Rolling 'upland' arable landscape of strongly cohesive
Pronounced scarp edge to north and west,
comprising rough pasture and scrub, affording fine
panoramic views to Central Lincolnshire Vale.
Combination of elevated plateaux and deep
steep sided dales to chalk areas.
Large rectilinear fields with clipped and
degraded hedgerows from late enclosure. Occasional
shelter belts, concentrated on steeper sided valley
and scarp slopes, emphasising landform.
Sparse settlement pattern of small nucleated
villages, often in sheltered valleys and associated
with modest country houses and small parklands.
Diverse geology gives rise to variety of building
Broad verges to some roads and tracks provide
valuable herb-rich habitats.
Archaeologically rich, with ancient trackways,
deserted villages and burial mounds.
Broader south-west valleys of River Lymn
and Bain. Associated alder carr woodland, and tree
Lincolnshire Wolds lie in the north east of the
county of Lincolnshire, mid-way between Lincoln
and the coast. Rising to over 150m along their western
edge, the Wolds form the highest ground in eastern
England between Yorkshire and Kent. To the west
they overlook the Central Lincolnshire Vale, while
to the east they are separated from the North Sea
by the Lincolnshire Coast and Marshes. To the north,
the Wolds meet the Humber estuary at Barton-on-Humber
and to the south they fall to the level Fens.
The Wolds are an intensively farmed arable landscape.
The scenery is characterised by a range of varied
yet unified features, including open arable plateau
hilltops, strong escarpments, deep dry valleys with
hanging beechwoods, isolated ash and beech trees
to skylines and modest country houses. The area
is sparsely settled with many villages hidden within
the folds of the landscape. A multitude of fine
sweeping vistas, both within and from the area entice
the spirit. It was of these refreshing qualities
that Tennyson, native of the area, wrote in the
Calm and deep peace on this high wold
And on these dews that drench the furze
And all the silvery gossamers
That twinkle into green and gold.
There are four subdivisions within the landscape.
Firstly, the pronounced and sinuous north-west-facing
Chalk scarp which runs from South Ferriby on the
Humber, down to North Willingham. The slopes present
a steep and hummocky appearance lined by attractive
and compact spring-line villages at the foot of
the slope. Rough pasture, scrub and woodland areas
clothe the scarp along which are dramatic views.
The second subdivision is the Wolds, which comprise
a high open arable plateau, stretching from the
Humber down past Louth. Within this upland rolling
plain are a series of inward facing valleys, eg
at Rothwell and Cuxwold on Laceby Beck. The planting
of woodland to the steep slopes serves to emphasise
the valley features. A series of villages are located
in the dry valleys which face eastwards.
The third sub-area lies south-west of the Bluestone
Heath Road which marks the edge of the Chalk outcrop.
Between the villages of Donington on Bain and Tetford
an internal escarpment faces south-west overlooking
ridges of glacial drift and valleys cut into sandstone.
Three rivers - the Bain, Waring and Lymn - drain
southwards through these valleys. Many river valley
floors are marshy, and alder carr woods are common.
Finally, to the south-east the chalk ridge is masked
by clay till, which creates more rounded forms as
the Wolds fall down to the Middle Marsh around Alford.
Ancient oak and ash woodlands give this area a distinctive
Lincolnshire Wolds are dominated by a west facing
Chalk escarpment some 50m high. The underlying Lower
Cretaceous strata are revealed in the bottoms of
the valleys and at the foot of the scarp slope.
These strata include ironstone, limestone and sandstone
which create a hummocky landscape punctuated by
springs and isolated landslips for example at Nettleton
and Hainton. To the south-east, the overlying glacial
till creates a rounded edge broken only by the deep
valleys at Louth and Calceby. Towards the southern
end of the Wolds, the Chalk cap has been removed
to reveal the Lower Cretaceous sands, clays and
ironstones, which form a series of low hills with
gravel terraces. Within the valleys of the Bain
and Lymn, Jurassic Kimmeridge Clay create the marshy
The bedrock was extensively moulded by glacial and
periglacial action during the last Ice Age, when
the drainage pattern was altered by the deposition
of sands, gravels and clay till. The previous pattern
of eastward drainage was locally blocked by ice
tills, resulting in the cutting of several glacial
meltwater channels, particularly in the south.
The soil patterns are a close reflection of the
solid and drift geology. To the north, plateau tops
are dominated by light chalky soil. On the west
scarp edge there is a striking variation of colour
and texture reflecting the underlying Red Chalk
and Lower Cretaceous beds. To the south-east the
clayey tills give rise to heavy, seasonally waterlogged
soils whereas near the Lymn Valley, Spilsby Sandstone
provides the parent material for well-drained, sandy
loams. In the Bain valley there are deep, coarse
permeable loams except where the presence of Kimmeridge
Clays give rise to localised wet areas.
and Cultural Influences
Lincolnshire Wolds have produced evidence of some
of the oldest human remains in Britain. In the Neolithic
period, early settlement concentrated on the highest
drier ground. Later, in the Bronze and Iron Ages,
settlement extended onto chalk in the southern Wolds,
for example at Skendleby. The evidence of visible
archaeology is strong and many barrows cap the hill
tops, such as Six Barrows, Tathwell.
From the Iron Age the chalk uplands had a well established
network of trackways, for example High Street and
Bluestone Heath Road. The Romans built east-west
roads to access the coastal salt industry. However,
it was in the Saxon period that most permanent and
extensive settlement began. Village names with 'ham'
or 'ton' are probably Saxon, while names ending
in 'by' or 'thorpe' are of Danish origin. From the
12th century however, widespread depopulation and
village desertion began due to the Black Death and
the growth of the wool industry. Numerous deserted
village locations have now been identified, like
that at Calcethorpe. Post-medieval ironwork sites
have been identified, for example at Claxby. Winceby
was the site of a battle in 1643 during the Civil
Between 1760 and 1850 the landscape was utterly
transformed by the parliamentary Enclosures sweeping
away the common pasture and huge open fields. Miles
of hawthorn hedges were planted and new Georgian
manors, parks and farmsteads were created often
away from villages. Through a new interest in hunting
and shooting, shelter belts and avenues were planted
in the hitherto open landscapes. Broad drove roads
up to 20m in width were created to provide grazing
for sheep as they were herded to the coastal grazing
marshes. The development of estates continued through
the Victorian period, and evidenced itself by estate
workers' cottages, like those at Wold Newton. Twentieth
century influence has been less marked but includes
wartime airfields, for example, Binbrook, and a
national motor racing circuit at Cadwell Park.
Alfred Lord Tennyson was born in Somersby in the
Lymn valley and later attended school in Louth.
He left the Wolds in 1837, but its landscape provided
a source for many of his poems including 'In Memorium
AHH', 'The Lady of Shalott', 'Maud', and 'The Brook'.
The painter Peter de Wint (1784-1849) married a
Lincolnshire woman and views of the Wolds during
the enclosures were amongst his favourite subjects.
In the 20th century, with the advent of the car,
the quiet beauty of the Wolds has slowly been discovered
by the tourist, but because of the limited number
of 'honeypots' the peaceful character is still retained.
In 1990, the Wolds again provided a setting for
literature in A S Byatt's novel 'Possession', where
"The valleys are deep and narrow, some wooded,
some grassy, some ploughed. The ridges run sharply
across the sky, always have.....These slightly rolling
hills appear to be folded out of the surface of
the earth, but that is not the case, they are part
of a dissected tableland. The villages are buried
in the valleys, at the end of blind funnels."
Wolds have maintained a very sparse and dispersed
settlement pattern over the last few centuries.
The density is marginally higher in the south-west
river valleys, while on parts of the high Wold there
is no settlement. In the north the villages are
simple and nucleated, while in the south a rectangular
plan is found, with lanes enclosing a central area
of cottages, farmhouses and paddocks in villages
like Old Bolingbroke.
Settlements tend to follow physical features such
as the foot of the north-west scarp, as with Tealby
and Claxby or the deep valleys within the chalk
uplands as at Rothwell. To the south-west villages
such as Heningby and Telford are located in the
river valleys. There are no great parklands but
a series of smaller estates, for example at Harrington
and South Ormsby. These often include gracious but
modest Tudor or Georgian country houses with Victorian
farmsteads and farmworkers cottages. Old Bolingbroke
Castle (English Heritage), birthplace of Henry IV,
is now in ruins but occupies a prominent setting
at the foot of the southern sandstone scarp.
There are no major urban areas within the Wolds,
but a series of small market towns lie at the foot
of the hills including Horncastle, Spilsby, Louth
The Wolds are not distinguished by a unified pattern
of building materials or styles. The local chalk
is generally a poor building material being crumbly
and weak, so brick or stone has been preferred.
In the north-west, the locally quarried Tealby Limestone
and Claxby Ironstone can be seen. At Nettleton where
the buildings are a rich ochre colour, the ironstone
is utilised, whereas at Tealby and Walesby the paler
limestone is in use. These materials, evidenced
in churches and houses further distinguish the north-west
scarp. To the south, the distinctive green or brown
Spilsby Sandstone which, although rather soft, is
used in the more ornate 14th and 15th century churches
built from the wealth of the woollen industry. For
domestic buildings, brick and render walls with
pantile roofs are most common. There are also a
few surviving examples of mud and stud cottages.
The Louth architect, James Fowler, is noted for
his work in local churches, notably at Binbrook
and Ludford. The only major new building has occurred
near Binbrook, where extensive housing was introduced
to serve the airfield.
landcover is predominantly arable. Large rectilinear
fields on the rolling plateau are enclosed by clipped
and gappy hawthorn hedges. Woodland cover in these
areas is sparse particularly to the north, while
to the south sinuous beech woods and younger mixed
plantations follow the steeper slopes of the deep
valleys. Isolated beech and ash trees form occasional
markers. On the north-west scarp there is a mixed
pattern of woodland, scrub and pasture created by
the hummocky landform and poorer nature of the soils.
To the south-west there is a more complex pattern
of medium-sized irregular fields where grazing combines
with crop cultivation. The proportion of woodland
is at its highest to the south-east. The extensive
mixed woodlands of the Brocklesby Estate to the
north-east provide the other major area of woodland
cover. Here some 3,000 acres of woodland were planted
between 1750 and 1950.
Because of the extensive arable areas there are
limited semi-natural habitats remaining. The key
ones are isolated chalk grasslands located on the
steepest uncultivated slopes, and the broad herb-rich
road verges along ancient trackways and drover roads.
There is only one semi-natural woodland remaining
at Tetford Wood, an ancient hazel/ash/wych elm wood.
The woods on the clay tills in the south-east are
typically ancient oak/ash/hazel woods, for example
Hoplands Wood. The valley marshes of the river corridors
also support valuable semi-natural habitats including
acidic mires and alder carr. These are more common
along the Lymn and Bain.
Extensive chalk quarries exist in the north of the
Wolds at South Ferriby, Melton Ross and to the south
at South Thoresby.
Agricultural intensification and farm amalgamation
to create larger units, have caused the removal
of hedgerows, remnant unimproved grassland and field
corners (now largely halted)
Loss of drove road verges to scrub and planting.
Neglect of existing woodland and shelter
belts. Increase in mixed conifer/deciduous planting
to steeper slopes.
Abandonment of isolated farms and cottages
together with gentrification and extension of properties
for holiday lets.
Loss of meadows along River Lymn and conversion
to large arable fields.
Depopulation of villages, except for those
in easy reach of Grimsby and Lincoln which have
been subject to infill pressures.
Development of redundant Second World War
airfields eg Kirmington as Humberside International
Pressure on water resources, resulting in
an increasing number of irrigation reservoirs to
Mineral and landfill development on chalk
Construction of M180/A180(T) between Scunthorpe
and Grimsby and A15 to the Humber Bridge.
Proliferation of telecommunication masts.
Light and noise pollution from roads and
Recreational pressures, from golf courses
Chalk grasslands would benefit from grazing, notably
on the scarp slope, valley sides and around areas
of archaeological interest.
Selective felling and tree planting to overmature
woods on steep slopes, prominent hill top clumps
and in roadside shelter belts (but not in verges)
would give continuity and a modest increase in woodland
cover. The continued management of larger woodlands
to the south-east is important.
There is scope for continued selective hedgerow
restoration and verge management on drovers roads
and ancient routes like Bluestone Heath Road and
Caistor High Street and within larger estates.
The after-use of redundant airfields and
their assimilation into rural landscape should be
addressed. A combination of tree planting, agriculture
and sympathetic development might be appropriate.
There are opportunities to enhance river
corridors to the south-west by increasing grassland
management and riverine tree planting. The visual
integration of irrigation reservoirs is important.
Phasing of extraction and landfill operations
with appropriate restoration would respect geological
value, groundwater and visual appearance.
The difficulties of siting telecommunication
masts and potential windfarms on high ground should
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