MODERN HIDEAWAYS - FORGOTTEN PLACES
THEDDLETHORPE BY-THE SEA
takes you to a secret beach in England
One hesitates to mention
a place so secret, so pleasant, so remote that only those who pass down
the secret from generation to generation know of it. So be warned, they
wont take kindly to new faces.
Of course no one in their right mind would go on holiday to Lincolnshire
- would they? What could possibly be worth seeing? There are few castles,
hardly any museums or art galleries, theres Lincoln of course with
its 900 year old Cathedral, Boston with its stump, and er Mablethorpe,
which is, to put it mildly a boil upon the face of the planet smeared
in chip fat and candyfloss. Visitors to Mablethorpe know a good pot belly
when they see one and its bingo heaven. Luckily they stick to the
nearest pubs and happily brawl in their caravan parks so you dont
have to see the place.
Naturally if you are after a beach holiday youd consider Cornwall.
Perrenporth beach or Sennen or even Falmouth and on a crowded Wednesday
youll see Falmouths streets packed with blue-rinsed old dears
in their cheap rainmacs and large people morosely wandering from bar to
bar or souvenir shop as they try to avoid the rain. Yet there is an alternative
and theres nary a souvenir in sight.
Last weekend I took two Canadians to Theddlethorpe-by-the sea, they were
astonished by its sparse beauty and grace. Sure it didnt have the
romance of Big Sur, or even the deep clear blue sea and cliff tops associated
with Cornwall, but it had an a eerie appeal and a wonderful blue sky.
You could stand on the beach and listen to the wind rushing through the
reeds on the sand dunes and watch the flocks of birds that gather in the
tidal lagoons. A living watercolour.
You could quibble and say, but this is within spitting distance of the
dreaded Mablethorpe but the tourists rarely stagger far from the bars.
You could point to the North Sea gas terminal that lies hidden within
the dunes but it does not affect anything and the lights look pretty at
Theddlethorpe isnt easy to find. The road is too narrow for one
car, let alone two. You might be nervous leaving your car beside world
war two pill boxes still very much intact and it could all be too remote
for you, but have no fear the drive is worth it.
Arrive here in early September youll find the dunes covered in blackberries
(known locally as blueberries as they are a pasty blue covered in salt
and are the best tasting berries anywhere). I used to love collecting
them when I was young as the RAF used the beach as bombing practice near
Saltfleet. Id watch the Hawker Hunters or whatever they had scoop
down and bomb the hell out of the beach. I am sure we weren't supposed
to be there when the flag was flying, but to this day I always associate
blueberries with the sound of incoming jets and explosions.
The dunes are the first attraction in Theddlethorpe, soft, small undulations
with long grasses and reeds with lots of little hollows to sunbathe in.
(Actually on our visit I noticed a naked bloke was hiding in the grass,
but I didnt like to mention this to my visitors in case they were
spooked - even serial killers are allowed time off right? As long as he
doesnt scare the birds...)
There really is something special about the area. The tidal lagoons where
assorted bird wildlife gather, the mirages on sunny days on the flat expanse
of sand that goes on for miles out to sea. Mirages are not just things
you find in the desert. It is special to see huge white birds floating
on a vast inland lake that disappears as you run towards it.
The sand is a mixture of hardening ripples, soft white in some places
and when you finally reach the sea, you have to wade out almost to Holland
to get a swim, but it is safe and fun and although not exactly blue, warm
to swim in. The Lincolnshire coast is famous for how far the sea goes
out and equally famous for how fast it comes back in, so be warned if
your with young kids who can and have been cut off before now.
Winter or summer, Theddlethorpe is a surprising place which often experiences
fine weather when everywhere else is miserably cold and wet. The air is
wonderful and so is the silence layered over the sounds of the sea. On
shore there is not a shop, not a pub, no facilities, no nothing.
A perfect place for a picnic and equally wonderful for a couple in love,
our a family with small children. It is also dog country and they love
to run wild and crazy along the flat sand and barrel into the gentle surf.
As a child I was fascinated by the shells deposited after each tide and
loved the warm tidal pools for paddles and tiny crabs that burrowed into
the sand. My sister and I loved running up and down the dunes playing
hide and seek and none of that has changed. It is still wild, empty and
If you really must eat, then go back to the car and drive to Sandilands
up the coast (use the backroads to avoid Mablethorpe). Just beyond Sutton-on-Sea
youll find the Grange and Links Hotel in Sandilands.
Perfect for Sunday lunches in the bar or restaurant. English cooking,
plain, but lots of value. From here go inland a few miles to stroll around
Alford where you should be able to find afternoon tea in the old still
working windmill or in wonderful thatched museum/town hall. Alford is
famous for Thomas Paine - The Rights of Man who, curiously,
was the customs officer in this town. If staying, theres lots of
B&Bs here or you can stay at the Masons Arms in the Market square
in Louth. Excellent and surprisingly good food can be had here, equal
to the best down south. Louth is famous for Alfred, Lord Tennyson who
was schooled and had his first poems published here. (Near Saltfleet,
stranded in the middle of a caravan park youll find Locksley Hall
and with aid of what remains of the garden you can close your eyes and
recreate it as Tennyson would have seen it a hundred and forty years ago
Louth is also famous for its Bishop that was hung drawn and quartered,
the once local MP- the infamous criminal Lord Archer, Michael Foal, the
UKs first and last astronaut and er, me.
If you have kids who crave excitement, then Cadwell Park five miles away
most Saturdays and Sundays has race meetings, (cars and big bikes) and
theres quite a thrill to be had watching them sliding off the track,
sparks flying from their leathers.
The best thing about Lincolnshire is that no one seems to believe it is
worth visiting. The roads are truly crap with lots of speed cameras, overtaking
is virtually impossible. The railways were uprooted by that vandal Lord
Beeching, but the shire is still there, despite all this and easily one
of the most charming places in England to visit, with unexpected beautiful
aspects in the wolds and these empty beaches at the sea.
Beware, once you have been to Theddlethorpe other beaches will no longer
satisfy you, you have been warned.
© Sam North - a true Lincolnshire yellowbelly
Just a short note in praise of the writers description of the place which
is just as I remember it. Yes as the author says it was a bombing range
when I was sent there by Her Majesties government as a young RAF radio
technician arriving in June 1956 and leaving in January 1958. I read the
articles descriptions with a mounting sense of nostalgia and pleasure...The
sand dunes with their small secluded hollows. The wildlife which I loved
then and still do. The Prussian Queen pub. The only building within miles
of RAF Theddlethorpe in those days and a place with many happy memories.
My first real love (A nice girl from up the road at North Somercotes)
near our other bombing range at Donna Nook.
All my life I thought of going back to see the strange lovely countryside.
Nothing like the outer London Borough I called home (Harrow) but have
never made it. Now it is too late as I start (belatedly) a new life and
marriage in deepest Kentucky USA.
Anyhow thank you for sharing this site ....It is greatly appreciated.
John Jones Louisville. KY
More Travel Destination in Hacktreks
< Reply to this Article