This flat edge of England offers beaches, big skies, windswept walks and towns steeped in history
Sun spangles the tide, shells dot the shore and the pale beach stretches for miles in both directions. I am by the sea at Chapel St Leonards once more. The Lincolnshire coast is in my head all the time, waiting to be revisited. Just a few steps from the village green up and over the Pulley, as they still call the passage where horses once pulled cargoes of paraffin and tobacco up from the beach, and there it will be: the spotless sand, so flat, so uninterrupted, and the familiar waves of my childhood.
Coming on summer holidays from Scotland to my mother’s birthplace in the sultry south, where buckets and spades were deployed in actual heat, Chapel seemed to me as exotic as the French Riviera. It still does. I have no idea why the whole world does not go to this coast. It has the painted beach huts of Southwold, the light, stoneless sands of Devon and Sutherland, the shrimping and kayaking, crabs and cream teas of Cornwall. Nobody has to clamber up a hill or down a cliff to get to the beach – Lincolnshire is rivalled in its ancient flatness only by the Netherlands, directly opposite across the North Sea. The wheeling arcs of high sky, white in winter, cerulean in summer, appear dazzlingly Dutch.