A morning walk on the Witham

 

If you are to believe the pseudoscientific hypotheses put forward by psychologists from articles such as this one, you might be led to believe that spending the morning in bed makes you more intelligent than someone who rises early. While it may be sweet of these writers to try and comfort us, providing some justification for our laziness, there are plenty who would refute it: namely, the entire history of human society, which has, according to the Encyclopaedia of world cultures (Levinson, 1996)  tried to make the most of our daylight hours – us being diurnal (active during the day).

Given that humans see better during the day, rely on sunlight to survive and have a history of spooky story-telling, it is a small logical leap to assume the cleverest people probably do go to sleep at night and make the most of the day. Those that follow such a routine can usually reap the rewards – being able to make the most of the morning, be more productive, and keep fit.

It was a chilly, pinching morning when I left the house at 6am, but there is a charm in those dawn hours where the silence is broken only by the rousing chorus of birds, the sudden flutter of a disturbed kit of pigeons, and the occasional clatter of delivery vans.

There are a number of reasons why an early morning walk has its benefits. Having your blood start circulating first thing will have you feeling energetic all day, which will keep you healthy and your weight down. New Health Advisor has an article here if you’d like to learn more about the benefits of an early-morning walk.

There are a number of directions a walk in Lincoln can take you. From the High Bridge you can look out over the River Witham as it leaves the city. Following it out of the city, the route is currently inconvenienced by some road works on the dual carriageway, but that is easily passed over the footbridge. You’ll notice that, when you’ve crossed Broadgate, the noise of the city quickly dies away, and you’re plunged into relative serenity.

You’ve not truly reached the river trail until you’ve passed Stamp End Lock, though – built in 1826 to improve navigation on the river, which at the time would have been a bustling trade route for barges heading back and forth from the wharf mills to as far afield as Russia. The word “Stamp” derives from the ancient word for weir/dam, the result of a 10th century dam discovered by archaeologists that used to control the water levels.

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Not long after you’ve walked past Stamp End Lock, you’ve reached Water Rail Way, which, if followed, is a 31 mile trail beside the river to Boston. The name has two meanings – it lends itself to a former railway line that stood along the path, but also references the abundant bird life along the river, in particular the shy Water Rail bird, similar to the moorhen. There’s even an observation tower here.

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I was fortunate enough to spot the trail’s titular waterfowl, which flew away quickly after I’d spotted it. Red breasted robins were also leaping through the bracken, the swans are always a delight to watch, particularly upstream where it is quiet, and somehow it’s difficult not to like the grey squirrel, even for a rodent.

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Water Rail – Rallus aquaticus – Keldusvín. Flickr. By Ómar Runólfsson. Link

The country lanes connecting the towns of Lincolnshire were liable to flood in winter, so horse and coach travel was not only expensive, uncomfortable and time consuming, but dangerous too. As such, steam packet and sailing boats provided a cheap and convenient way to travel the route.

Lincoln to Boston on one of the steam packet ships took only six hours – even when stopping at all the riverside villages! This made it possible to go from Lincoln to Boston and back within a day.

I recommend keeping a diary or journal, and keeping track of your trips and journeys, and of anything special you might see.

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Article by Alex

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