In Eastern England
We love to be beside the seaside. Which is a bit of a challenge when you live in one of the most landlocked counties in the UK. In fact, It’s Nice Out HQ is only 15 miles to the furthest point from the coast in the whole of the country, which lies in the enchantingly named village of Coton-in-the-Elms, Derbyshire. If we want to feel the sand between our toes, we either need to jump in the nearest sandpit, or prepare to travel. A long way. To this end, we tend to head west and undertake a minimum 4 hour drive to the coasts of Wales and south-west England. These aren’t our nearest beaches though. Our eastern coastline is much closer. But we usually eschew it for its western counterpart. I decided it’s time to reset the compass and reconsider the east to find out if there’s anywhere worth a visit on the Lincolnshire coast. And I’m so glad I did!
One summer weekend, influenced by the weather forecast which drew a straight line between east and west, the former promising infinitely better climes than the latter, we decided to take a punt and book into a campsite in Anderby, Lincolnshire. As fully paid up members of the mountain-and-forest fan club, the flatlands and fens has never held much appeal but nevertheless we carefully selected a site (which I will review another time), packed the van and turned left at the end of the street instead of tried-and-tested right. Having never taken Olive to the seaside before, the most important thing was that there would be a dog-friendly beach to visit nearby.
Anderby Creek is like a step back in time. Flanked with bold and brash Skegness to the south and sedate Mabelthorpe to the North, Anderby Creek feels a world apart, unspoiled and timeless. Before you negotiate the dunes to the spotless white sand beyond, you encounter the curious and compelling Cloud Bar.
Opened in April 1999, the Cloud Bar was conceived by artist Michael Trainor as a way to re-purpose a disused beach shelter and was sanctioned by The Cloud Appreciation Society as the world’s first ‘Official Cloudspotting Area’. A short staircase leads to a viewing platform, where ‘Cloud Menus’ help identify different formations and mirrors can be swiveled to reflect different parts of the sky. There are sculptural cloud-viewing seats, on which to recline and contemplate.
It is more absorbing abstract experience than place of scientific enlightenment, but there is something inherently charming about its unpretentious breeziness. And there’s a fabulous view of the shoreline below.
What’s great about Anderby Creek beach other than the spotless sand and sheltering dunes is the fact that while dogs are allowed, they are invited to use a large signposted section, so families who would prefer to enjoy a picnic without having to share their sausage rolls with damp, wayward basset hounds can do so on the other side of the beach. No-one is excluded.
In spite of its undeveloped, natural atmosphere, attempts have been made to improve access for those with impaired mobility. The Marine Conservation Society has given Anderby Creek ‘Recommended’ status – which is only awarded to those beaches which meet strict criteria and have excellent water quality. When we visited there were many families enjoying a swim and a paddle. Most appealing to me was the timeless, peaceful beauty, unspoilt by commerciality. People were just scattered here and there, enjoying the sunshine and each others company.
There’s not a great deal in the way of amenities other than a car park and public conveniences, but with such natural coastal beauty right in front of you, what more do you need? If you forget your picnic, there’s always the Beach Cafe bar and shop nestled behind the dunes which typifies the laid-back old school atmosphere of Anderby Creek. The jolly staff serve straightforward snacks and you can enjoy your lunch in the garden where your dog is welcome on a lead.
We were totally enchanted by Anderby Creek. It felt as though we’d stumbled across a photoshoot location for the next Fat Face catalogue rather than the brash, tacky Lincolnshire coast I remember from my childhood. For all its charms, it still feels relatively undiscovered and authentic here. I thoroughly recommend a day trip for a simple, enjoyable, dog-friendly day at the seaside.
Can anyone recommend any other seaside day trip destinations on our eastern seaboard or anywhere around the UK for that matter? I’d love to discover more gems like this…