Wednesday, 12 February 2014

A Jog Around The Water Towers (2)


25 miles

Ludford - Girsby Top - East Wykeham - Biscathorpe - Stenigot - Donington-on-Bain - Biscathorpe - Burgh-on-Bain - Ludford - Binbrook - Brookenby - Stainton-le-Vale - Kirmond-le-Mire - Thorpe-le-Vale - Ludford



Having mapped out a figure-of-eight route from Ludford to take in the Binbrook and Donington-on-Bain water towers, I set off last weekend in the Binbrook direction, but, feeling tired and demotivated, called it a day before the half-way point and retreated home. Some call it 'listening to your body', but, in all honesty I'd not felt that bad physically. It was more a case that I just got bored. Maybe it was the drag-over effect of a 135 mile week a couple of weeks ago. Maybe it was just 'one of those days'. The older I get, the more this seems to happen..

Off the back of a more sober 99 miles this week, I drove back to Ludford this morning to give it another crack. Leaving the van by the village hall, I decide to make towards Donington this time, making the most of a stiff back wind for the first part of the run.

I head along the Viking Way to Girsby Top and on towards East Wykeham, before turning south on the track that leads to Grim's Mound. Usually good going, this track has been mashed by a combination of rain and off-road traffic. Before reaching the A157 crossing, I'm passed by four trail bikes, scouring deep ruts and kicking shit with no regard. It seems - depressingly so - that footpaths and bridleways are now the refuge of motorised traffic as well as foot travellers such as myself. There's no escape. It's no good thing.

Dropping down into the Biscathorpe estate, my mood is lifted considerably by the beautiful dwelling by the gorgeous little church. I'm sure that when I last passed this way it was disused, abandoned and becoming increasingly dilapidated. Now it glows with new life. Tastefully repointed brickwork, new window frames and landscaping. A wooden stable block set back in a small yard. This must surely be one of the desirable houses in all of Lincolnshire. Make the most of it. While the powers that be have denied the frackers from the grounds for now, I somehow think it won't be long before the promise of cheap gas bribes an about-face, leaving the residents of this beautiful home with the less-giddy views of heavy goods vehicles and nodding donkeys.

I take the Lindsey Trail along the ridge line, the rusting Stenigot radars to my left, Donington-on-Bain in the valley to my right. The wind so strong that it threatens to take my feet from underneath.

The water tower lies a couple of hundred yards from the Stenigot mast, just off the Bluestone Heath road. A curious off-white golf tee, it stands behind a series of wire and metal fences which are hung heavily with signs of threat and warning.

The downhill into Donington is good running. A short stretch along the infant Bain, back through Biscathorpe and a short, steep climb to Burgh-on-Bain's church leads me eventually to the Girsby road again. By the time I arrive back in Ludford, the wind's gathered further force but the sun's out. I take my hat off.

I head north to Binbrook along a high-level path that spills out into the village near the church. Jogging past the Manor View Stores and through the deserted village centre, I run in the direction of the old airfield, part of which was renamed as 'Brookenby' during the 80's. To call Brookenby a village would be to lie. A housing officer's good idea on paper. In reality, a disaster. The Lincolnshire Wolds' very own 'sink estate', a weeping boil on a beautiful face.

Row upon row of cheap, terraced, bottom-end housing - ex-servicemen's quarters utterly devoid of architectural charm. Corsa's with wide-bore exhausts and ugly fibre-glass car kits line the roads and sit in driveways. Old bits of carpet, pop bottles, plastic bags and screwed up pages from porno-mags litter the hedgerows.

The water tower's located behind the housing. I enter the optimistically named 'Binbrook Trading Estate' on a road which passes a children's playground. The equipment is broken. A rotting wooden fence relies on string and a nearby tree to stop it falling down. A pile of rubble lies next to a climbing frame. The playground is deserted. Any child using it would surely lose an eye, a leg or maybe their life. How long would it be in this god-forsaken place before the body was discovered?

My research into the Binbrook tower had thrown up little information about the tower itself, but a fantastic (most probably made-up) tale surrounding a most mysterious night in the RAF base's history. I'd been looking forward to having a look round.

Now I'm here, surrounded by empty hangers, deserted buildings and old  white Transit vans pock-marked with rust, the urge to take one of the broken bricks discarded on the verges to dash my brains out is almost overwhelming. I thought Lincolnshire could do no worse than Immingham. I was wrong.

I take a couple of photos of the tower, pull my pack tight and get the hell out of there.

Within five minutes, the beauty of the Wold's once again reaffirms my love of this county. The minor road to Stainton-le-Vale is undulating and glorious. The field path descending to Kirmond-le-Mire is a delight. Past the fishing lakes at Thorpe-le-Vale and back to the village hall car park.

Sitting in the van, the wind blowing cardboard cartons across the adjacent playing fields, I scan through the photos on my phone whilst pouring coffee from a flask and digging out the remains of a bag of midget gems. I polish both off before turning the ignition and heading to Saleby. The sweets taste great, but the coffee's cold. 

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