It was time for another Spires and Steeples rematch and to my delight Helen decided to join me again- makes it so much more fun when there‘s someone to walk with. The Spires and Steeples is a 26.6 mile walk from Lincoln to Sleaford, and as the bus leaves Sleaford for Lincoln at 7am this involved a very early start, driving half asleep through dark country lanes and trying to force down an instant porridge pot in the car park (Helen rather unwisely entrusted me with her not quite empty pot which inevitably ended up upside down under my seat on the coach)

We were expecting warm weather according to the forecast so had both donned shorts for the occasion along with many other people, but the sun didn’t make an appearance until about 3pm- it stayed rather cloudy with rain in the air a couple of times although it wasn‘t cold.

We played around with some photo frames that we found until it was time to set off down the cobbled hills into Lincoln centre and over the overpass with a great view back to the cathedral.

Lincoln Cathedral

As we followed the cycle trail by the River Witham to walkthrough Washingborough we were making a good pace but we were rather perturbed when the first runners started passing us already as it felt earlier than last time. The route had slightly changed here, owing I think to a barn being renovated- we passed it along a track rather than the muddy path usually used. Our confidence was boosted when we overtook a couple of people but we lost this time at the first checkpoint as I needed to queue for the loo.

Sheep sculptures in Branston

After a quick pasty, we set off across the fields towards Potterhanworth- I love this village as the route passes through a kissing gate set in an archway cut out of the hedge. There is also an attractive water tower, which we noticed was for sale- Helen was sorely tempted to mention this to her other half!

Potterhanworth

We leapfrogged a chap a few times, who told us it had been very wet and muddy last year so we were secretly pleased we had taken the year’s break.

Nocton and Dunston came and went beneath our walking shoes and I was pleased to see the paths dry and in good condition. We reached Metheringham well before the cut off. I had had the bright idea of saving weight by buying lunch at the Co-op there- unfortunately I failed to take into account that there would be a couple of hundred walkers and runners in front of us by then, many of whom would have the same idea… we managed to grab the last two pasta salads and ate them in the Memorial Gardens with a welcome cuppa.

… just a normal day in Metheringham…

I had to dress my feet as I had a blister- unfortunately I think my overpronation is killing my walking shoes as they have a definite list inwards… can you get walking shoes for overpronators?

Suitable refreshed and feeling slightly sick after a huge Belgian bun each we walked along easy tracks to lovely Scopwick with its stream and clapper bridges. Walking to the Digby checkpoint to Rowston we passed a couple who seemed to be struggling but they assured us they were okay and were just taking it slowly.

Dorrington Demons sculpture

The route leaves the gentle tracks and lanes behind here and marches through fields and the only hill through Dorrington and Ruskington, where I was disappointed to notice that there were no edible treats left this year… I need to walk faster obviously!

We were rather sad to see no chickens this year as we left Ruskington but the sun came out which made up for it a little as the Autumn colours were displayed nicely.

Autumn colours

Knowing that the stretch from Ruskington along the River Slea Navigation drags big time we had brought something nice to look forward to- a Snickers bar for me and some sweets for Helen. This only partially worked and so by time we reached the canal in Sleaford tempers were fraying and we were bloody glad to finish.

Reaching the Slea

We crossed the finish line to embarrassing cheers and claps before being presented with a special tenth anniversary medal, which is rather attractive. I dove into the portaloo before driving home, just as the truck arrived to collect it and had visions of being driven down the road on the loo screaming ‘Help, help‘!

Nearly back…

It was a good day though- I do have a fondness for the Spires and Steeples, it’s not dramatic and the terrain isn’t particularly challenging but it is quite charming- well, apart from those last few miles…

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