Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Day 41 Boston to Skegness

10th February 2017

A snowy morning in Boston
I awoke this morning to a cold and snowy Boston, the first really bad weather encountered on the trip, although by the time I was ready to set off the worst of the snow had gone.  The first bus of the day, the 1010 to Wainfleet, was a Brylaine Travel double-decker on service "IC7". This service, running from Boston to Skegness is a rare example of a once-common phenomenon - the joint bus service.  Joint services are operated by two (or more) bus companies usually based at either end of the route. Timetables were arranged to give even frequencies and fares charged were the same with a return or season ticket bought from one company automatically valid on the other's buses. 

This very sensible and economical way of operation was largely swept away when deregulation came in in the 1980s and it was decreed that competition rather than co-operation benefited passengers most.

Quite how "joint" service IC7 actually is is open to question. Buses run by the other operator, Stagecoach, show only "7" as a service number ( The "IC" part is a Lincolnshire County Council brand for "Inter Connect" bus services). Although the buses run at evenly-spaced thirty-minute intervals Stagecoach's timetable doesn't show the Brylaine journeys and neither does Brylaine's show the Stagecoach buses. (The bus industry is really good at shooting itself in the foot in this way). As I was travelling on my bus pass I have no idea whether fares are co-ordinated or whether return tickets are valid on all buses - but I bet they aren't, diminishing the benefits of the co-ordinated timetable even further.

There wasn't much of a view through the front upstairs windows of the Wainfleet bus due to the snow, but shortly after leaving Boston it stopped snowing and the thaw began, giving views over yet more flat (some would say "dreary", but not me) farmland on and off the main A52 Skegness road.

Although the bus was going all the way to Skegness I got off in Wainfleet - home of one of my favourite breweries - Bateman's. A typical small family-run brewery of a type which is still slowly disappearing despite the activities of the Campaign for Real Ale, although that organisation seems rather more interested in so-called "micro" brewers, who would consider Bateman's a giant, these days.

With half-an-hour to spare before the brewery visitor centre opened I stayed on the bus to Wainfleet's market place, where, it being Friday, an auction-market was being held.  These are common over on the eastern side of the country and are a cross between an auction and a car boot sale. Most items sell for less than a fiver and, probably because of this, the auctioneer doesn't devote much time to each item. Opening bids are invited at a fiver and proceed rapidly down, Dutch-auction style, towards £1. If they don't sell within 30 seconds then its on to the next.  Today's sale was of office and kitchen furniture:
Wainfleet market
Fuel station at Wainfleet

There wasn't much else to Wainfleet. It's a large village rather than a small town, but it did have one other item of note - one of the country's last kerbside fuel stations.  These were once common - there was one on the A6 in Lancaster not far from where I now live - but it's been a long time since I saw one in action. Although the village is now bypassed this would have once been on a busy main road.

There was less to see at the brewery visitor centre than I'd expected - apart from the inevitable shop there was just a small room with displays of old bottles and brewery advertising. Bateman's is now known very much as a "real ale" brewery but for a period in the 1960s and 70s it was, like many, a producer of keg beer as one display reminds visitors.

At least in those days they brewed a mild. Bateman's Dark Mild was one of my favourites and it was only recently discontinued in order to release capacity for temporary and novelty beers that the market now demands, many of which are neither "good" nor "honest"!

There was also, as one would expect, a bar and I enjoyed a couple of pints on XB bitter before continuing to Skegness, this time on a Stagecoach bus.

Proof I got to Skegness

As you'd expect in February Skegness was "bracing" but I braved a walk along the promenade as far as the pier and back again before retreating to a coffee shop to await my bus back to Boston as Skegness was the end of the journey for the time being.  I'll be back there sometime in March.

Day 40  King's Lynn to Boston                                                   Day 42 Skegness to Louth


  1. Bateman's should have just given the dark mild a querky name like "Blackout" and it would have satisfied the craft ale fashionistas!

    1. They did sell it as "Black and White" for a while but stopped it completely when they reduced their output to stay within the limit for lower levels of duty.