Sunday, 7 February 2016

A Circular Walk from Bardney Abbey to Tupholme Abbey

Last Friday Heather and I set off to Bardney to walk from the abbey here to Tupholme Abbey and back visiting one or two of the Lincolnshire Limewoods: Scotgrove and Southrey Woods. Central Lincolnshire has one of the largest and most dense concentrations of ancient small-leaved lime woodland surviving anywhere in the British landscape. Small-leaved lime (Tilia cordata) is a deciduous tree native to the UK and in this part of Lincolnshire is an indicator species for ancient, wildlife rich, woodland. The Bardney Limewoods National Nature Reserve is a collection of 13 woodland Sites of Special Scientific Interest. As an important natural resource these woods have been shaped by human management for over 5000 years. From early clearances by Neolithic hunter-gatherers, to coppicing in medieval times and modern forestry in the early twentieth century, the wooded landscape has changed considerably. However, many of these woods became isolated and fragmented as a result of agricultural intensification. Southrey wood is one of the few Lincolnshire sites for white admiral which is on the wing during July.

The aim of this walk was to take photographs for my degree body of work. I am walking from Lincoln Cathedral to Woodhall Spa, where I grew up, along the Viking Way long distance footpath visiting all of the religious houses of the east side of the Witham Valley. We visited both Bardney and Tupholme Abbeys, passing Scotgrove and Southrey Woods as well as farmland and farms. Tupholme Abbey was the site of the successful Bardney Rock Festivals of the early 1970s. The unusual concentration of abbeys in the Witham valley results from ancient memories of the Iron Age Celts placing high value offerings to their gods in the marshy channels of the, then uncanalized river, the proximity of the river, which was a vital transport link from Lincoln to the sea at Boston, the Limewoods, which were used as a livelihood and the fact that the monks would have been able to see their mother house of Lincoln Cathedral, was always in our field of view during the walk. Also dominant in our view was Bardney sugar beet factory. Closed in 2001 it was a major feature of my childhood: we could see it, smell it during the sugar campaign during Autumn and we made lanterns out of the beet that fell from the lorries as they passed through Woodhall at Halloween and Bonfire Night .

As I walked I wondered if the landscape held memories of those ancient Celts, medieval monks and travellers who perhaps also walked this route, foresters and navvies who died canalizing the river.

To see the pictures large, please click on an image.

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