cramond stopped service a decade or so ago, forcing us upstream for a mile and a half through a peaceful wooded riverside walk to the ancient bridge.
The remaining distance to Queensferry was through the Dalmeny Estate, a country house that is now used for corporate events. There's a cycle path that runs on roads through its grounds, but the coast walker will prefer the Shore Walk, clinging doggedly to the shoreline. Towards the eastern end, this walk passes Eagle Rock, which is reputed to be scarred with a Roman era carving of an Eagle, although Heritage Scotland's notice affixed to the rock comments with deadpan humour "whether it is an eagle or whether it is even Roman is uncertain". (Emma thought it looked more like a penguin.)
Throughout the walk we have caught sight of our destination: the Forth Bridge. It's impossible to not stop and photograph this modern wonder at regular intervals, and here too we met many locals who were drawn out for a gentle walk now that Spring has finally sprung.
Away from the Castle, beyond the Old and New Towns, here on the Fringes of the city, Edinburgh comes out to play.
Monday, 22 April 2013
Sunday, 21 April 2013
Ricky Ross: Trouble Came Looking / Live
"It's been an interesting week to launch an album of stories based on the current economic climate," said Ricky Ross towards the start of tonight's gig at the Union Chapel. "I can't help but feel we've been he before," he continued, before laying at least some of the blame at the policies of the recently buried Tory leader.
Ricky Ross has always had a political angle, with most of his works revolving around faith, home and work. His new album "Trouble Came Looking" focuses heavily on the last of these.
Telling stories that are often missed in the striver/shirker dichotomy that media has fallen into of late, Ross begins to sound like a Scottish Woody Guthrie, with a bit of Bruce Cockburn thrown in for good measure.
Trouble Came Looking is an insightful record. It's not particularly deep in meaning, but the voices that it amplifies are well worth listening to: the newly redundant, struggling to make ends meet; the boss trying to keep his business running. We even hear from Morecambe Bay cockle pickers. It could make for depressing material, but through all the songs runs a silver strand of humanity and hope.
As for the concert, it was tremendous. Drawing from his own solo albums, along with some vintage Deacon Blue material, the thread of workers' tales was unbroken back to Ross's earliest days. And to round it all off, this Dundonian paid homage to another, finishing with a cover of the late Michael Marra's paeon to the hardworking but harmless Scot, "Hermless". A wonderful night, and important album.
Saturday, 20 April 2013
Barton-upon-Humber → Kingston upon Hull
Welcome to the north
« Immingham | Not walked »
Goodbye Lincolnshire, hello Yorkshire. There's no doubt about it now: we are in "the north".
Crossing the Humber I was struck that barely 100 miles away, due almost precisely west of here is the Ribble estuary and Preston. For some reason the geography of the two sides of the country are disjointed in my head, and I had to look at a map to see just how far north we were.
The bridge is, of course, massive, taking a good 45 minutes to walk across. On the north side, a path leads down through a country park to the shoreline which is the better vantage point from which to appreciate the gigantic structure.
But rather than hang about, we plodded on. Soon we were passing retail parks, derelict docks then working docks before being plunged headlong into the cafés and offices that bring Kingston upon Hull's waterfront to the same spec as every other quay in the country.
Friday, 19 April 2013
Immingham → Barton-upon-Humber
Despite being a long walk, there's not much to report. It felt similar to the walks round The Wash, largely being back on a sea bank with fields inland. The difference this time was the presence of another shore, as the Humber estuary narrowed and Hull became visible to the north.
We stopped just short of the bridge, saving that definitive moment for tomorrow and the end of our week's walking.
Wednesday, 17 April 2013
Cleethorpes → Immingham
From Cleethorpes, through Grimsby, to Immingham: not the most glamorous of walks.
Despite this being a very industrial landscape, there was still plenty to see: the ironic "no ball games" notice on Grimsby FC's gates; the countless fish processing plants, the ever-present Grimsby Harbour Tower; the fields full of new cars, all with their windscreen wipers raised in salute.
West of Grimsby we took to the concrete sea wall, looking at the industry which lines the coast here: a power station, plants making titanium dioxide (this one with significantly more scary warning signs), pharmaceuticals, polymers and performance products. If you want to play with chemicals for a living, Grimsby seems a surprisingly popular destination.
Eventually a fence forced us inland, and for a brief moment we were treated to a delightful woodland walk before being dropped onto a busy road hurrying lorries between factory and dock on the edge of Immingham.
Tuesday, 16 April 2013
Saltfleet → Cleethorpes
It turns out that the two military ranges which we have previously walked through this week are no longer active. That's not the case for the Donna Nook range which we walked alongside for much of today.
There's no right of way marked on the map here, and you have to walk just beyond the red danger flags, but so long as you stay outside the danger area marked with posts and notices, there is no problem.
At least, there's no problem in April. In November and December it's a different story, when this entire area plays host to a huge colony of seals. We passed a number of signs telling us to stay once side of a fence, for fear of being bitten. Unfortunately there were none in sight today.
The next obstacle is North Coates airfield. Once again there's no right of way on the sea bank, but once again we made our way without interruption. On the far side, a welcome bridge/sluice across Tetney Haven allowed us to rejoin the footpath network.
The Environment Agency were busy throughout this section, with Heras fencing forcing us to make various adjustments to our route. The best option would've been to stick close to the dunes at all times.
Off to the east we caught our first sight of Spurn Head lighthouse, and the two early 20th century forts that guard the mouth of the Humber.
Finally we reached Cleethorpes, but not before once more crossing the Greenwich Meridian into the western hemisphere. There are just two more crossings of the meridian on this coast path, both on the other side of the Humber.
Monday, 15 April 2013
Mablethorpe → Saltfleet
Mablethorpe is the last of the band of Lincolnshire coastal resorts for a while. To confirm this fact, buses don't stray any further north along the coast so a taxi was the order of the day. These resorts have generally got less and less tacky as we have made our way north, but even Mablethorpe carries a few vestiges of guilt.
There's another military firing range south of Saltfleet, and with a beach that extends over a kilometre away from the dunes we chose to cross back to field paths on the landward side of the dunes at the first opportunity. Carrying a GPS receiver made all the difference here since there were scant few landmarks to navigate by. Straying onto the range, or wandering in the dunes forever isn't my idea of fun.
On the approach to Saltfleet, the Environment Agency are busy building up embankments to protect against coastal flooding. With the mean high water still a good kilometre beyond the dunes, it's horrifying to consider the events that they are protecting against.