My visit to the Wolds was actually my first ever to Lincolnshire and having discovered the beauty of the area I now want to go back and take a look at the rest of the county and in particular Lincoln Cathedral, an ecclesiastical building that has interested me for many years.
But back to the Wolds which has been an Area of Outstanding Beauty for over 40 years. And if you thought Lincolnshire was entirely flat, be prepared for a big surprise. It has hidden valleys, sleepy and pretty stone villages and charming market towns. Perfect for leisurely and not so leisurely strolls and walks and for wandering the byways of the towns filled with antique shops and independent stores – plus lovely coffee shops and pubs. Out on the coast, close to Skegness which is an entirely different experience, is Gibraltar Point Nature Reserve, an internationally recognised wildlife haven for seabirds. Take your binoculars and enjoy friends of the feathered variety at all times of the year.
Now back to the great outdoors, there are many walks of varying length including a 147-mile long distance footpath The Viking Way! But on the more leisurely side we did the Spa Trail, three miles of flat surfaced path and bridleway along the mid section of the Old Horncastle to Woodhall railway line with sculptures made from wood, stone and metal scattered along the route. Enchanting. And once in Woodhall we stayed a while and wished we’d had more time. It’s noted for its mineral springs and cinema ‘in the woods’ – a cinema that takes you back in time with its design and also offering regular entertainment on an original Compton Kinestra 3 Manual / 9 Rank organ.
Perhaps more importantly for many of a certain age is its link with aviation and Second World War association with the RAF 617 Squadron – which carried out the Dam Busters Raid. There’s a moving memorial to the squadron and all those lost from it during the war.
Lincolnshire was known as Bomber County during the war as it had more operational airfields than anywhere else in the country and its aviation heritage goes back to aircraft production in the First World War. The county is also home to the world’s fist military academy at RAF Cranwell. That rich heritage is still very much alive today with a host of museums ad living memorials, as in Woodhall Spa. The Red Arrows, one of the world’s greatest air display teams, is also based in the county.
We visited the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre at East Kirkby where I have to say a tear or two were shed at the sound of a bomber firing up and in the chapel.
This is one of the most interesting and thoughtful museums of its type I’ve visited. Run by volunteers, the centre allows visitors to relive life on a World War Two bomber airfield. Based on an original wartime airfield, you can experience the sounds, sights and atmosphere of an airfield as it would have been in operation in those dark days. In the control tower look into darkened rooms filled with models and machinery from the day and a soundtrack talking pilots in after raids and taking off for sorties. Also very emotional. There is so much to experience but if you visit, time it with days when the centre’s magnificent Lancaster Bomber fires up those Rolls-Royce Merlin engines and does taxi runs around the airfield. An experience never to be forgotten. You could spend a whole day here and it is also dog friendly!