Saturday 30 April 2016

70th Birthday Cycle Tour of Lincolnshire.

It being my cycling friend Brian's 70th birthday we decided to celebrate with a mini bike tour of Lincolnshire with an overnight stop at the Admiral Rodney in the Wolds market town of Horncastle. We met up at our usual spot of Beelsby at 9.00 am, a six mile ride for both of us.  Although cold, the morning was bright and sunny and we put thoughts of 'wintry showers' to the furthest recesses of our minds. We set off without our usual delay for catch-up conversation as we had a lot of miles to cover during the day.  Our route initially undulated to the hamlet of Thorseway before climbing steeply to the top of the Wolds where we stopped for photographs by the Sustrans Route 1 sign.  From here we rode down to Tealby passing the point where it is possible to see both the coast and Lincoln Cathedral.  After Tealby we were soon at the fine teashop of Sunnyside Farm on the edge of Willingham Woods where I enjoyed coffee and magnificent toasted Lincolnshire Plum Bread with cheese.  Refreshed, we continued heading towards the distant River Witham so that we could complete the ride along the old railway line to Woodhall Junction and then along the Woodhall Trail to Horncastle, which follows the disused branch line.  As a child I travelled on steam hauled trains on both lines and now they make excellent traffic free walking and cycle routes.  The route we took from Sunnyside to the river was on quiet back roads with short stretches of bridleway and we were lucky enough to get a good sighting of a little owl.  By the time we arrived at Woodhall Spa it was beginning to cloud over and was actually raining by the time we had stopped for tea and cake in the Tea House in the Woods so our final eight miles was in the rain.  By the time we reached the Rodney, though, it was beer o'clock and we were soon relaxing in the bar waiting for the support team to arrive.  After a lovely hot bath it was time to head out into the town for an excellent celebratory meal at Shakesby's, a restaurant we can well recommend.  Our evening finished pleasantly with a night cap at the thatched Kings Head.

The next morning dawned bright and sunny once more, but with a strong south westerly wind.  Once again heavy wintry showers were forecast.  On the outskirts of Horncastle we turned onto the back road to Fulletby.  We immediately began climbing up into the Wolds and gained increasingly expansive views back over Horncastle and the flat landscape beyond.  Fulletby is a very attractive village set high on a ridge of the Wolds overlooking Horncastle and the Bain Valley one way and Tetford and the valley of the River Lymn the other.  The River Lymn is the 'Brook' which features in the famous poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson of the same name.  We also looked down on the distinctive, conical shaped  Hoe Hill  rising out of the valley.  After exploring the church and village, we descended quickly to Tetford for coffee and cake before continuing over the Wolds, passing the watermill at Ketsby and dropping down to the edge of the coastal marsh.  Our route hugged the edge of the hills and into Louth.  By now the weather was closing in we were caught in a sharp shower before stopping at the Woolpack by the Riverhead.  After a well-timed lunch stop the rain had cleared and we meandered through the lanes to a point where we could cross the busy A16.  It was good to see large numbers of cowslips gracing the verges and a good showing of early purple orchid.  Now it was a case of girding our loins for the very steep climb up to North Elkington into the teeth of the wind.  All was downhill after this, through the delightful Wold Newton Valley; or it would have been if we had stayed dry.  The showers finally caught up with us and we had to endure a couple of freezing drenchings of rain, sleet and hail before reaching home.

An excellent couple of days during which we covered 104 miles at an average speed of 10.1 mph. 

Wednesday 27 April 2016

Sunset and Twilight in the Lincolnshire Wolds

Having been out during the day yesterday looking for dramatic skies I was out again in the evening as things were looking good for sunset.  I drove out to a favourite spot, Moggs Hollow, between Irby and Swallow where there is a particularly fine tree on the edge of a field.  I was not disappointed with the sunset and there were still some dramatic clouds about with spectacular lighting.

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