Rolling hills, unspoilt countryside and long, sandy beaches. The Lincolnshire Wolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is one of Britain’s hidden gems. Located in the East Midlands, it’s easily accessible by motorway. Rail links with London are excellent, and yet it feels a bit like stepping back in time to when England’s landscape was dominated by greenery rather than houses and industry.
Where to stay in the Lincolnshire Wolds
Canal Farm Cottages are a collection of holiday homes located in a tiny hamlet near Louth in the Lincolnshire Wolds. We stayed in the adorable Barn Owl Cottage, which sleeps up to five people. Our home from home had a fully equipped kitchen, television, games and a lovely tray of afternoon tea to welcome us.
The kitchen and living room are downstairs, as is the large bathroom. A wooden spiral staircase leads from the living room up to the bedrooms. A mezzanine level holds the master bedroom and an adjacent area with a sofa bed and wardrobe. The twin room is separate, with an upstairs WC next to the twin room.
This little cottage has so much character that it made us rethink what we want in a home. I told my husband that if something like this was available in the village where we intend to buy, I’d downsize in a heartbeat. But one of the most wonderful things about Barn Owl Cottage is its location. Set beside the canal in unspoilt countryside, it is the perfect place to escape to for some peace and quiet. If ever I decide to write a book, I’ll be heading back there for a few weeks for inspiration.
Cycling in the Lincolnshire Wolds
It’s always a real treat for us to find a safe, flat cycle route that we can do with the children. That’s exactly what is on offer on the Lincolnshire Spa Trail, beginning in Woodall Spa. We picked up the trail at Sandy Lane in Woodall Spa, where a limited amount of parking is available on the road. From there, we followed a flat, off-road route all the way to Horncastle.
The entire route is off road, until you reach the Horncastle Leisure Centre. From there, we took a short walk into town to get some food. The path follows the old railway line, making it ideal for cycling. At the moment, there’s a sculpture trail along the path. This fascinated the girls and was an ideal way to break up the cycle. The route was about 3-4 miles each way. With a break for lunch, that was enough cycling for little legs but not too much.
Whilst you’re in Woodall Spa, you could check out the old-fashioned Kinema in the Woods. This 100 year old cinema has two screens and watching a film there is like stepping back in time. A resident organist even entertains guests during the interval. Unfortunately this was off the agenda for us due to having the dog, but it certainly sounds like a fascinating experience.
The Lincolnshire Coast
There’s not much better than the beach in Winter is there? And as beaches go, Lincolnshire has some fabulous ones. There are two nature reserves along the coastline, Donna Nook and Gibraltar Point. We intended to go to Donna Nook to see if we could catch sight of the seals that take up residence there at this time of year to give birth. However, they have a ‘no dogs’ policy so it was out of bounds for us.
Conversely, Gibraltar Point is an ideal dog walking spot, although they’re not allowed on the beach from April to September. They’re not allowed inside the cafe either, so Bubbles had a nap in the van while we had lunch and waited for the rain to stop. Suitably refreshed, we picked up Bubbles and all headed off to walk around the reserve, via the beach. Numerous walking and cycling trails are available around Gibraltar Point, with details on their website.
This unspoilt area of coastline is a fascinating place to explore. Outside the cafe, there is a list of wildlife sightings for that day. We probably should have popped in after our walk to add a deer to the list, since we watched one skipping away in front of us after leaving the beach. More information on the wildlife is available on the fascinating Bird Observatory Blog.
North Sea Observatory at Chapel St Leonards
A short distance around the coast from Gibraltar Point is Chapel St Leonards. A stunning, modern building located on the sea front was purpose-built as a marine observatory. From here, visitors can watch nature’s life stories unfold on the sea and the dunes .
A walk on the beach is bracing at this time of year, but that didn’t stop the children from running around and digging in the sand. The girls enjoyed looking at the offshore wind farms off the Lincolnshire coast. I don’t know how many homes they currently power, but it was lovely to see natural energy being harnessed on such a large scale.
After our walk, we warmed up with hot drinks from the Seascape café. Dogs are welcome inside, but we were enjoying the fresh air so we sat outside on the decking. My husband took the girls into the observatory itself to chat to the volunteers in there and find out what they do. The children delighted in telling me that the people they’d spoken to were looking out for emergencies so they could tell the coastguard if someone needed rescuing. I’m not convinced that’s exactly what happens in there, but it caused a lot of excitement for my little ones.
More activities in the Lincolnshire Wolds
If you have a little longer to spend in the Lincolnshire Wolds and nearby coast, there are a few things we missed that look like great fun.
The Lincolnshire Wolds Steam Railway is a heritage railway running from Ludborough station. A ride on a full sized steam train and a look around the working steam railway museum makes it an ideal day out for train lovers. It’s dog friendly too, with dogs able to travel on the trains and plenty of dog water available. Parking is free and the railway is run by volunteers.
National Trust Tattershall Castle is a red brick castle built in the 15th century. Discover the castle’s fascinating history on a tour, explore the tower and admire tapestries and views across the Lincolnshire Fens from the battlements. The castle is a short distance from RAF Coningsby, so it’s the ideal place to watch planes from the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight going past. Entry is free with National Trust Membership and dogs on leads are welcome in the grounds.
For more ideas for days out in the area, head to the Lincolnshire Wolds website.