A Lincolnshire Wolds cycle ride (South Kelsey, Walesby, Kirmington)

166_sqdn I'm still trying to get to grips with the many towns and villages in the Yorkshire Wolds in preparation for, amongst other rides, the Yorkshire Wolds Cycle Route. But every now and again it's nice to get over to Lincolnshire and the quiet country lanes that include route 1 of the NCN. Yesterday over 30 cyclists met at the Humber Bridge car park for two separate rides over in Lincolnshire. We split up in to two groups I went with the smaller 'B' group of six.

I don't know Lincolnshire very well. Compared to the East Riding there doesn't seem to be such a varied choice of roads on the south bank so, for instance, part of the route we took yesterday covered quite a bit of the same ground of my last journey over the Humber Bridge, although it was pleasant all the same. However, my ignorance of the back roads of Lincolnshire is eclipsed by my even more limited knowledge of Second World War RAF bases there. We passed close to the former location of one yesterday: Kirmington.

The destination for Sunday's ride was Walesby, but we had a morning stop at South Kelsey and I had too much to eat there (beans on toast again) and a mug of tea. Perhaps if I had known that the lunch time stop was only ten miles away I wouldn't have had quite so much. Perhaps. Anyway, at Walesby I ordered a bowl of stilton and broccoli soup and shared a pot of tea for three. And then I asked for an extra bread roll. Maybe I shouldn't be surprised that I can't shift that last stone from around my midsection.

At the lunch stop one of the riders said that he liked to ride in Lincolnshire because the roads were quieter (can you believe this, Patrick?) than those of the East Riding. We had a short stop in a little memorial garden in Kirmington (larger version of the photograph above including inscription here). I had no idea that there were so many wartime airfields in Lincolnshire. According to one web site Lincolnshire was known as Bomber County during the Second World War because of the number of attacking and defensive bases there. According to the same web site there were 49 stations in Lincolnshire at the end of 1945.

(I see in the news that Terrence Rattigan's play 'Flare Path' written, and first performed during the Second World War, has opened at Theatre Royal Haymarket, London. Set in the lounge of a Lincolnshire hotel used by RAF pilots and crews it stars the Lincolnshire actress Sheridan Smith ("a bravura performance in a dazzling cast" as reported by The Stage today), who last night picked up an Olivier Award for her title role in the stage version of 'Legally Blonde'. Gosh, I'm so topical it hurts.)

From the memorial garden we could see the copper-covered tower of Saint Helenโ€™s Church. It's a striking little building although it does seem to be put together from bits of three different churches. The sun came out as the clock struck three and we were on our way again. A slower ride than last week (thank goodness) as we were in no hurry and some of our number were working back to full fitness. 73 pleasant miles.


Saint Helen's Church, Kirmington. Read a little more about it here .

18 comments on “A Lincolnshire Wolds cycle ride (South Kelsey, Walesby, Kirmington)”

  1. Patrick wrote:

    Lincolnshire was the front line in WW2. Sheffield is latitudinally level with Hamburg. I see that RAF Digby, near Lincoln, is the country's oldest Royal Air Force station and became a Royal Canadian Air Force Station in 1942. The West Riding had an RAF Squadron too, would you believe? No. 609 Royal Auxiliary Air Force.

    I like the idea of cycling club runs stopping at memorial gardens, though I don't know any such gardens round here. I've only ever driven (not cycled) in Lincolnshire. My Grandmother came from Bourne, Lincs. It's a fair drive from Lancashire.

  2. Chris wrote:

    Patrick wrote: Lincolnshire was the front line in WW2

    I knew Lincolnshire played a big part during the Second World War (is Garry around to tell us if WW2 is one of his Americanisms?), but I didn't realised that there were almost fifty airfields. I've been to what was Kirmington airfield a few times, and taken return flights to Dublin, Carcassonne and probably somewhere else. It's now called – to quote the web site I linked to – "something ghastly like Humberside International Airport" (actually, just Humberside Airport now).

    Humberside is an awful name. It is sometimes referred to as though it still exists (e.g. "Hull FC and Hull KR contested the Humberside derby match" – that sort of nonsense). It – the non-metropolitan and ceremonial authority – was abolished fifteen years ago, although the police and fire brigade that took on the name wisely continued with it as an administrative title, presumably to avoid the further waste of changing the letterheads on their stationery or something.

    I vividly recall us defacing our exercise books and scrawling "Yorkshire" across the front instead of seeing that hideous word in class. I still get mail addressed to me in "Humberside" from organisations using outdated databases.

    Oh, just found this. For further, and better researched rants from another Yorkshireman (?) see this blog post.

    A quote from there:

    The few years before Humberside was killed off were interesting. The Council were raging but the residents delighted when John Major, as PM, told the Conservative Party Conference one year that he was going to do away with the newfangled counties and refer back to old names, because it was hard to "imagine Len Hutton going out to bat for Humberside".

    Rant over.

  3. Patrick wrote:

    So, Chris, you are a 'Yorkshireman' living near Kingston upon Hull, which is in the East Riding of Yorkshire for ceremonial purposes only. I am a 'Lancastrian' living near Bolton in Lancashire. Yorkshire and Lancashire: two great counties deeply rooted in English history. The Lancashire Road Club, my local cycling club, is based in Bolton, Lancashire. Except that Bolton is now officially in Greater Manchester. So I sympathise with your rant. Nobody – nobody – I've ever met in Bolton wants to live in a place called Greater Manchester. Greater Manchester is a Metropolitan County (whatever that means) which was formed in 1974 and, incidentally, includes a part of what used to be the West Riding of Yorkshire. Until 1974 Bolton was in Lancashire, but Lancashire now begins a couple of miles down the road from me, at Rivington, Chorley.

    Lancashire does at least exist as an official entity. Yorkshire, it seems, does not. All very confusing.

    You're probably right about WW2 ๐Ÿ˜ฎ .

  4. Mick F wrote:

    Hi guys,
    This is one of my hobby horses!
    Greater Manchester ceased to exist in 2002 (I think.)

    The term "Greater Manchester" is still used for the groupings of the Fire and Emergency services, the police, education (I think) and other civic organisations. The original geographical counties were reinstated, and GM County done away with.

    Wigan, the place of my upbringing left Lancashire and entered GM County in 1974, but is now back in the County of Lancashire. It is a metropolitan borough in its own right, but served by GM for police, fire, ambulance etc. If you look in modern atlases, Wigan is in Wigan. Oldham is back in Lancashire too, but it is in Oldham as well, and Bolton is in Bolton is in Lancashire NOT Greater Manchester.

    GM does not exist as a county. It used to, but not any more.

    This all happened at the same time in Wales. Remember Clwyd and all the others? Gone now, but instead of going back to the "original" counties pre1974 imposed by the English, they have gone over to something in between. Denbighshire is back, and Carmarthenshire too but Powys remains, however Wrexham is in Wrexham – similar to Wigan.

    Scotland OTOH, never used the counties imposed by the English in 1974. We lived for a time in Dunbartonshire -1982-85. It was actually in Strathclyde, but Dunbartonshire remained, so did all the other Scottish counties. Remember Highland, Lothian, Central, Tayside? They all exist now as administrative areas only, they were never taken on as geographical counties and never accepted by the Scottish people. We English should have taken a leaf out of their book.

    I'll get off my hobby horse now!

    Regards to all,

  5. Patrick wrote:

    Chris wrote: I still get mail addressed to me in "Humberside."

    I never get mail addressed to me in Greater Manchester because the Royal Mail never recognised it as a postal region, but I often see 'Lancashire' in my address, even though I don't live there. Manchester doesn't have its own telephone system like Hull does either.

    Sorry Mick but Wigan (and Bolton and Oldham) are in Greater Manchester, which is responsible for police, fire & rescue, and transport, but it no longer has the elected Council it had before it was abolished as a tier of local government (1974).

  6. Mick F wrote:

    That's just what I said!
    GM has "responsibility" for Wigan, Bolton and Oldham etc, but GM doesn't exist as a county any more, just an administrative area.

    Wigan, Bolton and Oldham etc are in Lancashire County.

    The traditional county boundaries were reinstated in 2002(?).


  7. Patrick wrote:

    LOL – they weren't! Wigan, Bolton and Oldham are still in Greater Manchester County even though spiritually they are in Lancashire. Liverpool was also in Lancashire but not any more.

  8. Chris wrote:

    Do you see what you have done, you drivers of the Local Government Act 1972? You've even managed to turn cyclist against cyclist nearly four decades on! Shame on you.

  9. Garry wrote:

    If somebody messed with OUR Counties, which apart from Lancashire and Yorkshire to the Englishman, are even more important to us because of Gaelic Games and the All-Ireland championship, we would get into a right snot!
    I hate this stupid ignorant bureaucratic government-knows best nonsense. Most politicians are a thick as pea and superglue soup and as thickskinned as a petrified elephant.
    Don't know about WW2 being an Americanism, but if it is I hate it! If not, I think it's fine. I'm quite neutral about such matters.
    I've lived in England in my time but have never set foot in Lincolnshire. Yorkshire is my favourite county of those I've cycled in. Gloucestershire my least favourite.

  10. Mick F wrote:

    My late father in law was town crier for West Lancashire, and he was involved to some small degree about celebrating Lancashire and the reinstatement of the traditional ceremonial and historical boundaries. I understand other ceremonies were held up and down the country too.

    Greater Manchester does not exist as a county any more.

    It came into being post 1974 reorganisation, but was removed in 2002 or thereabouts.

    It still exists as an administrative area, but not as a county.

    There are now (amongst others) at least six tiers:
    Unitary Authority
    Ceremonial County
    Sovereign State

    Wigan, for instance is a Parish and Unitary Authority. It is in the Ceremonial County of Lancashire, in the North West Region, in England, and United Kingdom.

    Note NOT actually IN Greater Manchester, though it comes under the umbrella of GM.


  11. Mike wrote:

    Hi guys

    Now I understand why Cornwall wants its independence – to stop the flippin' politicians mucking about wiv it! (And the Eastern part of Cornwall having an English postcode (PL) will be the first thing to go after the revolution!)


  12. Patrick wrote:

    MORI opinion poll 2003: 26% of 299 [Wigan] residents surveyed felt they belonged "very strongly" or "fairly strongly" (4% very strongly) to Greater Manchester, 64% (28% very strongly) to the Borough of Wigan, and 63% (31% very strongly) to Lancashire.

    The Metropolitan Borough of Wigan (containing Wigan, Leigh, Ashton-in-Makerfield, Ince-in-Makerfield, and Hindley) is officially a Metropolitan Borough of Greater Manchester, which remains a Metropolitan County even today. Complicating things even more, the parliamentary constituency of Bolton West is partly in Wigan Metropolitan Borough (Atherton). It all seems a huge mess but that is how it is. The Tories (or is it Labour?) have further plans to change the electoral boundaries and perhaps to make Cornwall a separate Nation!

    Rugby and football teams? North Western Rugby teams managed by Australians, football full of foreign players. Bolton Wanderers recently fielded a team of eleven with only one Englishman and he wasn't even from Bolton.

  13. Kern wrote:

    Football? Don't you mean "soccer"? ๐Ÿ˜€

  14. Patrick wrote:

    LOL – you'll get Garry started again.

  15. Manc Smith wrote:


    Anyone who claims that Greater Manchester does not exist, are (as per Garry's words): "...thick as pea and superglue soup and as thickskinned as a petrified elephant."

    There are countless pieces of legislation refuting your ignorance. The metropolitan counties- 'Metropolitan' means consisting of numerous contiguous settlements, in case you hadn't taken the time to educate yourself, Patrick- were designed to allow local decision making to be more relevant to these interlinked areas. There would be absolutely no point in Stretford being governed from Preston, so it might as well take place in Manchester (or to a lesser extent, Wigan.)

    The old system of county boroughs, and municipal/urban/rural districts was chaotic. The current system is more straightforward, but it makes things like conferring city status, that bit more confusing, as in the case of Leeds, many bits of Green Belt are suddenly a 'city.' That's English geography for you. It can, and does change.

  16. Manc Smith wrote:

    Also, there is nothing confusing, Patrick, about the status of Yorkshire. It is a region now, given its full title "Yorkshire and the Humber" at the present time. The historical Yorkshire county was far to vast to be able to be governed uniformly, hence the split into four counties and several unitary authorities and metropolitan districts...

  17. Chris wrote:

    Hi, Manc. Thanks for taking the time to add to this post. Patrick can stick up for himself, but to be fair he's technically correct, and by your own admission: when I search for "Yorkshire and the Humber" I get a Wikipedia page that details the region of Yorkshire and a strip of (North) Lincolnshire.

    Patrick was talking about an entity. Yorkshire, it seems, has become absorbed in to some queer thing called Yorkshire and the Humber, which would appear to be the entity here. Listen, I don't really know if that's what he was getting at. Or if I'm making any sense either. All I know is that I hated the name "Humberside" from the very beginning. Whether that was pure ignorance or whatever I can't now know. But for the record I am a Yorkshireman. Never a Humbersideman and not now a Yorkshire-and-the-Humberman.

    Incidentally, Wikipedia refers to Yorkshire as an historical county (and so do you I see) and accordingly refers to such a thing in the past tense, which may well be the point Patrick was making.

    Then again he is a pesky Lancastrian, so perhaps he was just making mischief ๐Ÿ˜‰

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