Solvitur ambulando… It is solved by walking

Words by:
Maxim Griffin
Featured in:
June 2021

Get dropped off. Walk back. Makes you work, gives the walking an edge of mission. I’m gang handed, again – a tailored forced march for children aged 3 to almost 12 – a rucksack of biscuits and squash is slung over shoulders – pre-drop-off checks are done – turning the corner – red light – see the pumping station. Gold Leader standing by. The old sign – PARADISE: NO CARAVANS NO CAMPING. Pull in – go go go – in dust kicked up by our turning delivery vehicle – toot toot – the young assistants are ahead, already over the bank and on the track marked MEMBERS ONLY – unofficial signage.

Small boats, resting in the Grayfleet – various states of repair – some paint peeling, some rust – worn ropes, the muddy footprints of various waders – rickety jetties are appealing, however the silt of the Great Eau is deep. An avocet makes the surface shiver with the action of just set aspic – red gloss on a fibreglass hull, reflecting nothing. No one about – a few vans parked up a mile or so north – campers – you would, wouldn’t you? A few tins, moonlight, a fry-up at sunrise – leave no trace.

Where the Grayfleet meets the Eau the track turns south – all sons giddy, spooking a goose – there’s a bridge up ahead – wait for me there. A yellow car reverses down the track – pauses – he scans the horizon with a pair of comically large binoculars, and drives off.

There’s a floodlight and a camera with a collar of spike – we make our way to the bridge over the Great Eau outfall – the water is wide here, wide enough to feel perilous – the crossing is basic, sturdy, efficient – down one side are gauges and measures, alarms too – it floods out here from time to time – spring and neap tides when the moon pulls hard on the fabric of the ocean.

Biscuit time on the Eau Bridge – I dish out a Blue Riband apiece and weak lemon squash is swigged from a school flask. Signage – a stick man falls into rippling lines – turns are taken walking along the top of the bridge – a tightrope act, just dangerous enough – to the east, a network of creeks that riddle towards to sea – sunken places, heavy with crabs, quick mud and other difficulties – bad place for a man to get stuck – we used to pole vault across them, a mate and I, we walked every waterway.

On – split between the great steppe of saltmarsh and deep, thorny dune – sun blocked by a scatter of clouds across the south west – beams visible through the shadows – high contrast – a few snap – the landscape is black. My sons in silhouette as they climb the bunker – Lincolnshire 3 Bay – a local breed (there’s all kinds of information on the Pillbox Study Group website) – it’s in good nick – the northern chamber bricked up, the southern open. I wriggle in – I poke my head in through a loop hole – checking – some pillboxes can be frightful within – this one is clear – no litter, no weirdness – just sand. I squeeze in to make sure there’s no glass lurking – nothing, good – the boys follow.

The whitewash remains – no graffiti – there would have been shelves to rest arms and cuppas on – somewhere for a pair of binoculars to hang – an armoured bird hide – there’s an idea. The boys peep heads in and out, hatching plans to camp out – possible, but not today – the glare of outside framed in concrete. We climb out and stand on top – this is high adventure, if you are 3 – legs are dangled – the older boys leap off and scramble back up – there are strange flies and low birds within the reeds – a small boat at work close to the shore – the sun is out over the sea – very blue, glittering.

The boys muck about – the youngest very much taken with ducking in and out of the pillbox, doing a lap, then ducking back in. There’s a curlew somewhere and I scan the horizon – no one about – those vans have gone, no ships waiting on the Humber, no vapour trails – a heat haze way to the south, wobbling the approaches to Mablethorpe – I can just make out the Tide Bell, maybe a person.

There’s a hum coming from the dunes – a fast black clouds around the thorns – a recently erected barbed wire fence already tatty with plastic. Time to head on – there’s ground to cover – into the sand hills – hollows and nooks, ideas for games. I let the boys off a bit longer – no rush – traffic hum, nearby cattle – it’s bright inland – the church towers leading the eye into the Wolds, as far as Stenigot mast – over the saltmarsh, fast clouds, moving shapes – the sun high enough to catch the creeks – veins of ore through the great steppe. A couple in red waterproofs below us – I set the boys off – stalk them, unseen – I’ll meet you back at the pillbox, then we’ll head south – the boys are, naturally, noisy – the prey shuffle on, looking around for the source of the war cry.

South, through familiar territory – the citadel of rabbits still thriving – a few little white tails shift quick – no bones today, no skulls, despite our searching – there’s a car park – it’s full, loads of people, milling about, enjoying the nature – there’s a secret way, a tunnel through the blackthorn. We plough on south – keeping high on dune hills, the iron age landscape of our imaginations – we’ll scamper down to the ruined Comet in a bit – time for more biscuits, squash.

Tears – the youngest in the nettles – I send the others on a quest for dock leaves – the eldest shouts something about stings and urine and how he saw it on Bear Grylls and how it definitely will work. A poultice is fashioned and applied, the wounds soon forgotten – onward – we’re to meet our evacuation by the crazy golf in Mablethorpe. I carry the little one on my shoulders as though he were Hannibal on an elephant as we arrive in time for a sack of chips.



Never miss a copy!

Big savings when you take out a subscription.

WE NEED YOUR VOTES!Voting is open for the Taste of Excellence Food and Drink Awards 2021! Hotel of the YearWhere have you wallowed in luxury and comfort for your holiday, wedding or special occasion?To vote go to www.lincolnshirelife.co.uk bit.ly/3DiopIU ... See MoreSee Less

11 hours ago  ·