Lincolnshire Wolds

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Ash Farm on the Lincolnshire Wolds

The Lincolnshire Wolds is a range of hills in north-eastern Lincolnshire. It is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and provides the highest area of land in the county, indeed the highest land along the eastern coast between the East Riding of Yorkshire and Kent. The Wolds run roughly parallel with the North Sea coast, from the River Humber in the northwest to the town of Spilsby in the southeast.

The Wolds are a striking range, rising suddenly and unexpectedly out of the flatness of the Lindsey landscape, with a gorgeous rolling farmland poised high to look out over the vastness of the county's plains below.


The Wolds comprise a series of low hills and steep valleys underlain by calcareous (chalk and limestone) and sandstone rock, laid down in the Cretaceous period. The characteristic open valleys of the Wolds were created during the last glacial period through the action of glaciation and meltwater.

Geographically, the Lincolnshire Wolds is a continuation of the Yorkshire Wolds which runs through the East Riding of Yorkshire, the two divided by the Humber and its plains.

The Lincolnshire Wolds can be divided into four distinct areas:

  1. the main area of chalk hills in the north,
  2. the northwest scarp,
  3. an area of ridges and valleys in the south west,
  4. the claylands in the south east.

The Red Hill nature reserve near the village of Goulceby is notable for the unusual red colour of its soil and underlying chalk.

Normanby Top is the highest point in the whole of Lincolnshire. It is on a farm, at the edgeof a field and marked by a trig point though no more, just north of the village of Normanby le Wold, at approximately 551 feet above sea level at TF121964.

Other hills include:

Castcliffe Hill TF301735 456 feet
Gaumer Hill TF289778 423 feet
Meagram Top TF392789 190 feet
Warden Hill TF347737 371 feet
Tetford Hill TF326761 466 feet
Hoe Hill TF308731 417 feet

The Wolds provide broad views across the flat fens and salt marshes of Lindsey and Holland: it is possible, from various points on the Wolds, to see all of the larger structures in the north and east of the county: the Belmont mast, Boston Stump, Grimsby Dock Tower, the Humber Bridge, Lincoln Cathedral, St James' Church in Louth (known locally as 'The Cathedral of the Wolds', though it holds only parish church status), the radar station near Normanby, Tattershall Castle, and the wind turbines on the coast near Mablethorpe.

Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty

The Lincolnshire Wolds were designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in 1973, and are managed as such by the Lincolnshire Wolds Countryside Service. The AONB has a rather different area from that of the Wolds themselves.

The Wolds Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty has been designated, covering 138,379 acres, while the Countryside Service recognise a wider Lincolnshire Wolds Character/Natural Area which incorporates the AONB and the neighbouring areas of the (geographical) Wolds to the north and south, which are not covered by the AONB.

People and places

The Wolds are sparsely populated and have a rural character. They are 'ringed' by several small market towns that lie around their edge:

Many of the placenames in the Wolds indicate a strong Viking influence in the area's history. There is also an abundance of mediæval 'lost villages' - settlements abandoned due to changes in land use, soil exhaustion and disease.

Several notable roads and paths run over the Wolds. Caistor High Street, the path of a Roman Road and now the route of the B1225, runs from Caistor to Baumber near Horncastle. The lonely Bluestone Heath Road follows the course of an ancient drove road from west to east across the Wolds, and several "A" roads also run through the AONB.

The Wolds are now promoted as a tourist destination: the area's connection with Tennyson (who was born in Somersby) is being exploited, and farmers are being encouraged to diversify into the tourism industry. The roads of the Wolds are particularly popular with motorcyclists, and the area is home to Cadwell Park, one of the UK's top race circuits.

The area is also popular with hikers: the Viking Way long-distance footpath runs from Barton-upon-Humber in North Lincolnshire across the Lincolnshire Wolds and into Rutland, and there is a Youth Hostel in the middle of the Wolds at Woody's Top near the village of Tetford.

Outside links


  • Rawding, C: The Lincolnshire Wolds in the nineteenth century - (History of Lincolnshire Committee, Lincoln, 2001)