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Stepping Out: Heckington Fen

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Stepping Out: Heckington Fen
Author: CountrysideNK, Published: 12 May 2018 Walk Rating:star1 Stepping Out: Heckington Fen Lincolnshire Walking Guidestar1 Stepping Out: Heckington Fen Lincolnshire Walking Guidestar1 Stepping Out: Heckington Fen Lincolnshire Walking Guidestar1 Stepping Out: Heckington Fen Lincolnshire Walking Guidestar1 Stepping Out: Heckington Fen Lincolnshire Walking Guide
Lincolnshire, Heckington
Walk Type: Footpaths and byways
Stepping Out: Heckington Fen
Length: 6 miles,  Difficulty: boot Stepping Out: Heckington Fen Lincolnshire Walking Guide boot Stepping Out: Heckington Fen Lincolnshire Walking Guide
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0006_mist Stepping Out: Heckington Fen Lincolnshire Walking GuideToday's weather
13 °C, Mist, Wind: 11 mph SSE
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A 6 mile (10km) circular walk from the village of Heckington in Lincolnshire. Heckington boasts a wealth of heritage within the village and surrounding area. The village is home to a magnificent eight-sailed windmill which dominates the surrounding countryside. There is also an on-site brewery where you can sample award winning ales and beers. The walk leads you through peaceful farmland and fenland, with lots of birdlife to enjoy. This walk is part of the Stepping Out network, published through a collaboration between iFootpath and North Kesteven District Council to inspire more people to enjoy the district’s landscapes, ancient woodland, historic buildings and charming villages.

The walk follows a mix of grassy banks, farm tracks and field edge paths, some of which can be muddy. There is also a small amount of road walking on quiet roads. You will need to negotiate a couple of footbridges, some steps plus one stile (which has a fence gap for dogs). There may be cattle present along the banks of Heckington Eau at certain times of year, along with temporary fencing. Please remember the Countryside Code. Some paths are provided by kind permission of the landowner, please only use the waymarked paths. Where young stock may be present, please make sure your dog is under firm control in these areas. OS Explorer 248. Allow 3 hours.

If you are looking for refreshments, there are several pubs, cafes and takeaways within Heckington village. The eight-sail windmill (opposite the rail station) is well worth a visit and has an on-site tea room and also a brewery where you can purchase draught and bottled beer.

Heckington lies 5 miles to the south east of Sleaford and is easily accessed from the A17. The walk starts at the free Village Green car park, located off the High Street in Heckington. If you are coming by public transport, Heckington has its own rail station, just a short walk from the walk start point. Approximate post code NG34 9QZ.

Walk Sections

Start to Kyme Road
Start to Kyme Road

Start point: 52.9805 lat, -0.2992 long
End point: 52.984 lat, -0.297 long

We begin our walk from the car park on the Village Green with the Cornish granite War Memorial behind us, The Nag’s Head pub (with its stories of Dick Turpin) to our right and the red brick Almshouses (built in 1886 by Henry Godson for the sick and needy) in front. All these buildings, including the red telephone box, are Grade II listed.

Walk ahead to take the surfaced path which leads diagonally left across the green, exiting to the left of the almshouses. Turn right along Church Street and you will reach the church on your right. St. Andrews Church is one of the finest complete examples of 14th century decorated Gothic architecture and boasts a rare Easter Sepulchre. The Grade I listed Anglican church was built in a traditional cruciform plan. The steeple was built in 1360 and was rebuilt in 1888. The churchyard has an interesting gravestone to a sailor from HMS Centaur who was murdered in 1853 for money he had been seen to possess. His murderer was caught, tried at Lincoln Castle and hanged within 9 days.

Do NOT follow the main road as it bends right after the church, instead keep ahead to walk down to the end of Church Street. Where the road now bends to your right it becomes Cowgate. Behind the iron gates on the corner stands The Manor House. It was originally called Boston Garth and was home of the Botolph family in the 1200s and 1300s.

Continue along Cowgate and go straight on at the crossroads into Kyme Road.

Kyme Road to The Paddocks
Kyme Road to The Paddocks

Start point: 52.984 lat, -0.297 long
End point: 52.9898 lat, -0.2881 long

About halfway along Kyme Road (immediately before House 23) there is a public footpath, known as The Elm Holt, to the left. Turn left down this path and continue ahead between hedgerows to reach a fork. Take the right-hand branch which leads you back onto Kyme Road. (This little detour takes you past some stables on an enclosed path which can become overgrown, but can be omitted by simply following Kyme Road instead).

Turn left to continue on Kyme Road to reach and cross the bridge over the A17. For this next section of the walk, you will need to walk along the grass verge (use the one on the right-hand side of the road).

The field to your left is associated with local tales of ghosts and mysteries. At the turn of the century, local children scared each other with tales of a Mandrake growing here. The Mandrake, the root of a plant known as the Devil’s Lily, took the form of a man and was an important basis for most black magic spells. When the root is pulled from the ground it is said to scream for the devil and if it is pulled out at midnight will deafen anyone who hears. The field itself is called The Wazzlers but disappointingly this name turns out to be the surname of the man who was awarded the field at the time of the Enclosure Movement. In the fields along this road you can, at certain times of the year depending on crops, still see the medieval field markings visible by the plough marks, with the headland as well as the Ridge and Furrow markings intact.

Continue along the road, passing under power lines and ignoring the first driveway on your left (Winkhill Farm), until you see a public footpath sign pointing to your left at the second driveway. This is part of the property called The Paddocks.

The Paddocks to Car Dyke
The Paddocks to Car Dyke

Start point: 52.9898 lat, -0.2881 long
End point: 53.0046 lat, -0.2627 long

Turn left onto the signed path and climb over the stile. On your right there is a farm which quite often has horses grazing in the fenced fields to your right. Behind the farm lies the earthworks that formed part of the moated site of Winkhill Manor. In medieval times the manor was an important settlement. Over the years many Roman and Anglo-Saxon pieces of pottery have been found in the area.

Keep ahead long the track. At the top of this track you will see Heckington water works ahead. Follow the grass track swinging right and then left until you come to the top of a grass bank. Turn right and follow the top of the bank. NOTE: As you walk along the bank there may be seasonal cattle fences to cross. The deep drain running to your left is known as Heckington Eau.

Notice the strips of long low fields to the right. These are the remains of a very early enclosure movement that took place during the reign of Elizabeth I. The bank-top path leads away from the sewage works, following the top of the embankment of Heckington Eau, and here one gets a sharp contrast where ancient village fields give way to cultivated fenland. The embankment offers a great vantage point to view the landscape and is the perfect spot for birdwatching.

Stay walking along the bank of the Heckington Eau for about 1.2 miles until you get to a junction within the waterway drains, where to your left you can see Car Dyke (another deep water drain and once a Roman canal) joining the Heckington Eau.

Car Dyke to Littleworth Drove
Car Dyke to Littleworth Drove

Start point: 53.0046 lat, -0.2627 long
End point: 52.9944 lat, -0.2616 long

The historic man-made Car Dyke, dates from around AD125 and runs from Lincoln to Peterborough. At 76 miles it is the largest known Romano canal in Britain. The land around Heckington forms the edge of the fens and is thought to have been first made usable by the Romans who may have devised a drainage system based on the Car Dyke. After the fall of the Romans in Britain the systems were neglected and it wasn’t until the Drainage Acts of 1764, that the restoration of the lands back to agricultural use were back in operation.

A few metres after this waterway junction, you will see a large footbridge across Heckington Eau on your left. Do NOT take this, instead turn right and go down the steps, across a smaller ditch bridge and turn right for 40 metres to reach the field corner. Turn left to follow the field-edge footpath with a ditch on your right and a crop field on your left. Stay with the field-edge path as it leads you past farm buildings across to your right, to reach a fingerpost.

Turn right over the dyke, to join the farm track which leads you past the farm on your right. The trees in this area provide valuable nesting grounds for many birds including owls. Continue ahead to reach a junction of tracks. At this point, you have two choices:

For a shorter route, go straight on and continue down the track along Star Fen where it will bring you back out onto the road, Littleworth Drove. Turn right and walk along the verge following the road back into Heckington. You can then skip to the directions in the last section.

For the full route, turn left and follow the access track, passing a couple of farms on your left, to reach a T-junction with the road, Littleworth Drove.

Littleworth Drove to A17 Bridge
Littleworth Drove to A17 Bridge

Start point: 52.9944 lat, -0.2616 long
End point: 52.9879 lat, -0.2931 long

Cross over the road diagonally left and follow the public footpath sign to join a grass track along the edge of a field (with a hedgerow on your left). As you reach a small copse of trees ahead, turn right onto the side path and continue until you reach a metal vehicle barrier on your left. Turn left over the dyke, pass alongside the barrier and then turn immediately right. The dyke is now on your right with a field to your left. You will be able to see the church spire in Heckington on the horizon ahead.

There have been many suggestions as to the origins of Heckington’s name. One of the Domesday spellings was Eschintume, meaning place of Ash, and around this part of the walk you can see many remnants of wooded copses of Ash.

Simply keep ahead, with the dyke on your right, for about 1.1 miles to reach a fingerpost at a T-junction (with the A17 running behind this). Turn right to join the grass track (with a fence on your left and a crop field on your right) to reach a metal vehicle barrier ahead. Pass through the gap to the left of this barrier and follow the remains of the tarmac track leading you up to a junction with the road, Littleworth Drove. Turn left and go over the bridge across the A17 and back onto Kyme Road.

A17 Bridge to End
A17 Bridge to End

Start point: 52.9879 lat, -0.2931 long
End point: 52.9807 lat, -0.2991 long

Continue ahead along Kyme Road, around the bend to the right and on to reach the crossroads. Follow the main road as it turns left to become Vicarage Road. Follow the road round to the right onto Cameron Street, and then turn immediately left onto Eastgate.

On your left is the beautiful old red brick wall of Heckington Hall. The hall was constructed in 1870 (around an older farmhouse) for William Little, the inventor of sheep dip and co-founder of the illustrated London News. Many famous contributors to the magazine stayed at the house.

Continue along Eastgate until you reach a crossroads. Turn right at the crossroads onto the High Street and continue along the pavement until you reach the Village Green on your right where the walk began.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2018 by iFootpath and the author countrysideNK and may not be reproduced without permission.

1 Comments for: "Stepping Out: Heckington Fen"

Don't bother, some of the walk is so overgrown it's impossible to stick to the designated path. It started out good but half way the path is so overgrown that you have to walk in the farmers field, I was constantly battling through shoulder high grass.

By Walk66 on 23 Jun 2018

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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