County’s coastal hotspots

Glynis Fox explores Lincolnshire’s fabulous coastline, which offers “year-round” attractions to enjoy.

Millions of pounds are being ploughed into upgrading everyone’s favourite destinations, which means the county’s coastal hotspots are promising even more to look forward to in the future.

Whether you are planning a day out or a longer stay, if you have a car it’s really easy to get a taste of all the county’s mainstream resorts (and dip into its smaller communities) in one day. That’s because it’s only 33 miles from Skegness to Cleethorpes (39.5 miles by road).

Other destinations worth exploring include Ingoldmells, Sutton-on-Sea, Chapel St Leonards and Anderby Creek.

All sorts of attractions await visitors, from donkey rides to niche shopping, fun fair rides, the chance to see aquarium creatures and seals, enjoy water sports and much more.

Shopaholics who are desperate for an extra helping of retail therapy will also find more enticing stores and leisure attractions in Grimsby, which is just three miles up the road from Cleethorpes – and is also home to Freshney Place Shopping Centre.

Whichever destination you visit, there is always something going on, even out of season, but there’s no need to worry about that in June!

Seaside holidays offer families lots of accommodation options. You may have your own static caravan or choose to pitch up on a site which welcomes tourers and camper vans. Naturally, there is also plenty of choice for those who prefer the comfort of a guest house or hotel – with prices to suit all family budgets.

Skegness is a particular favourite with Midlanders, who can sink their feet into the sand and splash in the sea typically within a couple of hours’ drive from home.

The Lincolnshire coastline is also a big hit with people who live in the county who, of course, can get there even quicker for a break in the bracing sea air.

Bursting with good things for the whole family, Skegness is a top seaside destination. There’s four miles of promenade to stroll along – but beware, you could easily be distracted by amusement arcades, colourful fairground rides, numerous ice cream vendors, coffee stops and the irresistible smell of freshly cooked fish and chips!

You will find the popular Natureland Seal Sanctuary at one end of the promenade and the Skegness Aquarium towards the other end, on Tower Esplanade – a stone’s throw away from the town’s landmark Clock Tower. Also look out for the much-loved Embassy Theatre and the famous Jolly Fisherman statue.

Skegness Aquarium offers something for all the family, with its range of fish tanks, educational exhibits, marine wildlife encounters and pirate treasure hunt. Did you know that children can even scuba dive with the centre’s sharks?

In late March, the attraction welcomed three male Cownose Rays, which had been brought to Skegness from Plymouth. They are now swimming around the centre’s Coral Ocean display tank.

Naturally, the resort also offers a wide range of shopping, an enormous choice of fish and chip restaurants and a seafront amusement park.

A £5 million injection from Arts Council England’s Development Fund is just one tranche of money which will make a real difference to Skegness’ landmarks.

Awarded to East Lindsey District Council (ELDC), it will allow the authority to support its partner in transforming the Embassy Theatre and regenerate Skegness Pier and the surrounding area.

Cultural Revival: The Midlands Coast, led by ELDC and overseen by the Connected Coast Board, will support the transformation of the cultural assets on the town’s foreshore.

This means backing for plans to establish the Embassy Theatre as a new international “culture house,” which will connect the Midlands Coast to other national and international venues and festivals.

Work will include the refurbishment of the auditorium and dressing room, creating a new interactive classroom and creative workspaces, as well as VIP boxes and a refurbished light box to enable high quality productions, plus improved access and facilities for all users – including a Changing Places toilet.

Turning to Skegness Pier, the application will support the first phase of a multi-million pound redevelopment, led by the Mellors Group, which wants to restore the pier as a new visitor attraction and cultural platform.

Proposals include improved accessibility, upgrades to the pier façade, the renewal of lighting and furniture on the pier, the creation of a safe pedestrianised walkway on the approach, the salvaging and restoring of abandoned beach huts and the construction of a new multi-use amphitheatre.

Butlin’s, an ever-popular choice for families, has recently boosted its facilities with the addition of a £2.5 million SKYPARK, which is causing a big buzz!

Maybe you fancy working for another holiday park operator. If so, a major player in the industry recently announced a recruitment drive for 200 new seasonal and permanent team members for its three county parks. Part-time and full-time jobs were being made available by Haven’s Skegness, Thorpe Park and Golden Sands resorts.

It follows news that Haven is set to invest more than £170 million in its holiday parks in 2023.

A spokesperson said: “Skegness and Thorpe Park are among the latest Lincolnshire holiday parks to receive investments, with developments at Skegness including a state-of-the-art Marina Bar & Stage, a fun-filled arcade and new food and drink options, including a Cook’s Fish & Chips, Papa John’s and Burger King.”

Mablethorpe, which is just 17 miles away from Skegness, also has lots to offer, from a sunny beach and seafront to amusements galore, niche shops and the Loewen Cinema.

Visitors will notice that work is now underway to create a fabulous new multi-million pound leisure centre in this changing destination.

The new 3,000 sqm Mablethorpe Leisure & Learning Hub is part of a £12 million funding deal and will eventually hire 16 full-time workers.

The Hub, which will replace the existing Station sports centre, will boast a four-lane swimming pool, gym, TAG active and fitness centre, space for digital learning and a café.

The current centre, which is operated by Magna Vitae, will stay open to the public while construction work is underway.

East Lindsey District Council is leading this development as part of its Towns Deal projects in the area. In total, Skegness and Mablethorpe received £48m to drive transformation across the area, including a multi-million pound Campus for Future Living development in the town.

There’s also lots of exciting things to do at the Lincolnshire Aqua Park at Grange Leisure Park in Mablethorpe, especially for those who can’t resist water-based activities, such as paddle boarding and kayaking. There are also slides, trampolines and much more.

Mablethorpe offers a range of shopping – and is well-catered for with supermarkets and small shops, which are particularly handy for families taking self-catering style breaks.

Cleethorpes’ long promenade seems to go on and on. Start off, or finish, at The Pier and join the many fans of Papa’s who choose to dine at the famous Pier End fish and chip restaurant, which also offers takeaway meals.

It’s great to park alongside the promenade and tuck in as you look out to sea and watch the many commercial and passenger ships on their travels.

Of course, there are more eateries on the main roadside as you head into the shopping heart of the town.

In Kingsway you will find Cleethorpes Leisure Centre, with its popular swimming pool and further along, off King’s Road, the Parkway Cinema, Ten Pin Bowl, the boating lake and paddling pool and the Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway.

TV personality, autism advocate and mum-of-three Christine McGuinness has helped launch a fantastic new family funpark at the coast. Butlin’s fabulous £2.5 million SKYPARK has been specifically designed to allow children of all abilities to play happily together.

This exciting, state-of-the-art facility boasts a wheelchair-accessible trampoline and roundabout, sit-up swings for support and sociability and wheelchair-friendly walkways and ramp. This ensures that no child need feel left on the sidelines.

The amazing development was unveiled in the wake of new national research which revealed that the majority of parents believe that children with additional needs do not receive sufficient support and 75 per cent say more should be done in this area.

Almost 7 in 10 parents said they would welcome the opportunity for them and their children to learn more about children’s additional needs – including physical and sensory impairments, learning disabilities and autism.

The new SKYPARK provides plenty of space for children and families of all abilities to come together, socialise and play.

Researchers also found that 44 per cent of parents have been forced to cut back on play opportunities for their children in the last 12 months due to financial concerns – with parents on average spending £94.31 per month on paid-for activities, such as assault courses and soft play.

Despite this, parents said the top skills they feel their children develop through socialising and playing with others include confidence, sharing, co-operation, patience and respect.

Christine McGuinness (who was diagnosed with autism disorder at the age of 33 and who is an ambassador for the National Autistic Society) said: “It’s fantastic to be involved in the launch of Butlin’s SKYPARK.

“I know first-hand just how important play is for all children, but to have an environment where kids of all abilities can play together is really special.

“By allowing kids to play and learn from each other, we’re helping to facilitate a better understanding for everyone.

“We know that taking part in regular exercise is great for all children’s cognitive development, and I’m really pleased to see Butlin’s taking the next steps in championing inclusivity by creating environments that allow children of all abilities to play together.”

With all its thrills and surprises, Butlin’s SKYPARK features four epic climbing towers with the tallest standing at 14 metres high, offering an incredible panoramic sea view. The new playground is also home to the UK’s longest interactive seesaw, at an impressive 24 metres long. Children and adults can work together to generate enough energy to light up the area.

Butlin’s chief executive officer, Jon Hendry-Pickup, said: “As the home of entertainment, we’re really proud to be able to offer a playground that’s designed to be truly inclusive for all families – with Butlin’s SKYPARK included in the price of a break. Launching Butlin’s SKYPARK is an incredibly proud moment for us as a business and it is the first of many exciting investments we’re making across our three resorts in the next few years.”

The popular North Sea Observatory at Chapel St Leonards is preparing to welcome its very first artist-in-residence.

The successful candidate (who was in the process of being appointed as we went to print) will be working in the centre’s open gallery space from 31st July to October and enjoying interacting with visitors.

This artist-in-residence has the freedom to produce any type of art that they choose. However, a key part of the residency involves community outreach and workshops.

A selection of the works produced will go on display in Lincoln’s Usher Gallery in 2024. Lincoln Museum exhibitions and interpretation assistant, Laura Garner said: “The residency opportunity followed on from the success we’ve had with previous exhibitions at the North Sea Observatory.

“The unique location of the building – nestled into the sand – will surely provide inspiration for artists looking to explore our relationship with the sea.”

Laura added that it will be fantastic for visitors to the coast during the busy summer period to see art as it is being created and to also speak to the artist(s) about their work. People will also have the opportunity to get involved in workshops.

The residency is part of Lincoln Museum’s Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation programme of activity over the next three years.

New payment machines and annual passes spell good news for people who love to regularly visit the Lincolnshire coast.

Both have been introduced at various car parks, to operate from Good Friday to 31st October each year.
The charges apply to car parks at Anderby Creek, Chapel Six Marshes, Huttoft, Marsh Yard and Wolla Bank.

Costs remain the same as previously – at £1 for an hour, £2 or two and £4 for more than two hours. Lincolnshire County Council has also debuted an annual parking pass. This allows visitors to park for as long as they like, all season long.

Environment head at the county council, Chris Miller said the £50 annual pass will make life easier for visitors to “enjoy the coast” throughout the 2023 season.

“The parking tickets are also transferrable, meaning people can visit more than one coastal car park in a day and not have to pay twice. They can also buy a ticket from Anderby or Huttoft through one of the machines and then take it to park elsewhere along the coast.

“Coastal car parking charges allow more people to visit and enjoy the beautiful Lincolnshire coast by providing a steady turnover of spaces in our car parks. The money made through car parking charges gets invested right back into improving facilities along the coast.

“Last year, money from our coastal car parks helped pay for a new all-user path at Chapel Six Marshes Nature Reserve,” said Mr Miller.

Charges apply from 10am until 5pm.

Grimsby offers a wide range of shopping, with the Freshney Place centre a real temptation for shopaholics.

It boasts a variety of mainstream, and some niche, shops and excitingly is poised for a £30 million development, which will include a new market hall, a cinema and leisure complex, due to open in 2025.

centre spokesperson has said the investment being ploughed into the centre is a positive catalyst for change.

It is understood it is working with a variety of parties to create new experiences and opportunities.

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Photographs: Mick Fox

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