This post has been sitting largely written, as a draft, since about last October!
While we were on holiday in Cleethorpes, I took off for my customary “alone time” barefoot walk. I’d had a look at the available options, and settled on a walk from Louth, along the Louth Canal to Tetney Lock, and then along the coast a little way to the Haven Holiday park.
Hannah and Oscar dropped me off in the centre of Louth, where I found a WHSmith and duly bought an OS map of the area. I didn’t expect navigation to be an issue, I just like having a map.
The trickiest part was figuring out how to get to the head of the canal. I got little help from the people I asked, most of whom hardly seemed to know there was a canal. I half-located myself on the map and headed for a thin blue line that looked like it hooked up with the canal, and after a bit of meandering through the streets of Louth, found myself in the car park of the Co-Operative supermarket with a small stream. So I followed it downstream.
It was hard to follow at times, but after a while I found myself at the beginning of the canal, where the stream is funnelled through a pipe, to trickle into the canal.
Having grown up near the Grand Western Canal and lived near the waterways in Birmingham and Reading, all navigable to some extent, it was a little underwhelming. The Lough end of the canal is very shallow and, as I would discover, most of the locks are in a poor state. Parts of the canal would be a struggle to navigate in a kayak.
However, it made for a pretty place to walk, and I finally set off on the walk proper.
The metalled path was hard going to begin with, and the area felt quite urban, so I didn’t dawdle and began a cycle of alternately jogging and walking.
The locks were pretty, but in poor condition for the most part. The Louth Navigation Trust has plans for restoration.
There was a field with a bull and cows, which made me somewhat cautious. Being a country bumpkin, I’m not worried by cows, but have a healthy respect for bulls! Also, cows with calves are to be respected. I kept my distance and hastened on my way.
Having a hard time identifying some of the locks.
This fellow would have dearly loved to eat me, I think. I’ve rarely encountered such furious barking and snarling. I tried not to taunt him too much.
Being a canal, the terrain was flat and easy and I made decent progress. Jogging along for reasonable periods, walking when I wanted to enjoy the views, popping off the path to explore occasionally. I came across a few odd things…
As I got closer to the coast, the canal became deeper and fuller, more plausibly canal-like, and the tang of salt on the air. There was debris on the tow-path, high up from the water where I assume it had been dredged, and large shell fish. I think they were freshwater mussels.
By the time I reached Tetney Lock I was tiring, and it was quite hot, so I stopped at the pub for a drink and some icecream. Some locals were quite perplexed that I had walked from Louth, with no shoes, but were friendly.
I had a dinner date with the family, back on the caravan site, so I pressed on towards the sea, following a footpath that should have taken me across the marshes so that I could join the beach.
Somehow, I went a bit wrong at the end of the canal.
I misinterpreted a path on the OS map and somehow ended up alongside a muddy creek. Being male, I wouldn’t go back until I’d gone far, far further down the wrong way than is rational. I kept thinking I’d be able to cut across back to the path, only to find myself on a narrow spit of land surrounded by mud and water. You can see from the embedded map further down the page just how far I went out of my way, and was just on the verge of panic as I wasn’t sure of the tides or whether they were a factor. Sanity ruled in the end, and I doubled back all the way to where I should have turned in the first place.
In the end, I got back in time to have dinner together. My feet had held up well, and the last section of the walk, along the edge of the sea, wading in the cold water to ease my muscles in feet and calves was blissful.
A good walk, but I’d recommend taking care to keep to the path near the coast.
Louth Canal Walk