uninteresting - perhaps even a little boring!
That just about sums up many people's views of Lincolnshire,
the bit of land you pass through between North and South. We had
never considered a caravan trip to Lincolnshire - until, we
thought, "Why not?"
A week there showed us that we had been wrong - it turns out that
the county is less flat (at least in parts), more pretty and a
lot more welcoming than we had imagined. Our stay, based a mile
or two outside Market Rasen, provided a range of interesting
things to see and do.
Throughout the region farming is still a major industry - we saw
many sheep and cattle, and large fields of wheat and potatoes.
The countryside is, in the main, very pretty - this is especially
true in the area of the Lincolnshire Wolds, a line of gentle,
rolling hills running through the county like its backbone. To
the east of the Wolds the land spreads out in a flat plain
several miles wide to the coast with its magnificent long, flat,
sandy beaches (and, it should be said, the occasional strong
Towns still have a feel of 'completeness' - generally a
good range of shops in High Streets that have not yet been
replaced by too many out-of-town superstores. Those of us from
the south might find this a welcome change - many towns have a
regular street market.
For visitors the city of Lincoln has as its focal point at the
Cathedral and, alongside it, the Castle. The Cathedral is very
well presented, with lots to see including the ancient library
and beautiful cloisters. We particularly liked a display of
wooden sculptures - modern designs based upon the Stations of the
Cross - and the Gilbertine Corner with its emphasis on quiet
meditation. On this trip we did not have time to tour the
We were not short of things to see and do throughout our stay.
For the energetic there are many walks (including the Viking Way
which can be accessed at Tealby, close to Market Rasen). For
others there is a wide range of visitor attractions. Grimsby,
once one of the major trawler ports of the UK, is still a centre
for fish processing but these days there are fewer trawlers and
much of the fish arrives by road from elsewhere.
Close to the centre of the town the National Fishing Heritage
Centre has an interesting display of the history of the deep sea
fishing industry. We toured a former trawler, the Ross Tiger, now
moored permanently alongside the Heritage Centre. Our lady guide
explained the cramped working conditions, the hardships and
dangers faced by the crew - it was only at the end of the tour,
when we asked whether she had ever had the opportunity to go to
sea in a trawler, that we learned that she had spent several
years as a trawler captain. No wonder she made it seem so
During World War II the region had one of the greatest
concentrations of airfields, for obvious reasons considering its
position in relation to Germany. In Lincolnshire there were
supposedly 46 airfields, slightly more than half of them home for
the large bombers that took off nightly to fly to their targets
across the North Sea. The remainder was split between fighters
and 'others', such as reconnaissance aircraft.
Some of the most famous names of the war were here - Scampton,
for example, the base for 617 Squadron (The Dambusters) and later
The Red Arrows. Most of these airfields are long gone, but some
remain in active service. Waddington is now the home of the
UK's AWACS early warning and radar reconnaissance flight, and
it is often possible to see these strange looking aircraft coming
in low over the area after a practice run, the enormous radar
dome perched high above the fuselage.
For those interested in looking at the country's wartime
aviation past there is the Aviation Heritage Museum at East
Kirkby. Here refurbished aircraft sit alongside recovered
aircraft sections, amidst stories of the wartime exploits and
difficulties of the air and ground crews. A Lancaster bomber
carries out occasional taxi runs around the airfield, and tea is
served in an old hut reminiscent of wartime days.
RAF Coningsby is still an active base that today also houses the
Battle of Britain Memorial Flight. A small museum, with a guided
tour of the hangars where the old aircraft are restored and
maintained, offers the opportunity to get close to a combination
of Lancaster, Spitfire, Hurricane, and Dakota. In our case the
tour was led by a former Lancaster bomber pilot who served on the
Berlin Airlift in the years after WWII - his personal memories
and experiences made the visit come to life!
Lincolnshire has a beautiful, if flat, coastline with well-known
resorts like Skegness (we had never seen so many static caravans
in one place) and Cleethorpes with a traditional promenade and
the opportunity to sit and watch the large ships heading into the
Humber Estuary. Our personal favourite along the coastline was
the area around Saltfleetby, to the east of the town of Louth.
Here are long, golden beaches, sand dunes, and white foaming seas
breaking in the distance.
Other places to see? We enjoyed Louth, a small bustling town with
small side-streets named after the trades of long ago. Market
Rasen has a race course, and it is possible to walk the course
except when meetings are scheduled. There is an unusual 5-sailed
windmill at Alford, where we bought flour. We stumbled across the
pretty church at West Keal where, by chance, members of the
congregation were decorating the interior (we had never seen a
church being treated to a new coat of paint before) and where we
were invited to climb up the inside of the tower to see the
clock, the bells, and the local views. (We saw the clock and the
bells, but our courage failed when we saw the ladder that must be
climbed to reach the viewing platform and we returned,
shamefaced, to ground level!) With plenty of friendly pubs and
other places to eat we thought Lincolnshire was much more
enjoyable than expected, and we decided to go back. We already
have, just a few weeks later - give it a try!
© GDS 2002