Monday, 6 September 2021

Languishing in Lincolnshire and an Eyre in Notts

Report from the East Midlands by Ian Prince 

Having joined the East Midlands DA committee, it seemed only right that I also participated in their August Bank Holiday ride to Nottinghamshire from Lincoln at the invite of their Chair, Tim who came West from Louth in Lincolnshire.

A late start by me meant a car assist was required like some other members not local to Lincoln itself (its a big county!) to arrive in plenty of time at Doddington Hall café, where as expected, the Tricycle Association were also meeting at 10:00am. Being spotted in my Audax UK jersey by a seemingly non cyclist (well he was but was not riding due to injury) brought a quick discussion about the obvious prevenance of the jersey (Margaret Hopper wife of a well known Audax club member and ride organiser used to produce them all for the club). That quickly had me asking for the whereabouts of my long time collaborator, Pete who is a keen trikie, (He and another member still hold an Audax award for doing Paris-Best-Paris 1200k on a recumbent tandem trike some years ago!). 

Anyway it was all too soon time to depart, heading out on quieter back roads and making our way through to the village of Saxilby where we briefly stopped to view a lattice bridge over the Roman Fossdyke canal. The canal connected Lindum (Lincoln) with the River Trent. 

A Building there from a mere 1908 took my eye though….Branch No. 8 of the Lincoln Equitable Cooperative Industrial Society Ltd. Of course a co-op no more. 

So we headed on to Torksey, a village where the Fossdyke meets the Trent and a brief stop by the canal at Torksey Lock, before heading to the North side of the village and then leaving the road to negotiate a few inappropriately placed Sustrans metal ‘kissing’ gates which required us all to lift the bikes over (and the reason I was not on the recumbent trike),  before we crossed the Trent into Nottinghamshire over a disused railway bridge. I recalled seeing this years ago with no decking in place. One side still is the same but at least the other side is now rideable. 

Approaching Torksey former rail bridge, now a viable means of crossing the Trent, with the redundant coal fired 1968 built Cottam Power Station cooling towers in the background.

Cottam Power Station, soon to be no more. 

Dropping down from the former rail embankment meant another gate and steps to negotiate, before heading along the flood bank and a view of the derelict but private Torksey Castle a scheduled grade I listed building and ancient monument on the East  bank of the River, to Torksey Ferry Road….no more than a rough track nowadays that skirts the South side of the Power Station. 

Obviously once upon a time there was a need to cross the River on the level. So we ambled along to eventually regain some proper roads and made our way to the booked lunch stop at the Eyre Arms in Rampton village.

Sunday lunch we knew was the only option and had pre-booked it, being bank holiday, but the ordering revealed they provided it as a carvery, so you could pick between chicken, pork, beef and turkey if you were a carnivore and choose either a large or small portion. The Yorkshire puddings were nevertheless enormous. That plus a pint (either the excellent local ‘Pheasantry Brewery’ bitter or Brains SA all the way from South Wales or a soft drink) all could be had for £10. That’s when you realise you are not in Surrey! 

So suitably refreshed and powered up, we followed the minor roads to Laneham, Dunham, Ragnall and eventually to Fledborough, where we were able to make our way down to yet another abandoned railway (this time one that used to run from Mansfield to Lincoln). This is a regular favourite of mine, with ten plus miles of uninterrupted cycle route to Lincoln. So past a now demolished coal fired power station site (High Marnham), to once again cross over the River Trent (no kissing gates this time, just a relic of a railway signal indicating it’s former use). On we went through flat lands of North Clifton and Harby with trees and brambles to either side but more than wide enough for us to ride on two abreast and plenty of bridges where roads still passed above. 

Even a sign…..low flying aircraft……(well it was a grass landing strip) on the South side of the route, but we didn’t see the RAF or any 747s passing by. You need to go north to Sheffield / Doncaster Airport for that. A former Vulcan nuclear bomber base, with a runway so long it was an emergency landing strip should it be needed, for the Space Shuttle. It still plays host occasionally to the worlds largest aircraft, the Ukrainian Antonov AN 225 that is now used to fly industrial machinery around the world, but there are very few airports that can accommodate the giant aircraft that makes a 747 look small.

So heading back along the LDECR railway that changed from gravel to tarmac as we crossed the county border, until we neared Lincoln.  We saw many signs aimed at dog walkers to take their mess with them, but no mention of the same for the horse riders though! Just watch your wheels, easier on two than three, I have to say! Eventually we peeled off the track and the short route back on road to Doddington Hall, saw me leave the group who indulged in an afternoon tea, so I believe. My thanks to Tim for the invite and great day out. 


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