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Wainfleet's Honest Ales

A short wander around a Lincolnshire market town famous for its brewery.

Distance 3.3 miles (5.3km)

Minimum time 1hr 45min

Ascent/gradient Negligible

Level of difficulty Easy

Paths Straightforward field paths and lanes

Landscape Flat coastal plain dominated by arable fields

Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer 274 Skegness, Alford & Spilsby

Start/finish TF 498589

Dog friendliness Very good, apart from one field with cows at end

Parking Market Square, Wainfleet town centre

Public toilets Brook's Walk, opposite Market Place

1 Facing the Woolpack Hotel by Market Place in the centre of Wainfleet, turn left. Walk along the main road and over the level crossing, then turn right for a signposted public footpath just beyond Barton Road. This narrow, semi-surfaced route passes a new housing development and, beyond a footbridge, heads out across open fields where staple vegetables such as cabbages and potatoes are often grown. Continue all the way to the far side and turn left on to a lane. In 100yds (91m) go right on a waymarked footpath along the back of houses, and finally join the riverside lane on the far side of another small field.

2 Turn right and walk alongside the Steeping River, either on the lane or, better still, on top of the grassy embankment above.
At Crow's Bridge cross over to the road on the south side, and turn left (downstream) on Haven Bank. If you want to lengthen the walk you could continue beyond Crow's Bridge as far as Wainfleet Bank, crossing over to the Barkham Arms, a pub with limited evening opening times that caters mainly for the adjoining caravan park. Near by is the site of the medieval village of Wainfleet, and a footpath across the fields connects with the now isolated St Mary's Church. Return along the opposite bank.

3 The quiet lane downstream from Crow's Bridge passes a stretch popular with local anglers then, after the road veers away from the river through houses and a pavement appears, it bends sharply left. Go straight on here, along a narrow walkway between dense hedges, then out behind a row of back gardens. Cross the end of a drive and, after a small fenced strip, emerge on to a road by Half Penny Hill Cottage.

5 Turn right, then in 220yds (201m) go left into St Michael's Lane. Walk past the converted stump of an old windmill and, after the last house on the left, turn left between hedges and out across the middle of a field on a popular local path. Continue around the cricket pitch to the stile on the far side, then head half right through the overgrown parkland of Wainfleet Hall. Go out of the gate on the far side and turn left to walk the pavement of Boston Road back into the town. Just over the bridge you reach Batemans Brewery on the left, off Mill Lane - depending on the wind direction, you'll probably smell the hops first.

6 Continue back along the main road to the railway crossing. On the near side is All Saints Parish Church with its unusual bell turret and, on the far side, turn right into Silver Street. Rounding the far bend you arrive at Magdalene Museum.

7 Carry on along what has now become St John's Street, and on past the junction at the end by Market Place to turn left into Barkham Street - and what must surely be the most unexpected encounter on the whole walk. Turn left at the far end of Barkham Street to return to Market Place.

The early growth of Wainfleet, south of Skegness, was the result of a combination of medieval salt-workings and the presence of a safe haven for boats - 'fleet' was once a Roman term to denote a navigable creek.

The award-winning Batemans Brewery is a must-see for any real-ale lover or pub-goer, and even the non-enthusiast may be surprised at how fascinating the place can be. Established in 1874, Batemans is still run by the same family, and the visitors' centre (open daily) has a comprehensible, step-by-step guide to the brewing process. Discover how a mash tun works, the secrets of wort-cooling, and why the cask-sniffer does what he does. The exhibition also includes a huge collection of beer and pub memorabilia - from a range of traditional pub games, beer mats and posters, to the largest collection of beer bottles in the world (over 4,500 different specimens at the last count). There are organised tours of the brewhouse every afternoon, and in the Windmill Bar you can sample the real thing - or tea and coffee if you prefer.

The impressive, turreted building was built in 1484 for Magdalene College School, and now houses the local library and museum (open each afternoon, except Monday and Wednesday, from Easter to the end of September).

Where to eat and drink

The Woolpack Hotel serves food every lunchtime and evening. The All Saints Church shop serves tea and coffee Monday to Saturday, and refreshments are also served at Magdalene Museum.

While you're there

The Steeping River issues out into the North Sea at Gibraltar Point. This remote location, reached by a no through road south from Skegness, is an important National Nature Reserve. Its extensive salt marsh, mudflats and sand-dune system supports a wide variety of wildlife.

What to look for

Barkham Street, near Market Place, was built in 1847 by the Governors of Bethlem Hospital. It's an exact replica of a three-storeyed, terraced row of London houses that they had constructed around the hospital in Southwark, and apparently the design was unchanged for small-town Lincolnshire in order to cut costs!


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