• Laura Purkess

The Lincolnshire Wolds

Location: Normandy le Wold Top, Lincolnshire

Nearest town: Caistor, Lincolnshire

Peak: 168 metres above sea level

Ranks: 42/48

Difficulty: ★★

Date climbed: 15 October 2021

If a curious old giant wished to test the topography of England, they would need only place a marble on the summit of Cumbria's Scafell Pike - England's highest and most prominent mountain - and watch which way it rolled. If unimpeded by valleys, hills and human activity, the marble would slowly pick up speed as it hopped, skipped, bumped and rolled south-east through the Lake District, across the Pennines and down towards the Peaks. England, just like Great Britain with the inclusion of mountainous Scotland and Wales, conforms to the general rule: the north and west = high and hilly, the east and south = low, rolling countryside.

The giant's marble would bounce into Derbyshire, speed through Nottinghamshire, to finally cross one of England's largest counties before splashing into the North Sea. That county is Lincolnshire - a rural and sparsely populated blob of England that hugs the North Sea between the Humber and the Wash. Lincolnshire is also very flat.

If you rank England's 48 ceremonial county high points from highest to lowest, you will notice just how many top out between 200m and 299m. From Berkshire (297m) to Nottinghamshire (205m), 21 of the 48 reach a rather (un)lofty height of two-hundred-and-something metres above sea level (that's 44% in total!).

Lincolnshire tops out even lower than that, at just 168 metres.

So, why were we in Lincolnshire?

We had a holiday booked in the East Riding of Yorkshire village of Ottringham, an olde-worlde place nestled halfway between the city of Hull and East Riding's North Sea coastline.

Like so many of our high points quests, we set off from the family home in Staffordshire. But, unlike any other trip we had been on together, we headed north-east towards the mighty Humber Bridge over to Yorkshire via central and northern Lincolnshire.

Our first stop was the beautiful Whisby Nature Park, a wetlands nature reserve in the heart of Lincolnshire where we played safari, spotting a Muntjac deer. Totally inspired, we then willingly approached a Wildlife Trust volunteer and signed up to becomes members.

Whisby Nature Park was itself very flat. So, as we drove deeper into the heart of the county in pursuit of our twentieth high point, we knew not to expect any rugged mountains or strenuous climbs.

Lincolnshire's high point is located atop the Lincolnshire Wolds, a low-lying hill range that runs north to south, forming the backbone of the county. As we approached from Lincoln, we saw a pronounced escarpment - where the land rises quickly out of the flat countryside around it - which marked the western edge of the Wolds.

The most pronounced slopes, south of Caistor, mark the Wolds' highest section - and the location of the high point at Normandy le Wold Top. We climbed most of the hill in the car on the road between Nettleton and Normandy-le-Wold before pulling over in the suitably-named Ramblers car park and setting off on a circular walk from there.

That took us up to the highest part of the hills and to the very edge of the escarpment. From there, we could see: Lincoln Cathedral, Drax power station and Scunthorpe - 12-20 miles away in each direction.

It was a perfect place to stop, watch the sun begin to set, and tuck in to a Bakewell slice with a cup of tea (thank you, thermos flask!).

We then headed back to the car, drove north and over the Humber Bridge, and off to our holiday cottage in Ottringham.

*Lincolnshire ranks 2nd out of 48 in area, but only 42nd out of 48 in population density. Interestingly, this is a trend shared with England's first and third largest counties: North Yorkshire (1st in area / 44th in density) and Cumbria (3rd in area / 47th in density). Evidently a rule of England's administrative subdivisions is: lots of land = no big cities.

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