The plan for our day out in Lincolnshire was to visit the historic city of Lincoln, Horncastle & Tattershall. We began in the cathedral city of Lincoln. It is the county town of Lincolnshire, which is located in the East Midlands, and is one of the UK’s largest counties. The area is largely flat, and as you drive around the county you are assaulted with vast skies and wide-open views. You can see for miles…a bit of a distraction whilst you’re poodling along in the car!
As the county is so flat it seems rather strange that the landscape suddenly rises up to 246 feet above sea level, and it is on this ‘bump’ that the city has grown up, with the castle and the cathedral rather unsurprisingly sitting on top. This means that as you approach the city you get the most marvellous views of the cathedral, which you don’t get when you are in the city as you are so close to the building.
Lincoln city centre is compact enough to walk around in a morning (providing you don’t get too distracted by the shops), and rather conveniently the areas we wanted to see (the cathedral, the castle, and Steep Hill) are practically next to each other. I was expecting that it would be a nice city because of it’s famous cathedral, but actually I thought Lincoln was a complete delight.
When we visited we just headed into the town centre and followed the signs to the castle. There are pay and display car parks dotted here and there, so we just picked one that was close to the castle and dropped anchor. When I say it was close to the castle, what I should say is that it was next to the castle wall. You couldn’t miss it! (map) (streetview).
Once out of the car it was obvious to see which way to walk: just raise your gaze and you will see the cathedral towering over its neighbours. It is stunning! We walked towards the cathedral, leaving the car park by the path in the corner, which leads to another small car park. We headed straight across towards the shops, walked down the pedestrian walkway (Gino’s is on the corner), and turned right into Bailgate. We continued on until the road opened up. Once here you have Castle Hill and the castle on your right, and Exchequer Gate and the cathedral on you left. You can’t miss them! We headed for the cathedral and walked the whole way round, listening to the bells chiming.
The Cathedral dates from 1072, however in the 14th Century the central tower and those of the West end were heightened, and at that point Lincoln Cathedral had reputedly been the tallest building in the world, at 525 feet being 3 foot higher than the great pyramid! You can take tours around the inside of the cathedral, which is reputed to be stunning, and you can also book to take a roof and tower tour. We did neither as dogs are not permitted. Nonetheless it was well worth visiting just to see this beautiful building up close. The buildings around and about are lovely too.
It was a bright, but cold morning when we visited so we needed something to warm us up after our stroll around the outside of the cathedral. We headed down to the bottom of Steep Hill to a coffee shop that we knew to be doggy-friendly, called Makushi Coffee Roasters (Makushi). What a great place! The coffee was delicious, and the cakes and breakfast menu looked most inviting on a cold November morning (porridge with honey etc etc) The guys that served us were friendly and completely relaxed about Hoover doing his impression of a large rug as he sprawled out across the floor. I can’t recommend this place highly enough for a proper cup of coffee.
After we had warmed up we wandered back up Steep Hill, which is an absolutely delightful street (on a steep hill as the name suggests) stuffed with lovely little shops. I was quite grateful that I was with Hooves as I am sure if I had been alone I would have spent a fortune. Even window shopping was strangely satisfying. The other advantage to being with Hooves is that he is brilliant at pulling you up a steep climb, so I took advantage of his doggy power and gave into his desire to beat every other pedestrian up the street.
Towards the top of Steep Hill, on the left hand side is the Wig and Mitre (pub), which is an extremely dog-friendly pub with a great reputation. We were planning to go in for lunch however by the time I had eaten a full English breakfast at the fabulous hotel we were staying in (Washingborough Hall Hotel), and elevenses at Makushi, we didn’t have room for lunch. Bummer!! We will make a point of going one day though as friends who have been tell me it’s a great pub.
After Steep Hill we wandered across to the castle but sadly dogs are not permitted. It’s understandable, but we were disappointed as we were hoping to walk around the top of the perimeter walls. Instead we walked around the outside but unlike the cathedral, you can’t actually follow the castle walls as various streets and houses get in the way.
We spent a little while longer exploring this area of Lincoln before returning to the car and heading for Horncastle.
The small market town of Horncastle is roughly half an hour to the east of Lincoln, and it is known as the antique centre of the county. We parked in the pay and display car park, which is also the Tesco car park (map). There is also a smaller pay and display car park in the centre of town that you may pass on your way through to Tesco, but this was full when we visited. Whilst it’s not a massive town there really are plenty of antique, vintage and collectables type shops to browse through, so if this is your thing, it is well worth a visit. We got a particularly warm welcome at Tea at The Bridge (The Bridge), which is a tea rooms and gift shop: not only do they have a ‘dogs welcome’ sign on display, but when they saw me hesitating they opened the door and invited us in. We didn’t stay for long however as Hoover was longer from his nose to the tip of his tail than the ground floor of the gift shop was wide, and the display of Yankee Candles was at risk of going flying! Smaller dogs would not have this problem of course, and they were still happy for us to stay for tea. I didn’t take any chances though and we left before we trashed the joint!
After Horncastle we drove onto to Tattershall, just fifteen minutes away, where The National Trust look after the moated 15th century, red-brick Tattershall Castle (map). We knew that dogs were not permitted inside the castle, but they are allowed in the grounds on leads so we were hoping to have a wander round. However we went on a Friday and the castle is only open on the weekends! We were able to see the castle from the roadside, however we missed out on the grounds, which were reputed to be lovely.
On the upside the car park is free and the short walk from the car park to the castle took us past The Collegiate Holy Trinity Church, which looked beautiful with the sunshine pouring through its windows onto the grass. A sign outside said that dogs were welcome and a bowl of water confirmed this. We went inside for a look: the east window is stunning, and our journey certainly wasn’t wasted.
After all this activity we headed back to our comfy hotel for a brew and to put our paws up…it had been a lovely day all told…a day well spent.
In summary Lincoln is well worth a visit, and would make a lovely city to spend a weekend in…