Friday 31 July 2015

Gentlemen Wot Lunch.

It was our regular weekly ride today so Brian and I met, as usual, at Beelsby and set off on a roundabout route to reach Rothwell and the Blacksmiths Arms.  I was keen to follow the same route as the start of the Birthday Tourlette as I wanted to rephotograph a field of barley and to check whether any harvesting had yet been done.  Despite being told that the harvest was well under way, we saw no evidence of it on today's ride. At the time of writing, however, (8th August) I have seen plenty.  We had a long stop at Swinhope Church set in the tiniest of hamlets nestling in a valley in the rolling Lincolnshire Wolds.  We have often ridden past here but not stopped for many a year.  And what a delightful little church it is, open and well-maintained dating from the early 13th century.  There were good views across to nearby Swinhope Hall.  Just after leaving the church we disturbed a buzzard which flew lazily away and gave exceptional views as it glided over the golden barley.  Lunch over, it was time for the shorter ride home via Swallow, although the climb out of Rothwell gets ever harder; it can't have anything to do with lunch and a couple of pints!!

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Saturday 18 July 2015

A Birthday Tourlette.

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.

Saturday 4 July 2015

Birthday Trip to Hall Farm Gardens

It being Heather's birthday, she opted for a visit to Hall Farm, Harpswell, on the scarp slope of the Lincoln Edge, overlooking the Trent Valley for their Open Gardens day.  On arriving we began in true trencherman style with tea and cake before looking around the gardens.  As usual they were stunning and the wild flower meadow equally so.

On the way home we called for a drink at the Red Lion in Redbourne and were fascinated with the old guy with the goshawk sitting on his wrist.

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