Sunday, 8 April 2012

From Kingston Upon Hull, Yorkshire

In a fine misty drizzle I crossed the Humber Bridge today into Yorkshire. I am three weeks into my journey, and not yet half way to Edinburgh, but I feel that I am getting into my stride, despite sore toes and occasionally aching limbs. Kingston Upon Hull can be pronounced either to rhyme with "dull" or "wool". Apparently local folk never say they come from Kingston (which they say is in Jamaica); they like to say "I cum from 'ool".

The weather changes from day to day; on Wednesday a storm howled in from the North Sea as I struggled north from Chapel St Leonards to Mablethorpe, forcing me to crouch behind the sea wall. Rain and sleet blew horizontally into my face across the sand dunes, and the quiet sunny days of March seemed far behind. But the very next day it was warm and dry, and now we seem to have settled into a typical English spring, as the mood changes every hour or so. Fierce storms have been frequent along this part of the coast for centuries; I was told that some massive sand banks at the delightfully named Saltfleetby-Theddlethorpe dunes were thrown up in1286, according to local records.

At village after village as I edge along the coast I have been struck by the fading, lichen-covered war memorials erected after the First World War. The long lists of young men who just a hundred years ago lived in North Lincolnshire, unaware of the catastrophe that lay just ahead, are heart breaking. The pointlessness of the slaughter of that war is underlined by the addition of yet more names after 1945, when the whole bloody exercise was re-enacted. In one corner of the churchyard at the village of Tetney Lock I stopped to wander among the 50 or so beautifully kept graves of airmen killed in the Second World War. Many of the victims were Canadians, who operated in large numbers from Lincolnshire airfields, with a handful of British and Australians buried there as well. Scattered among them lie three German airmen, who, according to a gardener painting the churchyard fence, were shot down while bombing the Grimsby and Hull dockyards. "They were just boys too", he added sadly, glancing at the graves neatly aligned side by side under the spring trees.

Yorkshire, like Lincolnshire, is another very long, large county; I know that ahead lie steeper hills, and more rain and mud, but this is surely a most beautiful part of the world, and I feel very fortunate to be up here.

1 comment:

  1. See you on Friday. Let us know if you need supplementary warm clothing to replace the clothes you gave away!