This is the first of several walks by Geoff Mullett, formerly chairman of Ramblers Avon Area, who is trying to get to know his new county by putting together and writing-up walks in Lincolnshire
Start: Free car park in Sea lane, Saltfleet (GR TF456943)
Distance: 5 miles
Getting there: Saltfleet lies on the A1031 Mablethorpe – Cleethorpes Road
Refreshments: 2 pubs in Saltfleet plus café at start/end of the walk,
An easy, almost level walk along field paths, dunes and coastal marsh. Interesting at all times of year, but exposed in winter.
Starting from the car park, turn RIGHT and walk as far as the entrance to a caravan park on the left. A footpath sign points the route into the park and passing a café on your right, continue along the driveway as far as red waste bins on the right and just beyond, keep RIGHT, following the fenced-off footpath that in a short distance swings to the right Point A. The path becomes a track that you follow to the road.
Until 1791 Saltfleet was a market town having originally been a Royal port required to provide ships and men to the king in times of national emergency. Although much of Saltfleet was lost to the sea over the centuries, it nevertheless became popular as a ‘bathing place’ during the late 18th century, with the New Inn dating from these years, and remains a small but popular resort to this day, albeit now catering for ‘static caravaners’
Cross with care to Pump Lane with the Crown Inn on the corner (the New Inn a short distance along the road to the left is a less-worse alternative) and follow the lane to its end. Here, where the track bears left, cross the wooden footbridge and turn LEFT, walking along the field edge with watercourse on the left to a road. Go over to the field ahead, then take a cross-field path HALF-RIGHT to the far corner Point B.
Notice back to your left, Saltfleet Mill.
Built on an old sea bank, the mill dates from the 1770's and was rebuilt, and made taller, in the 1890's. It worked until around 1951 and is now converted into a private house.
At the far side of the field, cross a bridge and walk AHEAD crossing a wooden footbridge, then onward with a ditch down to your left. Cross a further footbridge and continue to reach a road (in early summer this waterway is alive with the constant chattering of sedge and reed warblers). Access the road via the footbridge left, then right to a stile.
Turn LEFT & walk a short distance to a junction, cross with care and walk ahead, signed Sea View Farm. The waterway you cross is the Great Eau (more about this later in the walk). When you reach farm buildings on the right, go RIGHT, into the old farmyard and walk ahead to climb a stile by a field gate
Notice on your left, just after leaving the road, a spherical object on the ground by an old shed. This is an early buoy, made of cork
Beyond the stile, walk ahead across the field to a further stile Point C, climb and go LEFT a short distance to the boundary corner. Here, turn RIGHT, walking with a fence left. As the path loses height, you have a choice of routes – continue ahead, or go half-right, climbing the old dunes – both paths bring you to the same point, a kissing gate with track beyond.
This is Rimac nature reserve, named after a sailing brig wrecked here in 1874 that in turn was named after the Rimac River in Peru. Rimac is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and stretches for 5 miles along the coast. It consists of lines of dunes that began forming around the 13th century and is presently managed by English Nature. Near the entrance are information boards and route maps for ten, twenty or thirty minute nature trails. It is worth a visit at any time of year and is well known for orchids, but especially famous as a stronghold of the natterjack toad
Go through the gate and turn LEFT, following the path to the observation platform Point D where the information boards are worth reading. Now rejoin the path and continue to the edge of the salt marsh, where you turn LEFT.
In July and August, the salt marsh is a sea of purple, covered in sea lavender. Other plants include thrift, sea aster and the silver-grey-leaved sea purslane. Extensive samphire beds occur at the seaward side of the marsh.
Walk now for a mile, passing the Sea View Farm entrance Point E and eventually reaching Paradise (a car park), then a bridge spanning the Great Eau, diverted in the mid 1880s to flow into the Haven. Follow the track to the road; turn RIGHT, then RIGHT again into Haven Bank.
Saltfleet Haven has been a port as long as man has occupied the marshes of Lincolnshire and it has seen much trade. Mentioned in the Doomsday book as a port, it was at its busiest during the fifteenth century. After a lull of centuries trade expanded once more during the 17th and 18th centuries with the need for timber and other goods from abroad to cope with the increased need for housing & ships. Ultimately, Saltfleet Haven and the port fell into decline and being quick to silt up required too much work to keep it in a usable state, and when the Louth Navigation Canal was opened in 1770, the trade at the Haven almost ceased, but continues to be used by the local fishermen and a few pleasure boaters.
Walk with the creek on your right as far as the car park and picnic table Point F then climb LEFT, over the dunes and choose your own route, with salt marsh on your right, to eventually reach a concrete ramp that will bring you to the road, car park and your starting point