The last section of the 'Water Rail Way', (a link in the Lincoln to Boston Footpath and Cycleway project), was opened in Nov 2008.
This means there are now two new off-road sections, for Route 1 of the National Cycle Network (Harwich to Hull Cycleway), along the River Witham; Boston to Anton's Gowt and from Kirkstead Bridge near Woodhall Spa to Lincoln via Bardney.
The route is appropriately named the 'Water Rail Way', after the disused Boston to Lincoln railway line on which it is built, and the secretive wetland 'Water Rail' bird, which lives along the River Witham. The route will provide an opportunity for a circular route from Woodhall Spa to Kirkstead Bridge, north to the disused Stixwould, Southrey or Bardney stations and back to Woodhall Spa along the road (or in reverse, of course) for both walkers and cyclists.
South of Woodhall Spa
The route south crosses Kirkstead Bridge and follows a quiet road on the west bank of the River Witham to Tattershall Bridge and beyond. To reach the Water Rail Way from Jubilee Park turn left onto Stixwould Road and then left again onto Green Lane. Follow the road round to the left onto Mill Lane and then turn right onto Witham Road (careful this can be a busy road). Bear left at the point Witham road bends to the right and rises to cross the River Witham by Kirkstead Bridge. Pass the Railway Hotel, Woodhall Junction Station and the old river ferry crossing point. Pass through the old crossing gates and you are now on the former railway track bed.
North of Woodhall Spa
With the exception of a half mile stretch near Bardney the route north has now been tarmacced all the way to Lincoln.
The remaining half mile stretch of the old railway line to Bardney belongs to British Sugar and cannot be used, so at present it is necessary to divert onto a bridleway. You have a choice of a 'summer' or 'winter - all weather ' route:
To follow the 'summer route' north you should stay on the Water Rail Way to the end of the tarmac (Bardney Manor Pumping Station) and then pass through the metal gate. Continue along the track to Southrey Wood and then turn left onto the bridleway heading for Bardney village. Turn left onto Station Road and then rejoin the tarmac track by turning right right just before the Witham bridge traffic lights.
The bridleway and track can be muddy in winter, so for the 'all weather - winter route' you should leave the Water Rail Way at Southrey and head for Bardney along Ferry Road. Pass Bardney Post Office and bear left down Station Road. Rejoin the tarmac track just befor the bridge traffic lights.
Local history and wildlife boards, sculptures, benches and mile markers have now been installed along the route. Signs to inform you of the location of nearby shops, cafés and pubs have also been erected.
if you experience any problems on the Water Rail Way, please email the Sustrans Volunteer Ranger: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sustrans' vision is a world in which people choose to travel in ways that benefit their health and the environment. Sustrans is the charity behind practical and innovative solutions to some of the UK's biggest transport challenges, including the award-winning National Cycle Network, Safe Routes to Schools, Bike It and TravelSmart.
Sustrans, 2 Cathedral Square, Bristol. BS1 5DD. Registered Charity No:326550
To find out more about the work of Sustrans visit their website: www.sustrans.org.uk
To find out more about the contemporary structures that have been erected along the river bank visit: www.hi-views.org.uk
Lincolnshire Waterways Partnership
The Water Rail Way is just one of many projects (aimed at regenerating Lincolnshire's river and canal corridors) either underway or proposed by the Lincolnshire Waterways Partnership (LWP). The LWP consists of British Waterways, Lincolnshire County Council and the Environment Agency.
The LWP takes a holistic view of waterways, seeking to develop them as a tourist resource, whilst retaining the many features of natural and historic importance. It seeks to provide new facilities for local communities and to support the development of new businesses in the county.
It is proposed to construct a new canal link, linking Lincolnshire to the River Nene at Peterborough and the much wider national waterway network. This will open up the county to greater use by visiting boats and create a major new cruising ring. By developing the waterways of Lincolnshire and building on their distinct character it is hoped to give Lincolnshire an edge in a growing tourism market, particularly for short breaks and waterway related tourism.
LWP newsletters can be viewed on the Visit Lincolnshire website: www.visitlincolnshire.com
Visit the Spa Trail web page. The first stage of the Trail was completed in April 2010 and links Woodhall Spa with Horncastle.