Walk 3: Lincoln City Walk: Back to my birthplace

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 5.6 miles (9.01km)

Time to walk: We know Lincoln well, but this walk still introduced us to parts we’d never seen before. There’s so many sights to visit en route that we suggest you take a whole day to do this one at your leisure…enjoy the sights, the shops & the restaurants/cafes etc. Note though, this isn’t really a walk for dogs.

Difficulty: Virtually all on roads/paths & there is only one climb but it’s called Steep Hill and it is well named so pace yourself!

Parking: Anywhere you can in Lincoln. Our walk starts near the railway station & there are plenty of public car parks in the area although, as it’s a city, it’s obviously cheaper to park further out & walk in.

Public toilets: Plenty along the route in pubs, cafes etc

Map of the route: there is one here, but the whole walk is so compact around the city we would just suggest you follow our guide

Doing this walk is a bit like coming home for me as Lincoln is the place of my birth many years ago & still holds a strong pull in my heart. As well as being one of the smallest cities in the UK, it’s also one of the most beautiful & walkable.

It’s also one of the oldest cities in Britain & has been inhabited continuously for almost 2000 years. Originally a Roman fortress built around 50AD by Legio IX Hispana, when the legions left the city in AD78 the fort was rebuilt with stone walls. The colony was initially built on the top of the hill near the Cathedral & later extended down the hill.

Plus it has one of the greatest football teams in the world….Lincoln City FC….well imo anyway.

Doing this walk today we’ve learnt so much about a city we thought we knew well. To give you a flavour click on the link below which is a promotional video that covers the first part of our walk from ‘The Glory Hole’ to ‘Cathedral Square Lincoln’.

Lip Dub Lincoln

So with apologies for the length of this blog….let’s get moving!!

1. Our walk starts on the main road bridge outside The Green Dragon Pub on the bank of the River Witham

The Green Dragon has a long and rich history in the city of Lincoln. It’s first documented use was in the 16th century. The pub still sits in it’s original 16th century timber frame that runs throughout the entire building.

Look at the colour of the sky. What a gorgeous day for early December

Look at the colour of the sky. What a gorgeous day for early December

2. Continue with the river on your left. Here’s the view along the river towards ‘The Glory Hole’…

…and on our right is another famous waterside pub…‘The Witch & the Wardrobe’

3. Keep walking along the riverside path. There’s an amazing new sculpture across the river here…

…the structure is called Empowerment. Designed by the artist Stephen Broadbent, sponsored by Alstom Power (now Siemens), and completed in 2002, the sculpture spans the river in Lincoln’s City Square. It takes the form of two aluminium & steel human figures reaching to each other across the water. The design is intended to echo the shape of turbine blades, in recognition of Lincoln’s industrial heritage.

4. As we’re heading towards xmas there’s an ice skating rink on the other side of the river…

The area on the left of the river has been earmarked for redevelopment, which is a shame as a young kid it always seemed to be the slightly edgier side of the city centre with its individual record & clothes shops. Hopefully the fabulous Corn Exchange building will remain.

5. Keep walking along the path & up the steps & we now come to one of Lincoln’s major landmarks…The Glory Hole & The High Bridge

A unique medieval relic, High Bridge spans the River Witham near the bottom of High Street. The bridge is the oldest medieval bridge in England that still has houses built upon it. High Bridge was built around 1160 to replace an earlier ford across the Witham. It was later enlarged to accommodate a chapel dedicated to Thomas a Becket (demolished in 1763).

In the Tudor period, houses were built upon the western side of the bridge. The narrow opening created by the arch of High Bridge has been called the ‘Glory Hole’; it’s small, crooked arch sets a limit on the size of boats which can successfully navigate the Witham. In the medieval period the bridge opening was also called the ‘Murder Hole’, for it was said that bodies thrown into the Witham would wash ashore at this spot.

If you fancy an early stop then we can recommend Stokes Cafe on the High Bridge. A real ‘higgledy, piggledy’ coffee shop – pick up some of their blend to take home with you!

6. Ok, let’s now turn right & head towards another famous Lincoln landmark…the Stonebow which is now part of the Guildhall.

The Guildhall has been used since 1520, occupying the whole second floor of the Stonebow, and still plays host to Full Council meetings and City Council events.  It houses numerous pieces of regalia, including the sword of Richard II & the Mayor’s Chains of Office and Mayor’s posy ring.

The Stonebow arch sits just south of the Roman South Gate of the city, which no longer exists.  The south wall of the Lower Roman City runs east along Saltergate.

7. Cross over the road & now we start to climb, but gently at first…

…on the right up here is another Lincoln institution &, as a child, a place where I would spend hours on each visit. Ruddocks.

There’s also plenty of new street cafes up here such as Carluccios

8. At the top the High Street divides into a fork & we need to take the right hand path. At this point in the past there used to be the most amazing vinyl record shop where many a happy hour was spent, but it’s sadly no longer there.

The view soon gives us our first sight of Lincoln’s jewel…its cathedral

9. We now start our ascent of Steep Hill &, yes, it lives up to its name. The early stage is pretty tame though. Unfortunately the old joke shop has now disappeared but one of the first buildings we come to is The Jew’s House.

The Jew’s House is thought to be the oldest occupied house in Europe. It was used as a synagogue until 1290. Now it’s a great restaurant

10. Now the hill becomes steeper (hence the name), but it’s good to take your time walking up here as there’s loads of interesting individual shops.

An old city water pump

An old city water pump

11. The hill flattens into a junction & then it’s time for the final push towards Castle Square. In this final stretch there’s some of our favourite shops & restaurants i.e Roly’s Fudge; the Wig & Mitre; & Brown’s Pie Shop

On the left hand side here too is the remains of the Roman Upper South Gate…

We suggest you also venture into the back of No. 44 on the opposite side where the other side of the arch is preserved at the back of the shop behind a glass wall.

There’s also a reminder how important this street is…

12. Eventually we arrive in Castle Square.  To the left lies the entrance into the Castle area. Have a look at the link as it really tells you about the history & the link to the Magna Carta.

In the summer there’s quite a few concerts held in the Castle grounds & it’s also the major starting part for the annual Lincoln Christmas Market. If you’ve never been please do go. It’s very very busy, but amazing.

13. Now we’ve had a look to the left, turn & have a look to the right…wow!!!!

Being a true ‘Yellowbelly’ this sight never fails to amaze me again & again. We were also there the night before but only had my phone so, as my photo wasn’t good, we’ve posted a picture from the web.

14. You can’t visit Lincoln without going into the cathedral – it’s just incredible & this blog is too short to do it justice so just follow the links…but let’s just dwell a while…

Lincoln Cathedral (in full The Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Lincoln, or sometimes St. Mary’s Cathedral) started to be built in 1088 and continued in several phases throughout the medieval period. It was reputedly the tallest building in the world for 238 years (1311–1549). The central spire collapsed in 1549 and was not rebuilt.

My challenge to you all is to enter the Cathedral & find The Lincoln Imp.

One of the stone carvings within the Cathedral is the Lincoln Imp. There are several variations of the legend surrounding the figure.

According to 14th-century legend, two mischievous imps were sent by Satan to do evil work on Earth. After causing mayhem elsewhere in Northern England the two imps headed to Lincoln Cathedral, where they smashed tables and chairs and tripped up the Bishop. An angel appeared in the Angel Choir and ordered them to stop. One of the imps sat atop a stone pillar and started throwing rocks at the angel whilst the other cowered under the broken tables and chairs. The angel turned the first imp to stone, allowing the second imp to escape. The imp that turned to stone can still be found sitting atop his stone column in the Angel Choir.

15. Ok…ok…indulgence over…it’s time to move on. So pass round the right side of the cathedral & please keep looking up. The architecture is just incredible…& also keep looking up as there’s peregrine falcons taken roost here too.

Pass by the Bishop’s Palace too on the right – well worth a visit.

16. Now we turn right & head back down towards the city down Greestone Stairs…

..and at the bottom we turn left & head up Lindum Hill before bearing right at the fork into Lindum Terrace

17. About 100 yards along here on the right is somewhere I never knew existed….Lincoln Arboretum.

Follow the path down to the first fountain..

Now let’s follow the path along to the next fountain. this was originally home to an iron & glass pavilion.

Now let’s turn right & descend to the bottom of the gardens & start working our way back to where we came in

The maze

The maze

18. Come on….we’ve still got a way to go & what about lunch????

Back out of the arboretum let’s cross the road & turn 1st right up the hill & cross over the main road at the pelican crossing. Turn right now & soon we come to Pottergate where we turn right.

This is one of the two original gateways to the Close & was built in the 14th Century.

19. Continue straight ahead & now we come to Priorygate Arch

However don’t pass through & let’s cross the road back into the Cathedral gardens. Walk under & admire the flying buttress

Fancy a cuppa? Then call in at the Cloister Refectory on the left.

20. Refreshed? Well then back outside & a sculpture of Lincolnshire’s most famous poet…Alfred Lord Tennyson. We feel an infinity with him as he lived not far from the family home.

21. Come out of the Cathedral grounds & cross over the road towards the hotel. Have a look in the excavations which are the East Gate of the roman city

22. Now let’s head down East Bight. Follow the bight round to the left & on the right is the site of the Roman Reservoir

23. At the end of The Bight we join Newport & on the right is Newport Arch. Today it was being renovated so we’ve posted a google image, normally you can drive through it. The original Roman road was about 6 feet lower that the road today. The arch is part of the original North Gate to the city & is the only Roman arch in Britain still in use.

24. Our walk should take a different direction here but it would miss out some amazing history so let’s be maverick……

Let’s turn left into one of our favourite Lincoln areas…Bailgate. This is the site of the Roman Forum & if you look at the street you can see where the original columns were

25. We missed out on the Cloisters tea room so unashamedly we’ll plug Grayz in The Bail tea room. Why? Well if you want to experience Lincolnshire food then ask for Lincolnshire Plum Loaf with Wensleydale Cheese. Sweet & tart…..trust us.

26. Oh it’s sooo nice & warm in here, do we have to go outside again? Yes we do…come on!

So turn right into the car park & right again following the path to an open concrete area. What’s the markings on the ground here? (see photo below)

This is the site of a church called St. Paul in the Bail located at the north eastern corner of the castle.  St. Paul in the Bail has a long history.  Little is known about the earliest buildings which were probably late Roman architectural style. It is said that the first one was built in 627 when St. Paulinus brought Christianity to this area, making St. Paul in the Bail the oldest church in Lincoln and one of the oldest in Britain. One building was demolished in 1302 and replaced by another church. The same happened in 1786 and 1885 before the final one was pulled down in 1971. Old gravestones have been preserved on site while items from the church can often be found in other churches of Lincoln. A roll of honour from WWI, for example, was moved to St. Mary Magdalene’s church.

27. Also in the corner of this courtyard is the preserved Roman well. The glass needs a bit of a clean though…

28. Now let’s turn round & follow the castle walls on our left…

…and take a right down West Bight cul de sac. On the right down here is The Mint Wall

Lincoln’s Mint Wall, dating to around the late 2nd century, is one of the few non-defensive Roman walls in Britain still standing to a substantial height above ground.

It was a supporting wall to the Roman Basilica where government of the city was discussed. The wall’s name was chosen by the 18th century antiquarian William Stukeley who believed, erroneously, that a mint had existed here.

29. We retrace our steps to the start of the cul de sac & turn right following the castle wall past the Westgate water tower

Between November 1904 and April 1905, 1006 people in Lincoln contracted typhoid and of these 113 died. It was Lincoln’s biggest peacetime tragedy. The outbreak of the disease was caused by a polluted supply of drinking water, which at the time was taken from a reservoir at Hartsholme (on the edge of the city) and from the River Witham. Despite heavy chlorination of the water public faith in the supply dwindled and many resorted to drawing water from ancient wells. Faced with a crisis situation, city officials and the Water Board realised that the provision of clean water and proper sanitation would be the only way to curb the disease and restore the residents’ faith in the public water supply. On its completion the Westgate Water Tower had an immediate impact on the city. Still in use today and a principle source of water for uphill Lincoln the tower, holding some 330,000 gallons (1,356,000 ltrs), remains an imposing landmark visible from miles away

30. Now on the left at the mini roundabout we come to another famous Lincoln site…the pub called The Strugglers Inn

At the time when hangings were carried out as a punishment, people often gathered in the pub to watch the event take place on the Castle tower. The pub dates back to 1841 and it was originally called the Stuggler Beer shop. The well preserved remains of the Roman Upper Gate West are buried within the castle’s ramparts behind the pub.

31. We turn right at the mini roundabout & continue as far as the traffic lights. Over the crossroads on the left here is the Lincolnshire Life Museum.

Turn left here though & continue before turning into Mill Road on the right…let’s go down there.

32. Mill Road describes what used to be here…Windmills & 9 of them, all grinding corn. Today there remains just one, Ellis Mill & boy is she a stunner.

The Mill is still in full working order and provides flour, subject to sufficiently windy days! The Mill is now managed by Lincolnshire County Council but would not run without the group of devoted  volunteers who help maintain, staff and promote the site. Today some of these volunteers showed us around & are so passionate.

Please make a donation if you visit – it’s all free by the way!

33. Told you you could spend a whole day doing this walk & now in late November the light’s beginning to fade so come on…we have more to do!

Head back along where we come from & then turn right & head down the hill…there’s some fab views across the valley here. The windmill volunteers told us that they watch the steam from the power stations & if it’s blowing their way the sails will turn…how fab is that!

 34. At the bottom of the hill cross over the pelican crossing & continue straight ahead along ‘Alderman’s Path’ which runs along the side of the common.

35. Eventually we come to the man road which we need to head straight across. We’re now on the site of the Lincoln Racecourse & ahead on the right remains the old grandstand. The ‘Lincoln’ was originally run here but now is run at Doncaster racecourse.

36. Now let’s cross as below…

…& continue along the side of the 1st hole of Carholme Golf Club.

The path runs for a short distance before emerging onto the riverbank.

37. Now we turn left along the riverbank path which will take us back to the city.

Ooops....

Ooops….

38. We’re getting close to the city again now & are entering an area that’s seen a lot of regeneration over recent years…the Brayford Pool

There’s loads of restaurants around here if you fancy a bite including a restaurant on a boat

39. We keep following the path & pass below the bridge…how cool is that?

& keep on the left hand side along the narrow walkway. Soon ahead of us we see the Glory Hole again…

40. So to finish this walk we head up the steps & emerge again where our video link first started.

Well….what a fantastic walk around the city of my birthplace that was.

Just to finish off though there’s a couple of other things I want to mention about this amazing city & both relate to aeroplanes which Lincoln is famous for…

Firstly about 2 miles north of the city lies RAF Scampton which has a special place in my heart as the home of The Dambusters & also the incredible Red Arrows.

Also to the south lies RAF Waddington where, as a kid, I used to cycle out to & watch the Vulcans take off.  They were later to play a major part in the Falklands War.  Please help to keep the sole remaining Vulcan flying.

Go visit Lincoln & enjoy this great walk.

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