GetOutside Champion Zoe shows you some of her favourite outside areas in her home city of Lincoln – all available for you to explore with the OS Greenspaces layer on OS Maps.
I don’t know where you live, but if you live in a city you will know that it is very easy to walk a lot of miles on concrete. While some people I know love this, and it is indeed a good way to explore a city, it is incredibly hard on the feet and does not provide much green. But we are fortunate in this country to have a huge number of green spaces and nature parks, well, everywhere. I would go as far as to guarantee that wherever you live in the UK you will be able to find a tranquil natural spot to explore that helps recharge the body, mind and soul.
To prove my point I thought I would share some information about a few of my favourite green spaces in Lincoln. I call them “nature’s spaces” because they are areas in the otherwise grey and grimy city that are dedicated to nature rather than engineering.
The South Common is a large area of common land that lies on the south-eastern boundary of Lincoln, bridging the gap between the built-up area of the city, the nearby villages of Canwick and Bracebridge Heath, and the agricultural fields beyond. There are walking routes onto the common via the Viking Way and the bustling High Street. The common itself is natural scrub and grassland with a few trees dotted around and an area of woodland around the edge.
There are horses grazing and it’s very popular amongst dog walkers. The ground is pretty much left to meadow, and so there are signs of other wildlife about; lots of rabbit holes, mole hills, bird nests, and the like. It’s quite steep in places and there is a fantastic view of Lincoln Cathedral and the south of the city – it’s like being in the middle of the countryside and the middle of the city at the same time
Boultham Park is a 50-acre park just outside Lincoln city centre in the middle of a residential area. It has a large lake, lots of paths, many climbable trees, remnants of old formal gardens, woodland, and other amenities. Many people skirt around the edge of this park every day on the way to work – it’s on one of the busiest routes into town, but it is well worth a visit on a Sunday afternoon.
It’s a quite lovely green space in the middle of a very well paved area of the city and it was lovely to walk around the lake. Boultham Park houses the weekly Park Run in Lincoln on a Saturday morning.
Hartsholme Park is a full on country park with visitors centre, café, campsite, parking, play area and everything else you expect from a well-run outdoor space. It covers more than 200 acres and offers lakes, ornamental gardens, woodland and grasslands to explore.
I think of all the natural spaces I visit, this is the one that surprises me the most. It is vast; I have visited a number of times and have only really scratched the surface wandering around the lake and through the woodland. It’s a well-used park; I watched some Scouts take part in an orienteering exercise as I walked along one side of the reservoir – it looked like fun although they were doing a lot of arguing! With all the trees and water around it looks different every month of the year, and the lake is a haven for wildlife.
At the bottom of Hartshome Country Park is an area dedicated as a local nature reserve – Swanholme Lakes. This is a series of lakes formed from flooded sand and gravel pits. As it is dedicated as a nature reserve it offers protected habitat for a number of wildlife and plant species, so you can see things as they are meant to look. Apparently there are 24 species of butterfly living at Swanholme – would make a nice Sunday afternoon project!
Millennium Green, which is technically in North Hykeham, is one of those places you would never find if you didn’t know it was there. Hidden behind some new houses, the lake is another little oasis in a hugely built up area.
I now know that this is basically a large lake with a one mile long path around the outside – perfect for a Sunday afternoon stroll after dinner. It was developed and opened in 2000 (I bet you couldn’t guess that!) and is very popular with people walking and running. You can also use this as a walking route through to the sailing club, some fantastic fishing lakes and Whisby Nature Park, meaning that if you get the train to North Hykeham station (from Lincoln or elsewhere) you have miles and miles of dedicated and peaceful walking trails to explore.
Whisby Nature Park
One of my favourite places in Lincoln to visit, Whisby Nature Park is a few miles out of the city. I normally go for a brisk walk around one of the many lakes and a homemade cake in the Natural World Centre Café, always a pleasure.
It really does feel great at Whisby - despite having the busy A46 running along one side and every view being broken by an electricity pylon, it is a beautiful place. There is a lot of bird watching to be done, and on this particular occasion I was rather deafened by the noise of what must have been a thousand (or more) guls making a racket. The new railway bridge means the whole park is open to all, with a number of waymarked routes either side to keep the whole family busy. It really is an excellent place for a gentle stroll or a spot of wildlife watching.
What’s your home town like for walking in? Have you explored all its parks and meadows? Come over to twitter @Splodz and tell me where your favourite nature’s spaces are where you live.
By Zoe Homes
Zoe Homes has always been a lover of the outdoors. From a very young age she has enjoyed playing outside, hiking with her family, camping, and generally spending as much time outside of her house as possible. She is a huge advocate of the benefits of regular fresh air, and does her best to encourage others to make the most of the world outside their own front door. She is also a co-founder of the Outdoor Bloggers network.
Zoe loves to hike, and has done a number of hiking challenges in recent years, including the Yorkshire Three Peaks and the Lyke Wake Walk (Zoe adds that if you've not heard of it, look it up, it's a brilliant but quite challenging stroll in the North Yorkshire Moors).