Why go there
Horncastle is brimming with history, stretching right back to its origin in Roman times as a convenient stop-off where the rivers Bain and Waring meet. It’s best known for its annual Horse Fair in August, which dates back to the 13th century, but there’s plenty to attract visitors too out of season. The town is renowned for its collection of antique shops, historic buildings (including 12th century parish church) and suitability as a launching pad for taking in Lincolnshire’s rich and varied landscape.
Horncastle is also the home of the Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust. Its current headquarters are at Banovallum House in the town, which dates back to the 18th century and doubles up as one of the trust’s reserves. Other nearby reserves include Snipe Dales and Furze Hill.
If you want to venture further afield, you’re ideally placed to dispel the myth that Lincolnshire is completely flat by heading north into the Lincolnshire Wolds, or head south to visit the Lincolnshire section of The Fens. If you want to blow away the cobwebs, Skegness and the bracing North Sea coast is a 30-minute drive (or one-hour bus ride) away.
Where to stay
The Bull Hotel sits in the heart of Horncastle and has origins dating back to the 16th century, well before the reputed visit of Oliver Cromwell in 1643. It offers B&B from £45 (single) or £80 (double) per room per night, or a couple can pay £180 for a two-night weekend stay with breakfast and dinner included.
Where to eat
Two local, if slightly pricey, options vie for your attention: The Magpies Restaurant is well renowned, and specialises in modern British and French cusine, while Shakesby’s Restaurant specialises in local dishes and produce where possible.
Tell us a local secret
Bolingbroke Castle can be found about six miles south east of Horncastle. It’s best known as the birthplace of Henry Brolingbrooke, who usurped the throne from Richard II in 1399 to become Henry IV, the first Lancastrian king.