Lincolnshire, Wolds and the North.
‘Why don’t we visit Lincolnshire?’ was the question posed when thinking of an area to visit. Well, why not. We have done Lincolnshire before, but not the north.
A check on the bells in that area showed a good selection The distance is not too great, but we still need to produce an interesting day. Somewhere for coffee, midday meal, and a cup of tea before home is needed too.
A quick look at the map produced an outline plan. Enter the county via Gainsborough, Then we could head for the Wolds and try to ring at Tealby, just the other side of Market Rasen.
Heading north from there would bring us to Barton upon Humber, with two rings of 8, and close by is Barrow where there are 12 bells. So far so good. Barton looked the best place for lunch. After lunch we had the choice of a number of nearby towers and also a chance to visit ‘Julians Bower’ an ancient labyrinth at Alkborough.
So, onto detailed planning. If Barton was to be the lunch stop we needed to leave Tealby by 12-00 noon. If we had a coffee break there would be too little time to ring at an earlier tower. Enquiries were made at the various towers so far.
Barton, St.Mary was a possibility, there had been a change to the tower captain there, but eventually made contact. St. Peter’s is an archaeological and architectural treasure and in the hands of English Heritage, but it was too early in the year to get a contact via them..
We could ring at Barrow, however, but only if we rang after a wedding! That tied us down time wise, but we couldn’t miss the opportunity.
Looking at later towers, we found, Burton, a preferred tower, was being used by the local association for a meeting. A suitable alternative was Winterton - that would allow us to visit the labyrinth just afterwards. Winterton could accommodate us, but there would be an RC service later so we would need to finish by 4-00 pm.
Somehow we needed to schedule the rings to allow reasonable time for lunch, get to the wedding to ring out the happy couple and go on to Winterton to ring before the RC service. Ringing at Barton would need to be before Barrow, but that would ‘eat’ into lunch time.
The chosen tower at Epworth (of Wesley fame) was due to be under renovation at the time of our visit, but there was another tower just up the road at Belton. Parhaps we could visit there.
Eventually thing started to drop into place. We could ring at Tealby. We could ring at Barton, just after lunch, and we could ring on the 12 bells at Barrow after the wedding. This would just allow enough time to get to Winterton before there RC service. And we could ring at Belton before heading home.
Now, what about refreshments. A little investigation showed there was a large antiques centre at Hemswell, just after Gainsborough. . Claimed to be the largest antiques centre in Europe. Their coffee shop is listed on the ‘Tastes of Lincolnshire’.- sounds the right place for a stop, but we may have trouble getting everybody back into the coach!
There is a new visitor centre at Barton, down by the Humber, very near to the bridge. The Honey Pot Café advertise a good choice of foods. So ok for lunch time then, but what about tea time?
We now had five towers to ring at. A coffee stop on the way. Somewhere to eat at lunch time and an ancient labyrinth to view. Only a cup of tea before leaving for home was missing. The ringers at Belton were unable to supply drinks, but suggested their local hostery - The Crown Inn. The inn did not do food, so was not the right place to get cups of tea, however a phone call from Winterton saved the day. They had a coffee morning that day and would keep the cups etc. for our visit. Their church treasurer also offered to give a short history tour of the church for our non ringers. This was all readily accepted.
Everything was now in place. All we needed to do was enjoy the day and ensure we kept to a tight timetable. A last minute change was made when we learned that the work at Epworth had not started and we could ring there as well as at Belton. This offer was accepted and the timetable duly modified. That would be very tight, but worth the effort. Six towers in all.
Whilst all this planning was going on, we had been steadily building up a clientele. We had enough ringers to ring the 12 bells at Barrow and enough non ringers from the church to make the trip viable.
The weather leading up to the day had been very wet, but the forecast for that Saturday was reasonable - just the chance of a few heavy showers. The coach turned up for an 8-15am start. Picking up extra passengers at Whittington Moor and Barlborough before heading out to Worksop, Retford and Gainsborough where we crossed the Trent and entered Lincolnshire. The steam from the power station at Gainsborough making clouds in the sky.
Soon we arrived at Hemswell, where a trading estate had been developed on the site of RAF Hemswell - the home of the Lancaster Bomber. The antiques centre proved more difficult to find than expected, but once we located the old parade ground, we found it. There are certainly many antique outlets in this development, well worth a separate visit some time. A pleasant cup of coffee and a browse around was enjoyed by all.
There was no problem getting everyone back on the coach, they are all well trained. Then on via Market Rasen to the small village of Tealby nestling on the edge of the Wolds. The church of All Saints has 6 bells (11cwt). Access is via a steep step ladder with a trap door which needed to be closed before ringing could start.
Leaving Tealby, we climbed up to the high road running north along the crest of the Wolds. An excellent road with good views all around, then dropping to the outskirts of Caister. Keeping to the minor road north, which become progressively narrower, we passed the Humberside airport to join the road heading for the Humber Bridge.
Leaving this road just before the bridge brought us into Barton where some of the passengers alighted to find refreshment in the town, whist those remaining went the further mile to the Waters Edge Visitor Centre.
The Honey Pot Café was quite busy. Most managed to get the food they required - after a wait, but one or two missed out when they ran out of fish and chips! The visitor centre is primarily a place to view the nature reserve in what had been gravel pits. Cameras at nesting sites relayed pictures of the birds onto screen within the centre. Outside there was a walk way with excellent views of the Humber Bridge.
It was only a mile into town from the visitor centre and those wishing to ring at St Mary’s had to walk. The others could wait for the coach which would arrive at the church after we had rung.
St. Mary’s has eight lovely bells (16cwt) and an excellent ringing balcony complete with CCTV in the belfry allowing a view of the bells whilst ringing. The church is very spacious and light - a nice place..
The coach arrived to take us the three miles down the road to Barrow in time to ring for the wedding. We had a little wait - the bride was 10 minutes late!
Holy Trinity church Barrow is quite small for the 12 bells (16cwt) which have been augmented quite recently. It is a ringing centre and used for training ringers. Access is via a steep ladder complete with a safety notice saying ‘maintain three point contact at all times’. You would think it was a rock face. There was plenty of noise in the ringing chamber from blowers assumed to be part of the heating system. A sound pipe had been installed to allow the ringers to hear the bells.
We had a good ring on the 12 bells when the bridal party came out of the church. All managed to sample these easy going bells.
We had thought we would be delayed on the way to Winterton whilst we picked up passengers who had opted to remain in Barton. There were none to pick up, so on we went to Winterton. We had been advised to enter the village via West St. and North St. to avoid the busy market area and so had no delay.We had a good welcome from the tower captain, the church treasurer and his companion ,who had offered to give guided tours of the church. The tea ladies were ready with the refreshments too. We readily split into groups for ringing , touring and drinking. The ringers didn’t have enough time to do a tour as well, but made do with second hand information - like the small mark in the stone at the south door which keeps the devil out.
The Congregation were gathering for the following service - it was time to leave, but not before the single toilet had been well and truly used.
Now for the minor road ride to the north west corner of this part of the county and Alkborough. Here is the labyrinth known as Julian’s Bower. The coach had a little trouble negotiating the narrow road to the ‘Bower’, but found somewhere to park in the end. It was a little muddy underfoot, but this did not deter anyone from taking the short walk to enjoy the view. The ‘Bower’ is on what is called a cliff and overlooks the confluence of the Trent and Ouse rivers, becoming the Humber at that point. The tide was out so river traffic was restricted, but it is still an interesting place. Some of our party tried to find their way through the labyrinth without cheating.
There are three bells in the church, but have not been rung full circle for a long time, so we had to give these a miss.
We moved quickly on, passing Normanby Hall and skirting round Scunthorpe, joining the M180 for a short while, crossing the Trent and entering the Isle of Axholme region. We were soon at Epworth, but negotiating the narrow street to the church was a bit of a problem. The coach driver managed to squeeze by a parked car with only millimetres to spare.
St Andrew’s church is nicely situated at the top of a short path. There are 8 bells (16cwt), but the church is in need of the planned restoration.
After ringing here, those who had been travelling by car went quickly on to Belton, taking some more ringers with them. The coach would follow, but the coach passengers would not have sufficient time to visit Belton church.
The ringing chamber at Belton is up one floor with access through a trap door. Most ringers managed to sample the six bells (11cwt) if only for a few rounds.
Then it was time to head for home. There was no call to stop en route, so we made good time back to Chesterfield. Dropping off at Barlborough and Whittington Moor before arriving at 7-30.
Another good and interesting, if busy, trip.
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