Friend Brian and myself had planned to complete a mini cycling tour through the Lincolnshire Wolds to Horncastle and back. As a birthday treat Brian had booked a meal at the excellent Shakesby's restaurant in the town that evening, hence birthday tourlette.
As usual we met at nearby Beelsby, some 6 miles for each of us, and then headed over to Hatcliffe and up past the Click'em Inn (without stopping) and on to Kelstern before dropping down into Biscathorpe close to the source of the River Bain. The next stop was Donnington-on-Bain for lunch before tackling the Cote de Stennigot. Even the Tour de France riders would be troubled by this vicious little climb. We had a pause for a potter around Red Hill nature reserve where marbled white butterflies were still on the wing, although many were now looking tired and worn.
We had one more stop at the redundant church of Asterby where the overgrown churchyard proved quite photogenic and then headed up out of the valley of the River Bain before dropping down into Hemmingby and on to Horncastle. We had only covered 33 miles but it had been hilly with a nagging head wind all day and we were well ready for a well-earned pint. Not long after the support team of Heather and Heather arrived and, after a preprandial snooze and drink it was time to head to Shakesby's and an excellent meal. The evening concluded with a brandy and tales of criminal life in Horncastle from days of yore in the thatched Kings Head. Brian is a historian and author of Crime and Punishment in Horncastle.
An excellent day.
After a leisurely breakfast Brian and I left the ladies to explore Horncastle and headed along the Spa Trail which follows the route of the old branch line to Woodhall Spa. It runs by the side of the River Bain and its canalised section forming the Horncastle Canal in the early miles before bearing away from the river to head across Roughton Moor to Woodhall. Here it was time for coffee and cake.
The next stage of our ride took us back towards the Wolds to the village of Minting and lunch at the Sebastopol. I was fascinated to be back here as it had been a favoured hostelry from my youth, but I hadn't been in for nearly 50 years. Although there had been a fair amount of refurbishment it was still recognisable as the tiny village pub I remembered. We continued from here to Willingham Woods near Market Rasen where we were faced with the big climb of the day: Walesby Hill. Once we had negotiated this we had an undulating ride over the Wolds home. A much easier day today with the winds behind us and we covered 49 miles.
A wonderful two days.