On The Prime Merdian, Day Five : Step Back In Time

Warning : Geocache Spoiler

The course of a Roman Road runs through the neighbouring of Tetford and has remained in public access as a bridleway to the west, and a footpath to the east. We had already walked a small distance along the bridleway at sunset (see Day Three). The lure of a couple of caches placed along the way was a bonus, but it was the pull of seeing those magical words “Roman Road” on the OS Map that put this on the tick list when planning our visit weeks ago. Not that we expected to be accosted by a Centurian demanding that we paid our dues to Hadrian before being allowed to proceed, there is just something alluring about taking steps along ancient ways. We do it all the time (I drive through Chester ten times a week), but we rarely notice. Hmm… maybe another project?

The weather is fine, blue skies and a slightly chilly breeze to take the heat out of the sun. We boot up and set off on our way.

Heading West Along The Roman Road

There’s a deserted farm house which is marked on the OS Map and which we can see from the outskirts of Tetford and the Blue Stone Ridge. It is named as Glebe Farm and is in a state of ruin. We remember it as appearing deserted on our previous holiday in the area seven years ago but not how far it had declined at that time. Now it has no roof and soulless light peeps through the windows. We had hoped that the route would bring us closer, but we respect the Private sign on the track to Glebe and I record its current state today.

No Public Access to Glebe Farm

Noticeably the track up to the farm appears constantly used. Maybe the nearby working farm uses it for storage, or maybe the track provides useful access to the tops of fields, but the buildings are still deserted. Perhaps there are plans to re-occupy Glebe Farm?

We later pondered the meaning of Glebe as it features in the names of several farms in the area. Its name means a piece of land allocated to a church office. An alternate name is the church furlong. Church Furlong Farm doesn’t really trip off the tongue. Oddly there was another Glebe farm close by, and arguably closer to a church. Simon has suggested that the farm’s downfall might have been caused by a leaky roof left unrepaired, as the builder ended up at the wrong Glebe farm and left confused. I somehow doubt this.

Our search for caches is successful and whilst we are sat on a bridge signing the log of a novelty duck cache, we are ambushed by a couple who are walking a dog. When I say ambushed, I mean that they accidentally stumbled across two grown adults laughing hysterically at a duck made up like William Shakespeare sitting on an English Dictionary. I bet that will be discussed in the snug tonight, “You’ll never believe what Jim and I saw this morning…”. Needless to say they returned our greeting a little hesitantly and left rather hastily.

To quack or not to quack...

To quack or not to quack…

After a return trip past derelict Glebe, we head back to the cottage to de-boot before setting off for Belton House and Gardens. This is a fine-looking stately home (we’ve never been inside) with picturesque formal gardens and  a woodland walk.

View of The House

View of Belton House

It makes for a gentle day, strolling around the grounds, dodging the school parties. The property is a fine example of the National Trust in action. We are greeted by a friendly but not overbearing admissions clerk, who scans our membership badges, checks that the new ones have arrived (ours are expiring this month) and asks if we’ve visited before. We tell him that we have and he wishes us an enjoyable day. The gardens and paths are smartly presented. The café and shop are well stocked and attended, and there is a nod away from the corporate towards to self-sufficiency with a second-hand book shop and plant sales. It is NT-clean without being without its own personality.

We visit the church which has an interesting door – saving that picture for a WP challenge.

Belton Pond

The formal gardens are rather fine.

Belton Orangery

The Orangery

The wash of forget-me-nots in front of the orangery were close to losing their colour, but we were just in time.

Belton Path

Neat and Tidy

But our favourite part of the visit is the woodland walk.

Sadly not native Bluebells

Sadly not native Bluebells

Even though the car park was fairly full, there is space here, not quite far from the madding crowd, but enough for us. After our wanders, there is the obligatory trip to the gift shop and we have an ice-cream before leaving.

Yet again, we’re on the search for food. This time heading for “The Boston Sausage” company. Lincolnshire has its own style of sausage. Well its more of a filling than a style, with an abundance of sage and other savoury herbs in the mix. But mainly sage. According to our local food rag, the Boston Sausage Company have opened a butchers in a local farm shop and we have a voucher! We have rough directions and feel sure that we’ve visited it two years ago when it was disappointing. Sausage signs start to appear as we near our destination and it is the same venue.

The butchers have a wide selection of prepared meats (we’re on holiday and don’t want to work too hard) and we leave with sausage pie and duck breasts in a mystery marinade.  The veg in farm shop is still disappointing and we hurry out before anyone can attempt to serve us.

The duck breasts are so tender (cooked with care) and we partner them with fresh local asparagus and a store cupboard favourite, cannellini bean mash.

We couldn’t agree on the likely marinade ingredients, so it remains a mystery. To be honest, I prefer it that way.



On The Prime Meridian Day Four

Say Cheese

Whilst I might proclaim that for us, geocaching is not all about the numbers, we decided to complete a trail this morning.  Not a power trail, of which Lincolnshire boast several with over fifty caches. We cannot imagine completing one of those in a day, to us that’s the waste of a good walk. No, today’s trail had a humble seven caches placed around Snipe Dales Country Park.

Snipe Dales is, as the crow flies, less than five miles south of our cottage, so only a short journey. On arrival we boot up and set off in search of treasure. Which doesn’t take long because, by pure chance, we have parked less than one hundred yard away from cache one. Himself finds the little blighter (it was as tiny as a Lusby churchyard pony – see Day 2 post).

These caches have been aimed at children which means no shinning up trees or stretching too high (some require a little ducking down low, which falls to me, being more diminutive). It also means that we do not spend too long searching and can enjoy the country park walk. We come to a clearing where there is a special landmark:

Meridan Stone in Snipe Dales

Meridian Stone In Snipe Dales

 So here is our proof of at some point being on the Prime Meridian. We note the reference to a Lincolnshire local. It seems everyone wants a part of the meridian action. We took a little time to  stand in the place where we were and faced North, then faced South. It doesn’t feel any different to any other point in the park. Not that I was expecting this.

It’s a pretty little spot and we soon complete all but one of the caches on a ‘circular route’ with surprising changes in gradient in the final few sectors. As we leave, a coach full of small school children appear, wide-eyed and excited to be outside the classroom. I bet that they find the cache where we failed.

Snipe Dales Path

Snipe Dales Path


Next we head to nearby market town Spilsby. It isn’t market day so we find it easy to park and head to purchase some Lincolnshire Poacher  cheese from a shop which doesn’t sell any. We are told that the butchers would be able to sell us some if it wasn’t half day closing. It’s not even half eleven, so we are thwarted by the moveable feast of Spilsby half-day closing and depart the town cheese-less.

Our next attempt to purchase the Poacher is at one of two petrol stations which are situated on roundabouts at either end of a relatively short stretch of A-road. I am surprised that this can support two such enterprises, especially so for “petrol station one” which has a paucity of working pumps. We play musical chairs with other punters and secure some fuel. But no cheese in the attached ‘mini-mart’.

We put our cheese obsession on hold for a while and revisit Claythorpe Water Mill and Wildfowl Gardens. We pull up in the spacious grassy parking area and decide that this would be a good spot for our lunch. When we finish and stroll over to the admission desk we spot the sign “Picnics In The Car Park Are Strictly Prohibited”. We glance around furtively, decide that we haven’t been rumbled, brush the crumbs from our faces and try to act hungry.

The wildfowl area has been given a makeover, there are better footpaths, clearer signs and new additions, some of  which are hiding and are only evident by a vague murmur from their nest. Or is it a recording? The birds prove difficult to photograph, so this is the best I could do without holding up other visitors’ access.

Claythorpe Cockerel


Back on the Cheese trail, we locate a sizeable garden centre (“It’s bound to have a local produce section”), where I get a little claustrophobic as I have left my retail head behind. The only produce we find to our liking is some asparagus which we purchase from a woman who insists on telling us about her visit to the dentists that morning: “He completely numbed my face” she says. This hasn’t prevented her from giving us a blow-by-blow account of her treatment. I might sound unsympathetic, but I need to leave, now.

We turn our attention to searching for briquettes for the BBQ which we have no idea how to use. Ironic that we do this just after leaving a garden centre (home of all things BBQ). I think that the need to get out outweighed and temporarily obliterated all other items on our agenda. The BBQ is different to the one back home, but as the weather is half decent, we will burn some food tonight. With this in mind we head to the Not Much Better Petrol Station which sits nearest to ‘petrol station one’. Its fails to creep above the mediocrity of its rival by attempting to overcharge us. It has such a complicated refund system that the assistant has to call for managerial help twice. There is of course, only one till and we can feel the eyes of an angry queue building behind us. With the correct change we make a quick exit, avoiding eye contact with anyone.

Our afternoon coffee stop is in a windy but very pretty spot on a minor road close to Tetford.

Big Big Lincolnshire Skies


We chill and are chilled by the breeze. Again, I am very taken with the big skies.

We could head directly home, but we have one last attempt at purchasing cheese and are rewarded at an organic farm shop in High Toynton. Sadly, we are too late in day for the best cuts of meat and leave with leeks, cheese and two greetings cards. At least we have our Poacher which we enjoy with a wee dram later. At this point we are not sure how we will use leeks and asparagus on the BBQ.

Close to the cottage is Belchford. Locally famous for hunting, thankfully now drag hunting. It also has a pretty (and locked) church surrounded by a peaceful churchyard, where we take a short walk and gather our thoughts.

Belchford Chuchyard


Back at the cottage we are thwarted by not knowing exactly how to use the BBQ (it’s gas, not like back home) and eat indoors. Despite our meanderings from plan, or perhaps because of them it has been another good day and we look forward to more tomorrow.



On The Prime Meridian, Day Three

On the ground, in the skies.

Amongst the plans we made before arriving here was a trip to the nearest fishmonger in Louth. We are not that far from Grimsby where fish is still landed on a daily basis and we hope that this will mean fine fresh produce. A simple view in these days of global food transportation, but we’ll hold onto it for now. Besides, fresh fish doesn’t travel that well. Unless it is in the sea.

On this basis we make an early dash to Louth to visit Igloo Foods.

As we wend our way through its higgledy piggledy town centre I get a sense of faded glory. Louth is a market town and thankfully has many apparently thriving independent shops, a diversity of trades – an active ironmongers is always a good sign to me. But the discount shops have moved in. Just here and there, not in great numbers. I wonder how it will look in five years time, or maybe only two.

There are a couple of characters about who, given a change from shell suit to Victorian street garb, would have been ne’er do wells in a Dickensian novel. The ambling youth later blocking our way, apparently innocently staring into a shop window (it was empty), then following us a little too close until I brave a sharp stare – I’m onto you – and stop him in him in his tracks, is a case in point.

Only when we reach the next corner do we realise how quiet that little side-street was. I ask Si if he saw the man with the roll-up sat on the steps near to where we encountered our temporary shadow. Despite this, I love this type of town. Narrow dysfunctional streets, not knowing where you are, a slightly shabby appearance being spruced up in random places, independent traders each with their own speciality, having to visit at least four shops for your weekly purchases, and recommendations of who might have exactly what you want.

I also favour this time of day, just before opening time. Blinds being raised, unloading of goods, shouted “hello”s and “nice day”s, butchers carving up and hanging meat carcasses, windows and pavements being washed down, savvy shoppers arriving early for the best cuts, the promise of a good day’s trade.

We collect our fish, grab a quick cache, then revert to type and complete the shopping in the co-op supermarket. Sad really.

A quick drop off of provisions then onto Gunby Hall, a National Trust property with pretty gardens and a prettier cat called Committee, because she looks like she has been designed by one. Much like Min the cat back home. She lazily greets us whilst sunning herself on the path to the greenhouse.

Designed By Committee

Committee the cat

We find that we do not tend to visit the houses of National Trust properties, but the gardens and woodland walks. The former gives me ideas for our more modest patch back home, and the latter allows us to stretch our legs in a tame environment, plus some ideas for the wilder (less maintained) part of our garden. Gunby has the added bonus of a church (sadly locked), with views over the fields.

Close to the estate, and still part of it, is Monksthorpe Chapel, which has what looks like a cess pit, but is in fact a disused outdoor baptistery. On our way there we pass the former site of RAF Spilsby, now featuring a poultry farm. Large sheds emit a familiar smell, pervasive and persistent. We are pleased to leave and head to a grass verge near Revesby to have our lunch.

Being in these parts means a trip to Coningsby, home of the RAF Typhoons. It’s a sunny day and makes for good plane watching. Himself is pleased as we sit in the car park full of similar couples but mainly many solo males armed with tele-photo lenses galore.

Down the road is Tattershall village boasting a fine 15th century castle-keep. We have visited before, decline the audio tour and head straight for the ramparts.

One of Tattershall's  Corner Towers

One of Tattershall’s corner towers

It’s a clear day and the views are splendid. Lincolnshire does not have the dramatic beauty that you find in Snowdonia or the Lake District, but, being reasonably flat, you get a real sense of space around you. The skies here are huge. Really huge.

Big skies seen from Tattershall Castle

Big skies seen from Tattershall Castle,

Next to the castle and visitor centre is the Holy Trinity Collegiate Church. A fine building with intricate stone work and a wonderful east window.

The Holy Trinity Collegiate Church, Tattershall

East window, Holy Trinity Collegiate Church, Tattershall

We return to the cottage via another of our favourite spots, known to us as the Scenic Lay-by. It is on the blue stone ridge and its allows us to look over towards the cottage, just about.

Part of a failed panoramic shot from The Blue Stone Scenic Lay-by

Part of a failed panoramic shot from The Blue Stone Scenic Lay-by

Dinner is delicious. Halibut baked in lemon and pepper, accompanied by purple sprouting broccoli and seasonal Boston new potatoes.


We round the day off with an impromptu stroll partway along the Roman Road which passes though Tetford.

Roman Road Sunset

Splendid. Just splendid.



On The Prime Meridian, Day Two

Thoughts and Prayers

I woke early.

Sunrise over the Bluestone Ridge, Lincolnshire Wolds

As with our previous holiday, I enjoy observing the quirks of cottage, like the motion sensitive lights in Anglesey which I had to activate by waving broccoli at them. Here it is the noisiest fridge I have ever come across. Not that I am a seasoned fridge expert. It is almost constantly bubbling and whirring away to itself. Hang on. It’s just stopped. Like the death of the Martian call in Jeff Wayne’s War of the Worlds, the silence is unbearable.

On the way back from our top up shopping, the promise of a geocache leads us to the little Saxon church at Lusby. It is one of the joys of geocaching that many members place caches in interesting places. It is not all about the numbers. This being a case in point. Not finding the cache didn’t matter. The church was a joy to visit.


St Peter’s Church, Lusby, which has stonework dating from Saxon times.

There was a sign warning of ponies in the churchyard, but they were either elsewhere or very very tiny.

I imagine that if I lived nearby, this would be my refuge as and when I needed it.

On a related note, it is Open Churches Weekend in West Lindsey. Somewhere we had driven past on previous holidays but not visited is St Mary’s in Stow. The church pre-dates nearby Lincoln Cathedral, and boasts Viking graffiti, believed by some to be from the 12th century. Entering the church at the moment is like entering a building site, probably because it is one. The roof is undergoing repairs, costing in excess of £500,000. 

The fine stone in-laid vaulted ceiling and stained glass windows.

Above the ceiling is a void with a floor of jagged stone edges. It is said that if you can find the right one, removing it will cause that segment of the ceiling to fall to the floor below.

Someone must have used a step ladder to reach and polish this censer.

It is a majestic building in comparison to the many little chapels and churches in the surrounding villages, second in grandeur possibly only to the cathedral itself.  Lusby chapel would fit inside several times over and I would be inside that chapel.

We spent lunch in an elevated lay-by near RAF Scampton with some bikers, waiting for something that never happened. I can’t tell you what it was, because it never graced us with its presence.

Later we make a random choice of b-road and we are presented with a turning signposted Wickenby Aerodrome and RAF memorial. Wickenby was a base for Lancasters in the second World War and a maintenance unit was based here long after. There is a small memorial, sadly devoid of commemorative panels (stolen) and statue (stored in fear of theft). It declares the price paid for our freedom.  A freedom that some have chosen to use to deface the memory of the fallen.

Just inside the aerodrome perimeter is a memorial walk. Trees planted and dedicated to individuals and or crews. It is very moving. The words “an uncle never known” are too painful for me to consider dry-eyed.

We continue our walk to the end of one runway and pause a while.

Looking along one of the runways at Wickenby Aerodrome

We are again a little early to return, and head for afternoon coffee in a favourite lay-by near Burgh On Bain. Last time we visited, Si grabbed the cache here before I had got the car door open. We check that it is still present before we leave.

Before dinner, we stroll along the lane and grab a couple of caches, taking in the gentle beauty surrounding us.

View from Clay Lane, Little London, Tetford

It’s a pleasant end to a thoughtful day.


On The Prime Meridian, Day One

And we’re off.

The journey from west to meridian takes about three and half hours. We leave at 0715 and, knowing that our residence for the week wll not be available until after 1600, we will have time to kill. Himself has concerns, I have plans.

I take the wheel for the first leg of the journey, which is grey, wet and windy. We skirt Manchester and head over the Woodhead Pass. A pleasure in good weather, a slow grind today in a long train behind the obligatory petrol tanker.

Stop One is a quick changeover near, well, nowhere in particular. Himself takes the wheel and I start to relax, which is not good because I’m supposed to be navigating. Only one minor diversion. Usually I can hide my errors (he has no sense of direction), but the even if the sun hadn’t been so low, he would have spotted the complete about-turn at the next roundabout. Maybe I should have asked him to drive around it a few times to disorientate him.

Usual exchange:
“This looks familiar.”
“I thought so too, that must be a feature round these parts.”

Soon we are at Roche Abbey for Stop Two. Last visited two years ago and still ruinously splendid. The light wasn’t very good, so I’ve applied a little snapseed magic:

It was a Cistercian abbey, dissolved like so many in Henry VIIIs reign. The locals assisted in its physical collapse, and one wonders what pleasure they took in finding fine building materials at the expense of The Church. You might think of monks as pious individuals, praying constantly, healing the sick and feeding the hungry, but there is evidence that many in England did not live such a Godly life.

Roche might have been different. There is an extensive infirmary. That said, we are only too aware in the twenty-first century of the effects of a diet of excess, so maybe this was for residents use only.

Stop Three is a cute little windmill at Tuxford. It is National Mills weekend and the entrance fee has been waived. As usual, I climb up all available stairs and himself keeps feet on terra firma. There are five floors (it doesn’t look that tall from the ground), and they are milling today in a fine breeze.  The change in the turning speed of the stones as the strength of the breeze rises and falls takes me by surprise. I keep fingers and clothing well away.


We purchase flour and muesli but, because of some obscure health and safety rule, we are refused cake. Hrumph.

After a lunch break in a non-scenic lay-by and a stop for provisions at our 2013  holiday base in Doddington we are on the last leg of our journey. Except that we are too early to collect the cottage keys and must kill time at a local garden centre where cake is not refused and we head to local land mark, the Belmont  Mast.

This 1154 foot tall structure is television transmission station. In 2010 was shortened  by roughly 100 feet. Prior to this it was considered the tallest structure of its kind in the world.

We park up with a good view and good cake (at last). Stop Five is also the setting for our first geocache find of this holiday. We exchange a very shiny plastic key for a plastic soldier, who I name Lincolnshire Tommy.  Si points out that he should really be an airman to be from Lincolnshire, but he is quite clearly a soldier and the name sticks.

We set off too soon and have to make Stop Six. Where there isn’t a geocache or cake, just a lay-by overlooking the mast (if you look over your shoulder).

Soon we are the cottage. It is as pretty as as I remember it from seven years ago.

After unpacking, unwinding and dining, we take a brief stroll into the adjoining village. It is a warm Saturday evening and young men stand outside the inn. We take a tour of the churchyard, then head back to the cottage, bagging a cache on the way.

It has been a good start to the week.


On The Prime Meridian, Nearly

And breathe. The out of office is set, Min the cat is in her holiday home, and the car is just about packed.

The title refers to our position relative to acknowledged time lines. Tomorrow we will be holidaying in Lincolnshire, an undervalued county in our opinion, but we’ll not complain. We would not want everyone to descend upon our peace.

Our base for the week will be a hamlet called Little London. There are several other Little Londons in the UK. They are on the Greenwich Time Line, giving their connection to our capital city, hence the name. The similarities just about stop there.

I thought that I would look a little into how and why Greenwich became recognised as longtitude zero, otherwise know as the Prime Meridian and I give you a Wikipedia fuelled nutshell:

– The Greek Eratosthenes developed the notion of longtitude;

– Ptolemy developed this further suggesting a Prime Meridian running approximately through The Canaries;

– Increased long distance sea travel and the development of the naval chronometer demanded a more accurate method of mapping and the agreement of the line of longitude zero.

– In 1884, the International Meridian Conference held in Washington, D.C. voted to adopt the Sir George Airy’s Greenwich  meridian as the prime meridian.

– The French wanted a neutral line, abstained and continued to use the Paris meridian until 1911.

– Many Prime Meridians are listed by Wikipedia, surely a contradiction in terms?

– The Airy Meridian is at GPS   0° 00′ 05.3101″ W.

As far as I am concerned, for the coming week, we got ‘tude zero!