Enjoy an undulating walk through a trio of peaceful villages at the heart of the Lincolnshire Wolds.
Distance 7.5 miles (12.1km)
Minimum time 4hrs
Ascent/gradient 672ft (205m)
Level of difficulty Hard
Paths Variety of up-and-down field paths and tracks, over 15 stiles
Landscape Billowing hillsides, intensively farmed with some grazing
Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer 273 Lincolnshire Wolds South
Start/finish TF 293754
Dog friendliness Good, but close control around livestock (note stiles)
Parking Lay-by near church on Belchford's main street
Public toilets None on route (nearest at Snipe Dales Country Park)
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1 From Belchford church walk west along Main Road and turn left into Dams Lane, opposite the post office. At the end continue through a kissing gate and along a fenced path, then uphill beside fields. At the top go right then, after 100yds (91m), left through a wide gap in the hedge for a path directly uphill.
2 Continue on this waymarked field-edge route across the hilltop before heading directly south towards the village of Fulletby via undulating pasture. Turn left into the lane then, at the very top, left again to reach the main road.
3 Go over the stile opposite, by the private drive, for a wonderful view over the southern Wolds. The route now continues almost due east for 1½ miles (2.4km) down across pasture then along the bottom of ploughed fields by a strip of woodland. Approaching the far end go over a stile on the right and, skirting the right-hand edge of the small fishing lake at Salmonby, walk along the drive of Beck House to reach the road.
4 Turn left and follow the road uphill, going left at the junction. After ¼ mile (400m) turn right for a field-edge route across to another lane. Turn right then left on to a path via a newly planted hedge and some ponds and woodland. On the far side of the woodland turn right for the path to Tetford.
5 Turn left and walk along West Street for 100yds (91m) then go right, before the holly hedge, on a well-walked path across the wide ploughed field. Cross the two stiles on the far side and turn left along East Street past the pub and church. Follow the road around into North Street and along to the triangular junction with West Street at the far end.
6 Go right by Wood Farm for the road out of the village. Where this bends sharply right, beyond the last houses, go straight on along Platts Lane, a wide farm track across fields. Where the main track swings up to the ruined Glebe Farm, go straight on along the field edge all the way down to a small bridge.
7 On the far side turn right and follow the obvious track up alongside the ditch across open fields. The route is then signposted left and, after zig-zagging to the north of Glebe Farm Low Yard, it turns right on to the surfaced farm drive to reach the road.
8 Turn left and follow this back to the centre of Belchford.
This walk is partly based on one of several routes devised by Lincolnshire Wolds Countryside Service and described in a series of attractive colour booklets. Apart from the standard waymarks (yellow for public footpaths and blue for public bridleways), this route is also denoted by occasional green alder-leaf motifs - so despite the twists and turns there's no excuse for getting lost!
Belchford is associated with the South Wold Hunt, whose opening meet traditionally starts outside the Blue Bell Inn. Near the parish church is Chapel Lane, evidence that Belchford's small population also supported two other seats of worship - the Primitive Methodist chapel (built in 1834) and Wesleyan Methodist (1871).
The second village on the route is Fulletby, which used to have an inn, post office, school and bakeries, but is now a quiet little backwater. It's one of the highest villages in the Wolds, and its most famous resident was Henry Winn (1816-1914), who over the course of his long life was variously the local draper, grocer, churchwarden, schoolmaster and constable. He ran the local post office and established the village library - despite being self-educated, having left school at the age of ten - and earned a place in the Guinness Book of Records for holding the position of parish clerk for an incredible 76 years! In addition, he fathered a total of 21 children, all of them born in Winn Cottage which can still be seen opposite St Andrew's Church off Church Street. Sadly only four of the children (all daughters) survived to adulthood.
The White Hart in Tetford used to be the meeting place of a gentlemen's literary club, which was once addressed by Dr Samuel Johnson, who is recorded as playing skittles at the inn. Among the club's members was Alfred, Lord Tennyson, who was born in nearby Somersby. Along the street is St Mary's Church, which has the distinction of having the Greenwich Meridian running through its churchyard.
As you head back to Belchford, you will be following a Roman 'salt road', along which salt (used, of course, to preserve perishable foodstuffs) was transferred from the Wash coast at Burgh-le-Marsh to the important Roman garrison at Lincoln.
The high, chalk ridge to the north has an even more ancient trackway, the Bluestone Heath Road, probably used in prehistoric times by tribesmen to move animals and perhaps other trading commodities. There are several round barrows dotted along the route.
Tetford's two pubs serve food lunchtimes and evenings: the White Hart is on East Street, while on the edge of the village towards Salmonby is the Cross Keys Inn, originally built as a station on the never-completed Horncastle-Skegness railway line. The Blue Bell Inn in Belchford was being completely refurbished at the time of writing and hoped to reopen for food and drink at the end of 2002.
The Church of St Peter and St Paul in Belchford is built from Spilsby sandstone, probably quarried locally, perhaps from a bumpy area to the south of the village known as Hills and Holes (you pass it a few minutes after leaving Belchford). It's often called greenstone since it contains the green mineral glauconite, the colour of which gradually becomes apparent through weathering.
Five miles (8km) south of Belchford is Snipe Dales Nature Reserve and Country Park (off the A158/B1195), a wonderful semi-wooded valley rich in wildlife, partly managed by Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust. There are short waymarked trails that explore the woods, ponds and hillsides, as well as a bird hide, picnic area and toilets - well worth a visit.