As the previous blog points out the similarities between the Bain valley and Lymndale are many but in one respect there is a fundamental difference which might affect a visitors enjoyment. This is that most of the villages in the Bain valley have pubs whereas these are sparse in Lymndale. Counter to this with being closer to both Lincoln and Louth there has been more recent development in some of the Gartree villages of houses that are often too large for the village and the plot in which they stand.
The pubs however are often small and long standing centres for the community especially where the local shop or church has closed. All provide meals and some also provide accommodation. With all having valley settings they can all offer enjoyable walks into the surrounding hills. Several of these pubs from the West Ashby Arms in the south to the Blackhorse at Donington in the north are on or close to the Viking Way.
Following the Viking Way is one of the best ways to see most of the features that the area has to offer and there are many paths, bridleways and quiet lanes to detour on if you want to explore the wider area. For example at Goulceby there is the Three Horseshoes providing both food and lodging in a good central location. From this base there is the option of making a roundtrip using paths and lanes up to Redhill and the top of the Wolds to enjoy the expansive views and then return through the pleasantly wooded countryside around Stenigot to rejoin the Viking Way and continue north or return to Goulceby by crossing over Colley Hill.
On the subject of detours I would suggest two more that could turn this section of the Viking Way into a Tennyson Trail. As mentioned at the beginning of the previous blog both Tealby and Somersby had close Tennyson connections. Tealby is on the Viking Way and Somersby lies just east of it. To connect Tennyson’s birthplace with the Viking Way at Fulletby an interesting route, which passes through quiet unspoiled country and hidden hamlets is via a footpath to Bag Enderby and across the River Lymn to Stainsby. (To explore this secluded corner of the Wolds the Greetham Retreat offers a range of accommodation.) Then west along Snake Lane to Holbeck where a bridleway leads up to Fulletby past the prominent Hoe Hill. From the River Lymn to Fulletby is a climb of a hundred metres for these two locations are the lowest and highest of the whole forty kilometres (25 miles) of the Tennyson Trail from Somersby to Tealby. From the isolated hilltop village of Fulletby the route descends down to Belchford, which marks the beginning of the Gartree Hills. The section over a col in the Roach stone hills to Scamblesby is probably the remotest part of the walk.
If you want impressive views though it is worth heading west out of Belchford. At the edge of the village on the right is Sandy Lane which leads up to Poachers Hideaway where there is a dramatic view of the Bain valley and chalk escarpment to the north. (See the previous Gartree Hills Blog.) About a kilometre further along the bridleway a footpath conveniently veers north west back to the Viking Way on the edge of Scamblesby. With accommodation at the Poachers Hideaway and the Blue Bell in Belchford and the Green Man in Scamblesby offering food there is no reason why you can’t spend some time in this quiet largely traffic free zone and make a circular walk out of the two parallel routes.
When Tennyson was in his twenties, and most likely to have attempted this journey, as a keen walker he would have been able to do it in a day. I would suggest doing it in two days or possibly three if you want to include detours such as the one above from Goulceby, which is close to half way. The other detour away from the Viking Way I would suggest is the last few miles into Tealby. The prospect of this pretty honey coloured stone village perched on the hill overlooking the cool clear waters of the infant River Rase is attractive enough but the route to it along the Viking Way through Ludford is less inspiring and one that I have always had issues with.
To avoid this village strung out along a main road and to make a grander finish to the walk I would suggest by-passing Ludford by crossing straight over the A 631 and continuing north to Thorpe le Vale and enter a pretty secluded well watered dale. This has a little used bridleway running right through it to Kirmond and beyond all the way to Lud’s Well on the edge of Stainton le Vale. Here take the lane that heads uphill away from the village and continue around the bend until you can access the footpath on the right that leads over the ridge to Tealby.
Between Bully Hill Farm and Bully Hill the chalk ridge is very narrow and allows the older beds of rocks below that were evident during the first half of the trail to reappear. There is the odd flash of red chalk immediately beneath the white followed by a band of darker Carstone below this. The track between Kirmond and Stainton even crosses some Roach formations but in a different softer guise than the bold outcrops at the beginning of the trail.
After crossing Caistor High Street the footpath dips down steeply to cross the headwaters of the infant River Rase and then climbs past Ash Holt for 500 metres to eventually meet Caistor Lane. Take the narrow lane downhill past Papermill Cottages, self catering accommodation, to emerge next to the parish church. Here head south to the bottom of the hill to finish the walk at the thatched Kings Head. Across the little River Rase and now only marked by a clump of trees was Bayons Manor built by Alfred’s rich uncle Charles Tennyson MP but was demolished in the 1960s. Charles Tennyson achieved much during his life and became a pillar of the Victorian establishment but he saw his nephew as an underachiever. So it was difficult for him to accept Alfred being fated in later life and offered a baronetcy, which he had strived for but did not get.