DRIVING down the Lincolnshire coast I spot a promontory called Gibraltar Point. It has a national nature reserve with marshlands stretching out into the Wash. I reckon it will be a perfect place to stretch the legs for a couple of hours . . .
I???ve never had a desire to visit the other Gibraltar ??? the one we pinched off Spain and would probably send other people???s sons to fight for if the Spanish got a bit too uppity about wanting it back. I think it???s the monkeys that put me off.
But this one on the coast of Lincolnshire, this is another type of Gibraltar ??? no bars; no nightclubs; no leaky nuclear submarines tied up in the harbour; no confrontations with Guardia Civil speedboats. This is peace, wide horizons and empty skies ??? more my kind of Gibraltar.
It???s a fine March morning with glorious sunshine and keen easterly wind. It???s a walking day. Off I go. (Click pictures for high-res versions)
The reserve is criss-crossed by a network of paths. I follow one and it takes me to sand-dunes and the high-water mark. Muddy gullies twist out towards the horizon. This is where Lincolnshire discharges itself into the North Sea. Everything comes out in the Wash.
According to the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust information boards, birds that can be glimpsed are ringed plovers, little terns, oystercatchers, brent geese, widgeons, reed buntings, knots, bar-tailed godwits, grey plovers, sanderlings and whitethroats.
To be honest, I couldn???t identify a single one of those except the oystercatcher. But in the spirit of the bird-watching fraternity, I attempt to photograph a little chap with a cheeky crest ??? but it flies off from a fence-post before I???ve switched on my camera. And thus is illustrated the difference between photographers and reporters.
Also to be found of the reserve are natterjack toads and Hebridean sheep. The latter perform an important function in maintaining the environment with their grazing and add nutrients to the soil.
My favourite part of Gibraltar Point is the River Steeping with its rickety jetties and peaceful boats. This is a place where blokes who like sheds and a degree of solitude can feel at ease among scatterings of seemingly abandoned though functional items.
Old oil drums; anchors; buoys; car tyres; masts; trailers; winches; engine parts; boxes. Even a landlubber like me can wander preoccupied through this jumble of human detritus and feel currents stirring. Not necessarily maritime currents; more the currents felt by men who delight in being surrounded by a certain type of useful clutter.
And that???s Gibraltar Point. Like all points it lies at the end of a road. That???s always a good place to be.
Visit the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust website for Gibraltar Point.