Britain’s greatest concentration of woods containing small-leaved lime can be found over a 60 square mile area of rural Lincolnshire. Once one of the most common type of woodland in England, limewoods are now scarce, as are so many of our ancient woods. This walk takes in the lovely rolling landscape of the Wolds, as it leads you to a perfect example of a limewood. The Lincolnshire Limewoods Project began in 2006, to protect the landscape here.
Many of the woods between Market Rasen, Wragby, Bardney and Woodhall Spa are designated as part of the Bardney Limewoods National Nature Reserve or as Sites of Special Scientific Interest. Visitors can enjoy several walking and cycling routes throughout this delightful and peaceful environment.
From Fiskerton village hall, cross the road, turn right and pass the village green. Turn left along Nelson Road. As the road bends left, go right along the public footpath, between two houses, to emerge into a field. Turn right towards the River Witham, with excellent views of Lincoln Cathedral to your right.
Cross the bridge and turn left along the footpath beside the river. This is the site of an ancient Iron Age causeway.
At the footbridge over the river, turn left and walk along the lane to a T-junction. Turn left and take the first right along Hall Lane. At the end of the surfaced lane, turn left along the bridleway.
Many of the limewoods around this area are now small islands in an arable landscape. To overcome this fragmentation, conservation projects have included the planting of new areas of woodland and hedges.
Meeting of ways
Walk along the track, ignoring a public bridleway on the left, past a house and along the edge of a field to the field corner. Go through the gap in the hedge, turn left and follow the field edge to the corner where a path and bridleway meet.
Turn right and walk across the field by bearing right towards the white cottages and bridge.
Cross the bridge, bear left and walk along the hedge to the road. Turn right. After 100m, turn left on to a public bridleway towards Ferry House Farm. Turn right in front of the houses and through a gate to the remains of Barlings Abbey. Dissolved in 1537, this was once one of the richest and most influential monastic houses in England.
The way of the wood
A short stroll from Barlings Abbey north-east along the Viking Way will take you to Hardy Gang Wood.
The Limewoods still retain populations of scarce woodland species such as lesser-spotted woodpecker, willow tit and lesser redpoll. There is also a healthy population of raptors. Barn, little, tawny and long-eared owls all breed in the area. The Limewoods are also a key area for butterflies, with the woodlands holding important colonies of several species, such as white admiral and brown hairstreak.
Head back to the road. Turn right followed by a left, crossing the bridge and field to the junction of paths and bridleway in the field corner.
Hedge your bets
Continue in the same direction along the Viking Way (waymarked with a Viking helmet) through the gap in the hedge and along a field edge and grass track. Go over a bridge and through a small copse. Continue in the same direction along a hedge-lined path, to emerge on to Hall Lane. Turn right, and after 150m turn right again. Cross the field to the gate in the hedge. Bear left across the next field and turn left after the gap in the hedge. At the T-junction turn right and follow the road back to the hall.