Historic Lincoln and the River Witham

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Lincoln is one of the oldest cities in Britain and has been inhabited continuously for almost 2,000 years. It was originally a Roman legionary fortress, built around 50AD by Legio IX Hispana (remember the TV series The Eagle of the Ninth?) When the legions left Lincoln in AD78, the fort was rebuilt with stone walls as a sizable colony (hence the name Lincoln, which is an abbreviation of Lindum Colonia). The colony was initially built at the top of the hill (around what is now known as the Cathedral Quarter) and later extended down the hill to the River Witham.

It is at the River Witham we start and walk briefly along the bank to admire the contrast of the new (the 'Empowerment' sculpture, spanning the river), with the old (the Tudor High Bridge Café, on the bridge). When we reach the High Street, we now head uphill, under Stonebow Arch and onto Lincoln's infamous and aptly named Steep Hill.

You'll want to take your time going up Steep Hill, not particularly because it is so steep, but because of the interesting little independent shops and listed and period properties. At the top, we find Lincoln's two most impressive buildings: the castle and the cathedral. You'll want to allow plenty of time to visit both. While you're in the cathedral (which masqueraded as Westminster Abbey in the film The Da Vinci Code), it's a traditional challenge to spot the emblem of Lincoln, the Lincoln Imp. This was one of a pair sent by the Devil to cause mayhem, but it was turned to stone by an angel (the other escaped) and is still there to spot; no clues!

Our next stop along the way is English Heritage's medieval Bishop's Palace. This 12th Century property was once the administrative centre for the largest diocese in England (stretching from the Thames to the Humber) and is now home to one of the most northerly working vineyards in Europe.

After passing the pre-medieval and much haunted Tithe Barn, we reach the Arboretum, a picturesque haven to rest and admire your surroundings and a park of Grade II historic importance, designed by the renowned Victorian landscape gardener, Edward Milner.

We return to the Cathedral Quarter via Pottergate, with its two medieval stone arches. After coffee at the Cloister Refectory, we visit a number of remains of the Roman Walls, including the impressive Newport Arch (the only Roman arch still in use in the country) and the impressive 30ft-high Mint Wall.

Next on the list is the Museum of Lincolnshire Life (via the site of the City's Gallows) and onwards to Ellis Mill, a well-preserved windmill which still mills flour (wind permitting!) With the majority of the sightseeing behind you, I thought you deserved a nice walk in pleasant surroundings, so the next leg is across the common to the River Witham and then a riverside stroll back into the city via Brayford Pool. This is a natural widening of the river with healthy populations of mute swans, pleasure craft, restaurants and bars.

This is quite a good dog walk, though the city centre can be crowded.

England - East England - Lincolnshire - Town or city


Ancient Monument, Birds, Cafe, Castle, Church, Flowers, Food Shop, Gift Shop, Good for Kids, Great Views, Industrial Archaeology, Museum, National Trust, Pub, Public Transport, Restaurant, River, Stately Home, Tea Shop, Toilets
4/5/2011 - janet young

05.04.2011 We did this walk recently, on a weekend visit to Lincoln. None of us had been before. The walk led us to some lovely places, the Cathedral, castle, museum & mill. Very informative and enjoyable. Thanks, Janet.

5/29/2009 - helen willison

Six of us did this walk yesterday, 28th May. We took the train to Lincoln from Worksop and had an excellent day. Steep Hill had lots of little shops to browse and when we got up to the castle we were just in time for a guided tour which was most interesting made even better by the Red Arrows flying over complete with red, white and blue smoke plumes. Coffee at the cloisters in lovely sunshine and then the rest of the walk. All of us thought we knew Lincoln quite well but we all discovered places we hadn't been to before. Loads of buttercups and horses on the common and a pleasant riverside stroll. Finishing with a meal at the Green Dragon, an excellent pub with graet service and food. We will be putting this walk in our Ramblers programme for next year. Thanks Sam for a smashing day. Helen