Fulletby stands on a long north south trending ridge from which most of the feeder streams of the River Lymn begin. At a height of nearly 140 metres asl the view east, either just north or south of the village, encompasses much of Lymndale. Principally the upper dale from the north side of the village and the lower dale south of the village. The view covers several ranges of hills that have the most varied geology in the whole of the Lincolnshire Wolds. North of the dale the Wolds are mainly chalk with other strata exposed in deep valleys and south of the dale Spilsby sandstone soon becomes the main rock type on a series of ridges reaching 100 metres asl interspersed by damp valleys of clay. Between the main bands of chalk and sandstone are a set of narrow bands of different strata. Because these include a mix of soft and harder rocks weathering has created an area of isolated hills rather than the ridges, which predominate further north and south.
The head waters of the Lymn and close by the river Waring, which back in time probably also flowed into Lymndale, run down from prominent hills such as Park Hill, Stained Hill, Nab Hill and Hoe Hill. These hills are all mainly made up of strata from the Roach series and this is distinguished by the rich ochre colour it gives to the soil. This band of rock seems to defy the regimented order of normal layers of sedimentary rocks, which appear in regular bands. Hills of Roach stone appear as if randomly on both sides of Lower Lymndale.
Stained Hill and Nab Hill are prominences of the Roach Ridge, one projecting north the other east. Park Hill is separated from Roach Ridge by the valley of the River Waring and stands a mile to the north overlooked by the steep face of the main chalk ridge stretching off into the distance. Hoe Hill stands slightly apart and as its name suggests the cap of Roach stone looks like a large long barrow. From the road just south of Fulletby it looks impressive with the tree topped profile of Warden Hill rising behind it on the far side of the dale. This peak rises from a plateau of Roach Stone and further down the dale other Roach hills rise proud of the main chalk escarpment.
From the eastern edge of the top of Hoe Hill there is a much better view across the dale to Warden Hill and down the dale along the Ulceby Chalk Island escarpment opposite. From this high point a line of Roach hills can just be made out in good light standing proud of the main ridge. They lessen in height gradually, in keeping with the gentle dip of land, to produce a series of hills on the opposite side of the dale finally reaching the last outcrop of Roach Stone at just 30 metres asl on which Gunby Hall stands. From this point ten miles (16 km) east the strata has dipped over a hundred metres from the top of the Roach Ridge.
Access to this fine viewpoint on Hoe Hill is possible thanks to a circular permissive footpath of about three kilometres, which is part of the Lincolnshire Countryside Access scheme. Its route goes anti clockwise following a track from the road passed Hook’s Plantation. After Hook’s Barn the path dips down into a hollow to cross a stream before climbing Hoe Hill. Descending on its north side towards Salmonby Carr the path turns left before reaching the boggy ground to climb back up the main ridge to return to the road along a bridleway.
Although there are other permissive footpaths providing access to other parts of the Wolds there are no others in Lymndale and more specifically in Tennyson’s twin parishes of Somersby and Bag Enderby. Generally most permissive paths in the Wolds tend to be on or over hills such as the one following the scarp edge north of Langton, which offers splendid views west over Lower Lymndale and the series of roach hills and ridges back to Fulletby. Yet there are no rights of way along the river, permissive or otherwise between Tetford and Halton Holegate. As will be described this was not the case when Tennyson was alive for many footpaths have been lost in the dale since his day especially in the parish he grew up in. To allow us to follow his footsteps it would be useful to at least re-instate a path along the River Lymn where he must have once walked. (See Somersby & Bag Enderby Blog.)
It is Fulletby itself that stands on the largest and highest piece of Roach stone which then stretches two kilometres north along the line of the road to Belchford. Whereas the road follows a fairly straight line to Stained Hill, which marks the sudden end of the ridge, its cap of Roach stone takes a meandering route north. Because of this you are afforded dramatic views where the land falls away steeply first to the west and then to the east offering some of the finest views in the county.
The Roach stone outcrops on the east side of the dale appear just below the chalk plateau in a series of individual hills making the scarp slope quite irregular. The most prominent are Anderson, Ketland and Dalby hills all overlooking Lower Lymndale but even further east the villages of Scremby and Candlesby stand on outcrops of the rock with Gunby Hall atop the final outcrop before it disappears beneath the covering of glacial till found over most of the coastal marsh. These last three outcrops together help make an attractive landscape with a gently sloping south facing aspect where in previous centuries wealthy landowners chose to build grand country houses in attractive parkland settings either side of Lowgate (A158), which forms the southern most boundary of the Wolds ANOB. To quote White’s 1892 “On a commanding eminence on the site of an ancient edifice, supposed to have been appropriated for religious purposes, is Candlesby Hall, a large and handsome mansion, surrounded by about 25 acres of well wooded park and pleasure grounds, in which are several excellent cedar trees and a rookery.” Although it is the small brick Victorian church which actually commands the eminence.
Such aspects are repeated just to the northwest at Dalby Hall protected by Dalby Hill and Harrington Hall is found well placed just beneath Ketland Hill. Somersby is found at the foot of Anderson Hill. Here though the houses are less grand with Tennyson brought up in a crowded rectory full of siblings and servants. Although part of polite society both socially and geographically he must have felt on the margins of this well to do society.
The most prominent hill overlooking the dale is Nab Hill and is made more of a feature as it is fringed by gorse giving the hill a yellow blaze in Spring. Judging by the names of fields, woods and hills on the first Ordnance Survey maps printed while Alfred was still a young man gorse or furze as it was called then was much more widespread than now. With more natural grassland back then and a cooler climate, as Britain was only just emerging from a cold climatic period called the Little Ice Age, Lymndale would have looked and felt more like the countryside around Whitby as it looks now. The Wolds would certainly have had a less manicured appearance than they do now with more scrub and wildflowers or weeds as farmers see them. Nab Hill would then not only have been coloured by gorse in Spring but also by a whole array of other wildflowers.
If this was a purely scenic journey following this Roach Route from Fulletby to Gunby via Langton and Skendleby would be a good way to return. Both villages are tucked under the steep scarp slope which overlooks most of the eastern end of Lower Lymndale but first it is worth a short detour a couple of kilometres south to Greetham to add a historical perspective on this layered landscape.
Calm and deep peace on this high wold,
And on these dews that drench the furze,
And all the silvery gossamers
That twinkle into green and gold.
In Memoriam A.H.H.