Staying just within government social distancing and travel regulations, on July 4th 2020 I went on a special rail tour of Scunthorpe British Steel works with my friend Paul (whom had arranged the rail tour). The schedule was up at 6:20am, breakfast, out the door around 7am and back at 2:59am! Quite a packed full day, featuring Skegness, Scunthorpe, walking the Humber Bridge, fish & chips in Grimsby and Lincoln Cathedral and Castle!
Got to Paul’s around 7:20am. Drove via the A406 and Kew to the M1 and then turned off J13 then heading via A421 St Neott’s and A1, A47, A16 and A52 all the way to Skegness or Skeg-Vegas as Paul calls it, we arrived there dead on 11am.
We took in the full atmosphere of ‘Skeggy’ by walking to the beach, where I touched the ocean(as is tradition) and did a short wander around the place. Paul bought some very tasty doughnuts 🙂 but there was no time to lose, so after 45mins we headed straight for Scunthorpe! Should say it was rumoured there’d be huge numbers heading to the beach this day and have to say, when we parked there weren’t many cars, yet when we returned the car park was nearly full…so prob had a lucky escape 🙂
Anyways we arrived at the British Steel Works Scunthorpe about 12:45pm, parked at Entrance B and immediately had to head for the start of the tour. The tour (basically) travelled around the steel works and we were stood outside in an open Brake Van, being pulled by a small steam train! this is a working railway, as well as a working steel works. We got to do a circuit of the steel works, I was surprised at just how big this place is. We saw working locomotives and red-hot molten iron laden torpedos being transported around. You could feel the heat from these torpedos as they went past and you also got terrific close-up views of the steel works cooling towers as well as other parts. The tour was conducted by Frodingham & Appleby Rail Protection Society and was essentially very very good.
Due to the Coronavirus, we had to wear masks and our temperature was taken before we were allowed on the tour. There wasn’t any commentary, but this was fine. The rail tour was an excellent 3 hour affair, we toured around for an hour or so and then stopped off for a complimentary a tea/coffee and biscuits! Paul checked off the tracks we covered and said he will be heading back in August to re-do a full day 7 hour tour of the place next time!
We headed for a quick look at Scunthrope town centre and our next plan was the head to Grimsby for allegedly the best fish & chips in Britain or the world(allegedly), BUT on our way, Paul mentioned we were quite near the Humber Bridge! This happens to be my favourite bridge, as when I was a kid it was the longest bridge in the world and is still up there now (oh Wikipedia says it’s 11th longest now, but it took til 1998 for it to be beaten) – I’ve seen it 2 or 3 times and driven across it twice. Paul replied that he wanted one day to walk across it, as there was a railway station right by the start of it. Anyways we ended up detouring there(it was only about 20mins away) – we turned off at the last junction before the toll and ended up in “Humber Bridge Park”, which is by the river. We had a wander and realised access to the bridge was quite a long way away, so Paul asked a nice girl and she told us to drive back to the pub, do a right then another right and park literally under the bridge, then you can just walk to it. She was most helpful!
So, we walked the whole 3km across and another 3km back! it was most spectacular walk with very nice views of the Humber river. Also was quite amusing as due to the lockdown, Paul has only been outside about twice in the past 3 months, so he found the walk most arduous and was barely able to move by the end 😀
It was now time for dinner, so we drove to Grimsby to seek out a genuine Fish n’Chip shop. We settled upon “Harry Whyte’s Fish & Chips“, which we thought was in Grimsby, but may technicallly have been in Cleethorpes, well estate agents would call it the “Grimsby Border”. Upon entering the shop, there was a fine scene that went something like :
Paul “I would like Cod & chips please“. Chip shop lady in strong northern accent “We’re all out of Cod, have haddock instead, love“. Paul <looking around in panic> “I’ve never had haddock, what does it taste like?” Me, quite amazed that somebody hasn’t tried haddock before, “Well, it’s a bit like cod“. Lady “I tell you, once have haddock you won’t go back to cod” as she recites how this had happend to her. Paul “errrmm<long pause where I indicate it is safe to eat> alright then.”.
Anyways as well as the exellent service, it did indeed turn out to be some of the best fish n’chips have ever had, so the legend of Grimsby rings true. Thanks Grimsby and Cleethorpes! We took a quick drive around the centre of town area and saw a good many youths enjoying themselves on this first day of pub opening in 3 months.
It was now starting to get a touch dark, but undeterred we decided to drive the full 1.5 hours to Lincoln. As 9:30pm rolled round, we stopped for a quick tea a the Spar at Gradebrook Filling Station AKA the A180 West Services Immingham Humberside and the very friendly bloke gave us two cups of Seattle Coffee Company, which surprisingly was some of the best tea have tasted in a long while! so totally recommend it if you see any. Eventually we got to Lincoln town centre and after navigating into the town centre. We parked and walked to see the Castle and Cathedral. They were most impressive buildings with the cathedral possibly more impressive as it was opposite Wetherspoons. The castle would be nice to visit in day time, didn’t know it was the only place in the world currently where you can see the Magna Carter and the Charter of the Forest from 1215 and 1217! (must go back there) On our wander back to the car, as it was this apparent first night in 3 months that pubs were allowed to open, we did attempt to get a drink, but it was 11pm and the barman said “you cannot approach the bar”(due to the lockdown) and so we didn’t get a drink in the end.
Finally we headed back to London. Now I was expecting the trip to be about 2.5 hours, but at the pub my phone surprised me by saying it would be 3.5 hours instead! Hoorah a nice long drive back then, especially since it was past 11pm already! We had a single rest stop at Toddington on the M1 and powered back home in a leisurely manner.
We went via St.Neotts again then Milton Keynes, M1, A406 and through Neasdon and central London to Putney. I dropped off Paul and then drove back to Worcester Park. Got home with the time on the clock being 2:59am! Goood night 😀
Appleby Frodingham Railway Preservation Society – http://www.afrps.co.uk/