Route details, maps, pubs, features, local history and folklore for a wide variety of walks focusing primarily on Norfolk and Suffolk

Sunday, 31 January 2016

Lincolnshire Coast Path - Wrangle to Wainfleet

Batemans brewery from the River Steeping

An 7.5 mile beach walk from Wrangle to Wainfleet

An alternative route to the coastal defence banks that provides a little more interest. Open flat farmland, tiny hamlets and a long straight footpath that was once thought to have been a Roman road. The end of the walk is at Batemans Brewery where a worthy reward of some handsome ale can be purchased in this unique setting within the confines of an old windmill.

Wrangle to Wainfleet Walk - Essential Information

Walk Statistics:

Start point
WrangleView in OS Map | View in Google Map
End Point
WainfleetView in OS Map | View in Google Map
Total Walk distance
7.5 miles
Walk difficulty
Easy
Terrain
Country lanes and footpaths
Obstacles
There is a short section along the busy A52 road between the track from Greenfield Farm and the Friskney turn. It is possible to drop down into the adjacent field and walk the field edge to be away from the traffic and this is preferable to the uneven grass verges

Accommodation:

Golden Sands Camp site View in OS Map | View in Google Map
Website
Description
Golden Sands is a holiday park including a campsite which is tucked away at the back of the site. The site is part of the Haven group and has entertainment and activities on site.

Transport:

Stagecoach - Bus Service
Service Number
7 - Lincolnshire Interconnect Service 7, operated by Stagecoach and linking Boston and Skegness
Timetable

Walk Data

Date of Walk
2014-09-16
Walk Time
11:00 to 14:30
Walkers
Griffmonster, Kat
Weather Conditions
Thick mist at the start of the day gave way to bright blue skies and sunshine as Wainfleet was approached

Walk Notes

Wainfleet is not a coastal town but does provide a means of bridging the Wainfleet river. This walk continues that described between Boston and Wrangle and roughly follows the medieval coastline when towns such as Wrangle and Wainfleet were prominent ports that had a prosperous trade in salt that was extracted from the copious quantities of silt found along the coast.

The walk uses a mixture of lanes and footpaths including the long straight path that leads from the village of Friskney through to Wainfleet. There is speculation that this was the route of an old Roman road and there is archaeological evidence of Roman occupation in this area with even the possibility of a military building located close to the track up to Greenfield Farm. Nothing can be seen these days and even the moat that survived to the 19th century has now gone, filled in to make a continuous field. It was hoped that this track would allow access past the farm and onto the access road in order to avoid a short section along the busy A52. Unfortunately the track into the farm is barred by a metal gate and it is obvious that this is private property with no indication of a right of way through the 100 yards alongside the farm buildings. Therefore the only way ahead was to take the track down to the main road, then cautiously follow this to the Friskney turn. In the event it was found that one could drop down into the bordering field where a grassed area alongside the crop allowed passage away from the road.

This route does not proceed into the centre of Friskney village, although this may be a worthy diversion as there are two pubs, a 12th century church and, not too far away to the west, the site of the medieval Abbey Hills religious building, although only earthworks remain. Instead, the walk continues along the southern side of the village to Fold Hill. One does not associate this part of Lincolnshire fens with hills, but it is clearly marked on the OS map. I would like to say that from the top of this hill one can see for miles, but in reality one can see for miles no matter where one stands in this landscape due to its flat topology. With a massive 6m above sea level at its summit, it really does not make much difference. But for the fenlanders, a height of 6m really is as much a hill as anything around these parts. I have to admit, little can be perceived of a gradient and one certainly can not pick up much speed by rolling down such a hill. On this walk the approach is from the southern face of Folds Hill, and the entire climb can be undertaken without need for a basecamp or Kendle mint cake.

The route navigates down Lenton Lane to reach a so called Roman road. A footpath waymarker stands at its start, pointing down the side of a hedged field boundary. This path used to extend all the way through to Wrangle but from this point it has now been ploughed under fields and is no longer a public accessible track. A local elderly chap at the start of the footpath readily offered conversation about the path. He could remember when it was possible to walk right across them fields. Now it is all gone he related, firmly placing the blame on greedy landowners for extinguishing it as a right of way. It is true that a local council can extinguish a right of way under the section 118 of the Highways Act 1980 but there needs to be clear grounds that it is no longer needed for public use. However judging from this gentleman's words the path had disappeared long before that legislation was laid. It is depicted on maps from the 1960's so one would guess the 70's was the decade of its obliteration from the landscape.

The present day path is well defined in the most cases although there are a couple of places where a word of advice would be helpful. First is at the far side of the initial field where it appears one should walk down a driveway towards a house. This road should be avoided as it is a dead end, keep to the field side of the hedge. From this point onwards the path crosses large open fields full of crops. There are a few bridges to cross ditches and the path is well defined and cleared through the crops. However, on this particular occasion there was a considerable length of path where stinging nettles had grown up in the clearing and one where a bridge was overgrown with nettles and vegetation that had to be beaten back. These nettles are vicious beasts whose sting could clearly be felt through cotton trousers.

The path comes to an end in the grounds of Wainfleet Hall which is used by the Skegness Grammar boarding school. The subsequent road then leads to a bridge across the picturesque Steeping River alongside which sits the iconic windmill of Batemans brewery. Now, one reason we missed out an excursion to Friskney, and the reason we never headed into the Wainfleet village and the reason we hoofed along the tracks with a sense of purpose was the thought of a brewery visit. Batemans is an historic brewery full of intrigue and fascination. There is a visitor centre with a bar and food is also available. Tours of the brewery can be arranged but on this occasion it was ample enough to sup a variety of their ales and gaze in wonderment at the historic artefacts on display.

It is worth mentioning the Wainfleet village sign, located on the road alongside Wainfleet Hall and which appears to depict a castle. This is not in fact a castle but Magdalen College which still stands in Wainfleet. The village was the birthplace of William of Wayneflete who became the Bishop of Winchester and built both this college in 1484 as well as Magdalen College in Oxford.

Cottage by the side of the river Steeping
Cottage by the side of the river Steeping

Directions

A short and easy ramble along country lanes and footpath to Batemans Brewery at Wainfleet

From the Wrangle bus stop opposite the Angel Inn, walk back up Church End to the A52. Take caution in crossing this busy road and continue straight ahead onto Common Road. Keep to this lane until there is a junction on the right into Soulby Lane. Take this and keep to the road ignoring all junctions for approx 1.5 miles until it junctions with a another road. Bear right onto Ivery Lane and continue around the right hand bend folowing the road down towards the A52. Immediately after an access track on the right, the is a farm track on the left. Take this up towards Greenfield Farm. There is no public access through the farm, so take the track on the right down to the A52.

Turn left onto the A52. This is a very busy road and although there is a grass verge, it is possible to jump down onto the field boundary and walk along this. The road makes a sharp right bend with the Friskney road going straight ahead. Take this road and keep to it ignoring all junctions. Eventually it comes into the fringes of Friskney village with houses on both side of the road. At the crossroads proceed straight ahead then take the first right turn into Lenton Lane. Beyond the houses, and at the far end of the first field on the left is a footpath across the fields. Take this. Avoid straying onto the access road at the far end of the first field, keep to the field side of the boundary. Folow the path allong the field boundaries until it emerges onto a road. The footpath continues on the opposite side and leads across fields, passes straight over Mill lane and eventually emerges onto a farm track known as Abrahams Lane. Turn left and then the path is almost immediately on the right. This crosses more fields to emerge between houses on St Michaels Lane. The path on the opposite side of the road is down the side of the last house and this leads into the grounds of Wainfleet Hall. Cross this parkland bearing slightly right where a gate leads onto Boston Road. Turn left and follow the road through to Wainfleet. It turns a sharp right and crosses the Steeping River. There are bus stops just before the turn. Beyond the bridge, on the left, is Batemans brewery.

Ploughed field and Farm
Ploughed field and Farm

Pubs

Batemans Brewery, Wainfleet View in OS Map | View in Google Map

Image of pub
Address
Salem Bridge Brewery, Wainfleet
Website

Family brewery that was founded in 1874 and is based in an iconic windmill that is depicted in the companies motif. The unique surroundings make this a must visit place whether one is an ale aficionado or just appreciate a bit of history. A visitor centre with bar is based in the windmill and there is a courtyard with tables and numerous historic artefacts. Brewery tours can be arranged.

Review

A sheer delight. One can spend hours in this place and a fine selection of both regular and seasonal ales on offer. What a great place and a rewarding end to this lovely little walk.

Cabbage fields either side of the former Roman road
Cabbage fields either side of the former Roman road

Features

Friskney High StreetView in OS Map | View in Google Map

Look on old OS maps from the late 19th century and one thing that is immediately obvious in the area between Wainfleet and Wrangle is a long straight thoroughfare which is annotated with the words High Street (supposed Roman Road). Being so straight one cannot help but be sympathetic towards the supposition of it being a Roman road, but where did it go to and from whence did it come? On modern day maps most of this route is obliterated and there are certainly no annotations other than markings that part of the route is now a public footpath whilst the south western side has now been lost under ploughed fields.

We can begin the search for information about this road with a 1776 publication by Dr William Stukeley entitled An account of the antiquities, and remarkable curiosities in nature or art, observed in travels through Great Britain, Volume 1. Born in Holbeach in 1687 as the son of a lawyer, Dr Stukeley studied medicine at Cambridge University and went on to become an Anglican clergyman and English antiquarian who pioneered the archaeological investigation of the prehistoric monuments of Stonehenge and Avebury. This specific book was the commentary of his travels around Great Britain which was originally published in 1724, and in which he makes the following observation:

...they say there is a road across the east fen, called Salter's road, which probably was the Roman road and there are people now alive who knew such as had remembered it. Doubtless this was a place where the Romans made their salt of the sea water, to supply all this province and it is not improbable that this road led to Banovallum, Lindum, etc. Many salt hills are visible from Wainfleet to Friskney. The king is still lord of the soil of this old Roman city.

This passage has been quoted by many future publications as verification that this was a Roman road. Banovallum is the Roman town where Horncastle now stands and Lindum was the Roman town of Lincoln. Salt making was certainly a prosperous trade along this part of the coast up until the middle ages. In such times the shore line was significantly further inland and both Wrangle and Wainfleet had harbours that enabled them as prosperous ports for the salt trade. According to Margins of the East Fen: Historic Landscape Evolution

There is broad agreement that between Roman times and the mid-seventeenth century there was salt-making along the coast of Lincolnshire. There is also evidence for Bronze Age and Iron Age salting, with the latter very likely subsumed into the Roman industry.

This publication also mentions

At Wainfleet St Mary an outer continuous footpath runs along the landward side of the waste mounds all the way into Friskney and so if it was a sea-bank like High Street then the 1500-era salt-making sites were on the seaward side of it.

This is offering the postulation that this route was not a road at all but a former sea defence bank. It is known that as the salt making industry dwindled, the creeks and harbours silted up with the shoreline edging further seaward. There are the remains of another sea bank which is still known as the Roman Bank located about a mile seaward of High Street. This must have been constructed in later times as the land was reclaimed so the name must have been merely local folklore. Other references to High street being a former defence bank cannot be found.

There is pretty conclusive evidence in archaeological finds that there was Roman occupation in the area. One such find is at Kings Hill in Wrangle with another find close to the Wrangle/Friskney border at a mound known locally as Ivory or Ivery. This is close to Ivery Lane and in the field adjacent to Greenfield Farm . A foundation of a building was unearthed here that was surrounded by a rectangular moat. This has led to speculation that this was a Roman military construction.

The idea that this building was for military purposes is supported by a reference in an 1829 publication titled A topographical and historical account of Wainfleet which makes reference to an old castle in this area, stating

An old castle called "Twigrain" is mentioned in the Tower Records as existing in the neighbourhood of Wainfleet, which separated the divisions of Lindsey and Holland. Ivory Hills falls in Holland. The name is probably a corruption of Twigrain, and it may safely be inferred that if not originally of Roman creation, it was at least erected by our Saxon or Danish ancestors.

This area is also thought to be the location of a long lost village of Wolmersty which lasted until the reign of Henry VI although the name was still in use up until 1529 according to a footnote on page 593 of the 1856 publication of The History and Antiquities of Boston by Pishey Thompson who relates that it was a part of th parish of Wrangle in 1274.

The name of High Street should also be mentioned as although this has come to mean the main shopping street in a town its derivation is a lot older and prior to the 17th century was used to describe any highway or main road, particularly Roman roads. High in this sense derives from Old English with the meaning of something excellent of its type or of elevated rank or degree such as high priest, high society etc. The Word origins website states

[High Street dates] to the Old English heahstræte, which appears in land charters from c. 1000. In Old English usage, the word was usually applied to Roman roads, roughly corresponding to the modern use of highway, which also dates to Old English, heiweg.

This does appear to point towards this either being an ancient track or Roman Road.

References
Path, part of the former High Street across to Key's Toft which was thought to have been a Roman road
Path, part of the former High Street across to Key's Toft which was thought to have been a Roman road

Images

Below are a selection of images taken from from the photo album for this walk. Feel free to browse through these or click on any image to view a larger version in the Gallery.

Click on an image below to view the Image Gallery

Maps

Below is the route depicted on the OpenStreetMap, Ordnance Survey Map and Google Map. Links to full page versions are found in the Essential Information

Summary of Document Changes

Last Updated: ... 2016-01-31

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