Monday, September 2, 2013

Cycling the Water Rail Way (The long haul back) part 3 Lincoln to Bardney

Thursday, 1st August 2013: I am not sure quite how the journey back will chop up into pieces. So I will play it by ear. The journey from Boston to Lincoln had been really pleasant and fast. I was also surprised by how many cyclists I passed going the other way – over 100. At the time I was going to do a search to see if there was an event, but couldn’t find one. Quite a few of them were Lycra’d and helmet’d – which is why I thought it might be an organised event. There were lots of leisure cyclists also on the route though.

I passed the Lycra’d group at the Boston end  on the road section which suggested they were in a group. They were also looking a little tired – which I later discovered for myself was because the wind was blowing consistently against them.

The last time I cycled this route I really enjoyed reading the information boards that have been erected along the route along with a series of different artworks with connections. I didn’t stop much on the way to Lincoln, heading back I tried to stop at pretty much every information board. I might have missed one or two though.

This is one such board at the start, from the Lincoln end. It shows the entire route along with the distances to Boston and Lincoln, except the first one, since they presume the rider would realise that he/she was at the Lincoln end.

At the start of the ride a small tower has been created – Lincoln Stump. It looks a bit uncared for with quite a lot of rubbish around it. I was hoping that it would make a good vantage point to get a picture of Lincoln Cathedral – unfortunately there are tree in the way.

Water Rail Way – Information Board – Lincoln – 31 miles to go

It is rather reassuring to be making regular progress and watch the distances reduce. Although at one point on the way back I found myself wandering when I would get back to Kirkstead Bridge and the road bit again, it seemed to drag…

I think it was all the stopping and starting as well as the wind, which seemed to get stronger as the afternoon wore on that sapped my energy. I can see why the cyclists I saw in the morning heading towards Boston looked so tired

Water Rail Way – Distance/Information Boards

As well as the distance boards there are also a series of information boards along the route with information about various places around and about.  It paints an interesting picture from practical matters like the Langrick Bridge through to the  Pop Festival at Tupholme Abbey in 1972. One of the DJs was John Peel and Genesis were one of the bands.

Water Rail Way – Information Boards along the route

One of the things I like to do when cycling through an area is learn a little about the history, geography and nature of the place.  Lincoln and Boston are joined by the River Witham, quite a substantial river. This Post covers the bit from Lincoln to Bardney – a downloadable leaflet is available here.

So this route owes its heritage to the river, used to transport people and goods between Lincoln and Boston. The river was then superseded by the railway, although it was still used to transport goods until the mid 1900s. Which is much earlier than when the track was closed down.  (June 1963.)

This bridge used to connect the Boston/Lincoln line with an existing line heading down to Sleaford. (Then you can change for Boston.)

Washingborough Old Railway Bridge

After seeing a whole bunch of Lycra’d cyclists in the morning most of the cyclists I passed later one were just normally dressed leisure cyclists, with a crops of families and also some cyclists out on tricycles.

Cyclists on the Water Rail Way – near Washingborough

There was a Zeppelin Raid in 1916 and the Washingborough Church has some stained glass windows that commemorate it.  This is the old Washingborough Station – it looks as if it is being restored as a private house. It does not appear to have changed much from the picture in this link – apart from there being no railway track or signal box.  If you click on this link and then on the first picture the Station is viewed from the other side of the River Witham along with the ferry.

Washingborough Railway Station

The river looks wide and straight, well apparently that is because it was straightened between the late 1700s and 1800s.  The workers were called navigators – presumably because they were improving the navigation of the river – this was shortened to navvies – you learn something new every day.

I think this is Long Wood – but am not sure. I can see pylons in the background and a road in front.  It is before the Mosaic Wheel (that is the next picture), so it can’t be. As the Mosaic Wheel is before Fiskerton.  So it must be a non-descript wood between Cherry Willingham and Fiskerton.

Wood seen from the Water Rail Way between Fiskerton and Cherry Willingham
or Fox Covert

Here is the Mosaic Wheel, created by the Washingborough Mosaic Group.

Mosaic Wheel

As is usual there are lots of drainage ditches around and this stretch of the River Witham has one either side – the North Delph and South Delph and a few other drains.  It turns out that the Time Team did a dig on the South Delph bank.

Time Team Dig along the Rail Water Way

I had to confess I didn’t actually read the last board properly and assumed that the Late Bronge Age site was that clump of trees – which means the last clump of trees could have been Fox Covert with this clump of trees being the the previous group between Cherry Willingham and Fiskerton.

Wood seen from the Water Rail Way between Fiskerton and Cherry Willingham

Yep it now makes more sense and this lock is where Sandhill Beck meets South Delph.

Did I mention that the Water Rail Path at this end was far less smooth than at the Boston end. I guess I must also have been getting tired, but it was a lot less pleasant cycling along this end.  You can just about see the ripples in this picture. The trouble is in the winter water can freeze in the ripples.

Water Rail Way path – near Fiskerton

Some more artwork   –   Lincoln Red Cattle – Sally Mathews.

Lincoln Red Cattle – Water Rail Way

Apparently the River Witham has been a rich source for finds of prehistoric weapons and tools (second only to the Thames.)  This “seat” provides a shady spot.

Water rail Way – undulating seat

A little further down the path and there is a foot bridge across North Delph.  When the railway line was first built the villagers used a ferry as the station was across the River Witham. The Station was known as the Five Mile House Railway Station – taken from the name of a pub, it being five miles from Lincoln.  There is a picture of the station in this link to disused stations.

River Witham – looking downstream – from the Five Mile House Footbridge

Looking the other way and you get a good view of Lincoln Cathedral.

River Witham – Lincoln Cathedral – from the Five Mile House Footbridge

Well you do if you have a zoom lens.

River Witham – Lincoln Cathedral – from the Five Mile House Footbridge

This artwork is called Lady of Shalott by Anwick Forge. The finish was achieved by dipping the piece in molten zinc. (A picture with cyclists passing under)

Lady of Shalott – Water Rail Way

A bit further along is what I took to be a ghost bike, next to a three-branched bench. Ghost bikes are used as a roadside memorial where a cyclist has been killed or severely injured. I wander who placed it here.  Whoever did used two locks.

Ghost Bike – Water Rail Way

The Ghost bike is just on a bend in the river, the South Delph is quite a substantial drain in its own right.

South Delph turning South East towards Bardney

Until I wrote this Post I had assumed that the Lady of Shalott was this wooden sculpture.  But it isn’t and I can’t easily find a reference to this artwork. This lady is on the new course of the River Witham. There is a loop of the Old River Witham around Branson Island.  I am not the only one who has struggled – check out the sixth picture down on this blog. There is also an inscription apparently – “and she went down and found a boat”.

It was a bit cleaner that last time I took the picture back in 2009 whilst cycling from Hull to Cambridge.  I still can’t find a reference to the sculptor.  I have found what looks to be a picture of the piece being sculptor though – here on Flikr as past of the Sustrans Picture Library. A using Geograph's ability to see nearby pictures  it is referred to as Nigel Sardeson’s splendid sculpture.  Indeed it is – here she is from the back. Here is a link to Nigel’s website. He did the Pike along the route, I wonder why this piece barely gets a mention?

Another two of his works will feature in a later post – River Pillar and Curly-Haired Pigs. This particular piece is referred to as Lady of Shalott in one Flikr link. The Poem does include the line: “Down she came and found a boat” so perhaps there are two artworks devoted to the Lady of Shalott.

The other Lady of Shalott – Nigel Sardeson – Water Rail Way

There is a bridge where the old and new river Withams re-join at Horsley Deeps along with a lock). The railway line, now the Water Rail Way, ends up on the other side of the River Witham. Apparently a Mrs Wright was the lock-keeper of Bardney Lock for 34 years. She wasn’t paid, but a house was provided. Her husband was a plate-layer on the railway.

Water Rail Way bridge at Horsley Deeps

This wood sculpture does get a mention – Pike by Nigel Sardeson – this one has a line from Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem “The Brook” – “I slip I slide, I glance I gloom”.

Pike, Nigel Sardeson, Water Rail Way, Bardney

And the next “exciting” episode will be, probably, Bardney to Kirkstead Bridge.


To recap the one-way distance is around 35miles/ 56Km and it is flat. There are alternate routes at Bardney/Southrey – so I used one going up and the other coming back. Here is the Bike Route Toaster Link. The route is flat, there are places to get refreshments along the way, but I would recommend taking something to drink.

Both Lincoln and Boston have stations – although Boston is a little bit off the beaten (railway) track.

Boston to Lincoln


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