Charles Kenyon: Self-help groups play a vital part along our coast

Natural England, the non-departmental government body, aims to negotiate a Lincolnshire coastal path from the Humber to the Wash by 2020, writes our columnist

The Lincolnshire coast, from the Humber to the Wash, is 120 miles of sand banks, samphire beds, salt marshes and nature reserves. When you sail down the coast it looks as the Vikings would have seen it. The dunes are so low that you feel the sea could tip in at any moment – as it does. There is no connected coast path yet, although Natural England, the non-departmental government body, aims to have negotiated one by 2020 as part of the English coast path project made possible by recent law changes that open the coast to common access.

Natural England works with landowners and wildlife groups such as the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust, which is leading a 22,000-acre coastal grazing project to restore habitat and management to the marsh lands. Some land has been flooded to reclaim salt marsh sea defences and the Wash in autumn hosts the biggest bird migration in Britain.

The many small volunteer groups along the coast play a vital part. One such is the Saltfleet Haven Boat Club, which has a special role in keeping the Saltfleet channel marked and clear for fishermen and sailors. Every spring a group led by Commodore Billy Hill walks the sand banks for half a mile offshore at very low tide to replace the buoys and marks on the channels that have shifted over the winter. This self-help club is typical of the many volunteer groups that provide essential services along the coast, where somehow land ownership seems less important than the continuity of history and working with nature.

Charles Kenyon lives near Market Rasen, retiredcolonel@oldvicarage.net

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