A series of walks using sections of the viking way to discover local history and wildlife. Woodhall Spa is 15 miles east of Lincoln.
The Cottage Museum
Grid reference: TF 196 632
Woodhall Spa is an attractive, bustling village 15 miles east of Lincoln. In a woodland setting with many tree lined avenues it developed in the late Victorian and Edwardian era as a spa resort. During the second World War the Dambusters 617 Squadron was stationed at Petwood House, now a hotel. Now it is known for being the home of English Golf and the Kinema.
Woodhall Spa was founded in the 1830s following the discovery of a spring in 1823 that gained a reputation for having healing properties. The first spa baths were built in about 1829-30 and were replaced by a proper bath house and hotel in 1838-39. The railway arrived in 1855 and the resort's popularity continued to grow in 1886 a syndicate was formed in order to develop Woodhall Spa as the 'Lincolnshire Buxton'. London-based architect Richard Adolphus Came was commissioned to plan the 'new town', resulting in a town that remains today as the core of the settlement. A golf course was added in 1890 and the town became popular for golf as well as the spa. The town's heyday was the Edwardian period, and it declined after the first World War although it remained prosperous. The railway closed in 1954, and the spa baths closed in the 1980s. As well as many original buildings including former boarding houses and hospitals, the town retains a number of original items of street furniture such as Victorian and Edwardian post boxes.
- 1With your back to the Cottage Museum entrance, turn left.
- The museum building is a rare corrugated iron bungalow that would have been supplied in kit form. It has stood on this site since 1887.
- 2At the crossroads turn left along the Broadway. Walk past the Golf Hotel and Woodhall Spa Golf Club before turning left onto a public footpath, a total of one kilometre (0.6 mile).
- The Golf Hotel was originally built as a house (Clevedon House) and later became a school and then a club before becoming a hotel. The westernmost part of the building is the oldest with the eastern end added in the 1920s.
- 3Cross the golf course and at the junction with another footpath, and Viking Way, turn left.
- Follow the path and then road straight on to a T-junction.
- Look out for the Manor House on your right. The red brick house is shown as The Lodge on the 1889 map, situated in substantial gardens enclosed by an attractive red brick wall. It was the home of the Hotchkins family who founded the Spa Baths.
- 4Turn right along Coronation Road, past the baths and Kinema in The Woods.
- The Spa Baths were built by the local squire, Thomas Hotchkin, on the site of a shaft that had originally been dug in 1821 in an attempt to find coal. By 1824 water had overflowed from the top of the abandoned shaft and between 1825 and 1829 this water gained a reputation locally as a healing cure. The complex has been greatly altered but some remnants survive. The Spa Baths and hotel complex began the development of the Woodhall Iodine Spa and eventually the settlement of Woodhall Spa itself.
- The baths were used to help the recuperation of soldiers suffering from nervous and mental fatigue after the first World War; this use continued after the second World War, when management of the baths passed to the National Health Service. The baths continued to be used to treat patients suffering from rheumatism until 1983, when the collapse of the well forced the building's closure.
- The Kinema is a cinema, converted in 1922 from a late 19th century pavilion, with later extensions. In Edwardian times it was used as a tennis and cricket pavilion for Petwood House. It is now a popular place to catch up with the latest movies.
- 5Just after the junction with King George Avenue bear left along a path into The Pinewoods.
- Follow the path as it winds its way through the wood. Take the second path on the left over a ditch and then straight on to reach the back of the town shops.
- In 1811, John Parkinson planted pine trees over an area known as Scrub Wood in order to produce pit props for his nearby coal mine which eventually flooded. The Pinewoods played a role in the second World War, as the area was used to hide vehicles and ammunition. You can still see concrete platforms and foundations of buildings dating from that time. The Pinewoods is now managed by the Woodland Trust. Look out for great spotted woodpeckers, tree creepers and maybe if you’re quiet a muntjac deer.
- 6Turn right to reach the road.
- 7Turn left and then almost immediately left again to walk along Station Road and The Broadway in front of the shops.
- Turn left into Iddesleigh Road to return to the Museum and starting point.
The walks use a mixture of surfaced paths, tracks, field paths and roads. There are no stiles but you may encounter livestock.