At Easter 2018 I made my first visit to the North Sea Observatory which was nearing completion. This fabulous building sitting on a glorious expanse of beach, set off by blue skies and sunshine just looked amazing. I carried on up the coast to visit more unspoilt, huge sandy beaches and quiet dunes.
Nobody knows how lovely this coastline is I thought. Why? Throughout 2018 I investigated further. We took photographs from April through to December and you can see the results throughout www.lincsnaturalcoast.com Whatever the month you get a sense of the wide open spaces, the big skies and a natural coastline that provides home for big seal colonies, mass bird migrations and some excellent nature reserves. What are my recommendations for a visit? North Sea Observatory is now complete and buzzing with activity. The café is already proving popular and the views from the building just add to the experience. Vicki who runs the café is full of ideas and her early morning and evening events are proving very popular.
But my top picks start before you’ve even arrived. Turn off the main road and travel along the Bluestone Heath Road, which crosses the Lincolnshire Wolds. The views are exhilarating and those big skies are preparing me for the wide open spaces and the need for a ‘blow the cobwebs away’ walk. Drop down from the Wolds into the little market town of Alford. The craft market might be happening and the thatched manor house and working windmill are well worth stopping for.
Walks on the beach and tea and cake go together in my book, so cafes need to be on my list. I work on a rewards system, ‘done the walk, now I deserve the cake’. Apart from North Sea Observatory there are great cafes at Gibraltar Point and at Anderby Creek.
But don’t ignore the smaller coastal access points, on one visit to Chapel Six Marshes we spotted a hunting marsh harrier as we drove in – bird watching doesn’t get any easier than this I thought! But needless to say by the time we’d got cameras ready the bird had flown…Some of the access points have great names too: Moggs Eye, Wolla Bank and Howdens Pullover for starters.
Everything on Lincolnshire’s Natural Coast seems on a huge scale – could the skies be any bigger or the beaches any wider? But don’t forget to check out the detail – those banks of sculptural sea holly and sea buckthorn with its vibrant orange berries are usually full of bird life and more and it’s worth standing and staring a while just to see who calls this home.
Favourite places are usually to do with memories and connections. Huttoft always makes me remember my elderly neighbour. Stan would visit Huttoft for a fortnight each year and I would have to visit him there in the middle of each week. We’d always have a walk on the beach, a visit to the thatched church at Markby and Lincolnshire Stuffed Chine for sustenance – the routine never changed, we liked it that way!
Freiston Shore was a much loved project that I worked on years ago with RSPB and the Environment Agency. It was imaginatively described as Managed Coastal Realignment but was actually a fascinating conservation project that has led to the creation of the nature reserve we see today and well worth a visit.
As well as tea and cake, picnics are also a big deal in my book. Is there anything quite so evocative of childhood memories as picnics? With cool bags and wide necked flasks to keep things hot we tend to be more adventurous these days, we decided to ask local chef Rachel Green to share some recipes that would work as part of a picnic. In the spirit of quality control we tested the recipes and then took the dishes to be photographed on the beach – to much curious interest by all at Chapel Point! Oh and by the way – delicious, particularly the orange cheesecake in a jar – so look on our food pages and enjoy.