Summer Wednesday Exploration Ride to Humberside Airport (RAF Kirmington) 24th July 2019
Summer had well and truly arrived. 30 degrees Celsius had been recorded on Tuesday and was forecast again for the Wednesday. The club were hoping for a ride from Kingsmead Park to Far Ings to spend some time at the nature reserve. Barry had even come prepared with binoculars for the occasion. However, bearing in mind the effects of the unusually high temperatures we would reserve judgement of a revised route, following a refreshment stop at Ulceby.
Rob Whitworth had kindly provided transport to Tim Newbery to Kingsmead Park to meet up with Barry Jordan waiting patiently at the visitor's car park. Chris Owen had arranged to meet up with us en-route to Ulceby.
Setting off at 9.30 am the route followed the small winding narrow lane through Swinhope and our first climb of the day to the edge of the former RAF Binbrook runway. A fast descent to Croxby followed, to enable us to pick up Sustrans NCN Route 1 past Croxby Pond Plantation. The sun was high, the temperatures beginning to climb and Buzzard circling overhead ready for any easy pickings.
NCN 1 took us through the glorious and picturesque Wolds countryside through Swallow and Great Limber Grange and it wasn't long before we met up with Chris Owen on his folding bike. Quite a speed from Chris too as he enjoyed a bit of a chase with Rob. Nearing Brocklesby and the riding school, we navigated safely past a number of rather fine looking horses, before Brocklesby Road took the group past the old railway station and the site of Newsham Abbey (founded in 1143). Sadly not much remains today of the first Premonstratensian Abbey established in England, just a few bumps in the fields.
Arriving at Ulceby at 11.30 am and on schedule, we were to enjoy some fine refreshments at the Te@6 Tea Rooms. Poached eggs for Rob and a bacon sandwiches for others. Welcome too to sit indoors under the cooling breeze of the ceiling fans.
After discussion, Tim finally made the decision to effect a shortened route and to take in stops at Humberside Airport and Caistor. West End Road would take us to Croxton and Kirmington and after a short push along the A18 we soon arrived at the former RAF Kirmington.
Partially opening in March 1942 and hosting No.15 Advanced Flying School, it soon transferred to Bomber Command as part of 1 Group. Wellingtons made up the majority of No.166 Squadron and took part in major raids that came to be known as The Battle of the Rhur, suffering large losses. During its time at Kirmington, 166 Squadron lost 114 Lancasters and 39 Welingtons.
RAF Kirmington also has a fascinating connection with Donald Pleasence (the famous Bond Villain in You Only Love Twice. Although he was initially a conscientious objector, Pleasence joined the RAF and served with 166 Squadron at Kirmington. On 31st August 1944 Pleasence was on board one of two Lancasters shot down in a V1 raid at Agenville, acting as the wireless operator. He was captured and spent some time as a Prisoner of War, an experience he would later recreate as Flt Lt. Colin Blythe in the Great Escape. Another Lincolnshire connection is that Grimoldby railway station was the childhood home of the actor, whose father was the Station Master.
Drinks were taken in the airport's Aviator Cafe after which we'd say farewell to Chris who would return home, whilst Tim, Barry and Rob would continue south past Grasby Bottoms and the long (very long) slow ascent to Caistor. Barry reckons it's 6 miles from the airport. Temperatures now were approaching 30 degrees Celsius (29 at the airport) and with the heat bouncing off the road, the Rock Foundation Cafe was a welcome sight. This establishment, providing adults with learning disabilities a place to gain valuable experience and confidence is a little gem. Rob highly rated the Carrot Cake and Tim and Barry thoroughly enjoyed the banana splits! Tables near the window also were provided with binoculars to gaze across the stunning scenery. Well worth a return visit.
A last leg along the Caistor High Street and once again along NCN Route 1 this time to Thoresway and the Millenium marker. By this time we were enjoying a welcome, refreshing breeze. Returning to Kingsmead Park Cycling UK Louth members had covered 37 miles. Thanks to all for their patience in route changes and it would appear that everyone had a great day out in the sunshine.