Saturday, August 31, 2013

Cycling the Water Rail Way (Boston to Lincoln and back) part 1

Thursday, 1st August 2013: It has been a while since I last went on a day bike ride. I do like day trips and have cycled to Kings Lynn (part 1, part 2 & part 3) and Norwich (part 1 & part 2),  more than a few times. I have also been to Ipswich and Cromer – in all cases letting the train take the strain on the way back. I also cycled from Hull to Cambridge over a couple of days, mainly along NCN1 and thoroughly enjoyed that trip. Part of the Hull route route took me along the Water Rail Way from Lincoln to Boston.

My wife and daughter were away for the day so I decided to take the day off and go cycling and reckoned that the Water Rail Way would be rather pleasant, especially as the weather was forecast to be glorious.

My original thought was to catch the train to either Lincoln or Boston and cycle to the other one and get the train back.  A quick check and the train journey between Boston and Cambridge would take 3 hours 21minutes (07:00) train and the return 3 hours and  5m (18:49). both with two changes. The Cambridge to Lincoln train would take 3 hours (1 change) ay 06:57, the return would take 2 hours 31m with two changes.

So rounding things up a one-way cycle trip would take around 6 hours on the train. Whereas to drive to Boston would take around 1 hour and 30minutes. Whilst Boston was closer it would mean that the 3 hours saved travelling could be put to use cycling both ways. So I felt that the best option was to drive to Boston and then cycle up to and back from Boston and drive home again. A shame but whilst direct trains can be pretty fast once you start having to change trains then extra time creeps in.

The other benefit of driving was that I didn’t have to book space for my bike in the car. Or get in and drive it at a specific time, I would still have preferred to let the train take the strain though.

My first mistake was to spend more time programming my GPS with the Water Rail Way route and not any time on the short distance between where I was going to park my car and the start of the route.

It is slightly harder than it looks finding a place to park, there is a website that showed various places to park, in the end though I decided to park in the railway station car park. It wasn’t too expensive and it was fairly close to the route. The car park is on Station Approach and it was easy to find as I had plugged it into the SatNav in the car. I also figured that it would be overlooked and so reasonably secure. It would also mean that if I decided not to cycle back from Lincoln (because of say a mechanical issue) and instead took the train then I would return close by my car.

On the map the route is obvious – on the ground it wasn’t and I headed south, but still found NCN1 and then lost it again on Market Place. I do find that the Sustrans route marking can be somewhat haphazard, particularly in towns.  I did not at first realise that the route went round St Botolph’s. Once you lose a Sustrans route it can be quite hard finding it again, especially when there are one-way streets.

Ah well it is all part of the adventure. I probably ought to mention that my plan was to travel light – I had two bags of jelly babies for emergency rations and two litres of water, I also pre-loaded with water on the way. I was going to buy stuff en-route as my contribution to the local tourist economy. I ended up taking ~150+ pictures so I decided to chop up the Post into a few parts.

There is loads of signage en-route, which give information on the local history and flora and fauna as well as distance information. Also to cut a long story short I cycled there and back – although there are two options between Southrey and Bardney, so used one going ad the other coming back.

Here is the Bike Route Toaster Link (BRT) – which I have shown as starting from the Station car park (Station Approach) . There is a Station Path on the map that might make for a more direct route – but I wasn’t sure if you could cycle down it or not.

The distance, there and back, was 107Km/67miles and if you don’t cycle into the centre of Lincoln is flat. If you do then it gets up to 60m. Although the BRT summary does show a small 15m “hill” on the way out, but not on the way back so I guess that was the out route detour.

There is some useful information on the route – here is a Lincolnshire Council link to the route. With various downloads including a map of the artworks.

All in all I started off around 10am. By the time the skies were blue and the sun was pretty hot. Most of the route follows the shared-use path although there is a section where you follow country roads. It is about one third of the journey, between the B1192 (Langrick Bridge) and Kirkstead Bridge – approximately half-way.  Fortunately most of it does follow the river. I have highlighted that bit in yellow on the map.

When I set of I seemed to be cycling quite fast, oh dear the wind was behind me. I made the most of it though.

Blue skies on the Water Rail Way

The Water Railway – A Cycle route from Boston to Lincoln

Coming soon – part 2…

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