Countryside , 29 October 2019

Retracing Tennyson’s Steps / A Weekend In Lincolnshire

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At first glance, you might think that my friend Ollie and I aren’t ideal candidates for holidaying happily together.

For starters, we both have vastly different proclivities once at our destination. I’m a keen walker, Ols prefers lounging poolside. I’m always on the hunt for restaurants offering good veggie food, while Ols is happier than ever when at a good breakfast buffet complete with bacon. I’m teetotal, he loves wine.

But most tricky of all is the task of finding locations we can both agree on in the first place: I am a keen traveller with a fondness for roaming the world, while Ols only leaves the UK once every three years as a rule and finds flying nerve-wracking in the extreme.

To facilitate his need to stay on England’s green and pleasant land and to satisfy my wanderlust, we decided last year that we should embark on a series of mini breaks in the UK together. And, rather fortunately for us, England is heaving with places that offer up the two things that we’re mutually interested in: literary ties and historic sites. 

Lincolnshire is one such spot, and as neither of us had been and were both curious to see the land that lives so vibrantly in Tennyson’s writing, we were delighted to take up the East Lindsey District Council’s offer of a weekend exploring it.

Here’s our travel diary, and some thoughts on the places we visited.

Hotel: The Admirable Rodney, Horncastle / Ideally-located to explore the Lincolnshire Wolds, and a stone’s throw from some pretty restaurants and shops. While it was comfy and we wanted for nothing, I would say a light refurbishment wouldn’t go amiss as there were parts of the hotel that looked a little tired. I mentioned this to Ollie and he said ‘absolutely not – it’s charming,’ so don’t take my word for it. 

Friday Night: Dinner at Magpies Restaurant, Horncastle / This is the sort of restaurant I’d love to have around the corner from my house – the food was delicious, and the atmosphere cosy. It’s more of an ‘occasion’ place and there were a few people in there celebrating birthdays, so go here if you care about food and want to devote a little time (and money – it’s not cheap) to enjoying it.

Saturday Morning: Tattershall Castle / A rarity: a brick castle comprised of 700,000 odd bricks that’s almost perfect preserved, complete with winding staircases and vast tapestries. We were both intrigued by the story of it being sold to a wealthy American in the early 20th century who sold the elaborate fireplaces, and Lord Curzon’s horror at said turn of events, which precipitated him buying the castle, retrieving and reinstalling the fireplaces, and then leaving it to the National Trust upon his death.

Lunch: The Old Stables Coffee Shop, Horncastle / We went in starving and came out stuffed thanks to the delicious cakes we wolfed down after sandwiches. Only go if you want to be tempted. It would be impossible to resist having at least one.

Saturday Afternoon: A Walk Around Bag Enderby / Aka Tennyson’s stomping ground. His Dad was a rector at the church, and Tennyson lived in Somersby from 1809 – 1837, with a brief hiatus to go to Cambridge before returning to help run the household after his Dad died.

He wrote In Memoriam (‘better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all’) here after being left distraught when a uni friend of his died while on holiday in Vienna.

He also wrote The Lady Of Shallot while here, as well as purportedly being inspired by the brook that’s a short walk from his house to write ‘The Brook’ (‘men may come and men may go / but I go on for ever’).

The whole walk took around three hours, and we were amazed to find it wasn’t heaving with tourists, didn’t feel like it had been tarnished by being the site of such important literary history. We’d both really recommend making exploring this area a big feature of your time in the Wolds if you visit.

Saturday Night: Dinner at The Petwood / This place was terrifically grand, and would make for an ideal spot to warm up in sumptuous surrounds if you head to Lincolnshire during the winter months. The food was enjoyable and hit the spot after our walk but wasn’t spectacular, though I’d suggest going in any case as it really was quite something to sit in the huge dining room. 

To find out more about the Lincolnshire Wolds, visit the Love Lincolnshire Wolds website here:

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