Getting out of the car, the sun was warm and we looked forward to our first picnic of the year. We had gone to Sotby Meadows to look for green-winged orchids which the LWT website informed me grew there. The other reason was to explore Sotby Green Lane and the old Roman road, something I had long wanted to do. First we went to look for the orchids in the two meadows. These turned out to be superb examples of Lincolnshire lowland meadows and, although swarming with beautiful cowslips, we could find no sign of green-winged orchids, a work obviously still in progress having failed a short while ago in Silverdale. By now we were ready for lunch and returned to the car where we enjoyed eating out in the warm sun. The wind has finally gone round to the west, getting rid of the biting north easterlies straight off the sea.
Lunch finished, we set out on our walk along the green lane which led to the junction with the Roman road, now also a green lane. There is only a short section of it left and it finishes abruptly when it meets the Louth-Horncastle road. Some research revealed that what is left is part of the Roman salt road from Lincoln to the coast at Burgh-Le-Marsh near Skegness where, presumably there would have been salt pans. We crossed over Caistor High Street, another old Roman road and then dropped down into the valley of the River Bain to Market Bridge. I'm not sure what I expected but it was not the modern construction that exists today. Perhaps being close to the junction of two Roman roads and on the river there was once a settlement with a market. I allowed my imagination free reign and wonder about the origins of the name. Whatever, the river bank made for an attractive refreshment stop (well a polo anyway) and we had lovely views of a heron. To make it into a round walk we detoured to the hamlet of Ranby, crossed the High Street again and dropped down into another green lane that took us back to the car. Apart from seeing my first house martin of the year, things were quiet on the bird front but there were quite a few butterflies on the wing: brimstone 14, orange tip 12, small white 12, small tortoiseshell 6 and peacock 3. I had also seen a holly blue in the garden in the morning.
I like to think that landscapes and, especially ancient footpaths and trackways like this, hold memories of those who have gone before. We walk in the footprints of ghosts and they walk in ours.
It being 5.00 when we finished our walk we chose to retire to the Three Horseshoes in Goulceby for a pint and a meal. An excellent decision.
Our journey home took us past the LWT reserve of Red Hill so I stopped to enjoy the spectacle of the mass of cowslips in the Coronation Meadow. I had forgotten that some years ago green-winged orchids had been introduced here so I wandered over to have a look and - eureka - there they were. Well three very small specimens anyway but, nonetheless, my first in the UK and I still hope to find them in Silverdale when we get to our caravan next week. Not only was it a score on the orchid front, I found some pasque flowers, including the one that I had first photographed in the car park in 2014. On top of those two finds we also heard a green woodpecker yaffling from nearby trees. A splendid end to a perfect day.
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