Discover historic Stamford, one of the finest 'stone towns' in England.
Distance 2.5 miles (4km)
Minimum time 1hr 30min
Ascent/gradient 188ft (55m)
Level of difficulty Easy
Paths Surfaced paths and pavements
Landscape Churches and squares, narrow alleyways and historic inns
Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer 234 Rutland Water
Start/finish TF 030072
Dog friendliness Good in The Meadows, use poop scoop bins
Parking Car parks around town, including North Street
Public toilets Various, including Red Lion Square and High Street
1 The walk starts at Stamford Museum (free admission, open daily) on Broad Street. Leaving the entrance turn left and walk along Broad Street. Ahead, across the road, is Browne's Hospital, established as an almshouse in the late-15th century by a wealthy local wool merchant.
2 Turn left into Ironmonger Street and, at the end, go right into the High Street (pedestrians only). At the end is Red Lion Square, which like much of Stamford is dominated by the soaring spires and towers of churches. On your left is St John the Baptist, whose nave and chancel roof are lined with rows of wooden angels; while to your right is the equally imposing All Saints, described as 'the hub of Stamford' by Nikolaus Pevsner.
Turn right and walk on to and up the (initially cobbled) Barn Hill, passing a number of impressive town houses. One of these, Stukeley House, was the home of the antiquarian William Stukeley. At the end bear round to the left and, emerging on Scotgate, turn left opposite the pointed gables and terracotta of Truesdale's Hospital to return to Red Lion Square. Bear round to the right and into All Saints Street, past the recently restored steam-operated brewery, established in 1825, which now specialises in fruit beers (open for tours and tastings).
3 When you reach Kings Mill Lane, turn left and drop down this cobbled thoroughfare, coming out into Bath Row. Once past the former public bathhouse turn right for a path across the Meadows, a grassy strip by the River Welland. If you fancy stretching your legs a little further, a public footpath provides a riverside route upstream for a mile (1.6km) or so.
4 On the far side of the second footbridge turn left into Station Road and, passing the Burghley Almshouses, turn right into High Street St Martin's by the George Hotel.
5 Turn left into Barnack Road, and walk along until you draw level with the pedestrian entrance to Burghley Park. Turn left and walk down Water Street and, after rounding the corner by the grand former station building, cross the river on your right via Albert Bridge. Go along Albert Road, then across Wharf Road via the zebra crossing to go half left into Blackfriars Street in order to reach St George's Square. At the far side Stamford Arts Centre incorporates the tourist information centre. Turn right and go up Maiden Lane and, at the top of this turn right, at the end of the High Street opposite the public library, and out along St Paul's Street. At one point Stamford Boys School occupies both sides of the road, and on an old doorway at the end by the traffic lights is the Brasenose Knocker which, as a notice explains, was presented by the Oxford College to commemorate Stamford's early attempt to rival Oxford as a university town.
6 Cross the road and return on the far pavement to turn right into Star Lane, which then leads back to Broad Street and the museum.
Founded in Saxon times, Stamford was already a prosperous centre by the early 1300s thanks to the export of wool and cloth, attracting religious orders and academics.
Today there is an engaging mix of buildings, from medieval churches and almshouses through to fine Georgian town houses and public buildings like the theatre, assembly rooms and library, and because the town was designated a conservation area in 1967 it has been spared from unsightly modern development. The low, balanced skyline is punctuated by church spires and clumps of trees, and since most of the town's foremost buildings are made from locally quarried limestone they exude a natural mellow colour complemented by the famous Collyweston roof slates, each size still bearing a different name. Stamford well-preserved streets have been used in several period TV productions, including the recent BBC adaptation of George Eliot's Middlemarch.
This famous old coaching inn, which stands on the former Great North Road (the equivalent of today's M1 or A1), reflects the town's renaissance in the late 18th/early 19th century as a stop-off point on the main stagecoach route between London and York. Passengers waited in the oak-panelled London Room near the entrance and, as the sign proudly declares, at least three kings and many other famous travellers have stayed there over the years. The gallows or scaffold sign that spans the road outside the George is one of only a handful still remaining in the country, and was occasionally used as a gibbet for luckless highway robbers.
There are numerous cafés, pubs and restaurants all around the town including the café adjoining the TIC, the restaurant at Stamford Brewery, and the George Hotel on High Street St Martins.
Among the fascinating exhibits at Stamford Museum is a life-size model of 52-stone (330kg) Daniel Lambert, commonly regarded as England's largest man. He was born in Leicester in 1770 and, after a short spell as a jail-keeper, he (rather appropriately) died in a Stamford pub at the age of 39.