Explore Lincolnshire’s heritage on foot

Mike Hodge at the start of the River Welland walk.
Mike Hodge at the start of the River Welland walk.
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Learn about our county’s heritage – and a lot more about map reading – with Danny Walsh’s new book, Lincolnshire Heritage Walks.

It’s a book that brings together the twin pleasures of walking and discovering local heritage in a series of 20 hikes.

Danny claims the best way to connect with local heritage and history is on foot, in order to achieve the “excitement and feeling of connection with past lives and events”.

Each walk – with starting points around the county – has good descriptions of the historic features that can be found, accompanied by a very simple sketch of the route.

This is done intentionally, says the author, so as not to “deprive you of lessons in vital map-reading and route-finding skills”.

To be fair, putting in more detailed route instructions would result in a much bigger and weightier book. As it is, Lincolnshire Heritage Walks is a good size for slipping into a pocket or small rucksack – along with a map.

The local heritage walk (nine miles) starts in Crowland and appears to be a fairly simple hike along the banks of the River Welland, but as it is a circular walk I dug out my map of the area to have a clearer idea of the return route. The author simply says: “It returns via an embankment, besides a drain underneath some huge skies.”

There is plenty of parking space close to the abbey from where we set off, after reading about the town and the abbey’s history, including information about a cure for malaria in the 17-19th centuries – locally-grown opium!

We headed off down West Street to get to the river and an easy tramp along the bank with heron, buzzards, peewits and goldfinches swooping overhead while water birds swam alongside us. We established from our map that we left the river at the bridge and then made our way easily up to St Guthlac’s Cross. The author explains this is most likely Anglo-Saxon and a boundary stone marking the limits of the lands of Crowland Abbey.

There is then a short stretch of quiet road up to the memorial to the Lancaster bombers that crashed nearby. We followed the public footpath sign immediately after it and made our way, stamping down nettles as we went, down to the edge of the drain. Things became confusing on the ground after that and we eventually made our way up the bank to what looked like the official footpath, but when that became impassable because of nettles we picked up another track that took us to the end of North Street and back to the abbey (with a stop for cream tea en route).

This walk is “a bit of a plod” as my husband put it but some of the other hikes in the book sound far more interesting – and they will all hone the walker’s map reading skills!

• Lincolnshire Heritage Walks by Danny Walsh, £12.99, ISBN: 978-0-7524-8277-4.