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...
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.