The Very Lonely Planet Guide To Scunthorpe

Heard the one about why birds fly upside down over Sunny Scunny?
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Heard the one about why birds fly upside down over Sunny Scunny?

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Have you ever visited the ‘Industrial Garden Town of the North East’ recently? I have, I was born there and have been going back and forth to see the parents ever since I left, aged 19. Nestled near the river Humber, wedged between Doncaster and Hull & Grimsby, Scunthorpe is renowned for being ‘a bit shit’.

A few things you might not know: At my secondary school, we couldn’t search the name of the town we lived in because it’s the only place name in Britain to contain the word ‘cunt’. Seems about right. Scunthorpe is also the country’s largest ‘steel processing centre’ and has the highest ratio of pound shops to population of anywhere in the world (this is highly probable). Education-wise Scunthorpe does have the brilliant John Leggott College (fantastic, honest). My mate once fingered the principal's daughter.

Anyway, if, for some reason you’ve stepped off the train at Doncaster and found yourself stuck on the train to Scunny (presumably by helping a 12 year-old with her pram and not getting off the train in time) you’ll need to know where to go and what to do. Well, you’re reading the right thing.

Basics

Scunthorpe is known for more than just steel, Scunthorpe United (The Iron) and Skint, yes, indeed. Keadby Bridge (or King George V Bridge as Wikipedia informs me) was one of the first electrically powered bascule bridges in Britain and was at one time the largest of its type in Europe. Spanning the Trent between Gunness and Keadby, the bridge is equipped to deal with both cars AND trains. Opened in 1916, it’s since been painted green.

Getting there

Scunthorpe is accessible via conventional roads, but perhaps the most effective way of ending up in Scunthorpe is to let your soul sink into a pit of self despair. At the very moment when you’re ready to give up hope, you’ll find yourself in Scunthorpe. (Scunthorpe is not just a state of mind, it’s also accessible via the M181).

What to see

Normanby Hall is without a doubt the best thing for 50 miles of Scunthorpe. Once home to the Earl of Sheffield, this huge country house is now open to the public. Have a gander round the Victorian walled garden or experience what life used to be like for a Victorian school child. However, if you enjoy fun, you can go and clamber over the famous ‘climbing tree’, climb up on the giant metal sculptures hidden in the woods or search out the pet graveyard (don’t climb on this). In all honesty, the playground isn’t as good since they changed it in ’05, but there are still kicks to be had on the spinny-round seat thing.

Cleethorpes

If my dad’s driving, this is an hour down the M180. If anyone else is driving, it’s a half an hour jaunt to the area’s finest* seaside resort. Once there, you can enjoy searching for a parking space before having a go on the 2p machines (sadly the number of shooting games seems to be on the decline, with only Time Crisis 3 available at a quid a pop, but fuck that). If you’re feeling really adventurous you can trek out to the sea, which is usually about a mile out. Also, check out Pleasure Island, for the area’s best (and only) rollercoasters.

*Just put a bit more petrol in the car and go a bit further north to Bridlington, honestly.

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Where to stay

Where to stay, where to stay indeed. There’s a Travelodge by the motorway. There’s also a KFC nearby. I used to work there and when we ran out of the Colonel’s special herbs and spices we just used plain flour from Tescos. Also near by is Glanford Park, home to Scunthorpe United and a top notch Sunday morning car boot sale where you can get every series of Top Gear on VHS for 26p and an 80s He-man figure with one arm.

Other places to stay include The Royal Hotel. I’ve never been there because I lived just down the road, so what would be the point? However, it is next to Sainsbury’s and they’ve just had an extension done. It’s also across the road from the Bath’s Hall, which honestly does look really good since they’ve sunk some money into it. Recently Jimmy Carr and Bill Bailey performed there. Sadly, Wheatus cancelled.

Where to eat

Ok, now we’re talking. Head up Doncaster Road towards town and stop before you reach the high street. Right. Opposite The Royal you’ve got Megna Indian restaurant, where the Queen was once forced to eat. The scran in here is top banana and very reasonable, so check it out.

Next up is Bellini’s, a top notch Italian just around the corner from Megna (opposite Weatherspoons). The fare in here is top quality, especially the pizzas.

Thirdly, if you’re a big spender and want to show off that even though you live in Scunthorpe you do have lots of money and you could definitely leave if you wanted to, why not head to San Pietros? This is a restaurant inside a windmill! The food is great and the menus includes things like roasted garlic and rabbit dumplings. I’ve only been once (because I’m a povo) but I seem to remember it being fairly reasonably priced too. Sadly, the menu is in foreign.

Finally, there’s a Mr Chips on the high street where (if you’re drunk and insistent enough) you can get fish, chips, peas AND a large sausage for £4!

Shopping

HMV has gone, (R.I.P) but there is a wonderful plethora of card shops, charity shops and pound shops. Also, banks, a lot of banks, for some reason. There’s also a lovely W H Smith’s where I buy all my scratchcards.

When to go

There’s never really an optimum time to be in Scunthorpe. Why not go during winter when it’s late night shopping on a Thursday and Costa is open until 8?

Arts & Culture

Pass.

Nightlife

Oh Jesus. The nightlife in Scunthorpe is WKD blue and sugary sweet. Start off in Mary Rose and have lots of Jager Bombs and something called ‘agua’ (No, this isn’t water- I don’t have a fucking clue what it is). Then go to The Light, but don’t be so foolish as to ask them to play Kanye West’s new album the week it has just come out as the bouncers will come and kick your teeth down your gullet.

If The Light isn’t doing it for you, head to Time (or Henrys, or Love, or Henrys, they keep changing the name). Last time I was there it was floor to ceiling carpet, like the chest of an 80s footballer.

Last but not least is Class Six. My mate Mick got told off for taking his top off and rubbing it all over his face in there.

Remember, when on a night out, don’t wear anything you can’t buy in Scunthorpe and don’t smile.

Don’t forget

That you don’t really want to go to Scunthorpe.