The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes. MARCEL PROUST

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Bardney To Woodhall Spa: Memories, Sweet Memories

Back on the Viking Way you could tell it had been raining overnight. But this afternoon was dry and bright — and breezy.


I left unremarkable Bardney behind me, with its ploughed fields and its sugar beet factory, where British Sugar turns, err, sugar beet into sugar. Who would have thought it.


The path took me past more turned and tilled fields, and yet more of the same. Every now and then I skirted a lime wood. The area used to be full of them. Thankfully there are still some left. But rich, black earth mainly filled the landscape...






... a landscape which became flatter and flatter with each mile I trudged.


In Southrey I was surprised to come upon this thatched cottage — a rare sight in Lincolnshire. 


I was also pleased to discover the Church of St John the Divine. (Note to my American readers: this has New England written all over it, don't you think?) Though sadly the weatherboarding is now PVC and the windows plastic.


The village backs onto the river Witham. It was nice to see the river again. There was a pub, a landing stage and two goats. 


There was also the trackbed of an old railway line which had been turned into a cycle path and named the Water Rail Way. After eating my sandwiches and drinking from my flask of coffee at a handy bench and table by the waterside, I decided on an impulse to deviate from the Viking Way and follow the Water Rail Way as far as Woodhall Spa. I love deviating from 'official' routes. It gives you a heady illusion of freedom. 


Here's the view east along the river...


... and here's the view west. In fact, the furthermost bench and table you can see is where I ate my lunch — to the sound of clucking moorhens and droning Vulcan bombers from nearby RAF Coningsby.


I rather enjoyed walking along the river bank. Above me crows and gulls were being battered by a strengthening wind. Clouds raced across — some of them dark — but no rain came.

Then all of a sudden I chanced on this signboard about the Bardney Pop Festival of 1972, which had been held in a field close by. Bardney had never had a pop festival before, and it certainly hasn't had one since. And yes, you've guessed it — I'd actually been at this legendary event! In an instant I went back forty years. In my mind I watched again on-stage cameos of the Beach Boys, Don McLean, Joe Cocker and Sha Na Na. If you enlarge the pic you'll find that the local pub did so well it ran out of beer — twice!   


Soon after the signboard I found this curvy wooden sculpture inscribed with the words For men may come and men may go but I go on for ever — a line from Alfred Lord Tennyson's poem, The Brook. Tennyson is one of Lincolnshire's most famous sons, and he was born not far away in Somersby Rectory. 


At this point my camera battery sadly ran out of juice, so I wasn't able to take stunning shots of the nudist colony round the next corner, or of an air ambulance crew involved in the daring rescue of a farmer trapped under his tractor, or of the elusive and legendary wild lions and tigers native to these parts...

Only joking.

I was, however, waylaid by this frozen procession of Rastafarian sheep...     


Finally, after three hours, I arrived at Woodhall Spa. And once more my memory took me straight back to my youth. For it was here that I'd seen the film Doctor Zhivago for the first time — in Woodhall Spa's quaintly authentic Kinema In The Woods.

19 comments:

Martin said...

Oh I do like that Woodhall Spa village signpost!

Ah, flat fenland walking, I was actually below sea level a few weeks ago while hiking near March, an odd experience.

The Solitary Walker said...

Yes, that sign is a treasure, Martin!

Ruth said...

So your walk was one of time travel! I don't see a phone booth anywhere, but the goats and church are charming.

The Solitary Walker said...

Mmm... well, there was a phone booth in Woodhall Spa from where I tried to phone a taxi to get back to my car in Bardney. But it had been vandalised. However a friendly barmaid in a pub kindly let me use her phone.

Ruth said...

That's nice. Well, I was thinking of Dr. Who type travel in the phone booth ...

The Solitary Walker said...

Doctor Who? Well, you'd better ask Dominic about that. He's the expert on all things inter-galactic.

The more pressing question is: why didn't I have my mobile phone with me? Aha. Carmen's is bust and she's taken mine with her to Cheltenham this week where she's accompanying my daughter on an interview.

Beam me up, Scotty...

George said...

Always great to hear about these walks, Robert, and, yes, that church does look like it belongs in New England. It seems a bit more whimsical than the churches I usually encounter in the U.K.

The Solitary Walker said...

Happy Birthday, George!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Ah Woodhall Spa! When I was a child Woodhall seemed the height of 'poshness'. I went back last year - it has been frozen in time - I don't think a single thing had changed. They were still playing croquet in Jubilee Park and the swimming baths there (open air) looked as freezing cold as they ever were.

The Solitary Walker said...

Great comment, Pat! Croquet in Jubilee Park. The very quintessence of Englishness!

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

You go on the most awesome walks. Sadly my macbook refused to show me the total photo in a few spots.
And that you ended at a spot of a former concert is so cool!!!
New England in Canada would be where? Lots of Englishmen settled here but I don't see that type of structure here.

The Solitary Walker said...

I think you'll find some of the colonial churches in Nova Scotia are pretty similar, Heidrun!

Goat said...

You saw the Beach Boys?! A couple of friends would be most envious (one saw them in Brisbane recently in their last-ditch money-raking spree) - and I am too.

It's usually worth deviating from the the path, isn't it?

The Solitary Walker said...

Deviation is exultation, Goat!

Suman said...

Your walks always remind me of some of my most favourite fairytales, and the goats, the metal sheep, and that lovely signpost of Woodhall Spa just add to it.
That church looks so quaint, and I remember seeing similar ones in Vermont.

Rachel Fox said...

Great photos... blue sky, heavy metal sheep... excellent.
x

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks for visiting, Suman and Rachel! Glad you enjoyed the walk.

Anonymous said...

The rastafarian sheep may be in honour of the Lincolnshire poet Benjamin Zephaniah.

The Solitary Walker said...

Anonymous: :-)