Haxey - Epworth - Belton (or) Belton - Epworth - Haxey

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The walk takes place on the Isle of Axholme - land that was drained in the early 1600s by the Dutch engineer Cornelius Vermuyden. The main characteristic of the Isle is that it is predominantly flat and so those looking for easy walking have certainly got it here.

The walk predominantly follows the line of the disused Isle of Axholme Joint Railway. This railway was a joint venture between NER (North Eastern Railways) and L&Y (Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway) and was closed to passengers in the 1930s.

You may do the walk in either (or both) directions, as it is described as a 'there and back'. The timings and mileages are one-way. If you wish to begin at Belton, start at Waymark 19 and if you wish to begin at Haxey, start at Waymark 1 and finish at Waymark 18. The walk is described below in the 'Haxey - Belton' direction.

We join the railway at Haxey, home of the (in)famous Haxey Hood. This is a game played every January between the villagers of Haxey and the neighbouring village of Westwoodside. To call the Haxey Hood a game perhaps makes it sound quite gentle, but it certainly isn't. The main part of the event consists of teams of literally hundreds of people in a sort of massive rugby scrum attempting to get the 'hood' (a tubular leather ball) to their favourite pub (of which there are four). The game is steeped in tradition (see http://www.wheewall.com/hood) and is extremely physical. Despite the traditional chant ('Hoose agen hoose, toon agen toon, if tha meets a man nok im doon, but doant 'ot im', which means 'House against house, town against town, if you meet a man, knock him down, but don't hurt him'), plenty of folk do get hurt. However, considering the nature of the game, it has an excellent safety record.

The first part of the railway we walk is a 14-hectare nature reserve. Trees here include birch, field maple, English oak, elder and hawthorn and also scrub such as dog-rose, nettle and rosebay willow-herb. Eighteen species of butterfly have been recorded on site, as well as green-winged orchid and agrimony. The site supports breeding populations of birds such as yellowhammer, willow warbler and long-eared owl. Plant species found include field scabious, cowslip, foxglove, oxe-eye daisy, wood avens and black knapweed.

The next stop along the line is Epworth, birthplace of John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church. Please see Walk 3838 for more details of Epworth's Wesleyan connections. Indeed, you can divert into the town at Waymark 8 by following walk 3838 from Waymarks 16 to 26.

We're forced to leave the line briefly here; it's no longer walkable as it passes through Epworth, but we soon pick it up as it continues towards Belton. We leave it at the Steer Arms, on the outskirts of Belton, though it is possible to follow it for a further 2.5km if you wish.

The route is very dog-friendly with no stiles and no livestock present. Please control your dog in the nature reserve.

England - East England - Lincolnshire - Countryside


Ancient Monument, Birds, Butterflies, Church, Flowers, Mostly Flat, Pub, Public Transport, Wildlife

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29.9 Miles