239. Sutton Bridge to Moulton Marsh

This was the second leg of my walk around the head of The Wash. I had opted to do this leg on a Sunday for one reason. When I do these ‘one-day’ walks the drive to the start of the walk is normally done in the early hours and the traffic is very light. However, when I have finished the walk, invariably the drive home is done through ‘rush-hour’ traffic which can be anything from 14:00 – 19:00! Its frustrating and quite stressful at times. So this was to be a Sunday walk and hopefully a bit less traffic on the drive home.

I needed to fill in a 6 or 7 mile public transport gap on this section, which meant the use of my bicycle again. I drove to and parked at the Moulton Marsh car park and then began the cycle ride to Holbeach. I used the quiet back roads which took me to the small market town. The roads were virtually empty on a Sunday morning and the almost flat terrain, lack of wind made for an easy ride, apart from the almost freezing cold morning and I had forgotten to bring my gloves!

I cycled into Holbeach secured my bike in a bike rack at Tesco’s in the town. I then walked a short distance to a bus stop where I caught the #505 bus to Sutton Bridge. I had opted to do the walk in reverse because of bus timings, the bus running eastwards was at least 3o minutes earlier. I got off the bus close to the large swing bridge that spans the River Nene. I decided I would take a closer look at the bridge on my next visit.

I followed a straight road that ran alongside the River Nene, which was at low tide. I walked straight through the small dock that forms Ports Sutton Bridge. Being a sunday there was nobody about. The tarmac road I was on disappeared and I continued along a green lane heading towards two lighthouses, one of which was on the opposite bank of the river. The western Nene lighthouse, which I walked past, was at Guys Head and is now a private dwelling.

The swing bridge across The River Nene at Sutton Bridge
Heading out of Sutton Bridge alongside The Nene
Fisheries Research vessel moored at Sutton Bridge quay
Western Nene lighthouse

Shortly after passing the lighthouse the sea bank veered to the NW following the edge of the outer salt marsh and the outlet into The Wash for the River Nene. I could now see the Outer Trial Bank, an artificial island built in 1976 as a water storage scheme. Unfortunately the Trial determined that the scheme was financially unfeasible. I  approached the RAF Holbeach Bombing Range, with its string of control towers and warning notices. The public footpath that runs along the sea Bank at the perimeter of the range is open even during live firing so I was not unduly worried if a red flag was flying. As it turned out there was no activity as I passed by the range, apart from some people returning from a walk out to the targets on the range.

I passed a number of people out with their dogs and got totally ‘slobbered-on’ by two friendly Boxers with drool gushing out of their mouths! When I reached The Fleet pumping station I was very fortunate to see how the process works. I heard an  alarm siren sounding, then the pumps starting up and the sound of gushing water. I checked the seaward side and could see a large discharge of water flowing  into the outlet channel.

I could now make out St Botolphs Church (The Stump) in the far distance. The Sea Bank  gradually swung around to the SW as it approached the River Welland at Fosdyke Wash. The small wood at Moulton Marsh where I had parked my car, came into view. After arriving back at and my car and changing my clothes I set off back to Holbeach to collect my bicycle. The traffic on the way home was busy around Peterborough, but ok.

Looking out to Outer Trial Island
Looking along the Holbeach Bombing Range
Approaching the Helipad at RAF Holbeach
Walkers returning from a visit out onto the range
A surge of water outflow at The Fleet pumping station
Looking back at the Sea bank, a typical vista in this part of the country

Distance today = 17.5 miles
Total distance = 4,332 miles

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